1874 second day dress

1874 second day dress

Virginia Louise Childs (1844-1901) of Brookeville married Rev. Peter Harrison Whisner (1837-1906) on April 14th, 1874 in Rockville.  Whisner was the Methodist minister for the Rockville circuit from 1871 to 1875; later he was assigned to various districts around Baltimore, and in Virginia.

This silk two-piece dress (with matching jacket) was worn by Virginia  Whisner the day after her wedding.   It has many stylish elements, including moderate fringe, a fishtail hem to the bodice, and a modest train.  In the 19th century, the “second day” dress was often as important as the wedding gown itself, usually suitable for traveling, but also suitable for receiving guests.  Virginia’s gown is the second-earliest wedding-related dress in our collections

Unfortunately we have, as of now, no photographs of Virginia Whisner.  The gown is on exhibit until the end of June 2009, at the Waters House History Center in Germantown.  When researching for this exhibit I was able to find a photo of Rev. Whisner on a genealogy page for a West Virginia family, but no images of Virginia herself.  Archivally, she can be found in the 1870 census living with her parents in Brookeville; in biographical sketches of her husband in various Methodist histories; and in her obituary, which appeared in the June 27th, 1901 edition of the Nashville Christian Advocate (Virginia having died in Kentucky) and was described as “a measured but heartfelt obituary penned by her widower.”

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