J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Thursday, November 08, 2012

1735 Wedding Dress on Display in Boston, 13 Nov.

On Tuesday, 13 November, the Bostonian Society is hosting a special event focused on this dress, embroidered by Elizabeth Bull before her wedding in 1735. The dress will be on display in the Old State House for that night only, and textile expert Kathryn Tarleton will describe the challenges of researching and conserving it. Then it will go off for treatment under a grant from the Stockman Family Foundation.

The society’s announcement explains:
Miss Bull began designing, sewing, and embroidering her own China silk wedding gown while in school, a project undertaken by young women to practice and perfect the advanced needle arts. She had already been working on the gown for several years when, in 1734, she met Reverend Roger Price at Trinity Church. The gown was still not completed when Miss Bull wore it to their wedding the following year.
The minister was in his late thirties; Elizabeth was still in her teens. Here are some close-ups of the embroidery. That page suggests that the dress was altered to conform to later fashions, as folks who know about sleeves probably already guessed. Here are some of the caps Elizabeth Price sewed for her babies.

The family moved to England in the 1750s when the Rev. Mr. Price sought a better living within the Anglican Church. He died unexpectedly in 1762. Elizabeth lived until 1780. Two of the couple’s children moved back to Massachusetts after the war, settling on property from their mother’s family in Hopkinton. Daughter Elizabeth, known as “Madam Price,” lived until 1826. Presumably she and her brother had brought the gown and other family items back to the United States.

Elizabeth Bull’s gown will be displayed from 5:30 to 7:30 P.M. Space is limited, and admission ($5 for Bostonian Society members, $15 for non-members) can be arranged through this Eventbrite page. There will be refreshments, presumably not near the fabric.

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