Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Greene Collection-A Child's Dress

Hello all! This blogger is back from vacation with a child's dress from the Greene Collection. While you may imagine that this lovely piece is for a young girl, you would be wrong! The actual dress is a little boy's dress, which was common at the time.

This dress is entirely hand stitched and made with a black and red spot pattern fabric. The bodice is gathered generously into the wide bound neckline which was intended to fit off the shoulder. The sleeves are short and flare slightly. The short skirt is gathered at the waistband and there is a drawstring in the back. There are 2 china hobnail buttons on waistband in back, and 4 more on bodice. Thes sleeves are edged with a dense, white hand made lace.

It came with an attached penciled note that reads: “Dress worn by Wm J. Dyer born Feb 16th -1850 June 1910”
and is from the family of Elisha Dyer, b 1811. Married Anna Jones Hoppin in 1833 and was the Governor of RI 1857-1859. His son Elisha Jr. was also the governor of RI from 1897-1900. Elisha Jr.'s son, William Jones Dyer b 1850 (original owner of the dress) married Lillian Pitman Greene. Their daughter, Anna Jones Dyer wrote some of the notes that accompanied the piece when it was aquired by the museum.


  1. Thank you for this entry!
    I have several photos of previous generations of my family in which the boys outfits looked much more like young girls do today.
    Complete with bows!
    Styles change, and my guess is this all goes back to the "macaroni" days of the Revolution.
    Anita Davidson

  2. I collect carte-de-visites from the Civil War era, primarily, and I often see little boys in dresses, jewelry, and even long curls! A good way to tell in these photographs if the child is a boy or girl: the boys have their hair parted down the side, and the girls down the middle. Often, boys had long ringlet curls, too. I saw the picture of this dress, and thought it was a little boy's dress. It's got a longer bodice--like a pease body--in proportion to the skirt. Little girls bodices are generally either as long as the skirts, or the skirts are longer than the bodice. I imagine, however, that many of the dresses would be interchangeable between children.