Fashioning the New England Family, based on an exhibition at the Massachusetts Historical Society the fall 2018, reconnects the textiles with the associated stories carried in the family papers.
Generously illustrated with full-color photographs of garments, fabrics, and accessories, including exquisite detail shots, the book creates a lasting overview of the exhibition but also delves into specific topics. The chapters cover a span of more than three hundred years, tracing the history of New England clothing from the colonial seventeenth century, through the Revolutionary eighteenth century, and into the national nineteenth.
In these pages, readers will find a fragment of Mayflower passenger Priscilla Mullins Alden’s dress; Governor John Leverett’s bloodstained buff coat, which saw battle in the English Civil War; and the luxurious Spitalfields green silk damask wedding dress and shoes that Rebecca Tailer Byles wore at her 1747 wedding in Boston.
Across these examples and more, the text traces patterns of global production and local consumption and reuse, demonstrating how New Englanders used costume to establish their situation, especially in terms of class and gender, and also to express their political affiliations. Patriots and loyalists - Hancocks, Adamses, Dawses, and Olivers - make many appearances, as they are so well represented in the society's rich holdings. Manuscripts drawn from the collections -receipts, daybooks, account books, diaries - further amplify the historical insights, even at times making it possible to interpret the way in which a specific garment may have embodied one individual's sense of identity. Paperback; 128 pages with 133 color illustrations.