Title: Eras of Elegance: 1750 – 1920s

Date: November 2014 – September 2015

Eras of Elegance invites visitors to the exhibit to step back in time and experience life through the clothing and accessories of residents of Northampton County; from the early frontier days of Easton through the fast paced Roaring Twenties. With more than 35 gowns and accompanying accessories and accoutrements, the opulent display is designed to amaze and delight visitors.

Unlike modern mass produced garments, fashions from the pre-industrial times were treasured and often worn through several different styles. An example of these multiple uses is found in the pink Centennial gown. Worn during the Easton Centennial Celebration in the 1870s, the gown’s stylish silhouette belies its origins. With piping on the bodice seams, the bodice construction can be dates to the 1850s. The fabric of the gown – exquisitely embroidered pink silk – was actually manufactured during the 1770s! Using silk from the 1770s saw a resurgence with dressmakers during the 1830s and again the 1850s. What began as a gown of the 1770s was redesigned in the 1850s and updates in the 1870s, allowing this family heirloom to be worn as a contemporary fashionably gown. Included in the exhibit are a wide array of ladies’ garments: wrappers (or house dresses), day dresses, evening gowns, and special occasional dresses including opera and wedding gowns.

Women of Northampton County were fashionable and willingly constricted their body to accommodate the styles of the time. From the flat front design of the mid-1700s accomplished through the wearing of stays, to the curvaceous forms of the 1800s designed through the use of corsets and bustles, the construction of gowns indicate that they accommodated overflow of flesh redirected by corseting. As the new century approached, a change in styling liberated women from form fitting bodices. The sheath dress became popular, hemlines rose, waistlines dropped, and gowns were trimmed with beads, sequins, and rhinestones. There are several beautiful examples of 1920s era gowns included in the Eras of Elegance exhibit.

This exhibit has been more than a decade in the making. Because of the age of the clothing, many pieces needed extensive conservation and repair. Under the directon of guest curator Dr. Karin Bohleke (Shippensburg University Fashion

Archives and Museum), Andria Zaia NCHGS Curator, Nancy O’Hanlon, Sigal Museum Curator and a team of skilled volunteers learned the art of textile conservation, mannequin sculpting and dressing, and exhibit installation.


Title: Here Come the Brides

Date: October 2015 – March 2016

Celebrating more than a century of wedding attire. Love, marriage, something old and something new…. On October 10, 2015 the Sigal Museum proudly opened the newest exhibit, “Here Come the Brides.” Following on the success and rave reviews of the “Eras of Elegance” exhibit, an array of wedding gowns, suits and tuxedos from the collections of the Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society will tell the stories of Northampton County brides and grooms.

Spanning from 1840 until 1964, the gowns portray the fashion dictates of each era, from Victorian through Camelot. Discover the dress connected to the Roosevelt family, a dress similar to the style set by Queen Victoria, an unusual black wedding dress, and both traditional and non-traditional wedding attire.


Title: Courthouse Quilters and Patchwork Tradition

Date: April – August 2016

New and Old Quilt Creations | Family Friendly | Hands On!

The Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society (NCHGS) has given the members of the Courthouse Quilters their 2016 challenge: Create authentic artisan quilts inspired by the Society’s own rich collection of quilts! This textile challenge and exhibition happily celebrates the patchwork tradition of Northampton County.

Courthouse Quilters and Patchwork Tradition exhibition will cover the history of quilting by hand and machine with a hands-on interactive opportunity for visitors, unique programming, and one-of-a-kind quilts. The Courthouse Quilters’ creations utilize a variety of styles like applique and spider web designs from popular Victorian crazy quilts.

From April 16 to August 1, 2016, these colorful one-of-a-kind Courthouse Quilts, in conjunction with NCHGS’ unique collection of quilts, will be on display exclusively at the Sigal Museum in Historic Downtown Easton.

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