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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst


Title:short gown
Date Made:1750-1800
Materials:textile: plain weave striped linen or linen and cotton blend (siamoise?)
Place Made:United States
Accession Number:  HD F.235

Girl or young woman's short gown made from a gray, blue and off-white striped plain weave linen or linen and cotton fabric. Short gowns were a ubiquitous garment worn by women in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Although they appear in probate inventories and print advertisements for runaway servants and slaves in all areas of the country, an explicit written description of the extant garments popularly known as short gowns today does not exist. A Mrs. Eunice Hinsdale from Greenfield, Massachusetts (d.1779) had two short gowns listed in her probate inventory (valued at 20 sh and 10sh, respectively). This short gown has a neckline of medium depth, oval shaped in front and squared off in the back. It fastens center front where the two sides come together and would probably be pinned. There is a peplum about three inches (3.0") long all around, which opens in an inverted V-shape at center front (continuing the opening of the short gown) to accomodate skirt fullness. There is one side seam on each side of the short gown; these side seams are the only two curved seams on the garment. There are three back seams, one center back and one on either side; all are sewn in folds of fabric. All three start from the back neckline and taper to small of back, where they are then released into the peplum, also for fullness. The two back side seams are topstitched as well. There are no armscyes. Each sleeve is cut w/ bodice, so that the fabric runs horizontal on each sleeve (typical of most 18th century sleeves anyway). There is an underarm sleeve seam on each , as well as two horizontal seams; one on each forearm (cuff) area and one on each upper arm. The garment is not lined. Self fabric patch on proper left elbow and a smaller one on proper right sleeve, under forearm. The sleeves apear unusually long, and may have been ruched up when the garment was originally worn. Jackets such as short gowns were worn with a petticoat for a more practical outfit for women who had to work or during times of exertion.

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