Upcoming Exhibit

Past Exhibits now Online

From Fiber to Fashion: The Fabric of Early Cumberland County

What were 18th century Pennsylvania residents wearing and where did they get their clothes? Thanks to a grant from Pennsylvania Humanities Council, in 2011 Cumberland County Historical Society offered the seven-month exhibit “From Fiber to Fashion.” Telling the stories of a local spinner, weaver, tailor, and merchant, this exhibit illustrated interactions with fellow county residents from 1750 – 1820 as well as with merchants from Pennsylvania and Europe. Based on the popular book “Cloth and Costume 1750 to 1800” by Tandy and Charles Hersh, the exhibit featured textiles referenced in this publication, as well as artifacts from the CCHS collection, other museums, and private collectors. Although not originally photographed for an online exhibit, we hope you will enjoy the following photos and labels from this two-gallery exhibit.

Fiber Exhibit

Introduction

From Fiber to Fashion: The Fabric of Early Cumberland County

Title for Fiber Exhibit

 

What were 18th century Pennsylvania residents wearing and where did they get their clothes? Thanks to a grant from Pennsylvania Humanities Council, in 2011 Cumberland County Historical Society offered the seven-month exhibit “From Fiber to Fashion.” Telling the stories of a local spinner, weaver, tailor, and merchant, this exhibit illustrated interactions with fellow county residents from 1750 – 1820 as well as with merchants from Pennsylvania and Europe. Based on the popular book “Cloth and Costume 1750 to 1800” by Tandy and Charles Hersh, the exhibit featured textiles referenced in this publication, as well as artifacts from the CCHS collection, other museums, and private collectors. Although not originally photographed for an online exhibit, we hope you will enjoy the following photos and labels from this two-gallery exhibit.

 

Making Clothing & Textiles in Cumberland County, 1750-1820

 

Spanning thirty-five townships and three towns, in 1750 Cumberland County originally stretched to the western edge of Pennsylvania. From its colonial roots to its days as part of the new United States, Cumberland County was on the frontier of a changing landscape. English, Scots-Irish, German, African, and Native Americans lived here. From 1750 to 1825, the county grew from the wild frontier to a land of large farms and businesses. As the county seat, Carlisle was one of the largest towns in Pennsylvania and home to farmers, enslaved persons, tavern keepers, lawyers, doctors, and many others.

The men and women of Cumberland County needed clothing and textiles to furnish their homes. From the county’s beginning, many small storekeepers imported a wide variety of goods from Philadelphia. Fashion demanded that materials offered in large cities and in Europe were also available on the frontier. While fabric was a major import to the American colonies, utilitarian clothing and goods could be supplied by local manufacture.

In this exhibit, based on the book Cloth and Costume 1750 to 1800 by Tandy & Charles Hersh, we invite you to explore the stories of people who lived in Cumberland County and how they fit into this network bound by fibers and fashion.

 

Cloth and Costume 1750 – 1800 Information in this exhibit is drawn from this book. Many artifacts in this exhibit are also illustrations in the text.

Tablecloth Hand spun unbleached tow linen. This tablecloth was used on the cover of the book Cloth and Costume. The pattern was created by the weaver using huckaback (open weave) and twill (diagonal line) patterns. Collection of Charles and Tandy Hersh.

A Portion of Trends & Thread 19th Century Samplers from the CCHS Collection

Thanks to generous funding by the Charles & Tandy Hersh Family, in March of 2017, CCHS opened a sampler exhibit entitled Trends & Thread: Women, Family and Society in 19th Century Samplers which ran through November 2018 and included a catalog publication of the same name.  The exhibit featured stitch work from the collection of Tandy & Charles Hersh, individual private collectors, and the CCHS collection.
The following online offering is the CCHS collection portion of the Trends & Thread exhibit. We hope you enjoy getting a closer look at some of the beautiful samplers made by young Cumberland County girls in the 19th century.  If you are interested in purchasing the publication from the exhibit which includes both CCHS and private collections along with information about the history of samplers in Cumberland County, please click on the link here.