For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated (probably more slightly obsessed!) with American First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. I have a clear memory of dressing up as Eleanor Roosevelt for a dress-up day at school in the 1990s and no-one knew who she was. To be fair for a young Irish child in c.1995 to know firstly about Eleanor Roosevelt and secondly a woman (!) in history was probably, highly unlikely.
Happy Irish Fashion Friday! As we go into the weekend on what is a dismal July weekday – we’ve had no sun for what seems weeks now – I have some thoughts and tribulations on Irish Fashion and the precarity of working as an Irish dress historian in the museums and heritage world. Like these women above trying to find and work with Irish dress history sources is sometimes, literally, nail-biting!
In my last post I mentioned that I recently visited the Mariano Fortuny museum in Venice in April of this year. This museum had been on my museum bucket list for quite sometime and to say I was not disappointed was an understatement; the museum blew my mind and I would go back again and again.
End of the line; end of the month; well, women’s history month that is! It is so important to remember women’s history; not just in March, but throughout the year as if we don’t remember it and talk about it it will be lost to history. This has been an interesting month to delve into my interests as an historian of Irish dress, and by extension the history of Irish women.
As women returned from their war duties in the late 1940s many once again subsumed the role of wives and mothers that they had prior to 1939. Others did not and went onto lead professional, independent lives fueled by their sense of ‘freedom’ that serving in various armed forces gave them. Indeed, women leaving the various Allied auxiliary services were even offered ‘Housewife Classes’ if they were to be married soon after been demobbed alongside such practical classes as typewriting, secretarial skills, and options for going to University. Read on to see how a return to domesticity, and in some cases women never left the domestic sphere, affected Irish women in the early 1950s.