Media: Slideshow

Mourning Clothing

Mourning Clothing

The following images portray mourning clothing in Virginia in the antebellum period—a time when elaborate and structured mourning customs prevailed. Etiquette books recommended that mothers mourn a child for one year. Widows, however, were expected to respect a minimum two and a half years in mourning. In the period immediately following the death of her husband, a wife embarked on heavy-mourning, in which she was compelled to wear only black clothing and to keep her face concealed with a black crepe veil when she left her home. This was followed by full-mourning, during which she continued to don black garments and a veil, but lighter shades of lace and cuffs were allowed to adorn her outfit. The final stage, half-mourning, permitted the widow to wear solid-colored fabrics of lavender, gray, and some purples.

The simple black silk mourning dress shown here has a detachable collar of black machine lace in a floral pattern. The dress dates to around 1860 and belonged to a Lizzie Smith from Matthews County, Virginia. Women were often photographed in mourning clothing, including these grieving women whose cased images are in the collection at the Valentine Richmond History Center. Elizabeth Ann Valentine's cheeks are gently hand-colored in a daguerreotype made around 1855; an unidentified woman wears a black veil, a light-colored collar, and earrings and necklace in the shape of a cross–and probably fashioned out of the hair of the deceased—in an ambrotype made in Richmond circa 1857; Marie Sanford Johnston, captured in a daguerreotype around 1860, is entirely clad in funereal tones, save for the light cap beneath her bonnet; and an unidentified women, circa 1855, sits for a daguerreotype in black lace gloves and partial hair covering.

Original Author: Unknown

Created: ca. 1860

Medium: Silk dress

Courtesy of The Museum of the Confederacy

Lace collar

Black silk dress, center closure, no buttons, dropped sleeves, gathered waist with smocked detail. Collar is detached, it is black machine lace in a floral pattern. Belonged to Lizzie Smith and her great niece of Willow Grove, Matthews County, Va.

Original Author: Unknown

Created: ca. 1860

Medium: Lace collar

Courtesy of The Museum of the Confederacy

Elizabeth Ann Valentine

File name: ElizabethAnnValentine_L_68_80_08.tif Description: Elizabeth Ann Valentine, c. 1855 [in mourning]; by Tyler & Co., Boston, Massachusetts Medium: Sixth-plate daguerreotype ID number: L.68.80.08

Original Author: Unknown

Created: ca. 1855

Medium: Sixth-plate daguerreotype

Courtesy of The Valentine

Woman in mourning

File name: UnidentifiedWoman_V_50_57_02.tif Description: Unidentified woman, c. 1857 [in mourning]; by P. E. Gibbs Medium: Sixth-plate ambrotype ID number: V.50.57.02

Original Author: P. E. Gibbs

Created: ca. 1857

Medium: Sixth-plate ambrotype

Courtesy of The Valentine

Marie Sanford Johnston

File name: MarieSanfordJohnston_V_62_125_02.tif Description: Marie Sanford (Mrs. J. T. Johnston), c. 1860 [in mourning] Medium: Sixth-plate daguerreotype ID number: V.62.125.02

Original Author: Unknown

Created: ca. 1860

Medium: Sixth-plate daguerreotype

Courtesy of The Valentine

Unidentified woman in mourning

File name: UnidentifiedWoman_V_34_40_23.tif Description: Unidentified woman, c. 1855 [in mourning] Medium: Sixth-plate daguerreotype ID number: V.34.40.23

Original Author: Unknown

Created: ca. 1855

Medium: Sixth-plate daguerreotype

Courtesy of The Valentine

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  • Mourning Clothing

    The following images portray mourning clothing in Virginia in the antebellum period—a time when elaborate and structured mourning customs prevailed. Etiquette books recommended that mothers mourn a child for one year. Widows, however, were expected to respect a minimum two and a half years in mourning. In the period immediately following the death of her husband, a wife embarked on heavy-mourning, in which she was compelled to wear only black clothing and to keep her face concealed with a black crepe veil when she left her home. This was followed by full-mourning, during which she continued to don black garments and a veil, but lighter shades of lace and cuffs were allowed to adorn her outfit. The final stage, half-mourning, permitted the widow to wear solid-colored fabrics of lavender, gray, and some purples.

    The simple black silk mourning dress shown here has a detachable collar of black machine lace in a floral pattern. The dress dates to around 1860 and belonged to a Lizzie Smith from Matthews County, Virginia. Women were often photographed in mourning clothing, including these grieving women whose cased images are in the collection at the Valentine Richmond History Center. Elizabeth Ann Valentine's cheeks are gently hand-colored in a daguerreotype made around 1855; an unidentified woman wears a black veil, a light-colored collar, and earrings and necklace in the shape of a cross–and probably fashioned out of the hair of the deceased—in an ambrotype made in Richmond circa 1857; Marie Sanford Johnston, captured in a daguerreotype around 1860, is entirely clad in funereal tones, save for the light cap beneath her bonnet; and an unidentified women, circa 1855, sits for a daguerreotype in black lace gloves and partial hair covering.

    Original Author: Unknown

    Created: ca. 1860

    Medium: Silk dress

    Courtesy of The Museum of the Confederacy

  • Lace collar

    Black silk dress, center closure, no buttons, dropped sleeves, gathered waist with smocked detail. Collar is detached, it is black machine lace in a floral pattern. Belonged to Lizzie Smith and her great niece of Willow Grove, Matthews County, Va.

    Original Author: Unknown

    Created: ca. 1860

    Medium: Lace collar

    Courtesy of The Museum of the Confederacy

  • Elizabeth Ann Valentine

    File name: ElizabethAnnValentine_L_68_80_08.tif Description: Elizabeth Ann Valentine, c. 1855 [in mourning]; by Tyler & Co., Boston, Massachusetts Medium: Sixth-plate daguerreotype ID number: L.68.80.08

    Original Author: Unknown

    Created: ca. 1855

    Medium: Sixth-plate daguerreotype

    Courtesy of The Valentine

  • Woman in mourning

    File name: UnidentifiedWoman_V_50_57_02.tif Description: Unidentified woman, c. 1857 [in mourning]; by P. E. Gibbs Medium: Sixth-plate ambrotype ID number: V.50.57.02

    Original Author: P. E. Gibbs

    Created: ca. 1857

    Medium: Sixth-plate ambrotype

    Courtesy of The Valentine

  • Marie Sanford Johnston

    File name: MarieSanfordJohnston_V_62_125_02.tif Description: Marie Sanford (Mrs. J. T. Johnston), c. 1860 [in mourning] Medium: Sixth-plate daguerreotype ID number: V.62.125.02

    Original Author: Unknown

    Created: ca. 1860

    Medium: Sixth-plate daguerreotype

    Courtesy of The Valentine

  • Unidentified woman in mourning

    File name: UnidentifiedWoman_V_34_40_23.tif Description: Unidentified woman, c. 1855 [in mourning] Medium: Sixth-plate daguerreotype ID number: V.34.40.23

    Original Author: Unknown

    Created: ca. 1855

    Medium: Sixth-plate daguerreotype

    Courtesy of The Valentine