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The purchase of archival storage boxes, the construction of new shelving, followed by hours of sorting, washing, pressing, and packing has resulted in a new look for our textile and clothing collection.

What once was a large congested walk-in closet at the end of the second floor hall in Hagadorn House, is now a well organized depository for the wonderful collection of heirlooms, thanks to several dedicated members who have worked many hours on the venture. The project, on the minds of many women for some time, was prompted by a meeting last spring with Susan Greene, professional costume curator with American Costume Studies. At that time, Mrs. Greene was impressed with our collection, but urged the women to adopt proper storage techniques and containers in order to preserve the treasures.

The board of directors readily agreed to invest in the special boxes, and Wayne Kellogg custom built the shelving to fit the space available. Mary Ellen Westlake, costume curator, assisted by Kitty Baker and Hazel Bracken, sorted the items according to their origin and type, carefully labeling and packing them away for safekeeping. Presently there are boxes that contain Alice Simmons Hagadorn’s clothing, men’s clothing, baby things, night ware, wedding dresses, quilts, uniforms, old dresses, and so forth. Mary Ellen was especially pleased to note that a sizeable accumulation of linens, including dresser scarves, pillowcases, table cloths, needlework and handmade items has been sorted, washed, ironed and carefully placed in an upstairs dresser .

The Ira B. Stillman family’s antique clothing, recently given to Almond Historical Society, is a valuable addition to our collection, according to Mary Ellen. When Mrs. Greene consulted with our committee last year, she explained that an item’s worth is increased even more when its provenance is known and documented. “The wearer, the item’s history and the locale represented play an important role in determining the value of heirlooms,” she stated. Two of the outstanding pieces in the Stillman collection belonged to Ira’s daughters and date back to 1880. Elva Stillman Furman’s wedding dress is described as a white two-piece silk taffeta with maroon trim, featuring a jacket with metal stays and high stand-up collar and a skirt with train and ruffles, all trimmed with maroon bands and bows. Mary Jane (Jennie) Stillman Ross’ party dress is a two-piece ivory with brocade and satin jacket trimmed with decorative brocade epaulets and ruffles at neckline and waist, and a brocade skirt with train and ruffles of satin and lace. Also included is a black and white parasol and woman’s black walking stick, a man’s black wool tuxedo-type jacket with tails and straw hat with black band, as well as various other apparel. A woman’s khaki overcoat, commonly called a “merry Oldsmobile” coat, is currently dressing the mannequin at the top of the stairs.

Many thanks to Mrs. Emelyn Olsen and her mother, Mrs. Jeannette Drake, for this generous donation to the Almond Historical Society.