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Press Release

April 16, 2018

Contact: Renee Trindle
Sod House Museum, Oklahoma Historical Society
Office: 580-463-2441

Sod House Featuring New Exhibit “Women in Mourning”

Sod House Featuring New Exhibit “Women in Mourning”

ALINE, Okla. — The Sod House Museum near Aline will be opening a new exhibit, “Women in Mourning” on May 1. The central feature of this exhibit will be a black dress trimmed in purple along with a black lace shawl and accessories. These items date from around the early 1900s, and the dress was worn in the third stage of mourning known as half mourning. The exhibit also will include items in the home and changes made to them until the deceased family member was buried.

The length of time mourners were expected to wear black garments was based on culture, gender and the relationship to the deceased. Western societies marked a loved one’s death by wearing funeral clothes for months, even years. For example, a 19th- or early 20th-century widow would mourn for two and a half years.

Full mourning lasted a full year and a day. During this stage, crepe covered the whole body and every inch of skin. Only black was appropriate. Secondary mourning lasted nine months, and only partial crepe and additional fancier fabrics, such as velvet and silk, trimmings, adornments and fringe were used. Half mourning lasted six months, with ordinary clothes of gray, white, purple, violet, soft mauve and black. A widow was finally able to wear jewelry, belts and clothes with buttons.

For specific periods of time a widow would not leave her home nor receive any visitors, and social events were not permitted during the first two stages of mourning. 

In the home, anything reflective or shiny would be covered, such as mirrors and glass of any kind.  Crepe also would be draped over fireplace mantels, windows, shelves and other household items. Clocks would be stopped at the time of death and would not be restarted until the burial was over. Window curtains and shades also were drawn and shutters closed.

These standards were strictly maintained through the Civil War period and even into the beginning of the 20th century in high society. 

Today, few people wear black clothing during bereavement. Expectations and demands were lowered and a quiet kind of sympathy now is offered.

The Sod House Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and is located southeast of Aline on State Highway 8. For more information contact Director Renee Trindle at 580-463-2441 or sodhouse@okhistory.org.

The Sod House Museum is a division of the Oklahoma Historical Society. The mission of the Oklahoma Historical Society is to collect, preserve and share the history and culture of the state of Oklahoma and its people. Founded in 1893 by members of the Territorial Press Association, the OHS maintains museums, historic sites and affiliates across the state. Through its research archives, exhibits, educational programs and publications the OHS chronicles the rich history of Oklahoma. For more information about the OHS, please visit www.okhistory.org.


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