Ontario County Historical Museum
Style and Status:
Dress in Early Ontario County, 1790 - 18200
Although Ontario County was a newly settled part of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase, its pioneer image was quickly lost with the rapid development of prosperous communities such as Canandaigua and Geneva. Settlers brought with them their tastes in architecture, furnishings and attire. People's status and prosperity were reflected in the elegant houses that were built, in the fine furniture found in their homes, and in their clothing. Economic prosperity also was reflected in the many mills and businesses associated with clothing and apparel found throughout the county by 1800.
In this exhibit, we will examine the clothing from the OCHS collection that was worn by people in the early settlement period of Ontario County. What styles of clothing were popular and typically worn for everyday activities, for special events, etc.? What did men wear, women wear, children wear? How were taste and status reflected in the clothing (fabric choice, style, etc.)? Where and how were fabric and accessories made and processed - what was made locally, what was imported? Who made the clothing - family members or specialists in the community? Who were the members of the Ontario County families from which these costumes came? Why were the costumes kept?
Guest researcher and costume specialist, Tamara Manker, assisted staff with this exhibit by selecting and researching early costumes from OCHS collection. We also would welcome loans from the community of early, documented, local costumes or related items for the exhibit. If you have any items you would like to lend or any questions, please see Wilma Townsend, Curator.