Members brave the rain to hear Jane Peters Estes

HSR members returned to the familiar setting of the Riverton Public School library Tuesday evening to hear historian, Hagley Museum guide, and costumed presenter Jane Peters Estes’ compelling presentation, “The Battle of Gettysburg: Where Were the Women?”

The take-away from this meeting and the short answer to Ms. Estes’ rhetorical question is: The women were everywhere – it’s just not always written in our history books.

Members socialize and enjoy refreshments after the presentation. Jane even showed some of the ladies her bloomers and the crinoline cage under her dress.

Ms. Estes has distilled the best parts from her bibliography of over three dozen listed sources and she quotes from period newspaper accounts, letters, diaries, journals, and eyewitness accounts to make her powerful case.  We heard how women hid in basements, faced their foes on the battlefield, nursed the wounded, and buried the dead at Gettysburg. She lectured dressed as a woman of the Civil War era, right down to the bloomers and corset.

A rhinestone-studded pumpkin decorates a refreshment table loaded with Mrs. Kloos' famous white chocolate covered pretzel snacks, Mrs. Rodgers' pumpkin mousse cupcakes, Mrs. Waters' homemade ginger snaps, donut holes, and two kinds of cider.

Click here for a one minute excerpt from the presentation that explains how a woman could join the army and not be detected.

The presentation concluded and we mingled afterward for conversation and refreshments. It may have been for longer than usual, but there was much to catch up on since this was the first presentation of the season.

An evening’s seminar on the varied roles of women in the Civil War, snacks and apple cider, socializing among others with a passion for understanding and preserving history  –  priceless!  This is a great time to join as a new member.  – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor


Fashion Tales Come to the March 23, 2011 HSR Meeting

Dear Readers: Mrs. Susan Dechnik, HSR Board member and one of my former teaching partners at RPS, writes today’s entry to accompany all of the great photos that she took at our recent meeting.  – JMcCormick

What can a purse tell about history or a hat about the man who wore it?  Ms. Kate Butler of and Mr. Greg Cristiano, proprietor of Teardrop, brought their eclectic assortment of heirlooms and collectibles to the March HSR meeting to show us. They shared their extensive knowledge of antique apparel in the informative program, “Ladies and Gentlemen’s Accessories of the Past Victorian, Edwardian, and Depression Eras.”

Ms. Butler’s collection included antique purses, millinery, footwear, and vanity collectibles.  From handbags to hats and everything in between, including a Victorian-era bathing costume, Kate served up a richly illustrated account of how familiar objects changed through the centuries.

Greg Cristiano, Ms. Butler’s collaborator for the male portion of the fashion discussion, spoke authoritatively about mourning attire, mourning mementos, and men’s clothing items and accessories. Among other things, he brought a 19th century undertaker’s hat, a full-length black bearskin coat, and several unusual decorative mourning items constructed from the hair of the deceased loved one.

In the interactive part of the program the pair invited audience members to have vintage fashion items which they had brought evaluated. Often, the article came with a story connecting it to the owner’s relative, to which the presenters then added expert knowledge about the function and history of the piece. The lecture proved to be a fun and engaging way to relate to history and show how changing fashions and personal items can tell a fascinating story. Click here to download a video clip from the presentation. (It is less than two minutes, but it is a 102MB file.)  – Mrs. Susan Dechnik, HSR Board Member