Next in the Lovettsville Historical Society’s 2023 Lecture Series:

Fashioning the Funeral:

Mourning Wear and Customs in Civil War America

Presented by Kelly Wenner White

Sunday, October 8, at 2:00 p.m.
St. James United Church of Christ,
10 East Broad Way, Lovettsville

On Sunday, October 8, Kelly Wenner White will present an overview of Civil War-era mourning wear and customs, including topics ranging from mourning jewelry and advances in medicine to gravestones and fashion.

Woman’s shirtwaist, silk and lace, ca. 1890-1900. Brunswick Heritage Museum collection. Photo by Kelly White

Mourning practices in Civil War America were heavily influenced by England’s Queen Victoria, who publicly mourned the death of her husband for over 40 years. This, along with changing funeral practices, rural cemeteries, and the onset and subsequent death toll of the Civil War, created an atmosphere well-prepared to accept and demonstrate all aspects of “mourning culture.”

Aspects of mourning culture fall into four main areas- transportation and storage, medicine, arts and crafts, and fashion. Mounting battlefield deaths quickly exacerbated developments in transportation, storage, and medicine, and in the social aftermath of war people sought the rites and rituals of mourning to help normalize what author Drew Gilpin Faust aptly named a “republic of suffering.” Mourning customs later evolved into the “business of mourning,” which helped shape the modern funeral industry.

Kelly Wenner White

Kelly is a local historian and writer whose historical research focuses on fashion history. She volunteers for the Association of Dress Historians as a copywriter for their publication The Journal of Dress History, and has published several book reviews of fashion history related works. She holds an undergraduate degree in History from Mary Baldwin University, and a graduate degree in History from American Military University.  She has also studied textile collections care at the Northern States Conservation Center. This is her first presentation for the Lovettsville Historical Society.
The presentation will be held at St. James United Church of Christ, at 10 East Broad Way, in Lovettsville. The program will be followed, as is customary, by questions and discussion.

Admission is free, but donations and are welcome to defray expenses of the program and to support the activities of the Lovettsville Historical Society.

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