Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Costume Collection - Women's Dresses

Browse the Collection


Dress, 1-Piece - click to enlarge

Dress, 1-Piece - click to enlarge

Dress, 1-Piece - click to enlarge

Click photos to enlarge.

Dress, 1-Piece

Catalogue number: CS*033273

Date: 1847

Maker: Unknown


Evening; gray striped silk with alternating stripes of plain gray and woven gray flowers in sprigged design; evening; wide neck, slightly V in front and back; self piping at neck edge; boned center front seam; two very long boned darts on either side of center front; center front waist deep V at waist; triple band of piping trims lower edge of bodice; side seams boned; center back opening closed with 13 metal hooks-and-eyes; curved side back seam covered with decorative piping; armscye (armhole) piped; short sleeves with two decorative self bands attached; each band is folded into decorative pattern; skirt pleated except at center back where gauged; bodice and skirt lined with glazed white cotton; foldover hem.


This dress was worn by Catalina Juliana Mason Myers, who was born in Puerto Rico in 1823. Her father, Sidney Mason, served as the first U.S. Consul to Puerto Rico and married a local woman, Maria Dorado. When her mother died in 1835, Catalina was placed in a convent school in Boston. Later she attended Miss Willard's school for girls in Troy, New York. In 1847 she married Theodorus Bailey Myers, a New York lawyer. They made their home in New York City until they moved to Washington, D.C. in the 1870s. Catalina was partially deaf, having lost her hearing during a childhood illness. She died in Washington, D.C. in 1905. This dress was part of her trousseau and probably made by a New York dressmaker. Mrs. Myers and her daughter, Catalina Myers Mason James, were instrumental in founding the costume collection at the Smithsonian Institution. This dress was exhibited in the early 20th century in the Arts and Industries Building and in the Hall of American Costume from 1964 to 1973.

Credit: Bequest of Mrs. Julian James