• Child's Tunic, 1840-1850

    This might be a boy's tunic, to be worn with trousers, although one wonders if the color and fabric were sufficiently masculine (it might also be a girl's tunic, but appears to be too short). This piece might have been used by the Bowen family of Pennsylvania.

  • Men's Patten Overshoe, 1830-1850

    Pattens, a type of overshoe, were used to protect both feet and shoes from mud and snow. Wooden-soled overshoes were used as early as the fourteenth-century but were restricted to the wealthy. By the early fifteenth-century, a form of composite leather sole made pattens more widely accessible. Because of their functional appearance, they were generally associated with the lower classes and country people, although they were more useful in town than in the country where the iron ring would have s…

  • Brooch, about 1855

    Sentimental brooch which incorporates a lock of hair of a loved one.The inclusion of black enamel around the hair indicates that the loved one was likely deceased."MBL" may be the initials of the deceased.Half mourning called for jewelry that was not flashy or showed too much shiny gold metal, so many pieces used in half mourning include dark stones or enamel.This was likely made simultaneously with the plaited hair jewelry popular in the 1850s and 1860s.

  • Bonnet, about 1850

  • Women's Slippers, 1830-1850

    These slippers- really shoes- may have been used for a wedding. They appear plain but remnants of thread on the throat indicate this pair was decorated. Heeled shoes with square toes were particularly popular in the 1830's and 1840's. These leather shoes are less delicate than those made from satin, but still offer little support or protection from the elements. Thus, these are indoor shoes used to look fashionable. If worn outside they would quickly become soiled; the foot hangs over the straig…

  • Women's Shoes, 1820-1850

    Delicate slippers such as these were used by ladies in the early Victorian period with fashionable dress. These tied on to the ankle, much as some ballet shoes do today. These types of shoes were notoriously unhealthy-- they quickly became damp and soiled, provided no foot support, and were occasionally purchased a size or two too small so that thewearer's foot appeared dainty. It was all about looking great; women were not expected to be comfortable or accommodated by their dress. The square to…

  • Women's Shoes, about 1860

    These shoes, commonly called slippers in this period, were likely made to match a specific outfit. They may have been made to match a wedding gown. Flimsy fabric shoes such as this were very popular, but provided no support and quickly were soiled and damaged. They were purely decorative and worn by women who were expected to stay primarily indoors and not required to do any work.

  • Cameo Bracelet, about 1860

    Cameos were traditionally carved from stone as carvers carefully worked in layers of agate, cutting away lower layers of color and leaving, in relief, layers of white or ivory colored strata.It is difficult and expensive work.In the early nineteenth century Italian carvers began carving cameos from shell, working the strata to leave white layers in relief on the cameo.This shell cameo carving reduced the price of cameos somewhat. The fineness of some of the best shell cameo cutters rivals those …

  • Earrings, about 1830-1850

  • Cameo Pin, about 1860

    Cameos traditionally were cut in stone; however, Italian carvers found a way to make these exquisite shell cameos in the early nineteenth century.This is an interesting depiction of an angel guiding a child as he walks near a serpent, which often symbolized temptation. It is likely an allusion to a child being guided by God on the right path.

  • Dress, about 1860

    While this appears to be a day dress at first glance, it was more likely used around the house in the morning as it opens entirely from waist to hem at center front. It may have had boning in the bodice, however the bodice has been altered so it is difficult to determine.Worn by Betsy Ann Cowles Palmer around 1860. Betsy Ann Cowles Palmer was born in 1822. In 1839, she married Charles Henry Palmer, a pioneer investor and developer of mines and railroads in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Palmer'…

  • Girl's Embroidered Cotton Dress, 1840-1850

    White cotton dress with wide, collar-less neck and slightly belled sleeves. Bodice and skirt gathered; tight gauging along center-front and center-back waist. Empty whalebone casing at center-front. Self-fabric piping at neck, waist and sleeves. White embroidery at hem; hem and cuffs finished with irregular scalloping and crochet trim. Two tucks on skirt. Bodice lined with plain-weave cotton; sleeves and skirt unlined. Bodice open at center-back; hammered-wire hook and eye closures. Hand-sewn. T…

  • Girl's Dress, 1840-1850

    This is a party or special occasion dress, the light washable fabric probably meant for summer wear. The workmanship is exquisite, the gauging tight and beautiful, the hem stitching fine and nearly invisible. With its drop sleeves, gauging, and wide neckline, the line of the dress is very similar to those worn by older women in the early 1840s. The dress is a gift of a New York State family.

  • Vest, 1850-1880

  • Trousers, about 1820-1850

    Worn by a member of the Mitchell family of New York State.Used on an everyday basis for hard work.

  • Bogwood Pendant, about 1865

    Bog wood is petrified wood found in Irish bogs, and is generally pine or oak. Jewelry made of bog wood was exhibited at every major exhibition in Great Britain throughout the nineteenth century.Such pieces generally include Celtic or Irish motifs, like the Irish harp or lyre in this piece, or symbols or monuments found at early Christian sites in Ireland. They areparticularly popular with those of Celtic or Irish descent. These pieces are similar to the Scottish pebble jewelry that was popular i…

  • Bogwood Brooch, about 1865

    Bog wood is petrified wood, usually oak or pine, found in Irish bogs. It was carved into trinkets and jewelry in the mid-late nineteenth century.Because of its association with Ireland the jewelry often includes Celtic or early Irish Christian references.Bog wood jewelry was shown at most of the exhibitions of the nineteenth century. This piece is part of a large collection given to the institution by Susan Stark of Lansing, MI.

  • Dress, 1850-1855

    An interesting, inexpensive fabric. The sleeve is a little modified from its work dress origins. This was probably the best dress of a lower middle class woman.

  • Morning Dress, 1850-1855

    The dress was probably originally two pieces: a bodice and skirt. The basques of the bodice are now on the inside. The skirt was removed from the waistband, cut down and applied to the bodice, and green silk trimmings added.

  • Women's Patten Overshoe, 1830-1850

    According to the donor, the patten overshoes were worn in the mid 19th century by her great-grandmother, Mrs. Pastrigs. Pattens, a type of overshoe, were used to protect both feet and shoes from mud and snow. Wooden-soled overshoes were used as early as the fourteenth-century but were restricted to the wealthy. By the early fifteenth-century, a form of composite leather sole made pattens more widely accessible. Because of their functional appearance, they were generally associated with the lower…