Mary Louise Whittier and Bernard Irving Griffith
Mary Louise Whittier was born in Delaware County, Ohio on May 31, 1901 to Winfred “Fred” Parker Whittier and Edith Harriet “Hattie” Ferson. Her father, Fred, was a farmer for his entire life, as was his father before him. Fred and Hattie had married on December 25, 1899. Mary Louise, or Louise as she preferred, was the oldest of two daughters. Her sister, Doris Edith Whittier, was born January 1, 1904. Louise attended college for four years and worked as a teacher prior to her marriage in 1927.
Bernard Irving Griffith, or B.I., was born on October 15, 1903 in Ohio to Alwood Griffith and Dora Camment. Bernard’s father, Alwood, was also a farmer in Delaware County, Ohio. B.I. was also the oldest of two children. He had a younger sister, Mary, who was born in 1906. B.I. graduate from Ohio Weslyan University and was a teacher there upon his marriage to Louise. He would work there for several years before moving to Springfield, Illinois to be the public relations director for the Illinois Education Association. The couple would eventually return to Ohio and live their final years in the Upper Arlington neighborhood of Columbus.
Louise and Bernard were married on June 22, 1927 in Berlin, Ohio at the Berlin Presbyterian Church. The above photograph is an image of Louise in her wedding dress at her parent’s farm. Louise purchased the dress from the Lazarus department store and would wear it again for formal occasions with her husband at Ohio Weslyan University. During the 1880s the F&R Lazarus & Co store had become the biggest in Columbus and the largest in central Ohio. Lazarus had been exclusively a men’s and boy’s clothier until 1909 with the addition of twenty new departments, including women’s ready-to-wear. Upon the addition of the new departments, the volume of sales for the store almost doubled that of the previous year. Additional merchandise and departments were added in 1911 and 1914. The earliest piece of women’s wear from Lazarus in the OSU Collection is a linen duster from c.1912. This wedding dress, however, is among the earliest ready-to-wear women’s dresses in the Collection. In fact, it may be the earliest ready-to-wear wedding dress. As the daughter of a farmer, Louise may have had a limited budget for her wedding. Purchasing a ready-made wedding dress from a department store would have been an economical choice. Additionally, Louise wore the dress for several more events after the wedding, justifying the cost of such a special occasion dress. Louise’s wedding dress is a wonderful example of the high quality and craftsmanship that one could find in the early department stores. Department stores were still competing with small boutiques and custom made gowns at this time and this dress demonstrates that a stunning wedding gown could be obtained without the high cost of a dressmaker.