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Whaley House Educational Series

By David Swarens

On the Evening of July 23, SOHO was privileged to present Bill and Glenna Jo Christen for another in its series of lectures on the material culture of the 19th century.

Bill Christen is preparing a book on men's wear 1850 to 1870, and is the publisher of The Watchdog, a periodical of review of items for enactors of the Civil War period (a sort of "Consumers' Reports"), found online at http://watchdogreview.com/). He has, with his partner Philip Whiteman, one of the largest collections of men's mid 19th century clothing, known as the "Aurora Collection."

Bill presented a general overview of men's dress during the third quarter of the nineteenth century. Primary sources were original garments and period photographs. This overview examined the features and design of the different garments as they apply to "the Look" of the period. A brief mention was made of men's hair and beards, as they were an important aspect of proper appearance.

His wife, Glenna Jo, is working on a similar publication on women's clothing, 1855-1870, and has published in many of the Eastern publications on related topics. Her business Mrs. Christen's Miscellanea, supplies an assortment of items for individuals interested in an authentic interpretation of this period. She presented a comprehensive review of women's garments and grooming in the period surrounding the American Civil War.

We are developing a period clothing program at the Whaley House as part of the interpretation of the site's history, and Glenna Jo and Bill's presentation was a great resource for our docents, as well as for staff from Old Town State Historic Park, County Parks and others who share our interest in presenting a truthful and evocative vision of our shared past.

2004 - Volume 35, Issue 3

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