Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mourning Dress during the civil war

The lady pictured above is part of the civil war re-enactment group and plays the part of a woman in Mourning. At this time she is dressed in what she called "half mourning." The ladies would be in full mourning for a year, then 6 months in half mourning and the final six months they would wear a color like gray or lavender.
She told me that when you were in "half mourning" you would be able to add a bit of white... such as a hankerchief, white cuffs and collar. I have read other thoughts on this so don't know exactly if what she said was entirely accurate but you can decide for yourself.

Mourning dress was apparently very regimented but primarily for the upper classes. The lower classes usually had to work too hard and wouldn't have time for all this.

Queen Victoria really made a lot of the customs. They were not allowed to wear jewelry but could wear JET because it wasn't a "jewel". Another popular item was Gutta-Percha. It is made from Resin from various trees, much like rubber is made. I don't really know all the details of it but they were able to make jewelry, picture holders and other items from Gutta Percha which they were allowed to wear. Gutta Percha can be died different colors so they could die it black for mourning use.

These pictures show collections of mourning goods that the woman has put together in displays. I personally was fascinated by it. I would love to own a few pieces of it.

I have based my comments on things that the woman told me. I have seen variations of the information on the web so don't take what I say as absolute.

There are a number of places on the web where you can learn more about all of this. If interested I hope you check some out. Here are a few that I found.

One REALLY interesting thing I learned was that Gutta Percha has a modern day use too. Dentists use it! They fill root canals with it. So if you have ever had a root canal you probably own some Gutta Percha and didn't even know it. My husband was talking to his dentist about his root canal and the dentist was surprised to learn about the OTHER uses. He didn't know that. He just thought it was for dentistry.

In the near future I hope to write about miniatures again. I must get back to some of my projects and finish them.

If you have anything to add I hope you will do so in the comment section.


ginny said...

Beth, this is very interesting. My knowledge of Mourning dress came from Gone With The Wind, I think.

Anonymous said...

hi, new to the site, thanks.

Jenna said...

Wonderful job and thank you.
today is the 150 year anniversary of the Battle of Antietam and the rituals listed in this article would definitely had been started tonight.