Tuesday, July 27, 2010

More in the Family

By Chris Rossi, Associate Curator of Exhibitions

Blogging is a bit like putting a message in a bottle and tossing it out into the vast ocean of social media. Sometimes, if you’re lucky, a note comes bobbing back. If you’re really lucky the note contains something wonderful.

In this case something wonderful did come back - in a message I received from a member of the Packard family. Mr. Packard had read my blog about his great-grandmother’s travel dress and quilt being displayed with other family treasures in our Empire Waists, Bustles and Lace: A Century of New York Fashion exhibition here at the Fenimore Art Museum.

The Connecting Threads section of the exhibition is a mini-family reunion. Displayed together for the first time, the four textiles in this section – a needlework, wedding dress, quilt and travel dress – were created or owned by 3 generations of Washburn/Sands/Packard women. Mr. Packard, inspired by what he read about the exhibit, dug through the family files and provided us with photos and stories about his family.

The images he sent include one of Catherine Odessa Sands, who owned the amazing crazy quilt and wore the lovely burgundy velvet travel dress. Catherine married Joseph E. Packard in 1882, which was part of the inspiration for the crazy quilt with those big CSP initials stenciled on it. Along with the images of Catherine is one of her father, Dr. William G. Sands, who is characterized as someone who discharged his duties “with great fidelity and probity.”

Catherine Odessa Sands
Photo courtesy of Mr. Packard

Dr. William G. Sands
Photo courtesy of Mr. Packard

So, thank you Mr. Packard! This new information gives more depth to the family story and increases our understanding of the women who made and wore these wonderful textiles.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amazing! We have had similar experiences with our blog. It's exciting when it allows you to make connections with people you might otherwise have never gotten in touch with. Especially with the history of a piece..it really does bring the work to life when you know the story behind it.

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