Chicago Field History Museum, Here I Come!

October 3, I will be at the Chicago Field History Museum to finally get a look at the dress I have been studying for the last thirteen years.

This is a moment of giddiness and a solemn moment of thanks for the opportunity to finally answer some questions about a truly Pre Contact Garment.

I remember well my old website over fifteen years ago, when I put a shout out to anyone who might have information regarding any kind of Strap Dress made from Deer Hides.

At the time, I had just finished examining a Stroud Wool Strap Dress at the Dept Museum in Duluth Minnesota and was at the time, in doubt as to whether a hide strap dress had ever been worn, (thinking that the wool lent itself to this particular design and did not translate into hide). This was in 1998.

Thanks to a Woman who I have lost contact with over the years named Donna, she took the time to crawl up in her attic and sort through her old collection of "Whispering Winds" magazines to find an article written in Spring/Summer 1984 about a strap dress reportedly at The Chicago Field History Museum.

I then began a long series of letters and emails with the museum about this dress, since I had no real picture or description other than it was an Ojibway two hide dress.

I lucked out when Donna sent me a physical copy of the picture and there was a negative number at the bottom corner. The reason they couldn't find this particular dress was because it was filed under "Creek" instead of Ojibway or Chippewa. Once I had the proper number, they graciously sent me the photos you see here.

Immediately it raised more questions than answers, the model shows the sleeves being worn under the dress and the yoke being pulled up over the shoulders. This was not how my documentation said it should be worn, but it could be a variant of the strap dress, or maybe, since the straps are obviously not part of the collection, the dress was simply displayed the best they could at the time given what they did have at their disposal. Only a personal visual inspection could answer these questions.

I was very busy in my personal life at this time and a trip to Chicago was pretty much out of the question at that time, I had many things to sort out about my life and most of my time was spent making the wool strap dress I did have documentation on.

Finally a couple years ago, I reopened the dialogue with the museum about the dress, but there was never a time to view the dress that fit my time schedule.

This time when they invited me to come and see the dress myself, I decided that it was now or never and I filled out the proper paperwork, and now I find myself in the enviable position of actually being able to see this dress for myself and document it for all who are interested.

This has to be one of the greatest days of my life and I'm glad to share it with all of the people who told me never to give up and keep on trying.

Thank you Donna, for fighting your loathing of spiders to crawl up in your attic and retrieve your old documentation that started this all.

Thank you Sheila, for offering to back me up and always asking if I'd gotten in yet, you built a fire under me when I had almost given up.

Thank you to my Husband, Doyle, for being game to just about go anywhere at anytime to see me happy, who believed in me and never let me quit.

Thank you to the Staff at the Chicago Field History Museum for letting me have access to this precious Garment!

And Thank you to everyone else who reads this Blog and enjoys it, you have kept me going and documenting for the last year. It's so wonderful to get to an Event and be greeted by people who have been following along and enjoying what we do.

I plan on re-creating the entire garment, moccasins, leggings, hood, rabbit coat and stay tuned, this is going to be a long ride!

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