Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Costume Collection - Women's Dresses

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Dress, 1-Piece - click to enlarge

Dress, 1-Piece - click to enlarge

Click photos to enlarge.

Dress, 1-Piece

Catalogue number: CS*044408

Date: 1814-01-06

Maker: Unknown


Empire style; very sheer white linen; front bodice made of two pieces which are seamed at center front; self binding at neck; bodice front gathered at either side of center front below bust and at neck seam; bodice side pieces, lined, extend into back; back piece, with drawstring at neck; back bodice heavily gathered at center back waist seam; narrow rectangular piece over shoulder connecting front and back; very long sleeves shaped at ends; gathering stitch on inside arm seam; skirt gathered along back at waist seam; skirt plain except near hem; hem treatment consisting of tucks, wide band of white-on-white embroidery in vine and floral pattern, with swags at lower edge, and occasional oval cutouts with net insertions that are embroidered with leaves, and lastly, tuck near bottom edge; narrow foldover hem that gives appearance of additional tuck.


Mehitabel Kendrick wore this dress for her wedding January 6, 1814 to Abisha Samson in Newton, Massachusetts. Her new husband was a Baptist minister, and she was his second wife. His first wife had died in childbirth a year earlier. Mehitabel and Abisha Samson had four children. According to the donor, the dress continued to be worn for proms, celebrations, teas and other occasions by descendents until it was donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1946. It was put on exhibition at that time and was part of the Hall of American Costume from 1964 to 1973.

Credit: Gift of Mrs. Charles C. Osgood