As Mary Jane Haines readied herself for her 1847 wedding to Abraham Cassell in Wakefield Valley, she possibly did not visualize that the humble brown gown with a hoop skirt she was donning for the celebration would grow to be the crucial to unlocking the story of her lifetime for centuries to occur.
It is even significantly less probably she could have imagined her gown would 1 working day supply critical context for comprehension the significantly broader tale of women’s modifying relationships to textile generation and vogue in Frederick County.
But many thanks to the cautious preservation and investigate endeavours of Heritage Frederick (previously the Frederick County Historical Modern society), her costume and numerous other textile artifacts from all in excess of the county are now talking volumes about their complex regional history.
For the rest of 2023, people to the Museum of Frederick County History can immerse on their own deeply in people tales as they wander as a result of a new show, “Stitches By way of Time: Women’s Get the job done from Farm to Fashion,” which displays antique women’s clothes and quilts, as nicely as textile instruments, these types of as spinning wheels.
“It’s a story of the evolution of textiles as a shopper product and the linked function of women of all ages,” mentioned Doug Propheter, executive director of the museum. “It’s an exciting story, it’s a meaningful story, and it’s a really area story.”
The exhibit’s a few galleries notify a a few-part tale about the gendered roles of textile creation. In the early decades of European settlement, the females of Frederick County were largely in management of the procedure, diligently creating the two the uncooked resources and concluded products and solutions by hand on their farmsteads.
Women then shed their agency around the process as it turned mechanized in factories with male entrepreneurs and bosses, though they ongoing to give vital labor.
The 20th century saw women regain a central role in guiding the route of style, as a key shopper foundation and as expert designers for key outfits models. As a distinguished illustration of women’s re-emergence in the style market, the 3rd gallery characteristics a exhibit about the daily life of Claire McCardell, an internationally well known garments designer from Frederick.
Apart from for a several items borrowed from the Baltimore Museum of Business, the gallery artifacts occur from Heritage Frederick’s very own huge inventory of products donated from community people, which they have collected due to the fact the 1890s.
Intensive investigate for the show by the museum curator Amy Hunt has extra “an tremendous total of factual detail” to the lengthy-held collection, Propheter mentioned. Starting with info from the museum’s very own properly-preserved provenance information, Hunt searched outdated newspaper clips, land data and other archived legal papers to understand as a lot as she could about the first entrepreneurs of the donated objects.
She then employed that details and the aid of ancestry.com to track down the residing family members of the first owners. She found quite a several and sent them notes conveying her venture and asking if they could provide a lot more details about their ancestors. She received several positive responses from descendants who had been capable and eager to give not only data but additional antique goods that belonged to their ancestors, such as pictures.
Which is how Hunt was equipped to piece jointly the touching story of Mary Jane and Abraham Cassel. Many of their dwelling relatives responded to the information requests, and 1 of them was equipped to donate several of Mary Jane’s personal objects to the museum, which include a needlepoint sampler she had accomplished at 13 yrs previous, a portrait and a photograph of her, and a Valentine card from Abraham dated two months in advance of their wedding day.
Hunt uncovered Mary Jane had a girl who died as an toddler and a son named Charles who grew up to be the proprietor and editor of the Catoctin Clarion newspaper in Thurmont. When Charles was just a 1-yr-old, Mary Jane died at the age of 23, about a few yrs immediately after her marriage.
Abraham lived another 12 yrs with no remarrying, which was an strange factor for men in his situations to do at that time. Collectively with the other proof, Hunt can take that as a sign that Mary Jane was significantly cherished by her family.
“Her marriage costume survives this needle position survives. You can just get the feeling of how exclusive she was,” Hunt claimed. “It appears to be like they genuinely retained the couple of points they had from their few many years with her and genuinely held them distinctive and handed them down as a result of generations. I experience like it’s pretty miraculous for all these distinctive pieces of her existence to however endure.”
Mary Jane’s costume is now on display screen in the exhibition with nine other Frederick County wedding ceremony attire that are organized chronologically from 1823 to 1943. Hunt claims the attire show a summary of the record of community textile output and use.
This show will probably be the very last time the museum is in a position to display the 1901 wedding gown of Alice Hopkins of New Sector, owing to the deteriorated state of one particular of its levels. Textiles are among the most difficult merchandise to protect in excess of centuries, Hunt mentioned, and they are even a lot more tough to repair service. Whilst the museum has great storage capabilities to preserve its artifacts, they absence a conservator who can make repairs. Hunt hopes that, as the museum expands its community outreach, capable volunteers will one working day be capable to help them with restoring their assortment of textiles.
Notice to viewers: Wakefield Valley is in Carroll County nowadays, in the vicinity of Westminster. Heritage Frederick integrated it in the Frederick County exhibition since at the time Mary Jane Haines was born, Wakefield Valley was portion of Frederick County. Carroll County was shaped out of Frederick and Baltimore counties in 1837.
Erik Anderson is a freelance writer in Frederick who cares about handful of matters a lot more than the background of his community. Email him at [email protected].