National Museum of American History/Abe Lincoln

My trip to D.C. earlier this not only allowed me a lovely visit with the First Ladies Dressses exhibition at the National Museum of American History, but also provided me with a unique opportunity to view an exhibit on Abe Lincoln. Additionally, the museum is peppered with important clothing related to historic persons or events.

From Abraham LIncoln: An Extraordinary Life:

Abe Lincoln’s Suit:

Mary Todd Lincoln’s Inaugration Gown, 1861–62. More information here.

Plaster cast of Lincoln’s face and hands:

Aside from the Lincoln exhibit, the museum had several other exhibits which included clothing or costumes. For example, the exhibit on The White House included this gown worn by Gracie Coolidge in the 1920s. I had no idea she was so stylish:

Another example is this dress, worn by a private citizen, Mrs. George Meem to a White House function sometime bween 1921 and 1929. It was designed by Julis Garfinckel & Co, “a fashionable department store in Washington, D.C.”

I do hope you enjoyed my brief tour of the new National Museum of American History from Washington, D.C. If you have a museum collection you’d like profiled on WT, please let us know.

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  • Jim July 11, 2010 11.00 pm

    Does any one know what the extent of Lincolns wardrobe was at the time of his death????

  • James July 17, 2010 05.06 am

    Jim, you might want to contact Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. They have the outfit he wore when assasinated, but I think it’s a replica. Nonetheless, they would know.

  • DJ December 13, 2010 12.18 am

    The purple gown pictured above is not Mary Lincoln’s inaugural gown. It is just a gown worn by MTL. Mrs. Lincoln’s two inaugural gowns are not part of the Smithsonian collection.

  • Heather Vaughan December 13, 2010 02.52 pm

    DJ – you are absolutely right. I’ve amended the post with the appropriate attribution. According to the Smithsonian’s website, “Mary Lincoln’s purple velvet skirt and daytime bodice are believed to have been made by African American dressmaker Elizabeth Keckly. The first lady wore the gown during the Washington winter social season in 1861–62.” More information can be found here:


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