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Clothing

Clothing

Boston Children’s Museum houses over 250 articles of historic and contemporary clothing. The collection is geographically diverse with items from around the world including North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The clothing ranges in infant to adult sizes and dates from the mid-nineteenth century up to modern day. Most of the collection’s clothing was worn for everyday life, but some pieces were worn for formal occasions, such as a Japanese wedding kimono, or historical events, like an American Civil War uniform.

The clothing collection offers a cross culture comparison of garments from around the world by taking a closer look at the garments’ styles, materials, and construction techniques. For example, the Mexican, Finnish, and American girl’s dresses show similarities in the silhouette and differences in the materials and the cultural styles. Clothing materials can range from synthetic fibers like polyester or natural materials like English wool, Japanese silk, or Egyptian cotton, all which tell stories of material production and global trade. Lastly, the clothing construction displays the craftsmanship that goes into making clothes. Clothing was first hand sewn and then transitioned to machine sewn clothes. Because of sewing machines, clothing became mass produced and commercialized. By studying clothing, researchers learn more about subjects such as social history, technology, consumerism, design, and culture.

To explore and learn more about the Clothing Collection, visit the Japanese House website and the Native American Collection.

Brittany Contratto is the Growdon Collections Intern for spring 2015. She is currently finishing her Master of the Arts in Historical Administration from Eastern Illinois University. While at Boston Children’s Museum, she focused on digitizing and rehousing the clothing and Australian artifacts.

Browse the collection:

Woman’s Dress, c. 1838

Woman’s Dress, c. 1838

United States

Cotton and metal clasp

2NK XX 443 (found in collections)

Girl’s Dress, c. 1880

Girl’s Dress, c. 1880

United States

Taffeta, cotton, and metal clasp

Donated by Mrs. Nelson Hooper, 1960

3NK 60-14

Civil War Uniform of John Phillips Loftus, c. 1860

Civil War Uniform of John Phillips Loftus, c. 1860

Uniform includes: hat, jacket, vest, pants, and sash

United States

Wool, yarn, brass, buttons, and linen

Donated by Elizabeth Loftus, 1960

3NK 60-45 a-e


John Phillips Loftus, a native of Boston, Massachusetts, enrolled August 13, 1861 at the age of 22 as a Private in the 19th Massachusetts Infantry Volunteers, Company K, known as the Tiger Fire Zouaves of Boston and the Fighting Essex. They were attached to the Third Brigade, First Division, Second Army Corps. The 19th Massachusetts served at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863. Loftus was mustered out of the service June 22, 1865, and was elected First Lieutenant, First Division Massachusetts Militia by Governor Alexander Bullock.



Caption for image: John Phillips Loftus in uniform, c.1861

Woman’s Dress, ca. 1854

Woman’s Dress, ca. 1854

Ensemble includes: waist, skirt, and belt

United States

Taffeta, buttons, metal clasp, and lace

Donated by Miss Marion F. Marse, 1937

3NK 626


This dress belonged to donor’s great aunt. It also was displayed in Grandparent’s Attic exhibition.
Woman’s Blouse, c. 1900

Woman’s Blouse, c. 1900

United States

Lace, silk, and metal clasp

Donated by Miss Dike, 1937

3NK 690


Woman’s Shawl, 1920-1940

Woman’s Shawl, 1920-1940

United States

Taffeta and lace

Donated by Mrs. Annamarie Clifford, 1974

3NK 74-57


Woman’s Dress, 1880-1910

Woman’s Dress, 1880-1910

Ensemble includes: waist and skirt

United States

Silk, lace, and metal clasp

3NK XX 429 S1 (found in collections)


Child’s Furisode Kimono, 1990-2006

Child’s Furisode Kimono, 1990-2006

Japan

Silk and dye

2006.X.2 a-b (found in collections)


This child's furisode (long-sleeved) kimono would have been worn during a Shichigosan ("Seven-Five-Three") festival. The Shichigosan Festival, held annually on November 15th, marks a rite of passage and celebrates the growth and health of three- and seven-year-old girls and three- and five-year old boys. It is believed to have originated during the Heian Period (794-1185), and its current customs have remained fairly consistent since the Meiji Period (1868-1912). Girls and boys of the specified ages, considered lucky ages, dress in kimono and visit Shinto shrines, where they receive chitose-ame ("thousand year candy"), which symbolize growth and longevity.


Child’s Matador Costume, c. 1950-2006

Child’s Matador Costume, c. 1950-2006

Ensemble includes: hat, jacket, and pants

Velvet and cotton

2006.X.541 (found in collections)

Bolivian Boy’s Costume, 1980-2005

Bolivian Boy’s Costume, 1980-2005

Ensemble includes: shirt, vest, pants, and belt. Hat and sandals not pictured.

Felt, wool, and plastic

2015.XX.1 (found in collections)


Native men and boys from Potosi, Bolivia have been dressing in clothing like this outfit for centuries.

Woman’s Dress, c. 1932

Woman’s Dress, c. 1932

United States

Cotton voile

2015.XX.2 (found in collections)

Jacket, c. 1940

Jacket, c. 1940

Peru

Wool, plastic, buttons, and felt

Donated by Rosamund Allen, 2014

2015.2.2


Peruvian jacket purchased by Emily Tuckerman Allen and donor's godmother, Susan Miller Jackson, on their trip around South America upon graduating from Bryn Mawr College in 1940. Susan Miller Jackson was once a president of BCM.

Woman’s Uchikake Kimono, 1950-1970

Woman’s Uchikake Kimono, 1950-1970

Japan

Silk and dye

Donated by Mr. Herbert H. Rosenberg, 1970

AB 70-2


This woman's short-sleeved uchikake, or wedding kimono, is embroidered with playful designs of traditional Japanese folk toys. Many of the toys, on the outside and inner lining, are zodiac animals and related New Year's decorations. The toys depicted include: papier-mache bobble-head animals of a tiger, boars, mice, chicks, cats, foxes, snakes, birds, an inuhariko, a miharu-goma, a horseshoe, a hobby-horse, instruments (including a flute), a taketombo game, an ema plaque, and various wheeled vehicles. This is a very formal kimono, and likely worn to a wedding.


Blouse, 1920-1966

Blouse, 1920-1966

India

Cotton, glass, satin, and dye

Donated by Estate of Miss Florence Smith, 1966

AW 66-4


The donor obtained this item while visiting India. This article follows the embroidery style from the Kutch District, India.

Child’s Tunic, c. 1864

Child’s Tunic, c. 1864

Mumbai, India

Silk, metal thread, metal sequins, and dye

Donated by John Farlow, 1932

AW 224 S3


The donor received these items from a shipping merchant in 1864 from Bombay (presently Mumbai), India. It was likely worn by a Parsi during festival times. This style of tunic can also be called a jubba.

Vest, c. 1920-1944

Vest, c. 1920-1944

Kutch, India

Linen, dye, beads, shell, cotton, glass, and satin

Purchase by Boston Children's Museum, 1944

AW 431


This article follows the embroidery style from the Kutch District, India.


Swiss Guard Costume, 1878-1914

Swiss Guard Costume, 1878-1914

Ensemble includes: pants, jeweled ornament, ruff, handkerchief, sword belt, and coat. Scabbard, stockings, and sword not pictured.

Italy

Wool, metal, plastic, leather, and cotton

Donated by Laura Norcross Marrs, 1926

EI 235 a-j


This Swiss Guard costume was for a ball and made by a Vatican tailor. The style of it dates to Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) and Pope Pius X (1903-1914). The donor Laura Norcross Marrs and her husband Kingsmill Marrs traveled around the world, especially in Europe and Egypt. They lived in Florence, Italy, until Mr. Marrs passed away in 1912.

Hussar's Jacket, c. 1930-1944

Hussar's Jacket, c. 1930-1944

Austria

Wool, metal sequins, and brass

Donated by the Heirs of Mrs. George Monks, 1944

EK 34


Woman’s Parka, 1960-1968

Woman’s Parka, 1960-1968

Scammon Bay, Alaska

Velvet, fur, and nylon

Donated to Boston Children’s Museum, 1968

ENA 68-3 S4

Girl’s Costume, 1955-1969

Girl’s Costume, 1955-1969

Ensemble includes: skirt, apron, vest, and blouse

Lahti, Finland

Cotton, wool, and buttons

Donated by Mrs. Arthur Rice, 1969

EO 69-1


Costume was made by the Helmi Vuorelma-Lahti Company. The company is known for making traditional Finnish costumes since 1910 in Lahti, Finland.

Wedding Dress, c. 1859

Wedding Dress, c. 1859

Ensemble includes: skirt, vest, blouse, apron, guimpe, and necklace. Cap, under-cap, and ribbons not pictured.

Near Pont-Aven, Brittany, France

Silk, wool, chenille, metal clasp, and cotton

Donated by Mrs. C.J. White, 1939

EW 100 a, c-g


This Breton wedding dress was owned by a friend of the donor's mother.

Girl’s Dress, 1960-1967

Girl’s Dress, 1960-1967

Ensemble includes: blouse and skirt

Lagos, Nigeria

Cotton and dye

Donated to Boston Children’s Museum, 1967

FA 67-12

Man’s Tunic and Pants, 1960-1967

Man’s Tunic and Pants, 1960-1967

Ensemble includes: tunic, undershirt, and pants

Nigeria

Cotton and dye

Donated to Boston Children’s Museum, 1967

FA 67-16

Man’s Coat, 1900-1960

Man’s Coat, 1900-1960

Canada

Leather, fur, and paint

Donated by the Children's Museum of Cambridge, 1966

INM XX 11

This coat was made by the Naskapi peoples.


Child’s Dress, c. 1940-1966

Child’s Dress, c. 1940-1966

Southeast United States

Cotton and dye

Donated by the Children's Museum of Cambridge, 1966

INN XX 10


Seminole peoples created patchwork clothing such as this dress. This patchwork styled developed around 1920.

Man’s Coat, 1965-1976

Man’s Coat, 1965-1976

Turkey

Cotton and dye

Donated by David Braun, 1981

MB 82-1


The donor's wife, Jane K. Sallade, an anthropologist, obtained the Bedouin coat while traveling in Eastern Mediterranean and Central America regions between 1968-1976.

Child’s Dress, 1900-1938

Child’s Dress, 1900-1938

Damascus, Syria

Cotton, dye, silk, and metal sequins

Purchased by Boston Children's Museum, 1938

MD 78

Woman’s Pants, 1930-1941

Woman’s Pants, 1930-1941

Syria

Chintz, silk, and linen

Donated by Mrs. Willard Emery, 1941

MD 162

Man’s Tunic, 1900-1943

Man’s Tunic, 1900-1943

Yemen

Cotton, mother-of-pearl shell, and metal sequins

Purchase by Boston Children's Museum, 1943

MJ 14

Boy’s Robe and Vest, 1900-1938

Boy’s Robe and Vest, 1900-1938

Egypt

Silk and cotton

Donated by Mr. Alexander Wheeler, 1938

MR 210


Huipil Tunic, 1956

Huipil Tunic, 1956

Mexico

Cotton and dye

Purchased by Boston Children's Museum, 1956

NU 56-2 S1

Girl's Costume, 1945-1958

Girl's Costume, 1945-1958

Ensemble includes: top and skirt

Tehuantepec, Mexico

Satin and cotton

Purchased by Boston Children's Museum, 1951

NU 885 a-c

Woman’s Dress, 1900-1940

Woman’s Dress, 1900-1940

Guatemala

Silk and cotton

Donated by Mrs. Arthur Lyman, 1940

SA 38 a


This is a dress made by natives of Guatemala, but not in a traditional style. It was a dress made for a tourist.

Girl’s Jacket and Skirt, circa 1956

Girl’s Jacket and Skirt, circa 1956

Ensemble includes: jacket and skirt. Sandals and hat are not pictured

Peru

Wool, cotton, and plastic

Purchased by Boston Children's Museum, 1956

SA 56-6 a-b