By Kira Kinney

The History of Clothing in the past 150 years has been one of constant change. Everything from dresses to uniforms to undergarments has had to evolve with the times. These garments from our What We Wore exhibit are just a taste of what people used to consider every day fashion in their respective time. Whether it’s viewing what these fashions were or the people that wore them, each piece of clothing has it’s own history.


Apron, c. 1940

WHC M3 2003-003-0022

This apron belonged to Clara Wolf. She worked as a mender at the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill. The apron would have been used to protect her clothes from tufts of wool that would very easily stick to clothing.

Apron. Date Unknown

WHC 0999.072

This is a canvas-like cloth apron, with pockets for nails and tools. The front advertises, in red letters outlined in black, “Spaulding Logging Co. Lumber and Building Materials”, which was a Salem area business.

Mill Gear

WHC 2009.088

The apron above belonged to Jacob Neufeld (1919-2005). He worked at the plywood mill in Valsetz for 42 years; up until two months before its closing in 1984. His  apron would have protected him from the mill machinery.


Welding Goggles

WHC M3 1991-200-0087

These glasses were found in the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill Machine Shop on site. They most likely would have been used for when repairs needing welding would have been required on the various machines in the mill.



WHC 0081.023.0008.013.02

This sterling silver medal is an Odd Fellows subordinate order medallion. There are the letters: F, L, T on the medal and the saying “We command you to visit the sick, relieve the distressed, bury the dead and educate the orphaned”.  “Odd Fellows 1834” is on the other side.

Wristwatch c. 1940

WHC 1991.021.0023

This is a brown leather wrist watch bank. It has a protective covering over the watch that snaps open and shut in order to protect the watch itself from the elements. The undercover is stamped with: Pat. 5/1/1940 No. 112154.

Watch Chain

WHC M3 1991-200-0978

The chain fragment seen above was found on the mill site, most likely belonging to a former worker. Chains were often used to keep track of pocket watches.

Men’s Accessories

Detachable Cuffs, c. 1887

WHC 0081.023.0026.005

Detachable cuffs were a popular men’s accessory starting in the mid 19th century. They were used to make plain shirts look more expensive and high fashion.

White Button Collar c. 1887

WHC 0081.023.0026.005a

This fashion started in the mid 19th century. The collar was attached via buttons in the front and back of the shirt and collar.

Removable Collar, c. 1900

WHC 0081.023.0026.0005, X2013.006.0003

Legend has it that removable collars were invented by a housewife who was tired of washing her husband’s shirts. The collar is one of the areas of a shirt that gets dirty fastest. A removable collar could be switched out providing a clean appearance without having to wash or replace the entire shirt.

Spats c. 1916

WHC 1984.028.0004a,b

This 19th century piece of fashion was made both for style and practicality. As well as being stylish, spats were used to protect shoes and socks from mud, dirt, or rain. In the 18th century, spats could be as high as mid thigh. But by the 1900s, they had been shortened down to the ankle.



WHC 0084.045.0014c

This is a Masonic ring of the 14th degree. It has a black enamel symbol in a triangle on the wide band. This ring was made by “The L. C. Henricksen Company, Gold and Silver Smith, Portland, Oregon”. The inscription on the interior reads: “Virtus Junxit Mors Non Separabit”, which is the motto for the 14th degree of Freemasonry.


WHC 0084.045.0014b

This ring is for the Masonic Order of the Eastern Star. Unlike most Freemason orders, women are able to participate in this order as long as they have a relation to a current Mason.


Judges Robes, c. 1965

WHC 2008.050.0001

Joseph B. Felton was admitted to the Oregon State Bar in 1935 and went to work in the Marion County District Attorney’s Office and the Salem District Court. When WWII broke out, he was assigned as MP with the 70th Division Trailblazers at Camp Adair. He would serve as Marion County Circuit Court Judge from 1951 to 1977. His robes are shown above. During his tenure he served as leader of the National Council of Juvenile Court Judges.


Boy Scout Uniform kerchief

WHC 1989.023.0007

A noticeable part of the Boy Scouts of America uniform is their kerchief. It show the BSA emblem in white on the front.


WHC 1989.069.0019

This is a chiffon scarf with a design of red flowers covering it. Scarfs like this have always been fairly versatile with their use, and can even be used outside of neck decoration.

Boy Scouts of America Scarf Clip Holder.

WHC 1989.023.0016

Clips like this were used as a decoration on ties and kerchiefs.  The Boy Scouts of America’s Mission Statement: “The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.”



WHC 2007.049.0001

This maroon colored tie is pictured with hops which were hand painted in green and yellow on the front. It has a diamond shaped outline at the base of the tie and has the words “Hops Coop” written cross ways. The white tag on the back reads “Hand painted by Delores Armstrong”. The secondary beige tag reads: “Carstens Exclusive Menswear”.

The Oregon Hops Commission was created in 1964 as a way to promote and increase the research and education of hop production. Through agricultural research and financial evaluations, they work to maintain economic stability in the Oregon hops industry.

Bow Tie

WHC M3 1975-038-0028

This is a men’s black, pre-tied bow tie. It is made with linen and has an elastic band and fastener to help with the ease of putting it on.

Bow Tie

WHC M3 1975-038-0027

This is a men’s black brocade silk bow tie which is currently untied.The reason why this would be used for bow ties is because of the block-like ends on both sides and the very narrow middle. Regular ties end with a point on either side and are not as narrow in the middle.


WHC 0081.023.0026.003b

This gold colored tie is decorated with yellow circles.


WHC 0081.023.0026.003a

This gold color tie is covered with a floral design.


WHC 0999.144

This is a red clip-on necktie. It is decorated with diagonal stripes of reds, blues, yellows, maroon. The clip-on tie is made of of polyester ‘terylene’.

Wedding Coat, 1892

WHC 0083.040.0002

Gustav Carl Hillman (1868-1933) immigrated to the US from Germany via Brazil and Canada just before WWI. This coat was apparently important enough for him to bring it with him to his new home. He and his family settled down and farmed on Wheatland Road in what is now the Clear Lake area of Keizer.

Coat, c. 1925

WHC 2014.029.0002

This is a black coat with grosgrain like material on the outside and cream crepe material inside. The collar is seven rows of black braids. The braids also go down the inside front facings. There is one large button to close in the front. This would have been used more by middle class women who were going out to do errands or visit friends in the middle of the day.

Wool Coat, c. 1950

WHC M3 2005-003-0001

This coat has a Thomas Kay Woolen Mill tag in it. The fabric was likely made at the mill and the coat constructed elsewhere. It is a full length red wool coat with a princess style cut.

Women’s Formal Cape. Circa 1840- 1863

WHC M3 1974-009-0001

This cape is made with black taffeta silk and decorated with braid trim and fringes, and has a brown linen lining. This cape had distinctive Civil War era corded seams.

Oregon State Centennial Dress, 1959

WHC 2008.041.0002

Martha Belle Smith Gretzinger was born in Tennessee in 1882. She and her family did not come to Oregon on a wagon train, and her ancestors never homesteaded here. In 1959, however, she showed her pride in her adopted home state by donning this dress to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of Oregon becoming a state.

In February 1959, the state of Oregon celebrated its 100th birthday. Different cities across the state celebrated in various ways, such as parades, expositions and pageants. These dresses were created and worn in the pioneer- themed pageant in Salem, Oregon.

Old Believer Dress, c. 1976

WHC 2009.020

The Russian Old Believers are Russian Orthodox Christians who refused to adopt church reforms in the 17th century meant to bring Russian liturgical practices more in line with Greek Orthodox practices. Persecution in Russia scattered Old Believer communities across the globe. Old Believer families came to the Woodburn area in 1963. The current community is made up of three distinct groups, two that settled in China and then came to the U.S. via Brazil, and one that settled in Turkey and then came to Oregon via New Jersey.

Their style of dress is quite modest in shape but the vibrancy of the colors is also a traditional part of their costumes. This was most likely handmade by either the wearer or a family member.

Salem Centennial Dress, 1940

WHC 2013.059.0008-0009

Maude Fidler Blackwell Epley was born just outside Salem in the little community of Roberts (think Roberts Crossing, the restaurant) in 1876. She wore this dress to celebrate her roots in the Salem area when the whole city celebrated its centennial in 1940. Her grandparents, Louis and Sarah Pettyjohn came by wagon train to Oregon 1847. The design of Maude’s dress echoes the styles worn by her grandmother Sarah Pettyjohn

Santiam Spree Queen, 1938

WHC 2015.054.0001

Margaret “Margie” Shields Kimbrough Pluemke wore this dress for her coronation as Santiam Spree Queen in 1938. Margie was a telephone operator that was elected Queen to represent the community in the four day celebration in Stayton. The dress was later used, without the collar, by Margie’s daughter for her own wedding.

Party Dress, c.1960

WHC 0999.057

This dress was found in our collections. Somewhere along the way it lost its story. All we know is that it was made by the designer Sue Leslie of California.

Wedding Dress, 1916

WHC 2005.016.0001

Lola Margaret Hall and John Palmer, Jr. grew up together in Marion, Oregon. This is the dress that she wore to their September wedding in Salem in 1916. John Palmer went on to work 23 years for the Children’s Home in Corvallis. Lola raised four children and worked at the Camp Adair Hospital and Post Office before succumbing to a heart attack at the age of 49.

Wedding Dress, 1899

WHC 2014.029.0001

Fannie Rebecca Kehne wore this dress when she married Alonzo Theodore “Lon” Waln on October 10, 1899. The wedding was held at noon on a Tuesday at Fannie’s sister and brother-in-law’s farm in Dallas, Oregon. Lon was about 10 years Fanny’s senior and worked as a bookkeeper in Salem.

Blue Dress

WHC M3 2008-007-0001

The story handed down with this dress was that it belonged to Sarah Alice Judson French (1887-1981), the grand-daughter of Missionary Lewis Hubbell Judson. If we assume that this is a dress for a teen-aged girl or adult, it would have to date to 1900 or later. The style of this dress, however, with its tight sleeves, long (cuirasse) bodice, and interesting drapery is more reminiscent of styles worn in the 1870s and 1880s. Could this have been a costume? Could this have belonged to an older family member?

Pink Child’s Dress, c. 1835

WHC M3 1993-002-0002

This dress was donated to the museum with materials from the Robert Stuart Wallace Family. Luckily, family stories identify this dress as belonging to Mary Wallace Park, Robert’s sister. Since we know Mary was born in 1830, we can guess that this dress dates between her birth in 1830 and about 1840.

Dress. Date Unknown

WHC 1984.069.0009

This is a short, chiffon dress with a Lace collar and orange and pink with flower design.

Wedding Dress. Date Unknown

WHC M3 1983-021-0001a

This is a white cotton wedding outfit. White only became a popular color for bride’s dresses after the wedding of Queen Victoria of England and Prince Albert where she wore an extravagant white wedding dress. Before that, there wasn’t a unified color in the west for brides.

Day Dress, c. 1870

M3 1993-002-0001

According to the donor, this dress may have belonged to Nancy Black Wallace (1845-1913). She was a founder of the Pi Beta Phi Sorority. Day dresses were typical of casual wear for women during this period.

Infant Dress and Smock, c. 1833

WHC M3 1988-005-0004

This dress belonged to David Hall Pugh (1833-1912), a well-known builder in the early Salem community. He built the Cook-Patton House. David’s son Walter followed in his father’s footsteps and became a prominent architect, designing the building you are standing in, Salem’s old City Hall and the Shelton-McMurphey house in Eugene among others.

Dresses were standard wear for both boys and girls through western history. A rite of passage, known as breeching, marked the time when boys wore their first pair of pants (breeches). This could happen between the ages of 2 and 8.

Dress, c. 1918

WHC 2014.029.0015

This dress is a brown day dress with a lace and sheer green chest cover. The flower lace used to be white but due to age, the fabric has yellowed.

Confirmation Dress, unknown

WHC 0999.060

This dress was used in the christian ceremony of Confirmation. This is a ceremony that is used as a public declaration of children that have already been baptized that they will follow the church and the faith.

Christening Gown, 1854

WHC 2005.004.0001

This gown was used at the christening of Joseph Robert Davidson (1854-1925). He was born to German Immigrants Sarah and Jacob Davidson who had made their way to Oregon. He and his family moved to California where he practiced medicine. There are metal epaulets on both sleeves. It is unclear if these were part of the dress or maybe bracelets worn by the baby that were later fastened to the sleeves.

Christening Gown, 1876

WHC M3 1994-007-0001

This gown was made for Effie Margaret Judson Card (1876-1932). She was the daughter of Robert Judson, and granddaughter of Lewis Hubbell Judson the missionary to Oregon and Judson Middle School’s namesake.


WHC 0090.001.0041a, 0083.001.0006.001

These are a pair of  very long women’s gloves with flower decorations on the upper part. It has 3 snaps and a gray-brown color. The floral decors are silver, red, and green in color.


WHC 0999.020a,b

This pair of woman’s white long evening gloves are made of leather and have 3 small pearl buttons for fastening.

Gloves. Date unknown

WHC 1990.001.0041a,b

This is a pair of women’s short, white, leather gloves. They have snaps and covered buttons on the fasteners.

Gloves c. 1899

WHC 0081.023.0026.001

These are a pair of white leather gloves with a snap closure. These were made in France, 1899.

Gloves c.1960’s

WHC 0999.149a,b

These are woman’s gloves that are made of a white nylon. Once nylon was discovered to be a viable material for clothing, it started to overtake the market and clothes made fully of natural materials were being replaced in homes.


WHC 0999.199

This dark red/maroon cap has a gold ‘W’ on the front of it. It is presumably a Willamette University Cap as it is the right colors.

Knights Templar Ceremonial Hat.

WHC 0999.658a

This is a fraternal hat with black silk over cardboard. It has a front and back bill with the sides folded up to crown on both sides. There is a silver coiled metallic braiding on the front bill. The white feather plumes over the crown from front to back. One side has a silver and red cross surrounded by decorative black braiding. Inside of hat is a label that says:  Henderson Ames Co.  — Military and Society Goods Kalamazoo, Michigan”.

The Freemasons are a secluded fraternal society which traces its origins to the local fraternities of stonemasons in the late 14th century. Their rituals and symbolism are directly related to masonry, such as the symbolic use of the trowel. There are many affiliated organizations deriving from the Freemasons that are usually centered around specific beliefs and rituals.

Cherrians Hat, c. 1913

WHC 0083.034.0007

This hat belonged to charter Cherrians member Olaf A. Olson (1883-1967), a local dentist. The Cherrians organization served as unofficial ambassadors for the City of Salem. They marched in parades and organized events to bring attention to the area. The straw hat was a trademark of their uniform.

US Army Cap

WHC 2005.016.0007

This is a US Army cap with dark green wool, with a leather trim and a leather bill.  There is a brass eagle insignia on front and a brass button on each side. It was made by Daniel P. Adamson in Westwood Village, California.

Motor Sales Cap, 1940-1964

WHC 2014.082.0130

This is a Skull Cap hat with “Colyear Motor Sales Co. 495 N. High St. Salem” on one side and “Your NAPA Jobber is a Good Man to Know” on the other side.  The hat is black with red tape on the edge and white lettering.  Colyear Motor Sales was located at the N. High St address from 1940 through 1964.

Man’s Uniform Band Hat

WHC 1989.013.0002.003

The cap above was used for “Cherry Bud Band”. It is navy blue with a gold band, a metallic floral trim, and a “Director” black brim. The band played at the Oregon State Fair each year and at the Rose Festival as well as the Cherrian event in Salem, during the 1920’s.

Baby Bonnet, 1913

WHC 0083.040.0002

While there are documented examples of blue and pink being used to identify male and female children in a hospital as early as 1869, the large scale differentiation of boys and girls clothing by color in American clothing is a post WWII phenomenon. Trade catalogs from as late as 1918 suggest pink for boys and blue for girls. Red was considered a masculine color and pink, the diminutive form, appropriate for young men. Blue was thought of as dainty. Bernice, Irene Fink’s mother must have bought into this ideology as this bonnet (displayed) and her baby booties (not displayed) were decidedly blue.


WHC 1989.023.0006

This is a Boy Scout Uniform Garrison cap. It is a dark green uniform cap with an EXPLORER emblem on one side and a brown thread trim. Inside the cap is:  “Sanforized — Large — 7-7 1/8 — Price $ 1.00 — Name:  _____________” Label, “Boy Scouts of American Official Cap…”

Camp Fire Girls Cap

WHC 0099.032.0001

The Camp Fire Girls of America was the first nonsectarian, multicultural organization for girls. Just like its “brother” organization, the Boy Scouts of America, it emphasized camping and outdoor education. Today, the organization has changed their name to Camp Fire with membership open to both girls and boys.

Nurse Head Scarf

WHC 0999.666

This is a dark blue cotton head scarf form American Red Cross Nurse’s uniform. There is a white band across front and arc cross in red on white sewn front center. This was used by Red Cross nurses as a part of their uniform.

Day Cap, c. 1850

WHC M3 1981-015-0007

Women in the early 19th century often kept their hair covered this certain hats like the bonnet above. This would be used mainly indoors and hats with a wider brim were more common outside to avoid getting freckles.

Al Kader Fez Cap

WHC 1988.020.0006a

 The Ancient Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine was founded by thirteen Freemasons, which has led to over 300,000 members and 196 Shrine Centers. The Shriners are a community-oriented fraternal organization with Shriner hospitals all around the United States, dedicated to helping children. The Al Kader Shriners is the name of the Portland, Oregon chapter.

Fraternal Cap with Case

WHC 1988.020.0005a,b

This is a round black cloth hat with gold piping and braiding, no brim, and a metallic coiled emblem on front in shape of back to back eagles with a “3” within a red triangle. There is a Leather inner headband and a gold colored button attached on both sides of cap. the name “KENNETH J. GOLUET” is stitched in gold thread on inside of cap. This hat is properly a 32nd degree Masonic/Shriner cap.


WHC 0080.001.0007.001

This Khaki green hat with gold braid has a VETERANS OF FOREIGN WARS symbol on one side and 661 OREGON. It is a Size 7 1/8 and was used as a part of a uniform.

Hat, American Legion. c. 1932

WHC 0085.028.0013

This hat is dark blue with gold trim and shows the emblem of the American Legion on one side with the number 9 on the other.  Owned by John Kovarik (1891-1985), Veteran of World War I.

“The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness. It is the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization, committed to mentoring youth and sponsorship of wholesome programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow service members and veterans.” -The American Legion Mission.

Chinese Hat, unknown

WHC 0084.072.0001a

This hat’s donor called it a “Chinese worker’s hat.” Beyond that, its history is a mystery.

Hard Hat

WHC M3 1991-200-0849

This hard hat belonged to the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill’s long-time millwright, Wayne Mentzer (1904-1984). It would have protected his head from the machinery while he was doing his job.

Hat, c. 1955

WHC 2012.086.0001

The hat above was made by a company in New York City for exclusive sale at Meier & Frank Stores. This hat was owned by Edith Elizabeth Jennings Jones, who was a long time employee at Sally’s Dress Shop in Salem.

Derby, c. 1920

WHC 0094.076.0003

This derby belonged to Louis Lachmund, a fruit and hops grower turned mayor and state legislator. This type of hat is also called a bowler, which is more common in Great Britain.

Motoring type hat.

WHC 0063.001.0021.020

This driving hat is white and all cloth with 2 buttons & a strap on top. Inside the hat is “OUR STANDARD” and ‘6 1/2″‘.  There is a brim across front. In the early days of driving, it was common to wear thing like driving hats, gloves, goggles, and coats in order to keep yourself clean from the car and the rushing wind.


WHC 0081.023.0026.002

This motoring cap is made of white cloth with metal snaps & buttons.

Night Cap

WHC M3 1978-012-0005

This cap was used by women during the night time to keep their hair in place as they slept.

Women’s hat c. 1950s-1960s

WHC 0999.189

This is a women’s cloche hat with white feathers and black velvet ribbon. There is a label that says: “Union Made AM 953564 in USA”

Woman’s Hat

WHC 0999.181

This is a women’s hat of white rayon crepe over a white base and a bow in the back. The label reads “union made Go 820044 in USA”

Turban Hat

WHC 0082.007.0033.006

This is a turban-styled white hat with very large ribbon in the back.

Nurse Cap. c. 1918

WHC 1990.001.0037

This is a white cotton lawn, with the Red Cross sown on front. It is a scarf style that buttons in back. This was worn by nurse’s aides in World War I.