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I’ve known about this for some time, but  I can now tell you that the fantastic Threads of Feeling exhibit, which I saw  in 2010 at the Foundling Hospital Museum in London and reported on here, is going to be on show at the De Witt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, Colonial Williamsburg, throughout  2013.

Threads of Feeling 2010 Catalogue

This was, as you will no doubt remember, a fantastic exhibit, detailing the range of 18th century fabric samples given as tokens by mothers and sometimes fathers of foundling children when they were accepted into the Foundling Hospital’s care. These tokens were kept and preserved  in the Hospital’s “Billet Books”. By examining them carefully it can be deduced what type of clothing would be worn by ordinary people in 18th century England. The archive of these tokens is a veritable treasure trove, as few clothes worn by ordinary people from this era survive, as, naturally, they would have been reused  in various ways until they disintegrated.

The fabric token left by the parent of “Florella Burney Born June 19th 1758. In the Parish of St Anns SoHo.Not Baptiz’d, pray Let particulare Care be taken’en off this Child As it will be called for again…”

The exhibit was curated by Professor John Styles, who will also curate the Colonial Williamsburg exhibition.  I understand there will also be a symposium.

Costume made for the 2010 exhibit using a recreated “Florella” fabric

Professor Styles has, of course,  made a special study of these fabrics in his fantastic book, The Dress of the People, which I reviewed here. He writes:

Threads of Feeling  is an exhibition of the mid-eighteenth century textiles preserved in the records of London’s Foundling Hospital. The exhibition was first displayed at the Foundling Museum in London in 2010-11. It will open for a year at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, USA in 2013. Meanwhile, it continues as an online exhibition at:http://www.threadsoffeeling.com/

The Dress of the People:Everyday Fashion in Eighteenth Century England by John Styles

So..if you live in North America and were frustrated by the exhibit being only in London you will now have your chance to see this thought-provoking exhibit. When I have more details of dates etc I will, of course, let you know.

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