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Reception Dress

Selina Cadwallader (active 1870-1886)
United States (Cincinnati)
Reception Dress, 1886
Gift of Wilmar Antiques c/o Mr. Maurice Oshry, 1971.550 a-c
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Dressing Cincinnati in Her Finest
Reception Dress by Selina Cadwallade

The Industrial Revolution in Cincinnati saw a surge of people working and living in the city. This shift to an urban society saw a rise in the needs of these city dwellers. During this period, men were working in the factories and women were working in the home. Because it was considered unseemly for women to work outside of the home, women who had to support their families themselves or were in search of extra income turned to acceptable trades that could be done at home. These included dressmaking, woodcarving, and china painting.

Considered a "noble art," dressmaking provided women with an income, allowed them to associate with higher classes, offered opportunities for travel, and presented the chance for financial independence.

In this lesson, students will closely examine Reception Dress by Selina Cadwallader. In doing so they will research and examine the role of women during the late nineteenth century. Students will learn about the creation of this dress and how it can be used to study this period of history.


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