The Filson Historical Society Digital Projects

Shrouded in Jet and Crepe: A Look into Mourning Attire and Ribbons at the Filson Historical Society

For women in the Victorian era, death and mourning were part of life. High infant mortality rates, poor sanitation, and social and political unrest left many shrouded in grief, both emotionally and physically. Mourning etiquette in Europe and America, particularly in the nineteenth century, entailed a theatrical display of one’s personal grief. While all members of society took part in these rituals, they are best understood by examining the clothing and accessories of women as they progressed through the different stages of mourning. Though the exhibit does include a few items worn by men, it focuses primarily on material culture affiliated with women. The Filson Historical Society's collection includes a wide variety of mourning garments, jewelry, and clothing accessories, as well as memorial ribbons, portraits, and posthumous portraits.


Maureen Lane, Brooks Vessels