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Boston Children’s Museum
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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:

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


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

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