Mourning dress


Not on view

"Have been all this week in a sad task making up my mourning for my dear Papa & today for the first time put it on. The sight of this black dress brings the cause why I wear it more fully to my mind, if possible brings him more vividly before me." Thus Catherine Ann Edmondston (1823–1875) of North Carolina wrote in her diary about the role her mourning dress played in facing the death of her father in 1861. It was both tangible evidence of the reality of his passing and a means of keeping his memory at the forefront of her mind. For some, mourning attire was not simply a symbol of loss. Rather, the making and wearing of mourning played a role in accepting death, preserving memory, and working through one’s grief. Although the original wearer of this informal mourning dress is unknown, its simple construction techniques suggest it may have been a homemade fabrication.

Mourning dress, cotton, silk, American

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