Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Costume Collection - Women's Dresses

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Dress, 1-Piece - click to enlarge

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Dress, 1-Piece

Catalogue number: CS*015408

Date: 1815-1825

Maker: Unknown


Gray-green satin; neck slightly dropped and bound with self band; one bust dart on either side of center front; bodice front extending over shoulder and applied to back; back cut in two pieces; center back opening with drawstring at neck and waist; drawstring at back waist only from opening to side seam; long sleeves with upper portion of white cotton; separate sleeve cap pleated into armscye (armhole) and covering white cotton portion of sleeve; sleeve cap opening bound with self binding; inside sleeve seam gathered near elbow; sleeve opening trimmed with two tucks; skirt flat in front and pleated in back; small horizontal tuck near hem; additional band that gives the illusion of tucks sewn below this tuck as trim; foldover hem.


This dress belonged to Judith Hays Myers of Richmond, Virginia. Born September 2, 1767, in Boston, Massachusetts, she was the daughter of Moses Michael Hayes, a prominant businessman in Boston and his wife Rachel. On September 21, 1796, she became the second wife of Samuel Myers of Virginia-the same day that her sister, Sally, married Samuel's brother, Moses. Part of a small, and active, Jewish community in Richmond, Samuel was known for his civic involvement. Judith and Samuel had six children and also cared for two of Samuel's nieces. Many years later her granddaughter described her as "small, dark, pretty and pleasing, and idolized by her children." Judith died February 2, 1844, and is buried in Richmond. Her dress is very plain, but is made of a very heavy silk satin, befitting her status as the wife of a middle-aged merchant. It was exhibited in the Hall of American Costume from 1964 to 1973.

Credit: From Mrs. Edward Cohen