Recreating a mid-19th Century Wardrobe–Victorian Style

Civil War Work Dressby Anna KristinePemberley Couture

Civil War Work Dress
by Anna Kristine
Pemberley Couture

Before recreating a Living Historian wardrobe, the first course of action is to better understand the make-up of social classes during the 1800’s. It is a known fact that 75% of citizens in the south did not own slaves. Mark Weitz, author of “A Higher Duty,” states that there were five social classes in the south: (1) planters, (2) wealthy farmers, (3) slaveholding yeoman farmers (4) non-slaveholding yeoman farmers, and (5) field hands, tenant farmers, or city employees. To much dismay, slaves were considered property and not citizens.

In addition, People of Color struggled to be acknowledged within the social structure during the Civil War era. Most during this time period categorized People of Color in the 5th class of citizens. A precursory glimpse into the lives of Wilkes and Lavinia Flagg reveal that they were slaves in the early years of their lives and, as Free People of Color, were servants at the former Georgia (USA) Governor’s Mansion prior to and during the Civil War era.

Jack Cox, author of “The 1850 Census of Georgia Slave Owners” states that less than 10% of the population in Georgia owned slaves.  This means that only 10% of the women in Georgia dressed like Scarlett O’Hara, a character in the classic novel titled “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell. Far more women wore clothing that was conducive for the practical everyday life of a wife, mother or daughter who was responsible for managing a household.

Stereotypes will be shattered as a 21st Century Civil War Living Historian designs a mid-19th Century wardrobe–Victorian Style.

Highlighting the good in humanity,
Ann DeWitt

Note: Featured photograph is of an unidentified woman (ca. 1857-1868).  Photograph was taken by the renowned Photographer J. P. Ball.