Columbia County Historical Society's Costumed Dolls.
- Dates: July 1928 through September 1932
July 26, 1928: The first three of a future collection of forty or fifty historically correctly dressed dolls, that are being prepared by the Columbia County Historical Society, are now on view at the Brooklyn Museum. This collection is to represent men and women prominent in the history of Columbia County or in some way associated with it and will form a permanent exhibit in the Society's House of History which they are preparing as a museum in Kinderhook, New York.
The three dolls now on view represent Martin Van Buren, Angelina Van Buren, daughter-in-law of the President, and Mary Lyon, founder of Mount Holyoke College. The first two of the figures were especially modelled wax portraits in life-like attitudes. The dolls are about seventeen inches high.
Martin Van Buren is shown in the correct evening dress of his time. His daughter-in-law, who was the Lady of the White House during his administration, wears a beautiful flowered satin dress, has brown curls and the elaborate jewel-and-feather headdress which was worn at the English Court of the time or by the President's Lady. She carries a small reticule, presumable for the purpose of holding her fan and gloves.
The figure of Mary Lyon wears a costume of the year 1832. This was at the time that Miss Lyon was collecting college funds by a house-to-house canvas. She carries a reticule matching her charming gray corded silk dress, holds a dictionary in her arm and wears white silk mitts and a fichu and mouche cap of organdie. One of the most exquisite details of her costume is the miniature cameo brooch which she wears at her neck.
(Photograph of these dolls may be had on request)
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1916 - 1930. 07-09/1928, 084. View Original
March 12, 1929: The nucleus of three dolls representing important characters in this country's history who came from Columbia County, New York has just been augmented by a dozen more dolls modelled and dressed in the manner of the first three.
The Columbia County Historical Society at the instance of Mrs. Charles F. Lent, is carrying out an ambitious program to make a collection of about fifty dolls or mannequins which will eventually be housed in the Society's museum at Kinderhook, New York. Great care is taken in the reproducing of even features characteristic of the prominent persons selected to be included in this permanent exhibition. The modelling is done principally by Mrs. Charles F. Lent and the sewing of the clothing by descendants of the persons represented by each doll. The result is exquisitely turned out, sprightly looking mannequins about a foot high. Some of the most interesting characters in the new group are Washington Irving, Antonia Slagboom, Susan Warner and her sister Anna Bartlett Warner.
Irving is represented as he looked in 1820, dressed as a fashionable young man in a dark green coat, with black lapels, buff trousers, spats, a large buff-colored top hat and a lace frill between the lapels of the coat holding a black gold-topped cane in his left hand and a remarkably accurate pair of white little gloves in his other, which were specially made by a glove-maker.
Antonia Slagboom is represented in a deep red dress characteristic of the end of the 17th century. She is shown as a member of wealthy and fashionable society. She married Jonas Bronk after whom the Borough of the Bronx was named, who came to America from Holland in his own ship. The property which he acquired was known as Bronk Land.
There is very interesting and accurate detail in the representation of Susan Warner, author of "The Wide, Wide World," and "Queechy". Miss Warner was a very spirituelle lady and her pale severe face reflects this character. Standing next to her is the mannequin representing her sister, Anna Bartlett Warner, who is shown as more human and attractive. It was she who took care of her high-minded sister and was herself author of the "Story of Vinegar Hill" and the "Biography of Susan Warner". The Misses Warner held bible classes for two generations of West Point Cadets. The sisters are represented as they appeared in 1870.
Another attractive figure is that representing Carrie Silene Leonard, now Mrs. Charles James Come, who is founder and president of the Society. She is represented as an attractive young woman in a white-silk dress of the period when the bustle was worn.
(Note: Photograph is available of a group of eight of these dolls with the President of the Columbia. County Historical Society standing next them.)