“Over the River and Through the Woods…

…to grandmother’s house we go,” for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays or so the song implies. As the colder winter months approach and we turn to sweaters, boots and cozy nights by the fire, we take a look back at how people kept warm while traveling 100 years ago. Before seat warmers, heat or even windows were standard features on cars, people had to find ways to stay warm while riding to and from their destinations. This could be achieved in a variety of ways from heated bricks to heavy fur coats. One of the most common methods, however, was the carriage blanket. The carriage blanket, also known as a lap robe, was a necessity in the winter. For more information on lap robes and wonderful period photos of advertisements featuring them, check out this blog post from the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum . Our post discusses three such fur blankets that are a part of the Historic Costume & Textiles Collection. It is important to remember that fur was one of the few options people had to stay warm during the winter. Synthetic fibers such as acrylic, polyester, Thinsulate and polar fleece would not be available until years later.

lap robe sleigh photo

c.1915-1920 Sleigh, New Jersey


The fur lap robes worn in open carriages and sleighs, and later automobiles, were often made of durable furs such as bear, or American bison to withstand the wear and tear. Bison was almost hunted to extinction in the 19th century because of its hide. This animal, which provided many staple products used for centuries by inhabitants of the North American plains, was heavily hunted and exported to the British military during the Crimean War (1854-56), and exploited by passengers in railroad cars wantonly shooting bison on the way to California in the 1870s. The buffalo lap robe featured in this post was used in Oklahoma between 1909 and 1912. It belonged to Henry Paul Miller, the son of a farmer, who was born in Galena, Ohio in 1865. Henry engaged in farming as well before graduating from Ohio State University Veterinary College in 1897. He married Emma Pierson in 1891 and had four sons before taking a teaching position with the Agriculture College of Oklahoma in 1909. The family would spend about three years in Oklahoma before Henry was appointed the first County Agricultural agent in Ohio for Portage County in 1913. While riding in their horse-drawn carriage or sleigh, this lap robe would have provided a warm barrier between the Miller family and cold Oklahoma winters.

1917 Chase Car Robe  Advertisement

1917 Chase Car Robe Advertisement

The second featured lap robe is made of brown and white vicuña fur and belonged to Phoebe Apperson Hearst. Vicuña is an animal related to the llama or alpaca and is a much more luxurious fur than bison or bear. Phoebe Hearst was the wife of George Hearst and the mother of publisher William Randolph Hearst. Mrs. Hearst used this lap robe for a number of years, both in her carriage and her Pierce-Arrow automobile, the first of which was manufactured in 1908.

1912 Pierce Arrow

1912 Pierce Arrow

Mrs. Hearst was born in Missouri in 1842 and married George Hearst in 1862. Phoebe and George moved to California after their marriage where George was a successful miner and later senator. George passed away in 1891 at which time Phoebe engaged in numerous philanthropic endeavors which took her to various locations along both coasts. Mrs. Hearst lived to age 77, passing away in 1919.


The third lap robe is made of muskrat and is lined in panné velvet with side by side kangaroo pockets for two passengers to warm their hands. It dates from the late 1910’s to the mid-1920’s, and like the vicuña is much less bulky than the bison. It belonged Martha Kerslake, who was born in England in 1869. She and her husband George moved to Rhode Island in 1904 where George ran a woolen mill. Martha and George became naturalized citizens of the U.S. in 1909. Muskrat was a highly popular and fashionable fur during this time. In addition to lap robes, muffs and stoles were also made of this fur, often with tails dangling off the ends. This lap robe features 40 muskrat tails as a decorative element.

1920s Fur Carriage Boots Gift of Mrs. Charles Hyatt

1920s Fur Carriage Boots
Gift of Mrs. Charles Hyatt

In addition to carriage blankets, travelers could also wear carriage boots. Carriage boots were worn by women in winter over ordinary shoes or slippers as protection against the cold weather. Originally worn in horse-drawn carriages, hence their name, they were also later worn in automobiles. The black carriage boots from our collection have the updated additional weather protection of a rubber sole with the word, “Hood” stamped on the bottom. The Hood Rubber Company of Watertown, Mass. primarily manufactured footwear, providing American, British and French troops in WWI with several models of boots. In August 1929, the company was purchased by the B. F. Goodrich Company of Akron, Ohio, who moved its footwear division to Watertown.


Red, White, Blue and Fabulous

Happy Fourth of July!

In celebration of the Fourth of July, we would like to highlight two ensembles from the collection that feature  the iconic red, white and blue seen everywhere in the US on this date of the country’s anniversary of Independence Day. These three colors are not without meaning. The colors of the flag were chosen to represent particular American ideals. Red symbolizes hardiness and valor while white represents purity and innocence. Finally, blue symbolizes vigilance, perseverance and justice. The first official flag was adopted by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The current version of the flag was approved with the addition of Hawaii as the 50th state in 1960. While it is common for Americans to wear the colors of the flag in celebration of Independence Day, it was particularly popular in 1976 as the U.S. celebrated its bicentennial.bicentennial-logo

President Gerald Ford appointed the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission to coordinate events to celebrate the nation’s 200th birthday. The President stated, in his official Bicentennial message, that “for two centuries our Nation has grown, changed and flourished. A diverse people, drawn from all corners of the Earth, have joined together to fulfill the Promise of Democracy… The Bicentennial offers each of us the Opportunity to join with our fellow Citizens in honoring the Past and preparing for the Future in Communities across the Nation.”


Leisure suit, c. 1976

  This suit exemplifies the craze for patriotic fashion during 1976. As America celebrated its 200th anniversary, many people chose to express their patriotism through a marriage of red, white and blue with popular fashion. This leisure suit is a cotton/polyester blend paired with a navy blue polyester shirt, white belt and white/black patent leather loafers. This style was also known as the “Full Cleveland”. The “Full Cleveland” was a man’s leisure suit paired with a white belt and shoes.

1976 Simplicity pattern

1976 Simplicity pattern

  If you preferred to wear a patriotic but historically inaccurate costume for the Bicentennial there were commercial patterns, such as this one from Simplicity, available for the home sewer.

1985 Arnold Scaasi sequined dress

1985 Arnold Scaasi sequined dress

  This strapless sequin dress was produced in 1985 and donated to thecollection by the designer, Arnold Scaasi, himself. While not designed in direct reference to Independence Day, it certainly utilizes the  patriotic color scheme of the U.S. flag. Arnold Scaasi is considered an American designer, and was a favorite of first ladies Barbara and Laura Bush as well as Mamie Eisenhower and Ladybird Johnson. You can’t get more patriotic than that!

Detail of 1985 Arnold Scaasi Dress

Detail of 1985 Arnold Scaasi Dress

  Scaasi’s is an interesting story. His surname would indicate he is perhaps Italian, but Arnold Scaasi was born in Canada and not with that surname. In 1954 Robert Denning, a friend working on the General Motors advertising campaign which featured models wearing gowns designed by Scaasi, told him they had reversed his name in the caption because it had an Italian flavor and Italian fashions were all the rage that year. Look magazine considered him “one of America’s promising young designers” in 1955, and in 1958 he won the Coty American Fashion Critics Award and was compared to Dior. The popularity of his designs in the 1980s stemmed largely from a fashion revival of voluminous 1950s style gowns, a form at which he excelled.

No matter what you choose to wear this weekend, just remember to have fun and be safe celebrating the 4th!

Marlise Schoeny

Sartorial Sleuthing: The Easter Bonnet

We don’t wear hats like we used to in centuries past. Men and women always wore some type of head covering in public until well into the 20th century. Starting in the 1960s, the popularity of wearing hats for both men and women seriously began to wane. Today, for the most part, women wear hats only for special occasions such as church on Sunday, royal weddings or horse races like the Kentucky Derby. So what’s so special about the Easter bonnet?

Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal with Mother Nature’s greenery reappearing after a harsh winter and baby animals being born, so spring and its accompanying holiday, Easter, have come to symbolize that rebirth and renewal.

Around the globe, many cultures celebrate periods of renewal such as the turn of a new year or spring time with a long-standing tradition of wearing new clothes. In the 4th century, Christian Roman Emperor Constantine introduced elaborate dress and the display of personal finery in honor of Christ’s resurrection. For the spring holiday of Easter this tradition is mentioned in British literary references dating back to the 16th century.

A new set of clothes always included a new or refurbished hat, at least for women. So while women were wearing new Easter hats or bonnets for a number of decades, the “Easter Bonnet” did not become fixed into our popular culture until Irving Berlin penned the lyrics for his Depression-era 1933 song, Easter Parade:

“In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it, you’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter parade.”

The song was featured on Broadway and in several films and was finally turned into a movie of the same name starring Judy Garland and Fred Astaire in 1948. It references New York’s famous Easter parade, which has been a cultural expression of Easter in the United States since the 1880s. What began as the Christian churches lining Fifth Avenue being decorating with spring flowers extended into the ladies of the congregations displaying elaborate articles of fashionable dress. The parade takes place on Easter Sunday on Fifth Avenue from 49th to 57th Streets from 10am to 4pm. The parade is open to anyone who wants to participate, including pets, and dressing up by all is definitely encouraged.

Please enjoy our “parade” of Easter bonnets!

Lady in Red…Maybe?

With Valentine’s Day approaching, pink and red in particular, are beginning to inundate the consumer landscape. But why red? Why do we associate the color red with the romance of Valentine’s Day? Researchers such as S. Craig Roberts et al. from the University of Liverpool discuss several findings which may help explain this association. For example, red is associated with success in both individual competition and team sports. This is more than likely due to our psychological association of the color red with dominance and aggression. Likewise, Andrew J. Elliot and Daniela Niesta studied the influence of the color red within romantic situations. They hypothesized that red was an aphrodisiac for men when viewing women due to it carrying the message of sex and romance. They began to refer to this phenomenon as the red-sex link. Elliot and Niesta explain the historic societal conditioning that people have gone through to develop this red-sex link.

Red often appears as a symbol of passion, lust, and fertility in ancient mythology and folklore (Barua, 1962; Erdoes & Ortiz, 1984; Hupka, Zaleski, Otto, Reidl, & Tarabrina, 1997; Hutchings, 2004; Jobes, 1962). In literature, red has repeatedly been associated with female sexuality, especially illicit sexuality, most famously in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic work The Scarlet Letter. Likewise, in popular stage and film, there are many instances in which red clothing, especially a red dress, has been used to represent passion or sexuality (e.g., A Streetcar Named Desire, Dial M for Murder, and Jezebel; Greenfield, 2005). Red is paired with hearts on Valentine’s Day to symbolize romantic affection and is a highly popular color for women’s lingerie. Red has been used for centuries to signal sexual availability or “open for business” in red-light districts. Women commonly use red lipstick and rouge to heighten their attractiveness, a practice that has been in place at least since the time of the ancient Egyptians (10,000 BCE; Regas & Kozlowski, 1998).

 In Elliot and Niesta’s experiment they found the following: men who viewed a woman on a red, relative to a white, background perceived her to be more attractive; women, however, did not perceive a difference in attractiveness of other women regardless of background color. They also found that men were more likely to ask a woman dressed in red on a date and would spend more money on her than a women dressed in blue, for instance. It is important to note, however, that men’s perceptions of women’s overall likeability, kindness, or intelligence were not influenced by the color red. In terms of real world applications, Elliot and Niesta write the following:

The practical implications of our findings are striking in the extent of their reach. That red is an aphrodisiac for men is not only valuable information for both men and women in the mating game, but should also prove of considerable interest to fashion and image consultants, product designers, and marketers and advertisers, among (many) others.

 So what does this mean for you? In short, go ahead and wear that little red ensemble for Valentine’s Day. If you’re a woman, the man in your life will appreciate it and if you don’t have a special guy it may help you attract one. Just be sure you understand the underlying expectations! Happy Valentine’s Day from the Ohio State Historic Costume & Textiles Collection.

 Marlise Schoeny


Roberts S, Owen R, Havlicek J. Distinguishing Between Perceiver and Wearer Effects in Clothing Color- Associated Attributions. Evolutionary Psychology [serial online]. July 2010;8(3):350-364. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA. Accessed February 10, 2015.


The Rose Bowl, a Scarlet and Gray Suit and a Mouton Jacket

(Click any of the above images to open them in a gallery for a larger view)

In honor of the recent national championship win for The Ohio State University, we thought we would share a story related to another important football game from years past.

In 1954, Janet Bez was a sophomore at Ohio State. The football team had won all of their games and were on their way to the Rose Bowl. Janet simply had to go the game. At the time, Janet was the marching band’s librarian and secretary. The band was to attend to the game as they had raised sufficient funds to travel to Pasadena by train. The band was only open to men at this point in time but Janet was heavily involved nonetheless. Janet’s parents were accomplished musicians and Janet grew up with music lessons in their house. Her father, Dr. Paul Bez, was the chairman of the German Department at Capital University and played the flute. Sadly, Dr. Bez passed away in 1940. Janet’s mother, Winifred, married Dr. Karl G. Busch in 1942. Dr. Busch was the head of the Science Department at Capital University. Her mother, Winifred, played piano. In high school, Janet played the flute in the marching band, the violin in the orchestra and the piano in the dance band.

Janet was allowed to accompany the band to Pasadena by riding in the last remaining spot in the Pullman Roomette Car with other “band family”. It included directors and wives, some parents and sisters and the photographer. For the special occasion, Janet purchased a scarlet and gray plaid suit from Milgrim, a local Columbus boutique. Additionally, she brought along a new mouton lamb jacket that had been purchased from Lazarus. (Both items are pictured in the photographs above) Janet had a “chaperone” in the form of Lois Allen, who was the wife of Jim Allen, who played sousaphone in the band, and had been a librarian with the band as well. Prior to their departure, Lois had tea with Janet’s mother in order to meet her and inform her that she was to check up on Janet and keep on eye on her.

On the day of the game, January 1, 1955, the forecast claimed that is would be a beautiful day. It was still a little chilly so Janet and Lois wore their coats to the Rose Parade and game. Unfortunately, the forecast was wrong and it rained heavily all day. The girls were left to the elements as they had not brought along umbrellas. Not wanting to miss a minute of the game, they stayed for the entire game. Lois was wearing a baby leopard skin coat that separated and began falling apart by the end of the game. Janet’s lamb coat was soaked through and stank. The worst part was that the coat had to be worn throughout the trip home to Columbus. Janet tried to dry it out by hanging it near a fan in her compartment but it apparently smelled like she was sharing the room with a very wet dead animal.

This was not the end of Janet’s involvement with the band, however. Janet was very active with the TBDBITL Alumni Club acting as its first secretary and continuing in that role for 20 years. When the band allowed women to join the marching band in 1973, the alumni asked that they be allowed to choose the first woman musician  to march onto the field in the Horseshoe and the chose Janet for the honor. Janet was also the first  woman to conduct the National Anthem in Ohio Stadium, in 1983. Interestingly, Ohio State was playing Oregon that day and once again OSU emerged victorious. Janet continues to get together with the Alumni Band and urges budding artists to grab every chance that comes along.

Janet’s history with the band and her numerous accomplishment’s as a musician and an educator are to be praised and we are thrilled to be a part of that history by preserving her wardrobe and the wonderful story that accompanies it.

Marlise Schoeny

And the Bride Wore…Pearl Harbor Day

Click the above images to view them in a larger format

Mary Lou Otto and John H. Kime, December 7, 1941

In remembrance of the attack on Pearl Harbor, 73 years ago yesterday, we have chosen to feature a wedding story that occurred on that fateful day.


Mary Lou Otto wore this dress on the occasion of her marriage to Lieutenant John H. Kime on December 7, 1941.

Mary Lou was born March 10, 1918 in Nebraska to Elizabeth Butler and Roy Otto. Her father, Roy, worked as a laborer and a salesman in a hardware store. At the time of her marriage, Mary Lou was teaching home economics at Connellsville High School in Pennsylvania. She had graduated from that High School, and from the School of Home Economics at West Virginia University in Morgantown.

John H. Kime was born June 11, 1916 in Moundsville, West Virginia. He graduated from the College of Mining Engineering of West Virginia University and had attended Greenbrier Military Academy. At the time of their marriage, John was stationed at Fort Belvoir, Virginia – The WWII 300th Combat Engineers for training. The wedding was postponed four times. Mary Lou met John at the Baltimore and Ohio station and they went to her mother and father’s house on Crawford Avenue. The wedding was performed the next day. The wedding was held at Elizabeth Maude Bute Otto and Roy Basting Otto’s home. Mary Lou and John were together for 20 days before he shipped off to the Aleutian Islands until 1945.

Their afternoon wedding took place at 2:00pm that infamous Sunday. It was only a half hour later that the major radio news networks interrupted regular programming, at 2:30pm Eastern Standard Time, to bring news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that launched the United States’ involvement in WWII. John learned of the attacks from his father-in-law who called him into another room with a radio when he heard the news.

Mary Lou’s dress is no longer the blue it once was due to the properties of the acetate fiber and the dyes used at the time of its manufacture. We can still see the original color of the blue dress in the rayon hem tape, cotton stitching thread and side zipper tape, and the lining covering her shoulder pads. Mary Lou chose a blue dress because it was her favorite color. Additional color images of the dress, as well as newspaper articles detailing the nuptials can be seen here .

Marlise Schoeny

And the Bride Wore…Part Two

2004.12.1 Watermarked

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.

Marlise Schoeny

And the Bride Wore…Part One


As a compliment to our current exhibition, And the Bride Wore…, we have chosen to highlight some of the wedding stories of the brides both featured in the gallery and those that were unable to be put on display. This is the first in a series of posts that will showcase these women, their stories, and the gowns they wore.

Dolores G. Kathman and Thomas C. Deinlein

Dolores Kathman was born on October 18, 1924 in Cincinnati, Ohio and lived there her entire life. She graduated from Commercial High School in 1941. She would then work as a bookkeeper, for a CPA and later as an executive secretary for the head of an advertising agency. Dolores was one of five children, with three brothers and one sister. According to her diary, she met Thomas Deinlein on a double date on February 21, 1943.

Thomas Deinlein was born February 16, 1921 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He attended St. Xavier High School for his Freshman and Sophomore years on a two year scholarship that he won competitively. The tuition proved too high, however, for the final two years and he had to work during the day and attend school at night. Thomas graduated from East Night School in 1940. Thomas served in the 70th Construction Battalion Pacific Division from early 1942 until the end of World War II. Following the war, he worked as a professional surveyor for the city of Cincinnati for 40 years.

Thomas and Dolores were married at St. Leo Roman Catholic Church in Cincinnati on June 29, 1946. They had become engaged on June 7, 1944. The bride wore an ivory wedding dress with gauze, and seed and bugle bead trim at neckline. It had a jewel neckline and sheer yoke with beaded leaf motives around neck and at  bust level. There was a draped bertha around shoulders extend from motif around back. Thomas and Dolores had a powerful love story that was tragically cut short by Dolores’ passing of a brain aneurysm at age 42 in 1967. While their marriage may have been relatively brief, their family was close knit and their legacy lives on in their son, Terry Deinlein.

Marlise Schoeny

On the Good Ship Licensing

With the recent passing of Shirley Temple Black, we thought we would highlight three dresses from the collection that were produced under her name in the 1930s. Temple was five years old when she made her feature film debut and Daniel Thomas Cook points out that her wardrobe was designed with a “toddler look” and her retail line of dresses maintained a toddler line throughout the 1930s even when Temple was no longer a toddler herself. The production of trademarked Shirley Temple dresses was undertaken by the Nannette Manufacturing Company of New York City, for dresses in the toddler range, until the early 1940s. Additionally, the Rosenau Bros, Manufacturing Company offered Shirley Temple designs in Big and Little Sister styles in sizes 3-6 ½ and 7-12 years.

Movie studios were well aware of the impact of their child star’s on-screen appearance and often hired well known designers to create their wardrobes. They often designed on-screen ensembles with an eye towards the apparel market. The Shirley Temple Cinderella Frock line was the most successful of all the Shirley Temple Brand fashions. Other lines included; socks, shoes, underwear, raincoats, jewelry, scarves, gloves and others. Temple’s mother insisted that Shirley try on all designs produced under her name as a means of quality control. Three or four poses were photographed wearing each scarf, swimsuit, dress, etc. One of the shots would then be used on a hang tag for the garment or in an advertisement. Rita Dubas writes how Temple would pose for more than 20 product shots every few days. A rather taxing assignment for any young child.

The first dress from our collection is a light blue silk crepe de chine Shirley Temple brand pleated and Battenberg lace yoke dress. It belonged to Carol Logue, who was born in New Brunswick, NJ in 1936. It was produced under the Nannette Company for toddlers. The second dress is a peach-colored rayon sleeveless dress with pleated ruffle collar, pleated straight skirt, and black velvet bow and waist tie. It is a Cinderella Frock and was worn by Harriet Green to her grandparents golden wedding anniversary in 1936. Harriet was six years old at the time. The last dress is a multi-colored flower girl’s smock; knee-length; short cap-sleeves; squared collar with lace trim; bodice has two darts and a belt-loop on each side; white trim along the bottom hem; four small white buttons down the back. It was purchased at auction by the Collection in central Ohio.

Marlise Schoeny

Wear red for Valentine’s Day and American Heart Health month!

Valentine’s day is in February, which is also American Heart Health month celebrated by The Heart Truth® and Go Red for Women®. The Heart Truth® created and introduced the Red Dress℠ as the national symbol for women and heart disease awareness in 2002 to deliver an urgent wake-up call to American women. The Red Dress® reminds and inspires women to take action to protect their heart health. Each February since its launch, the Red Dress symbol has come to life on the runway with the support of the fashion industry and celebrity models at The Heart Truth Red Dress Collection Fashion Show. So, we are posting a couple of our designer red dresses here in solidarity. A couple more can be found on our Facebook page. Wear Red!

Charles Kleibacker red qiana and pink silk jersey ensemble c. 1975

Irene Lentz Gibbons red and black silk floral print dress with large waist bow c. 1953