Tuesday, October 17, 2017

18C Portrait of an American Woman

 Mrs. John Dart, Henrietta Isabella Sommers (1750–1783).  1772 Jeremiah Theus (American, Chur, 1716–1774 Charleston, South Carolina)  The Metropolitan Museum of Art tells us that Henrietta Isabella Sommers (1750–1783) was the daughter of Humphrey Sommers, a successful building contractor in Charleston, South Carolina. She was married to John Dart. The costume in this portrait was probably based on a print, since it is unlikely that Mrs. Dart possessed an ermine-trimmed robe. Theus probably painted her face from life and the clothing in his studio, with a mezzotint before him.

Monday, October 16, 2017

18C Women Across the Globe

1797 Jacques Grasset of Saint-Sauveur (France, 1757-1810), Costumes of Different Countries, Los Angeles County Art Museum 


Across the 18C globe, dress varied widely. In the early 18C, British & British American colonial women dressed similarly, but they could get an idea how women in far places also might dress from clothing & costume drawings, which were becoming more popular & more widely available at the time. 

During the period in Britain & her colonies, a woman's status could be  evident in her choice of clothing materials in both quantity & quality. Did her clothes have elegant trimmings, such as lace & needlework? How many dresses did she own? Were they up-to-date in style & fit? Women who had to do physical labor, especially in the colonies, modified the elegant styles of the period for greater ease of movement, durability, & affordability. Everyday long gowns seldom survived, but prints & paintings suggest the garments were cut like fashionable dresses of the period. Usually they were, however, made of cheaper textiles & without trimmings & ruffles. When a long fitted gown was too impractical for the work to be done, working women adopted shorter garments that also required less fabric than a full gown. These included short gowns, bed gowns, & jackets. Neck handkerchiefs, gloves, & mitts protected women's bodies from exposure to cold or excessive sunlight. Kerchiefs also offered greater modesty, when fashion dictated low necklines. Workers & older women especially relied on such accessories.

Early in the 18C, proper, elite British women wore a dress known as a mantua for formal occasions. The mantua was an open-fronted silk or fine wool gown with a train & matching petticoat. The train was worn looped up over the hips to reveal the petticoat. The bodice had loose elbow-length sleeves finished with wide turned-back cuffs. A hoop petticoat & several under-petticoats wore worn beneath the outer petticoat. To give the British figure a fashionable shape, a corset often was worn under the bodice. It was made of linen & stiffened with whale bones inserted between parallel lines of stitching. The corset fastened with lacing down the back which could be laced tightly to give an upright posture to the torso & to emphasise the waist. A strip of bone, wood, or metal was sometimes incorporated into the front stays. British women wore their hair close to the head often with a small linen cap which sometimes had lace lappets, streamers that hung either side of a woman's cap. The cap was covered by a hood or hat for outerwear.

In the 1730s, the "sack back' dress worn over a hoop petticoat became increasingly fashionable in Britain & her colonies. The style remained in fashion until the 1780s. The sack back was made from 5 or panels of material pleated into 2 box pleats at the center back of the neck-band. It flowed down & was incorporated into the fullness of the skirt. It was worn over a matching petticoat as well as a hoop petticoat. The "nightgown style" or style anglaise had a pleated back. The pleats were stitched flat from the back of the neck to the centre back waist. Genteel ladies wore hoop petticoats, usually made of linen with split cane hoops stitched in at intervals & held the skirt of the petticoat & the robe out at the sides. They were at their widest in the 1740s & 1750s, when they could measure over 1.5m across. Hoop petticoats were worn on formal occasions. As with many fashions, it is hard to say why such a cumbersome outfit was popular. One reason might have been that it displayed the richly embroidered cloth of the skirt that indicated the wearer's wealth. During the 1770s, hair styles became higher, as they often were combed over a padded roll or worn over a frame.

As the New Repulic of The United States of America was finding its way between the 1780s & 1800, a very noticeable change took place in the female British silhouette. The waistline became higher, until it reached the bust. The skirt was reduced in width & hoop petticoats were discarded except at very formal occasions. In their place, crescent-shaped pads were worn at the center back waist beneath the skirt to help fill out the gathers at the back of the dress. In the 1790s, corsets were lightly boned & usually made of linen. Hair was frizzed or worn in short curls.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Clementina Rind 1740-1774, Printer for Thomas Jefferson & Editor of the Virginia Gazette

Clementina Rind (1740-1774), printer & newspaper editor, wife of William Rind, public printer in Maryland & Virginia, is said to have been a native of Maryland. She may have been the daughter of William Elder (1707-1775) & his wife Jacoba Clementina Livers (1717-1807) of Prince George’s County, Maryland. The name Clementina often referred to James, the Old Pretender to the English throne, & his wife Jacoba Clementina.

Her husband, born in Annapolis in 1733, was reared there as apprentice to the public printer, Jonas Green. During the 7-year period of his partnership with Green (1758-65) young Rind acquired town property, a home, & his wife, Clementina. In 1758, that the firm of "Green & Rind" was formed for the purpose of carrying on the newspaper. The junior partner, it seems, did not enter into the ordinary business of the establishment; his name appeared on none of its imprints except that of the Maryland Gazette. To protest the Stamp Act the partners suspended publication of the Maryland Gazette in October 1765, & shortly thereafter Rind accepted the invitation of a group of Virginians to publish a “free paper” in Williamsburg.

"Until the beginning of our revolutionary disputes," wrote Thomas Jefferson to Isaiah Thomas 43 years later, "we had but one press, & that having the whole business of the government, & no competitor for public favor, nothing disagreeable to the governor could be got into it. We procured Rind to come from Maryland to publish a free paper."
The first issue of Rind’s Virginia Gazette appeared May 16, 1766, under the motto: “Open to ALL PARTIES, but Influenced by NONE.” The press, the paper & the printer quickly established a good reputation. The fall assembly chose Rind as public printer, & in spite of rising costs of paper & other supplies the business prospered. When the editor died in August 1773, his family was living on the Main street in the present Ludwell-Paradise House & the printing shop was operated in the same handsome brick building.  His widow Clementina immediately took over the editorship & business management of the press for her “dear infants”- William, John, Charles, James, & Maria. The household included also a kinsman, John Pinkney; an apprentice, Isaac Collins; & a Negro slave, Dick who probably worked as a semiskilled artisan.
As editor Mrs. Rind was careful to preserve the integrity of the newspaper’s motto & purpose. Reports of foreign & domestic occurrences, shipping news, & advertisements were supplemented by essays, articles, & poems accepted from contributors or selected from her “general correspondence” & from London magazines & newspapers. During her short tenure as publisher, Rind's periodical highlighted new scientific research, debates on education, & philanthropic causes, as well as plans for improving educational opportunities-especially those relating to the College of William & Mary.

Clementina Rind Rind was not hesitant to express her own voice in the Virginia Gazette. She wrote articles that expressed her patriotic ideals, which supported rights of the American colonies & denounced British authority.  During her tenure, the Virginia Gazette carried an unusual number of poetic tributes to ladies in acrostic or rebus form, literary conceits, & news reports with a feminine slant. As conventional fillers she used sprightly vignettes of life in European high society, in rural England, & in other colonies.

Mrs. Rind was peculiarly sensitive to the good will of contributors & usually explained why specific offerings were not being published promptly. Sometimes, however, contributions were summarily rejected. Scarcely three months after Rind’s death her competitor, Alexander Purdie, published an anonymous open letter criticizing her refusal to print an article exposing the misconduct of some of “the guilty Great.” Her dignified reply, published in her own paper the next week, demonstrated independence, good sense, & literary skill.  She had rejected the article, she wrote, because it was an anonymous attack on the character of private persons & should be heard in a court of law, not in a newspaper; yet she promised: “When the author gives up his name, it shall, however repugnant to my inclination, have a place in this paper, as the principles upon which I set out will then, I flatter myself, plead my excuse with every party.” In later issues of her gazette contributors often expressed healthy respect for her standards & literary judgment.  Her bid for public favor was so well received, that she expanded her printing program & in April 1774, after 6 months as editor, announced the purchase of “an elegant set of types from London.” A month later the House of Burgesses appointed her public printer in her own right, & they continued to give her press all the public business in sprite of competing petitions from Purdie & Dixon, publishers of a rival Virginia Gazette.
In early 1774, she printed Thomas Jefferson's A Summary View of the Rights of British America just after Peyton Randolph read it aloud in his home to a gathering of Virginia patriots. George Washington was among the first to purchase a copy, writing in his diary that it cost him 3 shillings and ninepence. The pamphlet was reprinted in Philadelphia and London, and its importance has been described as "second only to the Declaration of Independence." It was a document Jefferson had drafted at Monticello for the guidance of Virginia's delegates to the Continental Congress. The colony's House of Burgesses considered the composition too radical for official endorsement, but a group of Jefferson's friends persuaded the Widow Rind to issue it as a pamphlet. Thus A Summary View of the Rights of British America appeared in August 1774. The future author of the Declaration of Independence later wrote: "If it had any merit, it was that of first taking our true ground, and that which was afterwards assumed and maintained."  At the end of August, however, she became ill & found it difficult to collect payments due her; yet her pride in her work & her optimistic plans for the future were undiminished. She died in Williamsburg a only a month later & was probably buried beside her husband at Bruton Parish Church.  Her readers prepared a number of poetic eulogies & a formal elegy of 150 lines. Although Clementina Rind lived only about 34 years, her brief obituary read, "a Lady of singular Merit, and universally esteemed."

This posting based, in part, on information from Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Friday, October 13, 2017

18C Women Across the Globe

1797 Jacques Grasset of Saint-Sauveur (France, 1757-1810), Costumes of Different Countries, Los Angeles County Art Museum 

Across the 18C globe, dress varied widely. In the early 18C, British & British American colonial women dressed similarly, but they could get an idea how women in far places might also dress from clothing & costume drawings, which were becoming more popular & more widely available at the time. 

During the period in Britain & her colonies, a woman's status could be  evident in her choice of clothing materials in both quantity & quality. Did her clothes have elegant trimmings, such as lace & needlework? How many dresses did she own? Were they up-to-date in style & fit? Women who had to do physical labor, especially in the colonies, modified the elegant styles of the period for greater ease of movement, durability, & affordability. Everyday long gowns seldom survived, but prints & paintings suggest the garments were cut like fashionable dresses of the period. Usually they were, however, made of cheaper textiles & without trimmings & ruffles. When a long fitted gown was too impractical for the work to be done, working women adopted shorter garments that also required less fabric than a full gown. These included short gowns, bed gowns, & jackets. Neck handkerchiefs, gloves, & mitts protected women's bodies from exposure to cold or excessive sunlight. Kerchiefs also offered greater modesty, when fashion dictated low necklines. Workers & older women especially relied on such accessories.

Early in the 18C, proper, elite British women wore a dress known as a mantua for formal occasions. The mantua was an open-fronted silk or fine wool gown with a train & matching petticoat. The train was worn looped up over the hips to reveal the petticoat. The bodice had loose elbow-length sleeves finished with wide turned-back cuffs. A hoop petticoat & several under-petticoats wore worn beneath the outer petticoat.  To give the British figure a fashionable shape, a corset often was worn under the bodice. It was made of linen & stiffened with whale bones inserted between parallel lines of stitching. The corset fastened with lacing down the back which could be laced tightly to give an upright posture to the torso & to emphasise the waist. A strip of bone, wood, or metal was sometimes incorporated into the front stays. British women wore their hair close to the head often with a small linen cap which sometimes had lace lappets, streamers that hung either side of a woman's cap. The cap was covered by a hood or hat for outerwear.

In the 1730s, the "sack back' dress worn over a hoop petticoat became increasingly fashionable in Britain & her colonies. The style remained in fashion until the 1780s. The sack back was made from 5 or panels of material pleated into 2 box pleats at the center back of the neck-band. It flowed down & was incorporated into the fullness of the skirt. It was worn over a matching petticoat as well as a hoop petticoat. The "nightgown style" or style anglaise had a pleated back. The pleats were stitched flat from the back of the neck to the centre back waist. Genteel ladies wore hoop petticoats, usually made of linen with split cane hoops stitched in at intervals & held the skirt of the petticoat & the robe out at the sides. They were at their widest in the 1740s & 1750s, when they could measure over 1.5m across. Hoop petticoats were worn on formal occasions. As with many fashions, it is hard to say why such a cumbersome outfit was popular. One reason might have been that it displayed the richly embroidered cloth of the skirt that indicated the wearer's wealth. During the 1770s, hair styles became higher, as they often were combed over a padded roll or worn over a frame.

As the New Repulic of The United States of America was finding its way between the 1780s & 1800, a very noticeable change took place in the female British silhouette. The waistline became higher, until it reached the bust. The skirt was reduced in width & hoop petticoats were discarded except at very formal occasions. In their place, crescent-shaped pads were worn at the center back waist beneath the skirt to help fill out the gathers at the back of the dress. In the 1790s, corsets were lightly boned & usually made of linen. Hair was frizzed or worn in short curls.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Jane Aitken (1764-1832) Philadelphia Printer, Publisher, Bookbinder, & Bookseller.

Neues Bilderbuch für Kinder, 1799

Jane Aitken (1764-1832) was an early American printer, publisher, bookbinder, & bookseller.  Aitken was born in Paisley, Scotland, on July 11, 1764. She was the 1st of 4 children that grew to adulthood in the family. Her father was Robert Aitken (1734–1802), a Scottish stationery & book merchant who later became a Philadelphia printer & bookbinder. Her mother’s maiden name was Janet Skeoch. Aitken & her family were among several Scottish families that emigrated to colonial British America in 1771. The Aitken family settled in Philadelphia, their port of importation. Aitken was involved with her father's Philadelphia publishing business, which consisted of a print shop & bindery. Her handwritten bookkeeping notes show that the print shop printed a newspaper, journals, books, & stationery. She inherited the printing business from her father's estate after his death in 1802 when she was 38 years of age. The publications were thereafter in her own name as Printed by Jane Aitken from her printing business, which she ran on Third Street in Philadelphia. Her father's estate came with a heavy debt of $3,000. Her brother, Robert Aitken Jr., who was a year younger than she & had been disowned by their father, was financially incapable to assist in this debt. Jane, being the oldest child, assumed the responsibility of caring for her 2 younger sisters, as her mother had previously died. She never married.

She was responsible for printing a number of publications after she took over her father's business, including contracts from the American Philosophical Society, the Philadelphia Female Association, & the Philadelphia Society for Promoting Agriculture, to name just a few. At least 60 of her published works are known from the period 1802 to 1812. Her most important work, according to the contemporary historian of printing Isaiah Thomas, was the four-volume Thomson Bible of 1808, which firmly established Jane's Aitken's reputation. This Bible was a new translation prepared by Charles Thomson, former secretary of the Continental Congress, the first English translation from the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures or Old Testament). 

Aitken's bookbinding business sometimes gave more support to the family than the actual printing part of the business. She bound many of the author's books she printed up, work for the Athenaeum of Philadelphia & some 400 volumes for the American Philosophical Society. Binding work of the 1780s to 1802 from her father's shop shows similarity to her binding work she did from 1802 to 1812 & shows that perhaps she did most if not all the binding work from his shop when she was younger.

John Vaughan, a friend & a librarian from the American Philosophical Society, gave her much work & even some financial assistance, but her business failed in 1813, & her equipment was sold off. Vaughan bought the equipment at a sheriff's sale & leased it back to her at under the going market rate, however after she failed again in 1814, she was put into debtors' prison at the Norristown Jail, 20 miles outside Philadelphia. She basically is unheard of in historical records other than the "late printer," until her death record of 1832, appearing in an obituary in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Her burial place is assumed to be in the destroyed cemetery of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, of which she was a member.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

18C Portrait of an American Woman

Mrs. John Winthrop 1773 John Singleton Copley (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1738–1815 London)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art tells us that Hannah Fayerweather (1727–1790) was the daughter of Thomas and Hannah Waldo Fayerweather. She was baptized at the First Church in Boston in February 12, 1727. She was married twice, in 1745 to Parr Tolman and in 1756 to John Winthrop, a professor of mathematics and natural history at Harvard University and a noted astronomer. Although this portrait has traditionally been dated 1774, a receipt dated June 24, 1773, places its execution in the previous year. The portrait is one of a number in which Copley prominently featured a beautifully reflective tabletop.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

18C Women Across the Globe

1797 Jacques Grasset of Saint-Sauveur (France, 1757-1810), Costumes of Different Countries, Los Angeles County Art Museum


Across the 18C globe, dress varied widely. In the early 18C, British & British American colonial women dressed similarly, but they could get an idea how women in far places also might dress from clothing & costume drawings, which were becoming more popular & more widely available at the time. 

During the period in Britain & her colonies, a woman's status could be  evident in her choice of clothing materials in both quantity & quality. Did her clothes have elegant trimmings, such as lace & needlework? How many dresses did she own? Were they up-to-date in style & fit? Women who had to do physical labor, especially in the colonies, modified the elegant styles of the period for greater ease of movement, durability, & affordability. Everyday long gowns seldom survived, but prints & paintings suggest the garments were cut like fashionable dresses of the period. Usually they were, however, made of cheaper textiles & without trimmings & ruffles. When a long fitted gown was too impractical for the work to be done, working women adopted shorter garments that also required less fabric than a full gown. These included short gowns, bed gowns, & jackets. Neck handkerchiefs, gloves, & mitts protected women's bodies from exposure to cold or excessive sunlight. Kerchiefs also offered greater modesty, when fashion dictated low necklines. Workers & older women especially relied on such accessories.

Early in the 18C, proper, elite British women wore a dress known as a mantua for formal occasions. The mantua was an open-fronted silk or fine wool gown with a train & matching petticoat. The train was worn looped up over the hips to reveal the petticoat. The bodice had loose elbow-length sleeves finished with wide turned-back cuffs. A hoop petticoat & several under-petticoats wore worn beneath the outer petticoat. To give the British figure a fashionable shape, a corset often was worn under the bodice. It was made of linen & stiffened with whale bones inserted between parallel lines of stitching. The corset fastened with lacing down the back which could be laced tightly to give an upright posture to the torso & to emphasise the waist. A strip of bone, wood, or metal was sometimes incorporated into the front stays. British women wore their hair close to the head often with a small linen cap which sometimes had lace lappets, streamers that hung either side of a woman's cap. The cap was covered by a hood or hat for outerwear.

In the 1730s, the "sack back' dress worn over a hoop petticoat became increasingly fashionable in Britain & her colonies. The style remained in fashion until the 1780s. The sack back was made from 5 or panels of material pleated into 2 box pleats at the center back of the neck-band. It flowed down & was incorporated into the fullness of the skirt. It was worn over a matching petticoat as well as a hoop petticoat. The "nightgown style" or style anglaise had a pleated back. The pleats were stitched flat from the back of the neck to the centre back waist. Genteel ladies wore hoop petticoats, usually made of linen with split cane hoops stitched in at intervals & held the skirt of the petticoat & the robe out at the sides. They were at their widest in the 1740s & 1750s, when they could measure over 1.5m across. Hoop petticoats were worn on formal occasions. As with many fashions, it is hard to say why such a cumbersome outfit was popular. One reason might have been that it displayed the richly embroidered cloth of the skirt that indicated the wearer's wealth. During the 1770s, hair styles became higher, as they often were combed over a padded roll or worn over a frame.

As the New Repulic of The United States of America was finding its way between the 1780s & 1800, a very noticeable change took place in the female British silhouette. The waistline became higher, until it reached the bust. The skirt was reduced in width & hoop petticoats were discarded except at very formal occasions. In their place, crescent-shaped pads were worn at the center back waist beneath the skirt to help fill out the gathers at the back of the dress. In the 1790s, corsets were lightly boned & usually made of linen. Hair was frizzed or worn in short curls.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Ann Donavan Timothy 1727-1792 - 2nd Female Publisher of the South Carolina Gazette

Ann Timothy (c1727-1792), printer & newspaper publisher, was born Ann Donavan, probably in Charleston, S.C. At St. Phillip’s Church in Charleston, on Dec. 8, 1745, she married Peter Timothy (1725-1782), who about this time became publisher of the South Carolina Gazette, the colony’s first permanent newspaper, earlier published by his father, Lewis Timothy, & his mother, Elizabeth.

The Gazette had been founded in 1731, by Thomas Whitmarsh, a protege of Benjamin Franklin. He was replaced in 1734, by another Franklin protege, Lewis Timothee (Timothy), a Huguenot. When Lewis died in 1738, his widow Elizabeth, with the help of her son Peter, continued the paper as the 1st woman editor & publisher in America. 

Later Peter Timothy, aided by his wife, the former Ann Donovan, made the South Carolina Gazette a major Patriot organ. For that reason, its publication was suspended during the British occupation, 1780-83.  Displaced by the British occupation of Charleston, the patriot Peter Timothy & his family went to Philadelphia in 1781. In the following year, Timothy & two of his daughters embarked for Santo Domingo & were lost at sea. Ann Timothy returned in 1782, to Charleston, where on July 16, 1783, like her widowed mother-in-law 43 years before, she resumed publication of the Gazette of the State of South Carolina (Peter Timothy had renamed the paper in 1777). With the assistance of one E. Walsh, she published the newspaper (renamed again in 1785, the State Gazette of South Carolina) until her death in 1792.
The South Carolina Gazette was published in this house at 106 Broad Street in Charleston.

Ann Timothy was the 2nd woman in South Carolina & the 2nd in her family to become the publisher of a newspaper. In addition to publishing the Gazette, she obtained the post of “Printer to the State,” which she held, apparently, from 1785 until her death. At least 15 imprints were issued under her name from 1783 to 1792. One of the first seals of South Carolina appeared on March 28, 1785, in the nameplate of the State Gazette of South Carolina, a Charleston newspaper. The paper was published by Ann Timothy, the official state's printer.Ann Timothy died in Charleston in 1792, at the age of 65. At the time of her death, her living children were Sarah (unmarried), Robert, Elizabeth Anne (Mrs. Peter Valton), Frances Claudia (Mrs. Benjamin Lewis Merchant), & Benjamin Franklin Timothy. Benjamin Timothy inherited the Gazette & published it, until his retirement from the printing business in 1802, at which time the 69-year-old South Carolina printing & newspaper family dynasty came to an end.

This posting based, in part, on information from Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971

Saturday, October 7, 2017

18C Women Across the Globe

1770s Bunka Fashion College in Japan. Underneath the illustration the word Dutch is handwritten in pencil. Netherlands

Across the 18C globe, dress varied widely. In the early 18C, British & British American colonial women dressed similarly, but they could get an idea how women in far places also might dress from clothing & costume drawings, which were becoming more popular & more widely available at the time. 

During the period in Britain & her colonies, a woman's status could be  evident in her choice of clothing materials in both quantity & quality. Did her clothes have elegant trimmings, such as lace & needlework? How many dresses did she own? Were they up-to-date in style & fit? Women who had to do physical labor, especially in the colonies, modified the elegant styles of the period for greater ease of movement, durability, & affordability. Everyday long gowns seldom survived, but prints & paintings suggest the garments were cut like fashionable dresses of the period. Usually they were, however, made of cheaper textiles & without trimmings & ruffles. When a long fitted gown was too impractical for the work to be done, working women adopted shorter garments that also required less fabric than a full gown. These included short gowns, bed gowns, & jackets. Neck handkerchiefs, gloves, & mitts protected women's bodies from exposure to cold or excessive sunlight. Kerchiefs also offered greater modesty, when fashion dictated low necklines. Workers & older women especially relied on such accessories.

Early in the 18C, proper, elite British women wore a dress known as a mantua for formal occasions. The mantua was an open-fronted silk or fine wool gown with a train & matching petticoat. The train was worn looped up over the hips to reveal the petticoat. The bodice had loose elbow-length sleeves finished with wide turned-back cuffs. A hoop petticoat & several under-petticoats wore worn beneath the outer petticoat. To give the British figure a fashionable shape, a corset often was worn under the bodice. It was made of linen & stiffened with whale bones inserted between parallel lines of stitching. The corset fastened with lacing down the back which could be laced tightly to give an upright posture to the torso & to emphasise the waist. A strip of bone, wood, or metal was sometimes incorporated into the front stays. British women wore their hair close to the head often with a small linen cap which sometimes had lace lappets, streamers that hung either side of a woman's cap. The cap was covered by a hood or hat for outerwear.

In the 1730s, the "sack back' dress worn over a hoop petticoat became increasingly fashionable in Britain & her colonies. The style remained in fashion until the 1780s. The sack back was made from 5 or panels of material pleated into 2 box pleats at the center back of the neck-band. It flowed down & was incorporated into the fullness of the skirt. It was worn over a matching petticoat as well as a hoop petticoat. The "nightgown style" or style anglaise had a pleated back. The pleats were stitched flat from the back of the neck to the centre back waist. Genteel ladies wore hoop petticoats, usually made of linen with split cane hoops stitched in at intervals & held the skirt of the petticoat & the robe out at the sides. They were at their widest in the 1740s & 1750s, when they could measure over 1.5m across. Hoop petticoats were worn on formal occasions. As with many fashions, it is hard to say why such a cumbersome outfit was popular. One reason might have been that it displayed the richly embroidered cloth of the skirt that indicated the wearer's wealth. During the 1770s, hair styles became higher, as they often were combed over a padded roll or worn over a frame.


As the New Repulic of The United States of America was finding its way between the 1780s & 1800, a very noticeable change took place in the female British silhouette. The waistline became higher, until it reached the bust. The skirt was reduced in width & hoop petticoats were discarded except at very formal occasions. In their place, crescent-shaped pads were worn at the center back waist beneath the skirt to help fill out the gathers at the back of the dress. In the 1790s, corsets were lightly boned & usually made of linen. Hair was frizzed or worn in short curls.

Friday, October 6, 2017

1738 South Carolina Newspaper Publisher - Immigrant & Widow Elizabeth Timothy

Elizabeth Timothy (d. 1757), printer & newspaper publisher, was born in Holland. She left Holland in 1731, with her husband Lewis & their 4 young children, all under the age of 6, sailing from Rotterdam in 1731, with other French Huguenots fleeing the Edict of Nantz, arriving in Philadelphia that September.

The family settled in Philadelphia, where Timothée, fluent in French, advertised in Benjamin Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette that he would like to tutor French. The ever-practical Franklin saw a potential opportunity with the multi-lingual Timothee & persuaded him to become the editor of the 1st German newspaper in the colony Philadelphische Zeitung, but the operation lasted only for 2 months. Although the German paper failed, Franklin must have been impressed with Timothée, for he next became librarian of Franklin’s Philadelphia Library Company, & a journeyman printer at Franklin's Pennsylvania Gazette. Franklin was teaching Timothee the printing business.Franklin had contracted with Thomas Whitmarsh, to Charles Town to establish the South-Carolina Gazette. Not long after the paper began publication, Whitmarsh died of yellow fever & Timothée was persuaded to take his place.

Franklin & Timothée signed a 6-year contract with Franklin furnishing the press & other equipment, paying 1/3 of the expenses, & receiving 1/3 of the profits from the joint venture. The contract included a clause declaring that if Timothee died, his son Peter would take over the operation.

In 1733, Timothée did revive the South-Carolina Gazette, the colony’s first permanent newspaper. The early issues of the Gazette listed Louis Timothée as the publisher, but he soon anglicized his name to "Lewis Timothy."  The following year, his wife & children joined him in Charles Town, where they became members of St. Philip's Anglican Church. Timothée also helped organize a subscription postal system originating at his printing office &, in 1736, obtained a land grant of 600 acres & a town lot in Charles Town.  But 2 years later, Lewis Timothy died in an accident in December 1738. Without missing an issue, his widow continued publication of the Gazette in the name of her eldest son, Peter, who was then about 13 years old. A year remained on the contract with Franklin.  Because of her son's youth, Elizabeth Timothy assumed control of the printing operation. The publisher, however, was listed as Peter Timothy to comply with the contract. She asked the paper’s readers "to continue their Favors and good Offices to this poor afflicted Widow and six small children and another hourly expected."

As official printer for the province, Elizabeth Timothy printed acts & other proceedings for the Assembly. In addition to the Gazette, she printed books, pamphlets, tracts, & other publications. The colophon "Peter Timothy" appeared after each. However, she made most of the decisions in the operation of the business.  In addition to the newspaper, at least 20 imprints were issued during the years (1739-45) of Elizabeth Timothy’s connection with the printing business. According to Benjamin Franklin, the widow was far superior to her husband in the operation of the business.

In his autobiography, Franklin described Timothy as "a man of learning, & honest but ignorant in matters of account; & tho' he sometimes made me remittances, I could get no account from him, nor any satisfactory state of our partnership while he lived."  On the other hand, Franklin found that Elizabeth Timothy “continu’d to account with the greatest Regularity & Exactitude every Quarter afterwards; & manag’d the Business with such Success that she not only brought up reputably a Family of Children, but at the Expiration of the Term was able to purchase of me the Printing House & establish her Son in it.”

When Peter Timothy turned 21 in 1746, he assumed operation of the Gazette, & his mother opened a book & stationery store next door to the printing office on King Street.  In a Gazette ad published in October 1746, she announced the availability of books such as pocket Bibles, spellers, primers, & books titled Reflections on Courtship & Marriage, Armstrong's Poem on Health, The Westminster Confession of Faith, & Watts' Psalms & Hymns. She also offered bills of lading, mortgages, bills of sale, writs, ink powder, & quills to local South Carolinians.

She operated her shop for about a year, but during that time she advertised in the Gazette that she planned to leave the province & asked that anyone who owed money to her or to her husband's estate settle their debts within 3 months.  It is unclear when she left Charles Town or where she made her new home. But by 1756, she had returned to Charles Town: & on April 2, 1757, she wrote her will & died within a month. Her property included 3 houses, a tract of land, & 8 slaves.

Lewis & Elizabeth Timothy had 6 children: Peter, Louisa (Mrs. James Richards), Charles (d. September 1739), Mary Elizabeth (Mrs. Abraham Bourquin), Joseph (d. October 1739), & Catherine (Mrs. Theodore Trezevant). Their son Peter Timothy (c.1725-1782) continued to publish the South-Carolina Gazette, gained distinction as one of the leading American printers of his generation, & was prominent in South Carolina’s Revolutionary movement.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

18C Portrait of an American Woman

1795 Mrs. Joseph Anthony Jr. (Henrietta Hillegas) Gilbert Stuart (American, 1755–1828)

The Met tells us that Mrs. Joseph Anthony Jr., born Henrietta Hillegas in 1766, was one of ten children of Michael and Henrietta Hillegas of Philadelphia. Her father made his fortune in sugar refining and iron manufacturing, and served as the first treasurer of the United States. Henrietta married Joseph Anthony in 1785. As with many of Stuart’s portraits of Philadelphia society women, Mrs. Anthony’s likeness is endowed with an individuality and a sensuousness rare in American portraiture.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

18C Women Across the Globe

1770s Bunka Fashion College in Japan. Underneath the illustration the word Dutch is handwritten in pencil. Netherlands

Across the 18C globe, dress varied widely. In the early 18C, British & British American colonial women dressed similarly, but they could get an idea how women in far places also might dress from clothing & costume drawings, which were becoming more popular & more widely available at the time. 

During the period in Britain & her colonies, a woman's status could be  evident in her choice of clothing materials in both quantity & quality. Did her clothes have elegant trimmings, such as lace & needlework? How many dresses did she own? Were they up-to-date in style & fit? Women who had to do physical labor, especially in the colonies, modified the elegant styles of the period for greater ease of movement, durability, & affordability. Everyday long gowns seldom survived, but prints & paintings suggest the garments were cut like fashionable dresses of the period. Usually they were, however, made of cheaper textiles & without trimmings & ruffles. When a long fitted gown was too impractical for the work to be done, working women adopted shorter garments that also required less fabric than a full gown. These included short gowns, bed gowns, & jackets. Neck handkerchiefs, gloves, & mitts protected women's bodies from exposure to cold or excessive sunlight. Kerchiefs also offered greater modesty, when fashion dictated low necklines. Workers & older women especially relied on such accessories.

Early in the 18C, proper, elite British women wore a dress known as a mantua for formal occasions. The mantua was an open-fronted silk or fine wool gown with a train & matching petticoat. The train was worn looped up over the hips to reveal the petticoat. The bodice had loose elbow-length sleeves finished with wide turned-back cuffs. A hoop petticoat & several under-petticoats wore worn beneath the outer petticoat. To give the British figure a fashionable shape, a corset often was worn under the bodice. It was made of linen & stiffened with whale bones inserted between parallel lines of stitching. The corset fastened with lacing down the back which could be laced tightly to give an upright posture to the torso & to emphasise the waist. A strip of bone, wood, or metal was sometimes incorporated into the front stays. British women wore their hair close to the head often with a small linen cap which sometimes had lace lappets, streamers that hung either side of a woman's cap. The cap was covered by a hood or hat for outerwear.

In the 1730s, the "sack back' dress worn over a hoop petticoat became increasingly fashionable in Britain & her colonies. The style remained in fashion until the 1780s. The sack back was made from 5 or panels of material pleated into 2 box pleats at the center back of the neck-band. It flowed down & was incorporated into the fullness of the skirt. It was worn over a matching petticoat as well as a hoop petticoat. The "nightgown style" or style anglaise had a pleated back. The pleats were stitched flat from the back of the neck to the centre back waist. Genteel ladies wore hoop petticoats, usually made of linen with split cane hoops stitched in at intervals & held the skirt of the petticoat & the robe out at the sides. They were at their widest in the 1740s & 1750s, when they could measure over 1.5m across. Hoop petticoats were worn on formal occasions. As with many fashions, it is hard to say why such a cumbersome outfit was popular. One reason might have been that it displayed the richly embroidered cloth of the skirt that indicated the wearer's wealth. During the 1770s, hair styles became higher, as they often were combed over a padded roll or worn over a frame.


As the New Repulic of The United States of America was finding its way between the 1780s & 1800, a very noticeable change took place in the female British silhouette. The waistline became higher, until it reached the bust. The skirt was reduced in width & hoop petticoats were discarded except at very formal occasions. In their place, crescent-shaped pads were worn at the center back waist beneath the skirt to help fill out the gathers at the back of the dress. In the 1790s, corsets were lightly boned & usually made of linen. Hair was frizzed or worn in short curls.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Anne Catharine Hoof Green (c 1720-1775), “Printer to the Province” of Maryland

Anne Catharine Hoof Green (c. 1720-1775), “printer to the Province” of Maryland from 1767, until her death, was apparently born in Holland, & brought to Pennsylvania as a small child. On April 25th, 1738, she married in Christ Church, Philadelphia, to Jonas Green, a journeyman printer from Boston, whose family had been prominent in the trade since the mid-17th century. Green, who had found employment in Philadelphia with Benjamin Franklin & Andrew Bradford, moved by the following October to Annapolis, Md., where he soon became printer for the Province of Maryland. Beginning in 1745, Green became publisher of the weekly Maryland Gazette, one of the earliest colonial newspapers. He was also register of St. Anne’s Church (Anglican), an alderman of the city of Annapolis, & postmaster. He made his political mark in his fight against the Stamp Act.
1769 Anne Catharine Hoof Green 1720–1775) Printer & Publisher by Charles Willson Peale, (1741-1827) The words "ANNAPOLIS Printer to . . . ," which appear on the paper held by Green, are a reference to the fact that the Maryland legislature had chosen her to succeed her husband as the colony's official printer.

In her husband's newspaper, Mrs. Green occasionally advertised the sale of "Choice good Coffee” & “very good Chocolate” at the post office, which was evidently their home. In Annapolis, the Green's rented a house on Charles Street. At the time it was a small 2 story house with a kitchen & 2 bedrooms. During the early 1740s, the owner of the house expanded the property to contain a print shop, post office, & room enough for the growing family.

The printing house was probably in a detached building. The following excerpt from Riley's Ancient City, p. 119, seems to give support to this supposition. Riley has been discussing the smallpox ravages in Annapolis in 1756 and 1757. "The family of Jonas Green," he writes, "was afflicted to such an extent that many of his customers were afraid to take the Gazette, lest they would catch the disease. Mr. Green, whilst he expressed a doubt as to paper carrying the disease, subsequently stated that people 'need not fear to catch the small-pox from the paper, as it was kept all the time a good distance from the house, and beside the disease was now eradicated from his premises.'"

The rearing of a large family probably occupied much of Mrs Green's time, since she bore 14 children. The parish register of St Anne's Church in Annapolis, lists 6 sons & 8 daughters: John b. 18 October 1738, died infancy; Rebecca b. September 1740, married 2 December 1757 to Mr. John Clapham; Jonas b. 12 February 1741, died in infancy; Catherine b. 4 November 1743, died in infancy (her godfather was Samuel Soumaien, the silversmith); Marie b. 7 January 1744/5 died in infancy; Mary b, 9 January 1745/6; William b. 21 December 1746, "being named Willian after the Duke of Cumberland only;" Anne Catharine b. 19 January 1748, died October 5; Frederick b. 20 January 1750, "just as the Guns were Firing on account of the Birth of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales" (one of his sponsors was the celebrated Dr. Alexander Hamilton of Annapolis, author of Hamilton's Itinerarium); Deborah b. 19 January 1752, died October 9 (her godmother was Mrs. Susanna Soumaien); Elizabeth b. 10 November 1755, died October 2; Jonas b. 29 August 1755, died of smallpox 26 December 1756; Samuel b. 27 April 1757; and Augusta, b. 4 April 1760.

She was probably taking an active part in the family printing business some time before 1767, for upon her husband’s death in that year her press produced the Acts & Votes & Proceedings of the Assembly of 1767 on schedule, & the Maryland Gazette continued without a break.On April 16, 1767, the following notice appeared in the Maryland Gazette: On Saturday Evening last died, at his late Dwelling-House, Mr. Jonas Green, for 28 years Printer to this Province, and 21 years Printer and Publisher of the Maryland Gazette: He was one of the Aldermen of this City. It would be the highest In-discretion in us, to attempt giving the character he justly deserved, only we have Reason to regret the Loss of him, in the various Stations of Husband, Parent, Master and Companion.

Immediately after the announcement of the death of her husband, Mrs Green wrote: "I Presume to address You," she wrote in an appeal to the public,"for your Countenance to Myself and numerous Family, left, without your Favour, almost destitute of Support, by the Decease of my Husband, who long, and, I have the Satisfaction to say, faithfully served You in the Business of Provincial Printer; and, I flatter myself, that, with your kind Indulgence and Encouragement, Myself, and Son, will be enabled to continue it on the same Footing...I am willing to hope, that the Pains taken by my late Husband, to oblige his very extensive Acquaintance, and the Character he deservedly bore, of an honest, benevolent Man, will recommend to your Regard, Your grateful and faithful humble Servant, A. C. GREEN.

On Jan. 7, 1768, shortly after his 21st birthday, the Maryland Gazette appeared under the name of Anne Catherine Green & William Green. With the death of William in August 1770, Frederick replaced him; on Jan. 2, 1772, when he was not quite 22, his services were recognized in the colophon as Anne Catherine Green & Son.  Mrs Green did not shy away from her new leadership role. Throughout the spring & summer of 1768, week after week the columns of her newspaper were filled with letters written by two angry Marylanders. The heated controversy was between "C. D." (Walter Dulany) and "The Bystander" (the learned but unscrupulous Bennet Allen, rector of St. Anne's Parish.) Finally, Mrs. Green & her son William refused to publish more letters of "The Bystander," unless the rector would indemnify them against suit & openly declare his identity. Allen declared that the Greens, as Jonas Green had been, were under the thumb of the Dulany family & complained strenuously of his exclusion from their newspaper, while his enemies were permitted still to use its columns.

Mrs. Green's son-in-law, John Clapham, came to the support of his wife's family in a long letter in the Maryland Gazette of September 22, 1768: "Mr. Allen's Treatment to Mrs. Green, left a widow, with large Family, he never can justify. On the 27th of May, he called at the Printing-Office, and endeavoured to intimidate her, by threatening to knock up her press, if ever she published any more pieces against him: Accordingly, next Morning, a Manuscript...was privately stuck up at the Door of the Stadt-House, the General Assembly then sitting, and the Office of Provincial Printer vacant, by which (tho' not intended) he did her real Service; for she was so happy, soon after, as to be unanimously chosen (printer for the province). It is generally supposed, had he acted a contrary Part, and given her a Recommendation to the Public, she wou'd not, for that very Reason, have received so general a Mark of Friendship and Approbation."

Jonas Green’s pay allowance as Maryland's public printer had terminated with his death. Finally, the Assembly voted that Mrs Green should be appointed to the position. She would be allowed the sum of "Nine hundred and forty-eight dollars and one half a dollar;" and further, that for her future services as public printer she receive 48,000 pounds of tobacco annually for those years in which there was a session of the Assembly, and 36,109 pounds of the current medium (tobacco) for the years in which no session was held. These were the same terms of payment as had been accorded to Jonas Green in the year 1765. Throughout her 8 years of service to the Province as public printer, Mrs. Green's allowance remained unchanged. In addition, the Assembly gave her the task of supplying “book Notes & Manifest” for the tobacco-inspection warehouses; & in 1770, she was paid for printing the bills of credit authorized by the Assembly of 1769.

She also published a yearly almanac & printed a few political pamphlets & some satirical works. Her most ambitious undertaking, apart from the newspaper & public business, was Elie Vallett’s Deputy Commissary’s Guide (1774), a book of 133 leaves detailing the procedures & forms to be used in probating wills & settling estates. Her issue of The Charter & Bye-Laws of the City of Annapolis has been described as “a beautifully printed little volume of fifty-two pages, which for typographical nicety could hardly have been surpassed by the best of her contemporaries in the colonies” (Wroth).

Until Aug. 20, 1773, when William Goddard began publishing in Baltimore of the Maryland Journal & Baltimore Advertiser, the Maryland Gazette was the only Maryland newspaper, & its role in reporting the political events leading to the Revolution was an important one.

Mrs. Green printed communications from the Northern colonies showing the increasing protest against the Townshend Acts & the establishment & success of no importation agreements. Through her columns John Dickinson’s Letters from a Pennsylvania Farmer reached the Maryland public. Accounts of the Boston Tea Party & the Boston Port Act of 1774 aroused great excitement. Green covered issues regarding independence, drawing upon local controversies. She covered was the famous, local Antilon/First citizen debate between Daniel Delaney & Charles Carroll. Carroll had argued for independent legislation & citizenship privileges.  By informing the people of plans & protests elsewhere as well as at home, the Maryland Gazette no doubt unconsciously helped to push the revolutionary cause. During such turbulent times a printing firm that depended heavily upon public business for its support might have made enemies it could ill afford. But Mrs. Green opened her columns to both sides to fan argument; & she was generally careful not to print libelous attacks on individuals, even when the authors were men of influence.

After her death (presumably in Annapolis) her son Frederick took over the business & continued to observe her rules, even though his comments & selection of materials reflected more & more radical views. During the Revolutionary War, from December 25, 1777, to April 30, 1779, the Maryland Gazette suspended publication. After its resumption, it continued to be published by sons & grandsons without interruption, until its final cessation 60 years later in 1839.

Little is known of Anne Catharine Green as a person. The Maryland Gazette’s obituary couched in the language of conventional praise, credits her with “a mild & benevolent Disposition” & exemplary “conjugal Affection” & “parental Tenderness.” As a printer & patriot, she excelled. Anne Green was an avid supporter of the Revolution & the Maryland Gazette consistently contained attacks on British Rule. The Maryland Gazette was the provinces only source of news during this period, and its pages were debated heavily. Under Anne's direction the paper became a force in the community, helping push the nation towards liberty and revolution. She made the Maryland Gazette a forum for discussion & a valuable, if not always impartial, source of information during a critical period in American history.

This posting based, in part, on information from Notable American Women edited by Edward T James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S Boyer, The Belknap Press of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. 1971

Monday, October 2, 2017

18C Portrait of an American Woman

Mrs Sylvanus Bourne 1766 John Singleton Copley (American, Boston, Massachusetts 1738–1815 London)  The Metropolitan Museum of Art tells us that Mercy Gorham (1695–1782) was born and raised on Cape Cod, in the colony of Massachusetts. In 1718, she married Sylvanus Bourne, a prosperous merchant, and 2 years later they settled in the port town of Barnstable. The couple had 11 children. Copley painted Mrs. Bourne 3 years after her husband’s death, when she was 71 years old. She holds a book in her lap.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

18C Women Across the Globe

1770s  Hamburg, Germany from the Bunka Fashion College in Japan. 

Across the 18C globe, dress varied widely. In the early 18C, British & British American colonial women dressed similarly, but they could get an idea how women in far places also might dress from clothing & costume drawings, which were becoming more popular & more widely available at the time. 

During the period in Britain & her colonies, a woman's status could be  evident in her choice of clothing materials in both quantity & quality. Did her clothes have elegant trimmings, such as lace & needlework? How many dresses did she own? Were they up-to-date in style & fit? Women who had to do physical labor, especially in the colonies, modified the elegant styles of the period for greater ease of movement, durability, & affordability. Everyday long gowns seldom survived, but prints & paintings suggest the garments were cut like fashionable dresses of the period. Usually they were, however, made of cheaper textiles & without trimmings & ruffles. When a long fitted gown was too impractical for the work to be done, working women adopted shorter garments that also required less fabric than a full gown. These included short gowns, bed gowns, & jackets. Neck handkerchiefs, gloves, & mitts protected women's bodies from exposure to cold or excessive sunlight. Kerchiefs also offered greater modesty, when fashion dictated low necklines. Workers & older women especially relied on such accessories.

Early in the 18C, proper, elite British women wore a dress known as a mantua for formal occasions. The mantua was an open-fronted silk or fine wool gown with a train & matching petticoat. The train was worn looped up over the hips to reveal the petticoat. The bodice had loose elbow-length sleeves finished with wide turned-back cuffs. A hoop petticoat & several under-petticoats wore worn beneath the outer petticoat. To give the British figure a fashionable shape, a corset often was worn under the bodice. It was made of linen & stiffened with whale bones inserted between parallel lines of stitching. The corset fastened with lacing down the back which could be laced tightly to give an upright posture to the torso & to emphasise the waist. A strip of bone, wood, or metal was sometimes incorporated into the front stays. British women wore their hair close to the head often with a small linen cap which sometimes had lace lappets, streamers that hung either side of a woman's cap. The cap was covered by a hood or hat for outerwear.

In the 1730s, the "sack back' dress worn over a hoop petticoat became increasingly fashionable in Britain & her colonies. The style remained in fashion until the 1780s. The sack back was made from 5 or panels of material pleated into 2 box pleats at the center back of the neck-band. It flowed down & was incorporated into the fullness of the skirt. It was worn over a matching petticoat as well as a hoop petticoat. The "nightgown style" or style anglaise had a pleated back. The pleats were stitched flat from the back of the neck to the centre back waist. Genteel ladies wore hoop petticoats, usually made of linen with split cane hoops stitched in at intervals & held the skirt of the petticoat & the robe out at the sides. They were at their widest in the 1740s & 1750s, when they could measure over 1.5m across. Hoop petticoats were worn on formal occasions. As with many fashions, it is hard to say why such a cumbersome outfit was popular. One reason might have been that it displayed the richly embroidered cloth of the skirt that indicated the wearer's wealth. During the 1770s, hair styles became higher, as they often were combed over a padded roll or worn over a frame.


As the New Repulic of The United States of America was finding its way between the 1780s & 1800, a very noticeable change took place in the female British silhouette. The waistline became higher, until it reached the bust. The skirt was reduced in width & hoop petticoats were discarded except at very formal occasions. In their place, crescent-shaped pads were worn at the center back waist beneath the skirt to help fill out the gathers at the back of the dress. In the 1790s, corsets were lightly boned & usually made of linen. Hair was frizzed or worn in short curls.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Cornelia Smith Bradford (d 1755) Printer & Newspaper Editor in Philadelphia

In 18C colonial British America, most women worked at home with their husbands to contribute to the family's economic support. But, during the period, a surprising number of women did become active in commerce. Women ran many kinds of businesses with no reference to husbands, alive or deceased, although research reveals that many were widows. Women became shopkeepers, artisans, & merchants. The most frequent reason for working outside the home was widowhood. Examples of working women in colonial America are often associated with the clothing trade & shop-keeping. The impending war with England created a demand for goods made in America, thus opening business opportunities to women engaged in the production of cloth & food. 
Bookbinder's Workshop from Diderot & D'Alembert's Encyclopédie, France, 1751 and 1766

Women printers were also active. The employment of women in the printing trades was well-regarded & fairly common at the time. Frequently, a woman would inherit a husband's printing business at the time of his death. As proprietors & purveyors of the printed word, women printers enjoyed a small but significant role in colonial America. 

When her husband died, a widow was entitled to run his business. Often, but not always, this meant, that they oversaw the business, the workforce being unchanged. Such widows can be difficult to trace in primary sources, especially if they ran a business only for a short time before remarrying (when the business interests were transferred to the new husband). Many women helped their husbands to run their businesses but with no public recognition.

Cornelia Smith Bradford (d 1755) was a printer & newspaper editor located in Philadelphia. She is one of several American women known to have supported themselves as printers before the American Revolution. Born Cornelia Smith in New York City, Cornelia grew up in a family of comfortable means. She married Andrew Bradford, son of William Bradford, both printers. She was said to have been "remarkable for beauty & talents." Andrew owned a print shop in Philadelphia as well as the American Weekly Mercury newspaper, founded in 1719. Upon Andrew's death, Cornelia took over his printing press, shop, & management of his newspaper. In 1742/3, she hired Isaiah Warner as an assistant printer. From 1744, until the last issue of the Mercury on May 22, 1746, Cornelia was the sole editor & printer. In addition the newspaper, her print shop printed almanacs & various other publications. Cornelia was also a bookbinder & bookseller. She owned land in New York City, Philadelphia, & Germantown. In 1755, she died in Philadelphia & was buried in the Christ Church cemetery.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Martha Washington's Supervision of the Philly President's House Food & of Her Slave Chef's Ultimate Freedom

1793 John Trumbull (1756-1843). Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (1731-1802)  (Daniel Parke Custis) (George Washington)


Hercules: Master of Cuisine, Slave of Washington
The Philadelphia Inquier  February 21 & 22, 2010 
by Craig LaBan, Restaurant Critic 

"In kitchen togs or fancy duds, Hercules left his mark in the President’s House & on the town in 1790s Philadelphia. He was one of the first great chefs of Philadelphia - in fact, of the young nation. The chief cook in President George Washington's home here in 1790 had only one name: Hercules.

"In the mansion's open-hearth kitchen, where elaborate banquets were prepared, where spitted meats sizzled & "fricaseys" simmered in cast-iron pans over hickory fires, underlings scurried to execute the orders of Hercules, "the great master-spirit," according to one account, who seemed to be everywhere at once...To Washington, however, Hercules was what he called that "species of property" - a slave. And though his talents would earn Hercules extraordinary privileges, including an income, fine clothes, & freedom to roam the city, Washington also went to great lengths to maintain the bondage of his prized cook ...eventually, an attempt to stash him at Mount Vernon...But contemporary historians such as Mary V. Thompson of Mount Vernon, Anna Coxe Toogood of Independence National Historical Park, David R. Hoth of the Washington Papers at the University of Virginia, & Edward Lawler Jr. of the Independence Hall Association have gone beyond Custis' memories to tease the outlines of Hercules' narrative from household account books, correspondences, & Mount Vernon farm reports...

"George Washington was no gourmet. Unlike his political rival Thomas Jefferson, forever a foodie after his diplomatic years in France, Washington was steeped in the ritual of simple tastes. He ate hoecakes for breakfast at 7, the white corn-mush patties swimming in butter & honey (to soften them for his famously sore teeth), with 3 cups of black tea. For his informal Saturday evenings, the fish-loving Washington regularly ate a humble hash of boiled beets, potatoes, onions, & salt fish (conveniently supplied by New England's congressional delegation) covered with fried pork scraps & buttery egg sauce. But the president could also host in capital style, with regular feasts for 30 or more guests: senators, foreign dignitaries, Indian chiefs. And he needed a kitchen that could carry it off.

"Hercules, the...father of four, was the Washington's choice. Little is known about his early life; Washington is believed to have purchased him in 1767, when Hercules was a 13-year-old ferryman. But Hercules clearly learned his kitchen craft well at Mount Vernon from Martha Washington's longtime slave cook, Old Doll. By the time Hercules was about 36, the president tapped him to come north to Philadelphia...Washington was keenly aware of the political importance of dining room ceremony, & his regular Thursday dinners with members of Congress would set an impressive standard for the nation's first power meals...With Congress drawing to a close & talk of avoiding another war with Britain likely swirling around the table, May 1794 brought forth a presidential gush of banquets. During the week of May 19, for instance, the kitchen prepared 293 pounds of beef, 111 pounds of veal, 54 pounds of mutton, 129 pounds of lamb, 16 pounds of pork, calves' feet (for sweet colonial Jell-O), 44 chickens, 22 pigeons, 2 ducks, 10 lobsters, 98 pounds of butter, 32 dozen eggs, myriad fruits & vegetables, 3 half-barrels of beer, 20 bottles of porter, 9 bottles of "cyder," 2 bottles of Sauternes, 22 bottles of Madeira, 4 bottles of claret, 10 bottles of Champagne, & 1 twenty-eight-pound cheese...

"And contrary to the Washington's grandson) Custis' image of him, he may not have always been in charge, either. The steward oversaw all the marketing, inspected each morning by Martha Washington after breakfast... 

"But while the hired cooks & stewards came & went, Hercules was the mainstay in the kitchen. And the Washingtons rewarded him with tokens of their approval. There were tickets to see a play at the Southwark Theater (The Beaux' Stratagem) & the spectacular riding acrobatics at Ricketts' Circus (America's 1st), according to account books. There were bottles of rum to mourn the death of his wife, Lame Alice, an enslaved Mount Vernon seamstress. A reluctant Washington also granted Hercules the favor of bringing his 13-year-old son, Richmond, to Philadelphia as a kitchen scullion & chimney sweep. Most telling, though, was allowing Hercules the right to sell the kitchen "slops" - the remaining animal skins, used tea leaves, & rendered tallow that would have been compost on the plantation...For Hercules, that meant annual earnings of up to $200, if Custis is accurate, as much as the Washingtons paid hired chefs...

"Pennsylvania had already become the first government in the New World to begin the abolition of slavery with its Gradual Abolition Act of 1780. And with the Quaker-backed Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery & Free African Society working on their behalf, there were 1,805 free blacks in the city in 1790, while only 273 remained enslaved, according to the federal census as noted in (Gary) Nash's book. By 1800, the slave number had dropped to 55 among a black population of 6,436, about 10 percent of the city's population. To circumvent the Gradual Abolition Act, which allowed citizens of other states to hold slaves only 6 months before the slaves could claim their freedom, the Washingtons regularly & illegally shuttled their slaves across state lines before the deadline expired, thus resetting their residency at zero. And Washington wanted to keep it secret at all costs - even if it meant a lie.

"I wish to have it accomplished under the pretext that may deceive both them & the public," he wrote to Lear. "...This advise may be known to none but yourself & Mrs. Washington." It wasn't long before the slaves figured out why they were being shuffled back & forth between Philadelphia & Virginia by stagecoach & boat, but Hercules, Lear wrote Washington in 1791, was "mortified to the last degree to think that a suspicion could be entertained of his fidelity or attachment to you..." Martha Washington showed her trust by allowing Hercules to stay, at least once, beyond the 6 months. But the president clearly never relaxed.

"Washington signed the Fugitive Slave Act that Congress had overwhelmingly approved in 1793, which allowed slave owners to retrieve their runaways anywhere, even if captured in non-slavery states...The once-trusted chef, also noted for the fine silk clothes...suddenly found himself that November in the coarse linens & woolens of a field slave. Hercules was relegated to hard labor alongside others, digging clay for 100,000 bricks, spreading dung, grubbing bushes, & smashing stones into sand to coat the houses on the property, according to farm reports & a November memo from Washington to his farm manager. "That will Keep them," he wrote, "out of idleness & mischief." When Hercules' son (13 year old) Richmond was then caught stealing money from an employee's saddlebags, Washington made his suspicions of a planned father-son escape clear in a letter: "This will make a watch, without its being suspected by, or intimated to them..." 

"By February, after several days of working in the damp chill, Hercules had had enough. Before dawn on Feb. 22, 1797, he launched his quest for freedom. The discovery by Mount Vernon historian Mary V. Thompson of this key detail in the weekly farm report from Feb. 25, 1797 - "Herculus absconded 4 [days ago]" - ...By the time Hercules fled in 1797, the 3 children he'd raised since his wife died 10 years earlier ranged from in age from 11 to 20. A 4th child, a daughter of 6, seemed to have understood her father's need to leave. A Mount Vernon visitor asked whether she was "deeply upset that she would never see her father again." She replied, according to the future French king Louis-Philippe, in his Diary of My Travels in America: "Oh! sir, I am very glad, because he is free now..."

"Hercules resurfaced at least once more in the United States. He was spotted in late 1801, by Col. Richard Varick, Washington's former recording secretary, who was then mayor of New York. In responding to his alert, Martha Washington wrote "to decline taking Hercules back again..." On Jan. 1, 1801, according to biographer Patricia Brady, Martha Washington had decided to free all 123 of her late husband's slaves, despite his wish that they would not be freed until both he & his wife were dead."

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

George & Martha Dandridge Custis Washington's celebrated, enslaved cook, Hercules

Attributed to Gilbert Stuart (1755–1828) & Assumed to be a Portrait of Hercules, George Washington's Cook, 1797

Hercules was an enslaved African held at Mount Vernon, George Washington's Virginia plantation on the Potomac River. He was the head cook at the mansion in the 1780s, cooking for the Washington family and their guests. Hercules was one of two cooks listed in the 1786 Mount Vernon Slave Census. He probably was born around 1755, and was either the child of Washington's slaves or was purchased following Washington's 1759 marriage to the widow Martha Custis.
1800 Unidentified Artist, Martha Dandridge Custis Washington (1731-1802)  (Daniel Parke Custis) (George Washington)

After he became President of the United States, Washington was dissatisfied with the cook in the presidential residences in New York City, and brought Hercules to Philadelphia in November 1790.In 1790 President Washington brought him to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (then the national capital) to cook in the kitchen of the President's House. Hercules escaped to freedom from Mount Vernon in 1797, and later was legally manumitted under the terms of Washington's Will.

Hercules took Alice, one of Martha Washington's "dower" slaves, as his wife, and they had 3 children: Richmond (born 1777), Evey (born 1782), and Delia (born 1785). He, his wife, and the three children were listed in the February 1786 Mount Vernon Slave Census, which records him as one of two cooks in the Mansion House. Alice died in 1787.

He was one of nine enslaved Africans brought to Philadelphia in 1790 by Washington to work in the presidential household.In the memoirs of G.W.P. Custis, Martha Washington's grandson, Hercules was recalled as "a celebrated artiste ... as highly accomplished a proficient in the culinary art as could be found in the United States." The cook was given the privilege of selling the extra food from the Philadelphia kitchen, which by Custis's estimate earned him nearly $200 a year, the annual salary of a hired cook. According to Custis, Hercules was a dapper dresser and was given freedom to walk about in the city.

Pennsylvania passed a gradual abolition law in 1780, which prohibited non-residents from holding slaves in the state longer than six months. If held beyond that period, the state's Gradual Abolition Act gave slaves the legal power to free themselves. Members of Congress were specifically exempted from the act. Officers of the executive and judicial branches of the federal government were not mentioned since those branches didn't exist until the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1788.

When the national capital moved Philadelphia in 1790, there was a question about whether the state law would apply to federal officials. Washington argued that he was a citizen of Virginia, that his presence in Pennsylvania was solely a consequence of Philadelphia's being the temporary national capital, and that the state law should not apply to him. Rather than challenging the state law in court, Washington took the advice of his attorney general, Edmund Randolph, and systematically rotated the President's House slaves in and out of the state to prevent their establishing a six-month continuous residency. This rotation was itself a violation of Pennsylvania law, but no one challenged the President's actions. The U.S. Supreme Court later found Pennsylvania's 1788 amendment to the Gradual Abolition Act to be unconstitutional in Prigg v. Pennsylvania.

In reality, Washington left Hercules behind at Mount Vernon, when he returned to Philadelphia after Christmas 1796. The historian Anna Coxe Toogood found that the Mount Vernon farm records listed Hercules and Richmond at the plantation during the winter of 1796-97, where they were assigned as laborers, along with other domestic servants, to pulverize stone, dig brick clay, and grub out honeysuckle.

Mary V. Thompson, research historian at Mount Vernon, was able to document that Hercules escaped to freedom from Mount Vernon, and that his escape occurred on February 22, 1797 – Washington's 65th birthday – which the president celebrated in Philadelphia. An entry in that week's Mount Vernon farm report noted that Hercules "absconded 4 [days ago]."

Louis-Philippe, the future king of the French, visited Mount Vernon in the spring of 1797. According to his April 5 diary entry: The general's cook ran away, being now in Philadelphia, and left a little daughter of six at Mount Vernon. Beaudoin ventured that the little girl must be deeply upset that she would never see her father again; she answered, "Oh! Sir, I am very glad, because he is free now."

Hercules remained in hiding. In 1798, the former-President's House steward, Frederick Kitt, informed Washington that the fugitive was living in Philadelphia: "Since your departure I have been making distant enquiries about Herculas but did not till about four weeks ago hear anything of him and that was only that [he] was in town neither do I yet know where he is, and that it will be very difficult to find out in the secret manner necessary to be observed on the occasion."

The 1799 Mount Vernon Slave Census listed 124 enslaved Africans owned by Washington and 153 "dower" slaves owned by Martha Washington's family. Washington's 1799 Will instructed that his slaves be freed upon Martha's death. Washington died on December 14, 1799.  At Martha Washington's request, the three executors of Washington's Estate freed her late husband's slaves on January 1, 1801. There is no evidence that Hercules knew he had been manumitted, and legally was no longer a fugitive.  In a December 15, 1801 letter, Martha Washington indicated, that she had learned that Hercules, by then legally free, was living in New York City. Nothing more is known of his whereabouts or life in freedom.

Because Alice had been a "dower" slave – owned by the estate of Martha Washington's first husband, Daniel Parke Custis – the children of Hercules and his wife were legally property of the Custis Estate. The children remained enslaved and were among the "dowers" divided among Martha Washington's 4 grandchildren following her 1802 death.

George Washington Parke Custis, Recollections and Private Memoirs of the Life and Character of Washington. Benson J. Lossing, ed. (New York, 1860), 422-24. "The chief cook would have been termed in modern parlance, a celebrated artiste. He was named Hercules, and familiarly termed Uncle Harkless. Trained in the mysteries of his part from early youth, and in the palmy days of Virginia, when her thousand chimneys smoked to indicate the generous hospitality that reigned throughout the whole length and breadth of her wide domain, Uncle Harkless was, at the period of the first presidency, as highly accomplished a proficient in the culinary arts as could be found in the United States. He was a dark-brown man, little, if any above the usual size, yet possessed of such great muscular power as to entitle him to be compared with his namesake of fabulous history.

"The chief cook gloried in the cleanliness and nicety of his kitchen. Under his iron discipline, wo[e] to his underlings if speck or spot could be discovered on the tables or dressers, or if the utensils did not shine like polished silver. With the luckless wights who had offended in these particulars there was no arrest of punishment, for judgment and execution went hand in hand.The steward, and indeed the whole household, treated the chief cook with such respect, as well for his valuable services as for his general good character and pleasing manners.

"It was while preparing the Thursday or Congress dinner that Uncle Harkless shone in all his splendor. During his labors upon this banquet he required some half dozen aprons, and napkins out of number. It was surprising the order and discipline that was observed in so bustling a scene. His underlings flew in all directions to execute his orders, while he, the great master-spirit, seemed to possess the power of ubiquity, and to be everywhere at the same moment.

"When the steward in snow-white apron, silk shorts and stockings, and hair in full powder, placed the first dish on the table, the clock being on the stroke of four, "the labors of Hercules" ceased.

"While the masters of the republic were engaged in discussing the savory viands of the Congress dinner, the chief cook retired to make his toilet for an evening promenade. His prerequisites from the slops of the kitchen were from one to two hundred dollars a year. Though homely in person, he lavished the most of these large avails upon dress. In making his toilet his linen was of unexceptional whiteness and quality, then black silk shorts, ditto waistcoat, ditto stockings, shoes highly polished, with large buckles covering a considerable part of the foot, blue cloth with velvet collar and bright metal buttons, a long watch-chain dangling from his fob, a cocked-hat and gold-headed cane completed the grand costume of the celebrated dandy (for there were dandies in those days) of the president's kitchen.

Thus arrayed, the chief cook invariably passed out at the front door, the porter making a low bow, which was promptly returned. Joining his brother-loungers of the pave, he proceeded up Market street, attracting considerable attention, that street being, in the old times, the resort where fashionables "did most congregate." Many were not a little surprised to behold so extraordinary a personage, while others who knew him would make a formal and respectful bow, that they might receive in return the salute of one of the most polished gentlemen and the veriest dandy of nearly sixty years ago."

Read more about Hercules  at The Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington.

Since 1980, Mary V. Thompson has worked as Research Historian at Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens. Her primary focus is on using primary sources to understand & interpret everyday life on the estate, including domestic routines, foodways, religious practices, slavery, and the free hours of the Washington's slave community.