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Kent State University Museum Opens Exhibit of Civil War Fashion

Posted Oct. 3, 2011
enter photo description
On the Home Front: Civil War
Fashions and Domestic Life
marks the
150th anniversary of the beginning of the
Civil War. The exhibit is now on display
at the Kent State University Museum.

On the Home Front: Civil War Fashions and Domestic Life is now on display at the the Kent State University Museum through Aug. 26, 2012. The exhibit focuses on the daily life and experiences of the American civilian population during the Civil War and the years immediately following.

The pieces on exhibit, including women's and children's costumes, supplemented with related photographs, decorative arts and women's magazines, are organized thematically. Far from being a simple, trivial diversion during such a critical period, fashion provides a unique window into the experience of Americans during the Civil War. Despite being far from the battlefields, women and children were deeply and immediately touched by the conflict.

Kent State University Museum Director Jean Druesedow says the exhibit, which marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, showcases material circumstances and domestic life during the Civil War and the years that followed.

One of the highlights of the exhibit is the Keckley quilt, made by Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley, a former slave who served as Mary Todd Lincoln’s dressmaker. The quilt is believed to have been made from scraps of Mrs. Lincoln’s dresses. Also on exhibit are Civil War uniforms, cloaks and wraps including a paisley shawl, underwear including corsets and crinolines, four wedding dresses, numerous children's outfits, accessories such as bonnets and shoes and examples of hair jewelry. The exhibition is drawn primarily from the Kent State University Museum’s world-class collection of historic fashion, and also includes loans from the Western Reserve Historical Society and the Kent State University Libraries, Special Collections and Archives.

The exhibit is accompanied by a full-color catalogue with close-up, detailed images of many of the highlights of the show, available in the museum store.

The museum is located at 515 Hilltop Drive, at the corner of East Main and South Lincoln streets, in Kent, Ohio 44242. The museum is open to the public Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. - 4:45 p.m.; Thursday from 10 a.m. - 8:45 p.m.; and Sunday from noon - 4:45 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for children under 18.

The museum is free with a Kent State ID, free to the public on Sundays and offers free parking. For more information, call 330-672-3450 or visit