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Cloth and Costume 1750 to 1800. Cumberland County, Pennsylvania

Hersh, Tandy and Charles

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ISBN 10: 0963892320 / ISBN 13: 9780963892324
Published by Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, PA, 1995
From Michael J. Osborne Books LLC, ABAA, ILAB (Columbia, MD, U.S.A.)

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212p, illustrations, index. 28cm. Red cloth, titling in black. An unread copy as new. Bookseller Inventory # 16786

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Cloth and Costume 1750 to 1800. Cumberland ...

Publisher: Cumberland County Historical Society, Carlisle, PA

Publication Date: 1995

Binding: Hardcover

About this title


This book tells the story of how the people who settled Cumberland County, Pennsylvania dressed and how they furnished their homes with textiles. Analysis of all 1220 estate inventories filed in the county from 1750 until 1800, together with wills, deeds, administrative papers, tax lists, indictments, newspapers and manuscripts, give rich detail about men's and women's clothing, bed "furniture" and table linen during these fifty years.

Many utilitarian needs for textiles were supplied by local "manufacture". Farmers produced flax, hemp and wool fibers. Household spinners took their yarns to weavers who produced the much needed cloth yardage. Household seamstresses or tailors and milliners in the towns custom-made the clothing. However, from the County's beginning many small storekeepers brought a side variety of goods from Philadelphia.

Fashion in clothes and style in the household demanded that the materials offered in Philadelphia and Baltimore be available in the county even though it was on the frontier. Contrasts abound: while one townsman slept in a "blue painted bedstead" with a set of "crimson bed curtains", a farm hand slept on a "tow chaff tick" on the floor; and while one person wore a "fine linen ruffled shirt" another wore a linen hunting shirt "dyed with maple bark". A runaway servant wore his master's new bottle-green great coat which had a yellow cape and red silk buttons.

The terminology of the period is used for all textiles, weaving equipment, clothing and accessories. The contributions of fullers, dyers, tailors, mantua makers, hatters, stocking makers, tanners, breeches makers and shoemakers are described. The appendices list over 100 named varieties of cloth found in inventories or stores and identify types and colors of cloth found in inventories or stores and identify types and colors of cloth used for men's coats, waistcoats and breeches; and for women's gowns and petticoats.

Eighteenth century Cumberland County with thirty-three widespread townships and three towns in an exceptional context for analysis of the different ways material objects were used in everyday life. Records of its storekeepers reveal how they functioned in colonial commerce and within the community. Household functions such as heating, cooking, eating and sleeping are used to compare simple farms with fashionable homes. "Wardrobes" of people in different situations are compared. Altogether this work provides an interesting portrayal of a substantial part of the structure of life in Cumberland County at a critical time in our nation's history.

About the Author:

Tandy Hersh does textile research in two fields. In one, embroidery motifs and samplers, she co-authored with her husband Charles, Samplers of the Pennsylvania Germans (1991), a definitive work widely acclaimed by students of Germanic samplers here and abroad. She has published articles on Pennsylvania German embroidery: "Decorated Aprons" in The Pennsylvania German Society's journal, Der Reggeboge. Her second interest is in historical household textiles, including quilts and coverlets. Here her study of "The 1842 Primitive Hall Quilt Top" was published in Quilt Making in America (1994). Her scholarly articles on quilting include: "A Cumberland County 1809 Quilt" and "18th Century Quilted Petticoats" in the American Quilt Study Group's journal Uncoverings. Her work on "The Evolution of the Pennsylvania-German Pillowcase" was published by the Oral Traditions Project in Bits and Pieces: Textile Traditions (1991). She plans to compile an index of germanic embroidery motifs.

Charles Hersh retired from the federal Senior Executive Service and now researchers and writes about American textiles with his wife, Tandy. His M.A. and Ph.D. degrees are from Syracuse University. He served as Professor and Assistant Dean at American University's School of Government and Public Administration in Washington D.C. where he directed many doctoral theses. He was Academic Dean of the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania for thirteen years. He and Tandy published Samplers of the Pennsylvania Germans (1991) based on five years research which included study of specialized museum collections of embroidery, cloth and clothing in Europe as well as America. His interest in the history of textiles stems from his experience in hand weaving.

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