This object is a Swedish women’s vest. It is part of a traditional costume made in 1922 in County Skane, Sweden. Costumes like this can still be seen worn by women of Swedish descent during celebrations of Swedish culture.
The first Swedish immigrant to enter Texas was Swen Magnus Swenson in 1838. He was an entrepreneur who started many businesses throughout his life, and founded SMS Ranches in west Texas- consisting of more than 300,000 acres. He became a wealthy man due to his cotton plantation, and in 1844, he was joined by his uncle- Swante Palm– who was the first person to emigrate from Sweden with the goal of living in Texas. Up until that point, most Swedish immigrants entered through Ellis Island in New York and established communities in the Northeast and Midwest.
In 1848, Swenson was convinced by his friend, Sam Houston, to bring more Swedish families to Texas. The first group he brought over consisted of twenty-five people, mostly family and friends. Swenson and his uncle then began operating an informal immigration company, initially paying people’s travel expenses to Texas from Sweden. In turn, these people would pay back their credit by working as indentured labor on Swenson’s ranch.
By 1850, Swenson sold his ranch in west Texas and purchased 100,000 acres around Austin. He continued his efforts in immigration throughout his life, establishing the strongest concentrations of Swedish-Americans, first around Austin, then fanning out to Dallas, Ft. Worth, and Waco.
People left Sweden mainly for economic and political reasons. Population growth made farmland scarce, and the overpopulation made it nearly impossible for families to support themselves. Another factor was the growing resentment against the Swedish Lutheran State Church, which was repressing the citizens and emphasizing the snobbery of the Swedish monarchy. As with most other immigration groups, the promise of personal freedom, open spaces, and uncharted land attracted many to a new life in Texas.
By 1900, more than 4,000 Swedes were in Texas. They proved to be hardworking and successful in business as well as ranching and farming. Swedish immigrants were responsible for building churches and colleges, including Texas Wesleyan College in Austin and Trinity Lutheran College in Round Rock.
More than 160,000 Texans claim Swedish ancestry today. Through organizations such as the Linneas Society, Vasa Lodges, New Sweden Cultural Heritage Society, and the Scandinavian Heritage Foundation, Swedish-Americans have both assimilated to the United States cultures, and kept their heritage alive. These organizations were designed to give support to new immigrants, help them learn English, and provide an extended family in a new land.
Today, these organizations strive to provide education about Swedish culture, and preserve their heritage. Though the Swedes of Texas value the culture of their homeland, they also embrace their life as Americans, and most prefer to be known as Swedish-Americans. [Carrie Klein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
Salvatore Ferragamo Shoes
Materials: Leather, Thread
This object is a pair of black and white leather spectator pumps, designed by the Italian designer Salvatore Ferragamo and owned by Lady Bird Johnson. They were loaned to the Institute of Texan Cultures for a temporary exhibit called “Footprints and Imprints” showcasing famous and influential people through their shoes, and later donated to the museum.
Lady Bird Johnson became the 36th First Lady of the United States when her husband, Lyndon B. Johnson, was sworn in as president following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Born Claudia Alta Taylor, Lady Bird received her nickname at an early age, when a nursemaid stated that she was “as purty as a lady bird.” The nickname stuck, and for the rest of her life she was known as Lady Bird. Though her father and brothers called her “Lady,” her husband called her “Bird,” and that’s what she signed on her marriage certificate.
In the 1930s, Mrs. Johnson attended the University of Texas in Austin, earning degrees in History and Journalism. During that time, she met Lyndon B. Johnson, and in 1934 they were married in San Antonio at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.
When Johnson became President in 1963, Lady Bird focused her energies on her first love- the environment. The country was facing uncertain times, and Washington, D.C. was in need of a facelift. Having grown up in the outdoors of far East Texas, Lady Bird had an appreciation and respect for the natural beauty of landscapes and wildflowers.
As First Lady, she embarked on a beautification project, which was named the Society for a More Beautiful National Capital. The project consisted of planting millions of flowers throughout Washington, D.C., including tulips, daffodils, roses, and the dogwood and cherry blossom trees that the Capital is so well known for. She stated at the time that “where flowers bloom, so does hope.”
This proved to be just the start of what became a national campaign, and in 1965, the Highway Beautification Act was passed. Through this Act, Lady Bird was instrumental in restricting junk yards and limiting billboards along highways throughout the country, in addition to promoting wildflower plantings along interstates all over the country.
Mrs. Johnson wasn’t just interested in beautification, but also in conservation. One method she used to bring attention to her campaign was to visit historic sites, national parks, and scenic areas. By taking along the head of the National Parks Service, dignitaries, and media, Lady Bird was able to shine a spotlight on the natural beauty that was in danger of being destroyed all over the country.
After leaving Washington, Lady Bird Johnson focused her attention on Texas. She was the force behind developing ten miles of beautiful hike and bike trails around Town Lake in Austin. In 1982, she teamed up with her friend, actress Helen Hayes, to found the National Wildflower Research Center. In 1995, it was moved to 279 acres in southwest Austin and renamed the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The center is dedicated to conservation, education, and beautification through the use of locally available plants and flowers. It is now one of the country’s most credible research institutions, and is run by The University of Texas.
Lady Bird Johnson saw a need to preserve and protect our nation’s natural beauty before it was destroyed by industry. Her imprint can be seen every spring, driving the roads of Texas, or visiting the nation’s Capital. She was instrumental in making environment issues a priority for our country. She lived a legacy foretold by her nanny when she was given the nickname “Lady Bird.” Lady Bird Johnson truly left a lasting impact through her work, and because of her, we can still call our country “America the Beautiful.” [Carrie Klein, edited by Kathryn S. McCloud]
The exhibits team at the Institute of Texan Cultures has almost finished the installation of a exhibition called Foreign by Land, Native by Heart. The exhibit officially opens tomorrow and features the stories of four refugee families who have settled in San Antonio. Below are a few sneak peek images from the exhibit installation, come join us at the Winter Celebrations Around the World family day on December 11th to see this great new exhibit in person!
B. B. Ruth
San Antonio, Texas
Materials: Cloth, , Rhinestones
This object is a lady’s hat sold by Joske’s Department Store in the early to mid-1900s. It was owned by Elise Denison Brown Lane, a long time San Antonio resident. The stamp inside the hat shows that it was made by B.B. Ruth for Joske’s Department Store.
After immigrating to Texas from Prussia in 1867, Julius Joske opened a dry goods store in San Antonio. After returning to Prussia in 1873, Joske returned to San Antonio a year later with his wife and children and reopened the store. When his sons joined the business the store name was changed to J. Joske and Sons. In 1883, after the retirement of Julius Joske, the store became known as Joske Brothers. In 1903, Alexander Joske bought out his brother and father and renamed the store Joske’s.
At the time that this hat was made for Joske’s, the store carried mostly merchandise for men and boys. After an expansion in 1909, fabric and other materials were added to the store’s inventory. This gave women the option to have dresses and other apparel made for them.
Joske’s Department Store was headquartered in San Antonio with its flagship store in what is now Rivercenter Mall. Joske’s ultimately had twenty-six stores in Texas and one in Arizona. In 1939, after an expansion, Joske’s downtown San Antonio store became the first air-conditioned store in Texas. The store was hailed as the largest department store west of the Mississippi River until it was bought by Dillard’s in 1987.
Joske’s introduced the “bargain basement” in 1877 to help those with lower incomes be able to shop at Joske’s. This area of the store featured items at discount prices. Not only did the store sell goods, they also had several eating establishments which included a restaurant called the Camellia Room. In 1960, Joske’s opened a Christmas promotional area on the fourth floor of their downtown San Antonio store called Fantasyland. There was a thirty foot tall, mechanical Santa on the roof of the store that waved his hand. There was also a train ride that took children through the display. If you have ever seen the classic holiday movie “A Christmas Story,” you can get an idea of what Joske’s Fanstasyland was like in the scene where the character Ralphie and his family look at the Christmas display windows and when they visit Santa at the department store in their town.
In 1987, The Dillard Corporation of Arkansas bought Joske’s Department Stores. All the Joske’s stores throughout Texas were renamed as Dillard’s. The building that housed the flagship Joske’s store in downtown San Antonio is still being used today and is now part of the Shops at Rivercenter mall. [Kim Grosset, edited by Joscelynn Garcia]
I-0226 c, e, & g
San Andres Chicahuaxtla, Oaxaca, Mexico
These three objects are clothing items from the Trique tribe of Oaxaca, Mexico. The first object is a belt called a soyate, the second is a tunic or shirt called a huipil, and the third is a wraparound skirt called an enredo. Each of these objects are handmade textiles from the village of San Andres Chicahuaxtla and have connections to past clothing traditions of the native peoples of Mexico. All together they create a complete outfit a young woman would wear.
There are five villages of Trique people in the mountainous region of southern Oaxaca, Mexico. The San Andres Chicahuaxtla, San Jose Xochixtlan, San Martin Itunyoso, Santo Domingo del Estado, and the San Juan Copala. Altogether, the population of the Trique is about 30,000-40,000 people. The Trique are descendants of native indigenous groups dating back thousands of years. Trique is not only their name but the name for the language which links the five villages together. Each village does have differences though and can be divided into the lowland and highland groups. The Trique continue to be a part of Oaxacan culture today.
The clothing items are from the San Andres Chicahuaxtla village. The huipil is the main item of clothing and has the biggest connection to the Trique cultural identity. Originally, the huipil and other clothing items would have been made of hand spun and dyed cotton. Because of the added work and materials needed for dyes, older huipils are mostly white in color. The main band of color was always present at chest level and went across the front and back of the huipil. The enredo is a knee-length skirt that would have been worn underneath the long, tunic-like huipil and held in place by the soyate. The soyate is wrapped at the top of the skirt and then tucked under itself to stay in place. Traditional dress also included brown wool shawls. The Trique women didn’t have foot or headwear though. Red, blue, white, black, and brown were the main colors used in their clothing.
The Trique are still around today and continue to make their clothing. Despite technological advances, the Trique have managed to keep their traditional art of weaving while incorporating manufactured textiles. This has allowed there to be more intricate and colorful creations. Without having to lose their culture and traditions, the Trique have found a way to benefit from modern society while remaining true to their traditions. However, lately they have been facing problems. Clashes between individual villages and the government have led to unrest and some Trique have been removed from their homes. Today indigenous communities, are faced with the threat of modern day governments and big businesses. [Briana Miano edited by Joscelynn Garcia]
This item is a piece of a Scottish tartan from the MacLean Clan, which is one of the oldest clans in the Scottish Highlands. It consists of green, white, and black patterned lines. Tartans have a long history, not just in Scotland but around the world, where the familiar plaid pattern has been used for centuries. Today we view the tartan pattern as representative of Scotland and their kilts.
Tartans are the patterns of interlocking different colored stripes that run horizontally and vertically, which are known as the warp and weft of the cloth. Tartans are defined as the pattern itself, so it can technically be used to describe the pattern in any form, such as in a digital picture, painting, or print. The earliest tartans can be dated back to the third or fourth century A.D. in Scotland though the pattern can be found as early as 3000 B.C. in other parts of the world. Originally tartan patterns did not have any significance, it was not until the 17th and 18th centuries that tartan began to symbolize clan affiliation.
The naming of tartan patterns began after 1765 when the firm William Wilson & Sons of Bannockburn began producing and collecting tartan patterns. By 1815 100 tartans had been named and clan chiefs began to gain interest in preserving their history and identifying a pattern that represented their clan. In 1822, King George IV visited Scotland expecting to see the clans present their tartans, this forced many clan leaders to choose or invent new tartans for their clan. Although tartans today are generally thought to represent clans, they can also represent towns, districts, corporations, individuals, and events.
This tartan is connected to the MacLean Clan of Duart Castle. Today the MacLean Clan has more than 10 different tartan patterns registered with the Scottish Register of Tartans. The MacLean’s have the prestige of having one of the oldest recorded tartans, which was described as early as 1587. Although it is difficult to know the exact origins of the clan, clan historians trace their ancestors as far back as 1050. Their name itself originated in 13th century when Gilleain na Tuaighe was chief. Maclean literally translates to son of Gilleain.
Today, tartans continue to be made and in the last fifty years have become an increasingly profitable business dominated by a few large mills. The tartan continues to be a representation of Scotland as much as kilts and bagpipes are. People continue to connect their genealogical history to their ancestral clans and the corresponding tartans. Clans continue to meet in reunions in Scotland, and Highland Games around the world to this day. [Briana Miano edited by Joscelynn Garcia]
“The Saturday Evening Post”
This object is an issue of “The Saturday Evening Post” from March 1911. The cover features the illustration of a woman wearing a broad brim hat, a white blouse, and holding a pink chain purse. She is checking her makeup in the mirror. The featured article included with the illustration is “The Sin of Homeliness, the Duty of Every Woman to Be Well Dressed” by Dr. Woods Hutchinson. In the article, Dr. Hutchinson says that “beauty is the outward visible sign” of health. The article stresses the importance of attire to the appearance of a woman’s beauty. This includes buying the highest quality clothing that can be afforded.
The general public used to look negatively at women of the lower class who wore clothing similar to upper class women. They were viewed with distrust and judgment. The best fashions were only associated with the rich. The lower class was expected to buy clothing for its function and not its fashion. Women were made to feel embarrassed of their desire to imitate the look of wealth. In the case of women who lived in rural areas, women were made to fear fashion as a threat to their financial security. A writer from the Ladies Home Journal suggested that men could trace the source of their poverty to the expensive clothing and jewelry they gave to their female family members. However, more and more magazines were encouraging female readers to purchase upper class fashions. Popular magazines had increased in circulation from around 18 million in 1890 to 64 million in 1905. Articles similar to the one Dr. Woods wrote, which encouraged women to purchase up and coming expensive fashions, increased. The Ladies’ Home Journal emphasized the value of clothing when the editorial staff congratulated women for dressing well in 1923.
In reaction to a growing demand for cheaper fashions, programs started to develop around the country delivering advice to women on how to dress stylish inexpensively. The Cornell Extension Program offered presentations, the most popular of which was “The Well Dressed Woman” in 1924. Up to 4,597 rural women were known to attend these programs. Because some women sewed their own clothes at home, in 1863 the Butterick Publishing Company started to sell sewing patterns modeled after the popular styles of the time.
As serious shoppers, women helped to increase consumerism in the twentieth century. The upper class were always changing their style in order to separate themselves from the lower classes that were copying them. Because of the constant changes, the demand for accessible fashion increased, stimulating production. Advances in technology allowed for the creation of the assembly line . As technology grew, so too did storefronts. Between 1886 and 1912, the recorded number of chain stores increased from two chains with five stores total to 177 chains with 2,235 stores. The department store also increased in popularity. The department store embodied elements of smaller stores, offering multiple products to their customers. The first department store was opened in New York City in September 1848 called The Marble Palace, also known as A.T. Stewart Dry Goods Store. In 1877, R.H. Macy & Co in New York occupied 11 buildings. By 1924, it relocated to Herald Square and occupied more than 1 million square feet of space.
Some scholars suggest that the response to women’s consumer needs led to a growth in mass manufacturing and led to the consumer society we live in today. [Ashton Meade, edited by Joscelynn Garcia]
San Antonio, Texas
Materials: Cloth, Metal
Wedding dresses have been worn by brides for hundreds of years, however a white wedding dress is a fairly new custom. Over time wedding dress styles have changed and not all cultures share the same wedding traditions. This wedding dress was worn by Emma Steubing on her wedding day, December 14, 1912 to Robert Gass. The dress was likely made by a family member or the bride herself, which was common. The dress is an off white color and has lace trimmings throughout. Lace was and still is a popular material used in wedding dresses.
Today in Western culture the traditional color for a wedding dress is white. Queen Victoria is credited for starting the white dress trend in 1840 after her marriage to Albert of Saxe-Coburg . Phillipa of England wore white in in 1406 and Mary Queen of Scots wore white when she married Francis the Dauphine of France in 1559. In France, white was typically the color of mourning for French Queens, but Mary wore white anyway because it was her favorite color.
Before Queen Victoria decided she would wear white to her wedding, the popular color of the time was red. In the 1800s brides would usually wear the best dress they had to their weddings, which were usually a color like red or blue, rather than wear a dress specially made for the occasion. White was rarely used because at that time washing white articles of clothing was difficult. It was then easier to wear a dark colored dress and use it multiple times after. Wearing white was usually just done by the wealthy. However, Queen Victoria also wanted to send a message that she supported domestic commerce using only British made materials, a custom still supported 171 years later at the marriage of Catherine Middleton and Prince William. A few years after Queen Victoria’s wedding a popular lady’s monthly called white “the most fitting hue” for a bride, “an emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood, and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one.” It was after this publication that young women everywhere started shifting their ideas of what a wedding dress should look like.
Although white maybe the popular color to wear in places like the United States, in China the brides usually wear red. The color red symbolizes love and prosperity in Chinese culture. In South Asian cultures a sari is worn during weddings. Sari, which translates to ‘strip of cloth’, is a clothing garment made of a piece of cloth five to nine yards in long and two to four feet in wide. The sari is wrapped around the waist and one end around the shoulder, baring the midriff. The wedding sari was traditionally red with gold and made out of silk but different colors and fabrics are also used today. All around the world wedding dresses and traditions are different, and as time goes by the styles of these wedding dresses change. [Rebecca Gonzalez, edited by Joscelynn Garcia]
Victoria, and Barry St.-John Nevill. Life at the Court of Queen Victoria, 1861-1901: Illustrated from the Collection of Lord Edward Pelham-Clinton, Master of the Household : with Selections from the Journals of Queen Victoria. Exeter, England: Webb & Bower, 1984.