Readings for Rural Life – High Dresses

From Moore’s Rural New-Yorker in Rochester, NY

April 23rd, 1864

Working Dresses.

It is not my province to dictate any particular form of dress; but when, as is often the case, I see wives and daughters doing their necessary housework with crinoline and long skirts, or in other words, in full dress, I am led to inquire why will they not use their good judgment in this as in other particulars, and accommodate their dress to their duties.

Now, just take some of those long dresses that have become faded at the bottom and in front, take out the front breadths, leaving about five, tear off the bottom leaving the skirt long enough to come half way from the knees to ankle joints, use the parts taken out for pants, prepare skirts to suit the length of the dress, running “shurs” in one for three or four hoops from the discarded skeleton, and with good thick-soled shoes or bootees you are well, becomingly dressed for any and all kinds of work that may fall to your lot. And, if called to help fill the place of a father, husband, brother or son, who has nobly gone to the defence of his country, you have nothing to hinder you in this arduous yet noble extra toil. Such toil and such dresses show our hearts true to the interest of our country; and though the future looks dark, there is no way to make it light but to throw off the shackles false price and false delicacy have trammeld us with, prepare our heats for every trial by entire consecration to, and trust or faith in, God, our bodies with proper dress and care; and lay hold on every duty presented to us with an energy and courage that knows defeat, and will not listen to the doubts of the croaking.

Sisters, let me entreat you, do your duty faithfully, and when those dear ones return, you will not only meet a reward in their kind welcome and approving smiles, but will learn that useful exercise and refreshing breezes, and now and then a day in the hot sun, have brought light to your eyes, roses to your cheeks and a thrill of life to your veins that were never yours before.

True, you have given (or allowed to go) to the rescue of your country your support and home; but don’t wait for these to return and find you in sorrow, listlessly waiting for them, or some movement of Providence to bring light out of darkness, or hope out of despair; but arise, don the costume at once graceful, becoming and useful, and help to work out the salvation of our country, ever praying to, and trusting in, God, who is the author of our faith.

This is no fancy advice; ‘tis wrought out by experience of near two years, and my health is better. I can endure far more fatigue and enjoy life far better, for I have the consciousness of knowing that I have toiled and sacrificed for the good of my country; and when my husband returns our joy will be mutual, that we have together helped her rid of her enemy, slavery. May this be our privilege. Go thou and do likewise. Mrs. C.H.

EDIT: Additional Related Clips:

Clip Excerpt from The Prairie Farmer, Clip Short dress March 1855 Clip The Oneida Circular The Ohio Cultivator 1854 b The Ohio Cultivator 1854Clip Miseries later

This whole book is worth a download. It is on Google Books.Clip Watercure 54 aClip Watercure 54 bclip Punch

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Reblogged this on If I Had My Own Blue Box: and commented:

    I am reblogging a few posts from earlier this year because there has been some recent discussion of working and domestic working attire. Notice at the bottom of this post there are links to several additional articles.


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