Contributed by Maine Historical Society
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Zilpah (Wadsworth) Longfellow mourned her brother Lieutenant Henry Wadsworth (1785-1804) after his death at the Battle of Tripoli in September 1804. It is said she wore this overdress, along with several corresponding pieces including a veil, bonnet, and shawl as part of her mourning attire. The overdress is all that survives of the dress itself.
The skirt is made from a slightly tighter weave fabric the bodice, suggesting the dress may have been altered later in the same decade. However, both fabrics are a sheer, black, plain weave gauze. A ribbon adds detail to the hem, but in keeping with mourning attire, there is little adornment. The overdress is extremely brittle.
Zilpah Longfellow (1778-1851) named her son, the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) in honor of her deceased brother.
About This Item
- Title: Zilpah Longfellow's mourning dress, Portland, ca. 1804
- Creation Date: circa 1804
- Subject Date: circa 1804
- Town: Portland
- County: Cumberland
- State: ME
- Media: silk, cotton gauze
- Local Code: A85-876.1
- Collection: Costume collection
- Object Type: Physical Object
Cross Reference Searches
Standardized Subject Headings
- Clothing & dress
- Longfellow family
- Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth, 1807-1886--Family
- Longfellow, Zilpah Wadsworth, 1778-1851
- Mourning clothing & dress
- Mourning customs
For more information about this item, contact:Maine Historical Society
485 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101
(207) 774-1822 x230
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