PHOTO: Round gown, bonnet, kerchiefs, handkerchiefs, and reticule, New Jersey or Philadelphia area, ca. 1790 and reshaped roughly ten years later. Gift of Mrs. Florence Maisel, 1946.

FREEHOLD, NJ -The early costume collection of the Monmouth County Historical Association will be featured in an all-day seminar to be held on 8 April in Freehold, NJ. Entitled Whatever Shall We Wear: 18th and Early 19th Century Clothing and Accessories in Monmouth County, it will be conducted by Bernadette M. Rogoff, Principal of Small Museum Design and former Curator of Museum Collections of the Association. The costume and textile collection of MCHA provides a unique opportunity to view a wide range of clothing and personal accessories actually owned by men, women, and children from the area. This day-long event will begin with a presentation giving and overview of early Monmouth County, its residents, and the textile collection itself. Twenty-five selected garments and accessories will be on view, many on mannequins. Participants will be given a rare opportunity to examine carefully the items on display, their construction techniques, and materials. Discussion will also focus on family provenance and the social standing of owners.

PHOTO: Crewel-wool embroidered petticoat border on linen, New York City or Monmouth County, NJ, mid-18th century. Gift of Mrs. Julia Hartshorne Trask, 1953.

The first garments to be examined will be a pair of cloaks dating from the mid-18th century that belonged to husband and wife John and Moyka Longstreet Reid. A single ivory satin wedding slipper, still retaining its label from a New York shoemaker, represents the high styles available to Monmouth residents as early as the mid-18th century. The close connection between European styles and the importation of English and French made embroideries will be explored through two men’s embroidered silk waistcoats, one from 1770 and the second from 1800. The mysterious origins of a man’s gold bullion-embroidered suit from 1800 will also be discussed.

PHOTO: Crewel-wool embroidered bed hangings on linen/cotton ground fabric, consisting of three valences, head cloth, two side curtains, coverlet, and two of three skirts, New York City or Monmouth County, NJ, mid-18th century. Gift of Mrs. Julia Hartshorne Trask, 1953.

Several garments from the Hendrickson family clothing collection will include Mary Lloyd Hendrickson’s wedding shift and stays from 1793, her husband John Hendrickson’s pale blue satin wedding breeches, and an early 19th century printed cotton child’s dressing gown worn by their son Charles Hendrickson. These items will provide participants with an overview of one family’s clothing choices over a ten-year period.

The influence of Monmouth County’s vibrant Quaker community will be represented by a woman’s olive green silk round gown from ca. 1790, compete with silk shawls, kerchiefs, and bonnet that accompanied it. This ensemble, the most complete in the Association’s collection, was acquired in a single gift from one donor. A selection of the Association’s 18th century quilted silk petticoats will be available for examination, contrasting those made for market and those made at home.

PHOTO: Printed calico short gown worn by Elizabeth “Betty” Dorn, ca.1800 – 1830, a free African-American woman who was a servant for three generations in the Hartshorne family, Shrewsbury, NJ. Gift of Mrs. Charles G. Bennett and Miss Louise Hartshorne, 1935.

And finally, participants will have an opportunity to view the Association’s single rarest garment: a simple early 19th century printed cotton calico short gown worn by Elizabeth “Betty” Dorn, an African-American woman who worked for three generations of the Hartshorne family from the 1770s until her death in 1850 at the age of ninety. These textile items, as well as others, will provide attendees with a rich and fascinating look at the choices available to Monmouth County’s early men and women when they asked the question, “Whatever Shall We Wear?”

The seminar will be held at the Museum and Research Library of the Monmouth County Historical Association located at 70 Court Street, Freehold, NJ. It will begin at 10 a.m. and end about 4 pm. A registration fee of $125 per person includes lunch. Registration will be limited to 25 participants so that everyone can see and examine the items on display up close. To sign up, please visit our web site at, call 732-462-1466, ext. 11, or email Advance registration required.

This event is being held in conjunction with the Association’s current exhibition entitled Hartshorne: Eight Generations and their Highlands Estate Called Portland. It includes many important textile and costume items from this prominent Monmouth County family, such as a nearly complete set of mid-18th century crewel-embroidered bed hangings that has not been placed on public display since 1993, a mid-18th century crewel-embroidered petticoat border measuring 101 inches long, a family bible protected by an 18th century Irish stitch needlework cover, and an 1860s lilac colored ball gown worn by Julia Norton Hartshorne, a woman who died tragically in 1869 at the age of thirty. Participants in the seminar will also have an opportunity to examine the textile items in the exhibition.

Monmouth County Historical Association, a private non-profit organization that has been working to preserve history and provide educational opportunities since its founding in 1898 comprises a Museum, Archives, Research Library in Freehold and Five Historic House Museums located around the county. The Museum and Research Library is located at 70 Court Street in Freehold. Museum hours are: Tuesdays - Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Research Library hours are: Wednesdays –Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Five Historic House Museums are open seasonally. For further information about the Association, please call (732) 462-1466 or visit the web site at

Monmouth County Historical Association received an operating support grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.