Sunday, December 2, 2012


First Exhibit- Walking in the Shoe’s of a …

In the first exhibit (Fall) I chose to group  (opposite side of glass class) the shoes, card case, and in the glass case the assembly gown, 18th century waistcoat and 19th century waistcoat, day dress, dolman, and half of the quilt. The reason that I picked these items first was because in the second exhibit excluding the quilt that is in it everything has to do with weddings. I thought that viewers can go through the exhibit as a title of “Walking in the shoes of/at a…” and depending what the object is a person can relate to it how it fits them.  Examples:

Shoes- Walking in the shoes of a…Centennial Celebration
Assembly Gown- Walking in the shoes of A..Woman celebrating the Centennial
19th Century Waist Coat-Walking in the shoes of an upper class man
Day Dress- Walking in the shoes of a woman an upper class woman
Dolman- Walking in the shoes of a..Single woman- 1884
18th-Century Waistcoat-Walking in the shoes of a Captain

Exhibit 1

Second Exhibit- Wedding Theme

In the second exhibit (Spring) I choose to group all the items that had something to do with a wedding. The top hat, corset, combination of wedding gowns, the 1850’s wedding gown and the trousseau dress. This would obviously be a wedding theme, along with having the quilt being there too. In this display however, we would display the entire quilt.

Exhibit 2

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Smelling an Exhibit

In today’s society we find distinctions betweens social classes, races, genders, etc. mainly by seeing these things with our eyes. Did you ever stop to consider that smell is also a factor in these distinctions? According to Mark M. Smith and his book Sensing the Past he describes in his chapter about “Smell” that we do and people have for hundreds of years classified things, objects, people, and events according to smell. Here is an example to better understand this notion. Imagine you are walking in a park and you smell garbage the entire time you are there. You might not stay long at the park and you might assume that the park is not kept clean due to the fact that the neighborhood/town it is in does not have a lot of money. Therefore the up keeping of the park is poor. Now imagine that you are in the same park and you smell flowers instead. This would probably cause you to stay longer and to assume that the neighborhood/town has money to keep the park clean. Without consciously realizing it these smells have caused you to associate social/economically issues in the surrounding area of the park and assuming things because of a smell.

Odors that are pleasant to smell are usually associated with wealthier people. Whereas odors that make you want to hold your noise or even gag are associated with the lower class. These distinctions have been going on for years. We don’t often think about it but when we do carefully we can see how we often judge others and create stereotypes depending on what we smell.

It would be pretty neat if we could find a way in our exhibit that created a smell to relate with each object or the exhibit as a whole. You could take that many different routes to this approach. Perhaps you can have the smell of the event or place the person was wearing the object at. You could also have the smell of the place they purchased it at. It would be pretty interested to somehow incorporate a smell or smells in the experience of an exhibit. In the case of my dress since it was worn by Fianna Grube who lived on a farm the smell would probably unfortunately be manure. However luckily for the exhibit the wedding was in January and most likely you wouldn’t be able to smell anything on the farms. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Hide and Seek: The truth of your body

In the Book The Prosthetic Impulse by Marquard Smith and Joanne Morra there is an essay called “The Vulnerable Articulate which I found to have an interesting relation to certain objects we have and use today in our world. This essay has a letter in it from 1907 from a woman who had just received a prosthetic leg and how grateful she was for it. Her friends did not even recognize her since she had been known to always have a crutch. What struck my attention was when Smith said, “This is a perfect instance of the history of the development of prosthetic technology as it stands and falls on its ability to play hide- and- seek with the truth.”(49). Playing hide-and –seek with the truth, isn’t this something that most of us do? For the prosthetic leg is helping the woman walk and she can cover it up with her clothes. The process of putting the leg on is in the privacy of her home. Unless she verbally tells someone who she does not know that she has a fake leg nobody but herself would know that under her pants or under her skirt is a prosthetic leg. However this leg makes her feel good inside that she can now “pass” as being or at least looking normal to those on the outside.

This brings me to the article “Active Ingredients,” by Dan Rose. Rose talks about a man taking a shower and the process of showering when he then gets shampoo in eyes. This causes him to then look at the shampoo and read the directions and to see that is named Head and Shoulders by the Proctor Gamble Company. Washing your hair with a specific shampoo can actually have the same affect as a woman putting on a prosthetic leg. Here is how: The act of taking a shower and washing your hair is done privately. While in the shower it doesn’t matter what shampoo you use but it cleans your hair. Once your hair dries afterward your hair looks clean and can even make it glow. There is a process of getting your hair to have that affect and to most likely make you feel good about yourself and that act takes place in the privacy of your home.

Objects ranging from all kinds from prosthetic body parts to shampoos and body cleansing products there are company’s creating objects that are used privately in order hide the truth. We all use products that hide the truth and people have been for hundreds of years. Think about a woman’s corset. A woman wore a corset to change the shape of her body. I’m not sure if Fianna Grube wore a corset with her wedding dress but considering the year she was married 1856 it wouldn’t be surprising. The way her dress was tight at the top and the skirt flowed could have also shaped her body and was able to hide the truth of her body as well.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Blue Jeans

Who would think that there is so much to uncover behind a pair of blue jeans? I would have never even thought about any type of relationship to blue jeans and people if it wasn’t for the book Blue Jeans, The Art of the Ordinary by Daniel Miller and Sophie Woodard. Blue jeans are something that a lot of us wear frequently. Not only blue jeans but clothes in general. What is it that influences us to wear what we wear? One of the ideas that Miller talks about is the relationship between parent and child. I agree that parents have an influence on what children wear. As the child grows up their choices still might reflect the influences of the earlier years one way or another. Darren is a man who is interviewed in the book along with his father about their clothing choices. Although the two men might not now wear the same type of thing, both of them tend to wear things that make them stand out. Darren’s father claims that this is because of him and that his son now does that same thing, wearing clothing that makes him stand out. That influence of Darren’s father when he was a kid is the reason that Darren dresses the way that he does now.

When I think about the Fianna Grube’s wedding dress, I am curious if her mother, father, or even fiancĂ© at the time had any influence of the color, style etc of the dress. Perhaps her mother wore a dress such as the one that she did. Maybe Martin Peiffer preferred his bride to be in blue and brown and that is why she chose those colors. Fianna could have be influenced not by a person but by fashion in her day from reading Godey’s Lady Book and Magazine. We will never know for sure why Fianna chose the dress that she did, perhaps it was just because she liked it and it was comfortable for her.

In Miller and Woodard's book he finds out something that most of the people who he interviewed had something in common and that was that jeans are comfortable to wear. People wear certain things because that is what makes them feel comfortable. This feeling of comfort then eases the mind. Interesting, how the articles of clothing you are wearing can make you feel a specific way. Think about the clothes that you choose to wear and how they make you feel. Fianna’s wedding dress may have been comfortable for most brides it was probably made not for comfort but for her to feel beautiful. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Captions..Deciding on a Theme

The girl next door, Fianna Grube wore this handmade wedding gown at age the of nineteen. She married her neighbor Martin Peiffer 18 years older than her in Salunga, Pennsylvania on January 22nd, 1856 prior to the Civil War. Mennonite farmers, fairly wealthy, raised six children on their Lancaster Co. Farm.

In this caption I tried to depict a more overall story of the people and the place of  where the wedding gown came from. I chose my first words to be “The girl next door” because I think that those words could interest people considering it is a common phrase that is used. And due to the evidence Fianna was the next door neighbor to Martin Peiffer in Salunga, PA. I think that putting the age may capture the interest of the audience as well, putting a “wow” factor into the statement. This could cause some humor thinking that, the girl next door was really the little girl next door to Martin Peiffer. Having the date in the caption is extremely important in order to give viewers an idea of the time. Also mentioning that they were Mennonite farmers gains viewers who do not know what Mennonites are to want to learn and helps others who know what Mennonites are to understand better their way of life.

Here comes the bride! All Dressed in…Not White! Nineteen-year-old Mennonite woman, Fianna Grube wore this fashionably handmade wedding gown when she married her farmer neighbor who was 18 years older than her during the winter of 1856 in Salunga, PA. Mennonites are known to be plain, simple, and farmers which indicates the simple and plainness of the gown.

I used a different approach to this caption with the first sentence trying to capture attention from the audience using the song that goes “here comes the bride, all dressed in white.”  I still find it important to mention how Fianna and her husband were neighbors and were Mennonites so I added them into the description as well.

This handmade wedding gown was worn by a nineteen year old woman in 1856 who was married by a Mennonite Reverend in Salunga, Pa. The bride’s Mennonite religion caused her to choose blue and brown silk for her wedding day to a man on a neighboring farm.
This caption I decided not use any names of the people who were involved with the wedding dress. This makes the story a little less personal than the ones above. I think that after our class on Monday and our discussion in class I will have a better idea of the caption that I think will be the best fit for the exhibit. I also think that I might inquire some more information about Fianna Grube and her family that I may choose to change my captions around.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Girl Next Door

           When assigned the blue and brown wedding gown from Drexel University’s Historical Costume Collection, there was an article that went along with the dress. The article is from The Richmond News Leader on August 26th of 1974. The article talks about how Mrs. Donald Buckley formally Martha Elizabeth Lees wore this gown that has been passed down through the generations but making her only the second woman to wear the dress. The article has the name of the married woman who originally wore the dress on the date of January 22, 1856 in Lancaster, PA. The woman’s married name was Mrs. Martin Peiffer. ("Wedding Dress Spans Generations" 1974) Newspaper records from the Lancaster Examiner and Herald and The Lancaster Intelligencer and Weekly Advertiser confirm that on the 22nd of January in 1856 that Martin Peiffer of West Hempfield, PA married Fianna Grube of East Hempfield, PA. The originally owner of this wedding gown is Miss Fianna Grube.
            According to the records in the “Personal Records of J.J. Strine” the Mennonite Reverend Strine married the couple on the date of January 22nd, 1856. It does not say or suggest where the ceremony took place and how many people attended. During this time era you did not need to have a Pennsylvania marriage license to get married. Strine was known to always be ready and willing to marry people that you could knock on his front door and he would marry you there. Due to the fact that Reverend J.J. Strine was a Mennonite other evidence provides us to believe that both Fianna Grube’s family and Martin Pieffer’s family were Mennonites as well. (Weiser et al. 2001) Mennonites have been known to be people who live a simple life where most live and work on farms (Durnbaugh 2003).
            When researching Fianna Peiffer (formally Fianna Grube) in the 1880 East Hempfield, Lancaster, PA Census it displays the Peiffer family members, their age, and occupations. The document indicates that this information was recorded on June 1st, 1880 in East Hempfield Township, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. This lets us know that Martin and Fianna have been married for twenty-four years since they were married in 1856. It shows that Martin Peiffer (Fianna Grube’s husband and the head of the household) at age 61 and his occupation is a farmer. Fianna is listed at age 43 as the wife and her occupation is “keeping home.” There are five children listed on the census. Emma Peiffer (age 22), Martin Peiffer (age 20), John Peiffer (age 19), Fianna Peiffer (age 12), Mary Peiffer (age 11). All of the children are listed as “at home”. Another woman was listed on the census as Elizabeth Grube (age 81) under “Mother-in-law”. There was one last person listed under the Peiffer household and that was Annie Becker (age 22) under “servant.”  (CENSUS)
            After finding this information I was able to find the 1864 Bridgens’ Atlas of Lancaster, Co. that had the names of families and where they lived. As I found the area of Salunga, Pa and East and West Hempfield, there was something extraordinary to the story of Fianna Grube. The name Grube and M.B. Peiffer are located right next to each other on the map. This could mean several things. Considering this map was recorded in 1864 the couple had been married for almost ten years. It could have been a possibility that Fianna’s father had moved next to the Peiffer farm within those ten years or that the Peiffer’s moved next to the Grube’s farm. However the likely case is that the Peiffer and Grube families had lived next to each other and that is how and why Fianna and Martin Peiffer met and came to marry each other. Fianna could be considered as “The girl next door,” to Martin or “The little girl next door” considering the census records displays that the couple was 18 years apart.
            Since the wedding was in January of 1856, I looked back at newspaper articles in 1855 to see if I could find anything that had to deal with fashion and why Fianna might have had a wedding dress as she did. I came across a small article in the Lancaster Intelligencer on November 6th, 1855 titled “Still Greater Attraction.” This article discussed a book and magazine that was basically a guide for women. The magazine is called Godey’s Lady Book. The article described the upcoming magazine stories that would be out in January 1856 where it talked about fashion. Considering that Fianna was getting married then, this means she would have had to get her dress made before that Godey’s Lady Book Volume 52 came in out. With this information I then looked up “Godey’s Lady Book Volume 51: From July to December 1855.” Since the Lancaster Intelligencer was a newspaper that was available to Fianna it would be possible that by seeing the ads for Godey’s Lady Book she decided to get the issues herself.
            With Godey’s Lady Book and Magazine we are able to compare the style, design, and color to Fianna’s wedding gown. There is a picture in the magazine that has the same style of sleeves that Fianna has on her gown. The sleeves are layered with fringe on each layer just as Fianna’s sleeve are. There is also another picture of a woman wearing a dress with the skirt of the dress alternating colors just as the skirt of Fianna’s dress is. The designs on Fianna’s under sleeves match designs that are displayed in this magazine issue. All of this indicates that Fianna’s gown was fashionable. Although we can not be sure if it was her who saw these designs or a friend or family member, we can be sure that she was fashionable due to the fact that her gown resembled pictures in Godey’s Lady Book. Along with that we can not be certain if it was Fianna or another member of her family or friends who made this dress we are pretty certain that the dress was handmade. The stitching in the dress is not straight resembling that this was not factory produced. Having a dress such as the one Fianna had means that most likely her family had a good amount of money in order for us to be able to compare it to designs in Godey’s Lady Book and Magazine. (Hale et al. 1855)
            In the article from 1974 from the Richmond News Leader along with the dress there is a reference of a woman who was the owner of it at the time that it was given to Drexel University and the name was Miriam Kendig. However the name Miriam Kendig was then crossed out. This could possibly be the previous owner since I found in the book Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage that Emma Peiffer (the oldest daughter of Martin and Fianna Peiffer) married Benjamin Emmet Kendig a doctor in the Salunga area. This could mean that Fianna passed down her wedding gown to her oldest daughter Emma and it was then kept in her family and passed down to her daughters making its way to Martha Elizabeth Lees of Chester who was the second person to wear the dress before it came to Drexel University’s Historic Costume Collection.

Works Cited

1. Bridgens, H.F. “1864 Bridgens’ Atlas of Lancaster, Co. Penna from Actual Surveys by H.F. Bridgens and Assistant. H.F Bridgens No. 38, Hudson Street Philadelphia. Pg 26.
2. Durnbaugh, Donald F. “Mennonites.” Dictionary of American History. Ed. Stanley I. Kutler. 3rd ed. Vol. 3. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003. 309-310 Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 27 Oct. 2012.
4. Hale , Sarah J., and Louis A. Godey. Gode'ys Lady Book and Magazine: Volume LI.From July-December 1856 . Philadelphia: 1855.
5. "Marriages.." Lancaster Examiner and Herald (PA), January 30, 1856.
6. "Marriages.." Lancaster Intelligencer & Weekly Advertiser, January 29, 1856.
7. Pennsylvania Mennonite Heritage Volume 25-Number 1. Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, 2002.
8. "STILL Greater Attractions." Lancaster Intelligencer & Weekly Advertiser, November 6, 1855. (accessed October 26, 2012).
9. “Wedding Dress Spans Generations." Richmond News Leader, Monday 08, 1974.
10. Weiser, Fredericks, and Debra D. Smith . Personal Marriage Records of Reverend J.J Strine 1815-1870. Apollo, PA: Closson Press, 2001.
11. Year: 1880; Census Place: East Hempfield, Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Roll; 1141; Family History Film: 1255141; Page 1A; Enumeration Disctric; 122; Image: 0004.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Clothing: It Does Speak To Us

Have you ever looked at someone or a picture of someone and judged them by what they are wearing? Most likely we are all guilty of this. This has been going on for hundreds probably even thousands of years. We go back to the story of Marx’s Coat by Peter Stallybrass and how in the 1850’s Marx, who had to pawn his overcoat knew that it would affect his status in society and even opportunities. Since it was winter time and the weather was cold, without an overcoat to wear people who did not know Marx would classify him as a poor, unworthy, uneducated man. Although he may have been poor Marx was a writer, which meant he was at least somewhat educated. Marx needed to make money and he needed to go to the British Museum in order to research to help him write.  However without that overcoat he would not be allowed in. This reminds me of certain places we have today. Certain places such as restaurants, dance clubs, country clubs, and lounges have dress codes. If you are not dressed a certain way than you are not allowed in the establishment. Even if you have a ticket you will be denied access and most likely judged by people around you who are going in and out, just as Marx would be without his overcoat.

This brings me to the other reading from this past week and that is the “Clothing as Language: An Object Lesson in the Study of the Expressive Properties of Material Culture” by Grant McCracken. Think about the first three words of this chapter, “Clothing as Language.” Isn’t it true? Clothing is like a language. When you see an article of clothing anywhere, whether in a store or on a person, does it not speak to you in some way? You interpret something from it. In McCracken’s research he surveyed several people by showing them articles of clothing and gave them a list of vocabulary words to choose from to identify what type of person they think would wear it.

The first time I saw the wedding dress assigned to me I thought about who I thought would wear this. Since it is blue and brown and somewhat shiny I thought that probably a middle class woman wore it. That was all just going off what I first saw. When we first see an article of clothing we get a first impression. We need to remember that just like a first impression with a person that after the first impression with an article of clothing there is still so much we do not know. If we take the time to get to know and research the piece we may uncover things that have been waiting to be uncovered for years. This past week I went to the Historical Society in Lancaster, PA where I have uncovered things about the dress that by just looking at it you would never be able to tell.