There’s a new exhibit at the Visitor’s Center that will run through October 17. The temporary exhibit titled “Over and Under: Accessories and Undergarments of the Early 1800s” features original pieces that went under or over a person’s outfit to create the romantic look that people associate with the early 19th century. Accessories include a dignified top hat, a man’s tobacco pouch, and showy beaded purses, while rare undergarments will educate viewers about clothes not often seen in period art. Highlights include knit socks with the date “1819” on them, a corset and shift marked with the name of their owners, a “figure enhancer” used to strategically stuff a corset, and a pair of silk garters embroidered with the flirty French warning, “Halte la, on ne passe pas” which means “Stop here, go no further.”
The exhibit is designed to coincide with the JPPM 1812 Fair and Reenactment September 22, but the items exhibited show trends in fashion throughout the first half of the 19th century. The objects are not part of JPPM’s permanent collections, but instead came together based on loans offered by JPPM staff. Sara Rivers Cofield, Federal Curator at the MAC Lab, has been collecting clothing and purses since her grandmother, Charlotte Rivers, helped her buy her first antique purse over 20 years ago. Now family heirlooms from Charlotte Rivers, who died last October at the age of 99, are included in the exhibit. Betty Seifert, JPPM Curator, contributed her great grandmother’s knitting needles to the exhibit, and Michele Parlett, Public Services Coordinator, loaned the top hat and its carrying case from her family’s antique shop, Keeper’s Antiques, in Charlotte Hall, Maryland.
In order to flesh out the themes that the staff collections could illustrate, we turned to independent scholar and collector Mary Doering for some additional pieces. Mary, who teaches courses on costume history for the Smithsonian-George Mason University Masters Program on the History of Decorative Arts, often loans her collections to museums and historic sites, including current exhibits on the War of 1812 and the Civil War at the Maryland Historical Society. By combining the high-quality pieces in Mary’s collections with the personal heirlooms and collections of staff, the exhibit offers rare garments and accessories, eye candy, and personal stories. A little something for everyone!
Okay, I admit to being a little weird, perhaps, to get excited when a volunteer comes to the lab bearing a five gallon bucket full of frozen dead fish! The rockfish and perch that volunteer Christa Conant brought from the Calvert Marine Museum late last week are not headed for my table, or anyone else’s for that matter. They are destined to become part of the paleofaunal comparative collection at the MAC Lab. Continue reading
We have a new face starting at the lab this week—St. Mary’s College of Maryland student Aryel Rigano will be analyzing animal bone from the Smith St. Leonard site for her senior research project. Hailing from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Aryel is a senior Anthropology major at the college. Aryel spent last semester abroad in Athens, Greece, where she studied archaeology and had an internship at the American School of Classical Studies. Her intern project there involved studying human remains.
Aryel will be analyzing mammal and bird bones from the Smith St. Leonard Plantation, an 18th-century site here on the park grounds. The bone are from a cellar, measuring 4’x 5’x4’ deep approximately, which was located immediately in front of the kitchen fireplace. Stratigraphic evidence suggests the cellar was filled rather quickly. Agateware utensil handles, which were introduced in the late 1740s, provide an estimated date for the filling of the cellar. In 1748, John Smith inherited the family plantation, and it appears he filled the cellar sometime before his death in 1754, when the site was abandoned.
Kitchen waste was abundant in the cellar, with large quantities of oyster shell, charcoal, and bone recovered. Preliminary sorting of the bone shows that a large variety of domesticated livestock and wild game species are present. Fish remains are particularly abundant, and range from small net-caught individuals to very large drumfish, and include a striped burrfish, a puffer-type species. Other artifacts found in the cellar include copper, pewter, and iron dining utensils; a bone or ivory folding fan; buttons, cufflinks, buckles, and beads; several hoes; iron fireplace hardware such as tongs; and various keys, locks, and hinges.
Aryel admits that she has always been interested in bones and in particular what modifications or alterations to the physical structure of the bone can reveal about disease, injuries, or even how a piece of meat was prepared. We are pleased that she has decided to pursue her research interests with one of our archaeological collections and look forward to working with her over the next nine months as she prepares for graduation.