Pages: [1]   Go Down
  Print  
Author Topic: Mourning Customs, Timeline, etc.  (Read 5217 times)
0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.
Sarah K.
Frequent Scribbler
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 137



WWW
« on: June 29, 2016, 05:59:38 PM »

Hi All,

We recently had a death in the family. I'm trying to find out mourning customs from the early 1860s, particularly pertaining to the death of an infant. How long would different family members wear deep/full mourning? Does it depend on the age of the infant?

Anyone know of period resources or other good resources on this topic? I'm not familiar with any and would be grateful for any guidance.

Thank you.

Sarah
Logged

I put my bashfulness in my pocket, and plunge into a long conversation on the war, the weather, music, Carlyle, skating, genius, hoops, and the immortality of the soul. Hospital Sketches Alcott
EKorsmo
Dedicated Scribbler
****
Offline Offline

Posts: 468



WWW
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2016, 08:40:19 PM »

I'm sorry for your loss.



Everything I've found on mourning clothing c. 1840-1870 is in this blog post.  It rambles a bit, so here are a few items which may be useful:

1) The more thoughtful period advice declares that your own sentiments determine the extent and duration of mourning.  This 1854 Godey's article (page 287-8) takes such a course. It also includes a sample of the widely-suggested rules.  Under these, parents and siblings wear mourning for a year, grandparents and uncles or aunts for six months, and more distance friends and relations, including cousins, for six weeks to three months.

A later source (The Art of Dressing Well, 1870), concurs on parents wearing mourning for a year, specifying that the first 6 months is in all-black ("deep mourning"), then three months in black with white trim ("second mourning"), and the last three months in grey and purples ("half mourning", "slight mourning").  Siblings of the deceased follow the same pattern, but over 2-month intervals (6 months total).  Aunts and uncles spend 3 months in "second mourning" of black and white.  Grandparents are not specified, but the reverse case (a grandchild mourning a grandparent) follows a 6 month progression, the first half in deepest mourning, then 6 weeks each of second and half mourning.

The 1840 edition of The Workwoman's Guide is the only source I've found which gives different mourning times for the loss of a child based on his or her age: one year for a child over 10, 3-6 months for one younger, and 6 weeks or more for an infant.  These are the times for the parents; those for other relatives are not divided up and I suspect that, if mourning is adopted by these other relatives, it would be scaled to not exceed the parents'.  Siblings are given 6-8 months, more distant relatives from 3 weeks to 6 months.

2) As relates to children, the main differences seem to more flexibility in duration, and less severe colors. The WWG mentions that white is used widely both for mourning children and by children in mourning.  The Godey's article mentions various neutral or soft colors for mourning children:

"Others again, especially for the death of little children, substitute quiet shades of color, as grays, or fawns, or even black of some material not known in deep mourning. For instance, we have seen a young mother, after the death of an infant, dress in white, with dark ribbons, or in black silk, with a white crape or straw bonnet. If a change of dress is a token of sorrowful regret, this seem to us more suited than funeral black to express the sadness with which we see a child taken from us, yet from the cares and anxieties of life as well."
Logged

Sue Leurgans
Veteran Scribbler
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 696



« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2016, 04:31:59 PM »

My condolences.

I wonder/suspect that customs varied depending on socioeconomic factors, location (rural vs urban), how much the war impacted an area and cultural differences.

I think about the poor in NYC and how they may grieved vs Appalachia scots/irish customs vs a city like Baltimore maybe and what each economic strata might have done.
Gut feeling is the well to do followed what we can read in Magazines, while the very poor were just trying to survive and that would take all ones energy, not leaving much time or money for long lasting mourning.
Logged

Sue Leurgans
AKA Miss Lawrence
"The secret of happiness is something to do" - John Burroughs
Sarah K.
Frequent Scribbler
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 137



WWW
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2016, 07:46:38 AM »

Thank you so much for your help. Have you found any reference to stillbirths? I don't know if they were considered infant deaths or more like a pregnancy loss (and if so, were they even talked about? I don't know anything about this).

I live in Ohio and am lower middle class married to a young doctor (just starting out - though he is in his mid-thirties. Is that young?) and model my civil war self very closely on this. We just lost our first child as a full-term stillbirth and I want to incorporate this to honor our little boy, but want to do it appropriately. I know I'm already fudging a few things in other areas, but still want to make a close effort.
Logged

I put my bashfulness in my pocket, and plunge into a long conversation on the war, the weather, music, Carlyle, skating, genius, hoops, and the immortality of the soul. Hospital Sketches Alcott
Ms. Jean
Scribblor Infinitus
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 1854


« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2016, 05:21:55 PM »

Sarah, do what feels best for you, if anyone chooses to nit-pick I will stop them!

There is a thread from several years ago, as Anna Worden Bauersmith mourned her father's passing.  I'm certain that thread has good material for you.

I am afraid that at mid-century, the loss you've suffered would have been greeted with plenty of Buck Up and Have Another advice.

Your beautiful son will always be a part of your life.

Sarah, I so hope that you and your Mister have people around who will hug, talk, listen, and sit in silence with you in the next few months.

All my best, Jean
Logged

Ms. Jean
Route 66
Sue Leurgans
Veteran Scribbler
*****
Offline Offline

Posts: 696



« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2016, 09:42:56 AM »

Well said Jean.
Logged

Sue Leurgans
AKA Miss Lawrence
"The secret of happiness is something to do" - John Burroughs
MaryDee
Frequent Scribbler
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 200


« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2016, 05:55:07 PM »

As one who lost a daughter born prematurely, way back in the days when "buck up and have another" was the standard advice, I can only echo Ms. Jean.  Treasure the memory of your little son, feel free to mourn, and do what seems best to you.  

I'm sending virtual hugs! 
« Last Edit: July 03, 2016, 06:08:18 PM by MaryDee » Logged
Sarah K.
Frequent Scribbler
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 137



WWW
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2016, 10:02:36 AM »

Thank you all for the information, love, and support! I hope to have my dress done by the first week of August, because the Hale Farm reenactment in Northeast Ohio is then, and I want to go, but I can't face going without some acknowledgement of what has happened in my modern life. This gives me the info I needed to make something to wear!
Logged

I put my bashfulness in my pocket, and plunge into a long conversation on the war, the weather, music, Carlyle, skating, genius, hoops, and the immortality of the soul. Hospital Sketches Alcott
Elizabeth
Administrator
Scribblor Infinitus
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 7890


WWW
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2016, 01:26:41 PM »

Sarah, blessings and blessings upon your dear heart... we've had similar loss in our family, and giving yourself space to process the emotions is very, very cool. Do what you need to do.

I do think adopting mourning in period life can help provide us that space---too often in modern life, we're expected to "get up and get moving" and that's just not possible, realistically. Being surrounded by supportive friends who will help provide the buffer-zone can be very useful.

One thing that *can* happen, and I hope it will not for you, is that some members of the public may assume that everything they see is "playacting"---and they may inadvertently say insensitive things that trample on the reality of loss.

With supportive friends around you, though, it's better. And you may find, if you're comfortable talking a bit about your loss, you end up having some very significant connecting moments with members of the public who've endured similar things, and never got a chance to have the same support.

Back to handling infant loss in the actual mid-century: if a woman's economic situation could support it, there seems to be significant support for a good 6+ week recovering time post-birth, when a woman was not expect to resume any social duties, etc... extend this as needed for the emotional AND physical recovery following a death. Family and close friends would be aware, and likely quite solicitous, giving a woman (and the whole family) the time they individually felt was needed. This might include going in to help with cleaning and cooking, tending other children if applicable, and sitting for company with the mother while she rests. The mother should do as seems best to her: sometimes rest is the best, and sometimes having some work to do is healing. Only the mother can decide.

And... huge and tremendous hugs. I'm so sorry. My mother-heart grieves with yours. It DOES get a little better with time, but this is something real that becomes part of you forever--it's okay that it doesn't go away. It just... gets a bit softer. In time.
Logged

Regards,
Elizabeth
Sarah K.
Frequent Scribbler
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 137



WWW
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2016, 08:34:46 AM »

Thank you, everyone. It's wonderful to know that even though I've not met most of you, you care for my baby Charlie too. It's going to take me time to get back into life and reenacting fully, and I hope that this dress will be a way for me to do it while still taking care of my heart. Thank you for your understanding.
Logged

I put my bashfulness in my pocket, and plunge into a long conversation on the war, the weather, music, Carlyle, skating, genius, hoops, and the immortality of the soul. Hospital Sketches Alcott
Heidi Hollister
Scribblor Infinitus
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 1842



« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2016, 05:04:18 PM »

The simple act of creating mourning clothing can be very therapeutic.  Do as you need for your own healing. It did me wonders.
Logged

Semper Sewus Historicana!
Sarah K.
Frequent Scribbler
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 137



WWW
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2016, 05:39:29 AM »

Thank you to everyone for your support! It's been a rough several weeks (we ended up moving in the middle of this dress project, too!), but it was great to know that others understand. I made an effort to be accurate within the constraints of 1) yes, I'm doing it even though it was a still birth and thus would not necessarily have been mourned publicly back then, 2) budget (newly tightened with hubby's new job), and 3) time.

Unfortunately I don't have the ability to embed pictures right now, but I would love you to see my resulting dress! I feel like it turned out pretty well, and so I wrote a blog post featuring it. http://clothespress.blogspot.com/2016/08/1860s-style-mourning-dress.html

Again, thank you for your help and support.
Logged

I put my bashfulness in my pocket, and plunge into a long conversation on the war, the weather, music, Carlyle, skating, genius, hoops, and the immortality of the soul. Hospital Sketches Alcott
MaryDee
Frequent Scribbler
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 200


« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2016, 03:32:21 PM »

 I thought about you when I realized Hale Farm was this past weekend!  Thank you for coming back and showing us the finished dress!  It looks great, especially the gauging (something I'm fighting with right now)!  Hopefully nobody else heard the dreaded "p......." word--sometimes you gotta go with what's available--I'm having the same problem for bonnet ribbons!

Interesting that the dress looks different colors in different light--brownish in one, blue in another--probably the artificial lighting, since it looks nice and black in daylight.  (Edit:  Oops, I just realized the "blue" phase is inside out, so we're seeing the lining)

I suspect that in real 1860s life, you would have been sewing your mourning dress from whatever fabric was available or easily dyed in a hurry, perhaps fabric scavenged from a used dress bought from a second-hand clothes dealer (that's one of Elizabeth's fields of study), so perhaps linen isn't too farfetched?  

I have boundless admiration for your being able to do all this plus moving plus all the other upsets in your life.  I'm sending you lots more big hugs!
« Last Edit: August 16, 2016, 06:10:41 PM by MaryDee » Logged
K Krewer
Senior Research
Scribblor Infinitus
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 1406


Madame Goldschmidt


« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2016, 02:46:03 PM »

What she said.  ^^^^^


Just a note about mourning - in - a - hurry -- I have three dresses in my collection that belonged to the same woman, and seem to span the CW years.  The last one is a dull black wool dress, and I suspect that it was a mourning dress.  She took the skirt lining from another dress and re-used it -- BACKwards -- so that she would be sitting on the pocket.  I suspect that it was made in a great hurry.
Logged

K Krewer
Sarah K.
Frequent Scribbler
***
Offline Offline

Posts: 137



WWW
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2016, 12:36:05 PM »

I can't thank you all enough!
Logged

I put my bashfulness in my pocket, and plunge into a long conversation on the war, the weather, music, Carlyle, skating, genius, hoops, and the immortality of the soul. Hospital Sketches Alcott
Ms. Jean
Scribblor Infinitus
*
Offline Offline

Posts: 1854


« Reply #15 on: September 07, 2016, 03:47:19 AM »

Sarah, remember to take care of yourself. 

Wishing you a lovely and pleasant Autumn, Jean
Logged

Ms. Jean
Route 66
Pages: [1]   Go Up
  Print  
 
Jump to:  

Powered by SMF 1.1.21 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines