Woman's Dress, 1860

This dress was worn by Emeline Butler Posey, who was born September 12, 1836, as a “second day” dress when she married Henry Dixon Posey in November 1860 in Henderson County, Kentucky. She was the daughter of Harbison Butler, a prosperous farmer in the area. In addition to Emeline, Harbison and Mary Butler had seven children. The last was born in 1854, and Mrs. Butler died before the 1860 Census. Henry’s parents were also farmers, and in addition to Henry Dixon, his parents had twelve children.
It does not appear that Emeline saved her wedding dress, but both the “second day” dress with headdress and Mr. Posey’s wedding vest were passed down through the family until they were donated to the Smithsonian Institution in 1989. From what little we know about the “second day” tradition, we believe that this special dress was worn for wedding festivities the day after the wedding. Many women, especially in the South, had their photographs taken in their “second day”dress. The photograph pictured here shows Emeline Posey wearing this dress. We do not have the collar which would have been a separate piece.
The dress itself is very fashionable for the period. The skirt is very full and would have required a very large hoop, circular in form, to create the proper silhouette. Even then, it is evident from the dress that Mrs. Posey was a tall and very slender woman, and the skirt is much longer than usual.
This one-piece “second day” dress is constructed from deep green, black, and gold thread plaid silk with a woven pattern stripe. The fitted bodice has a center front opening with twelve pairs of brass hooks-and-eyes and eight deep green acorn-shaped buttons with silk thread covering and tassels for a closure. It has a round neckline and sloping shoulders with dropped, shaped long sleeves with capped over sleeves and diagonal cuffs at the wrist. One and one-eighth-inch wide trim consisting of vertical green moiré embroidered silk thread lozenges and one-eighth-inch wide black silk pleated with a picot-edge border is applied to the cuffs and the cap over sleeves. The waistline is straight with inserted piping, and the attached pleated skirt section is very full. The bodice is lined with glazed white cotton with green glazed cotton lining the sleeves. Four stays are inserted in the front bodice. The dress measures 55 1/4 inches at the center back.
Currently not on view
Date made
used by
Posey, Emeline Butler
used in
United States: Kentucky
center back length: 55 1/4 in; 140.335 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Frederick D. Wampler
Weddings, Second Day
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Costume
Clothing & Accessories
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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