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We read two letters from John and Abigail Adams as a way to discuss rhetorical strategies and gender differences/stereotypes. Naturally, it seemed a perfect fit to bring in my 18th century wardrobe components and explain to students why women had ramrod straight posture, covered their elbows, and wore frilly white caps. I’ve found that high schoolers generally know what a corset is, but have never actually seen one up close (except a girl who wears a strapless prom dress with boning in the bodice). So I thought it necessary to bring in my two 19th century corsets and one 18th cent pair of stays and demonstrate why it was so difficult for a woman to dress herself and then to pass the corsets/stays around so students could feel the steel boning and thickness of fabric. Some boys even attempted to wear my corsets. It was pretty darn adorable. Almost boys. Almost. They had really awesome questions and were impressed/surprised that I had hand sewn the majority of my wardrobe. Earlier in the week we had discussed why it was not considered impressive for a woman to have a well run household and how knowledge related to running a house hold can be considered a form of intelligence that has been often overlooked. So today they were actually able to see how garment construction and sewing knowledge was a huge asset and very necessary skill for most women. Yes, their primary job was making, remaking, and mending garments for their family, but they knew how to accomplish it while managing all the other aspects of their family and home. That’s impressive! Overall, it was a good show and tell for myself and the students. 🙂 Hopefully I’ve convinced some of them that living history is not weird and that they should try it some day soon! 

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