Providing practical, down-to-earth advice for family historians since 1995, online since 1985.
Immigrant Children's Clothing
I have just found out that my grandchildren will have a singing part and they will be playing 2 brothers coming into Ellis Island. I have to make their costumes. I tried going on line and searching for clothing for children coming into Ellis Island but I guess I'm not very good at this search thing yet. Can you please give me some ideas of how to research this project? I would like for them to look as authentic as possible but I am not sure what clothing to look for. I would also like to make or redo old clothes without too much expense although the school will be able to pass these costumes down for other events.
I think you are looking for dark brown or black knickers or pants with suspenders, and loose-fitting white shirts with rolled up sleeves (with or without collars.) Include some sort of a cap, not unlike an old-fashioned golf cap. How about thinking along the lines of TITANIC and Leonardo DeCaprio? How about a slightly later time period with the casual style "Spanky & our Gang?" I believe the folks wore what they did based on their country of origin.
There are few pictures in the ELLIS ISLAND
website's "Immigrant Experience" (mostly buildings)
Ellis Island Immigration Museum (mostly buildings) http://www.ellisisland.com
Historical Boy's Clothing http://histclo.hispeed.com/style/style.html
"Russian Blouse" suit looks mighty
convincing, and less like American boys to me. What do you think?
"Casual Knickers" (with suspenders and
dark shirt, though I think light shirt would be more appropriate.)
This smock-top shirt and beret looks like a good
I think one of the distinguishing items would be long woolen stockings, smooth in texture and solid in color. These seem typically to have been worn with laced up high top leather shoes. (Good luck on finding a cost effective substitute for those shoes. Any leather shoe would be more "old fashioned" than $150 Nike shoes of the 21st century.
FOR FURTHER READING
-- CLOTHING STYLES http://www.ajmorris.com/roots/photo/datep18.htm
-- DRESSED FOR THE PHOTOGRAPHER: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900 by Joan Severa. Kent State University Press (March 1, 1997) ISBN: 0873385128.
-- AMERICAN VICTORIAN COSTUME IN EARLY PHOTOGRAPHS by Priscilla Harris Dalrymple. Publisher: Dover Publications (May 1, 1991) ISBN: 0486265331.
The following items I discovered while perusing the topic of "children's clothing styles" at www.amazon.com. I don't own the books, and therefore haven't viewed them, but they look useful. You might try to locate them through inter-library loan.
-- Clothing, Costumes, and Uniforms Throughout American History, by Allison Stark Draper. PowerKids Press (July 1, 2001) ISBN: 0823956679.
-- Children's Fashions 1900-1950 As Pictured in Sears Catalogs by JoAnne Olian (Editor). Dover Publications (April 8, 2003) ISBN: 0486423255.
-- Children's Fashions, 1860-1912 : 1,065 Costume Designs from "La Mode Illustree" by JoAnne Olian. Dover Publications (July 5, 1994) ISBN: 0486276155.
Happy family tree climbing!