Hand-tinted photograph of Emeline Butler Posey in her "second
day" outfit, November 9, 1860, Henderson County, Kentucky (photograph
of dress, catalog number 1989.0295.014 to be added to website in
The Costume Collection at the Smithsonian's National Museum of
American History, Behring Center, contains over 30,000 garments
and accessories representing the changing appearance of Americans
from the 17th century to the present. The collection illustrates
many of the social, cultural, technological and economic influences
affecting dress made or worn in America.
The women's dress collection is the most requested area of the
Collection for exhibition and behind-the-scenes viewing. This site
currently shows over 70 of these dresses that have been photographed
at various times. We have tried to include detailed physical descriptions
and information about the people who wore them. These stories are
about women from various parts of the country, in differing economic
Browse the Collection
to sort the dresses by maker, date, place, or function, and to select
individual objects for viewing.
Or, view a complete list of the objects
featured on this site.