Smithsonian - National Museum of American History, Behring Center

Costume Collection - Women's Dresses

Browse the Collection


Dress, 2-Piece - click to enlarge

Dress, 2-Piece - click to enlarge

Click photos to enlarge.

Dress, 2-Piece

Catalogue number: CS*045766

Date: 1875

Maker: Unknown


Dark fuchsia silk; OVERDRESS-round neck with narrow stand collar; white lace stitched to the inside neck edge; center front opening with 15 metal hooks-and-eyes; false placket on right side with satin-covered buttons; two boned darts on either side of center front; bodice extends into back at shoulders and sides; center back piece with a curved piece on either side; bodice extends at front and back to form overskirt, open at sides; overskirt edges piped; back overskirt in two petal-like sections, connected together near lower edge by large self bow; two satin-covered buttons at back waist; long sleeves, piped at armscye (armhole); sleeve decorated with self-trim, in swirled pattern, bound at edges with piping; box-pleated self-trimming applied to sleeve near wrist opening; three self-tabs sewn above trimming, each tab decorated with a satin-covered button; white lace sewn to inside wrist opening; lined with brown cotton; SKIRT-trained; skirt flat in front; inverted box-pleat at center back with additional box pleats at sides; hem bound with purple wool braid; front of skirt trimmed with deep self ruffle and series of elongated tabs, each tab trimmed with a covered button; separate piece of fabric sewn into either side seam, meeting at lower center back and connected by very large self-bow; dark glazed brown cotton waistband; skirt entirely lined with glazed brown cotton.


This dress is part of the trousseau of Henrietta Schulken Fillyaw. Her parents were born in Germany, where they married before immigrating to the United States. Henrietta was born (1848) in North Carolina, but Census records show that the family moved around; Henrietta's older sister was born in South Carolina and younger siblings were born in Illinois before the family returned to North Carolina. Mr. Schulken was a retail grocer. The family was prosperous. The 1860 Census shows that they owned two female slaves, who probably worked as domestic servants; after the Civil War they employed an African American woman as a domestic servant. In 1875 Henrietta married Oscar Fillyaw, the son of a local distiller and merchant. After their marriage, they lived for several years with Henrietta's parents. Later Oscar engaged in farming; they had two daughters, one of whom was the donor. The dress was probably made by a dressmaker. Exhibited in the Hall of American Costume from 1964 to 1974.

Credit: Gift of Helen Fillyaw