The Chester County Historical Society Receives Exhibition Grant from the Coby Foundation for Profiles: Chester County Clothing from the 1800s

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Primary Contact: 
Ellen Endslow, Director of Collections/Curator
Primary Phone: 
610-692-4066 x257
Primary Email:
Secondary Contact: 
David Reinfeld, VP Development
Secondary Phone: 
610-692-4800 x 267
Secondary Email:
Release Date: 
Wednesday, May 15, 2013

(West Chester, PA) The Chester County Historical Society (CCHS) is thrilled to receive an exciting implementation grant of $35,000 from the Coby Foundation for the forthcoming exhibition Profiles: Chester County Clothing of the 1800s (November 22, 2013 through August 30, 2014). The Coby Foundation, Ltd., located in New York City, funds projects in the textile and needle arts field.

This is the first comprehensive interpretation of nineteenth century Chester County clothing and the people who wore them. It will be installed in CCHS’s 2,000 square foot gallery, the largest of six exhibition spaces reserved for our most significant exhibitions in order to feature the collections that have not been on public view.

If you were ever curious about clothing from the 1800s, CCHS’s forthcoming exhibition is just for you. It will include more than 40 fine and ordinary examples of outerwear worn by women, men and children that will show the evolution of clothing profiles in the 1800s. It includes Empire style gowns of the early 1800s, children’s Turkey red print dresses dating from about the 1840s, elaborate men’s vests from numerous decades, and highly detailed fashionable dresses of the Victorian era. Important to Chester County, and an installation highlight, is the contrast between Quaker plain dress and fashionable wear that clearly distinguished a person’s identity within the community. Other important aspects of local dress include fabric choices that embody the advancement of chemical dyes and styles of clothing that played a significant role in women’s health. These and other topics will shed light on the local and national trends.

Ward Mintz, Executive Director, stated “The Coby Foundation board is pleased to be supporting CCHS’s Profiles exhibition. It is a fascinating mix of excellent examples of locally-worn clothing, along with photographs, rare documents and fashion plates. And the staff has worked hard to make it enjoyable for families.

”CCHS is very excited to partner with the Coby Foundation to bring the exhibition Profilesto the public,” say Rob Lukens, CCHS President. “The exhibition which will provide a powerful and meaningful experience for our visitors, using clothing as a portal to the past.”

“This is the first time that such broad selection of clothing from this period will be exhibited,” says Ellen Endslow, Director of Collections/Curator. “It is the most often requested group of objects by researchers so we are pleased to be able to place a substantial number of items on view for everyone to appreciate. This will include several new acquisitions that have never been on public view.” The CCHS clothing collection is unique in that it contains not only fashionable wear but also ordinary examples. “Unique to this collection are shortgowns, worn by women in the early 1800s. As everyday clothing, these rarely survive. So the fact that we have several examples is quite significant,” says Heather Hansen, Collections Manager.

About the Chester County Historical Society and the Coby Foundation
The Chester County Historical Society is a not-for-profit educational institution whose mission is to promote an understanding of the history of Chester County and southeastern Pennsylvania by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting that history and its relationship to the region, and nation beyond, to audiences of all ages and interests. CCHS’slibrary has collected materials documenting the diversity of the county from the 1680s to the present. The library houses collections of printed volumes (25,000), and manuscripts (500,000) including letters, diaries and other personal papers, business and organizational records, pamphlets, broadsides, newspapers, audio-visual material and genealogical material related to the history of the county and surrounding area. For more information, call 610-692-4800 or visit

The Coby Foundation
The Coby Foundation, Ltd., located in New York City, supports projects in the textile and needle arts field. Its funding is limited to non-profit organizations in the Mid-Atlantic and New England. The majority of the Coby Foundation's support goes to exhibitions and education programs that combine excellent scholarship and effective interpretation. Projects may be in the arts or humanities, contemporary or historical, but all must have a public benefit. Recent grants have gone to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Asia Society in New York and Woodlawn Museum and Gardens and the Saco Museum in Maine. For more information, please