Miss Munda’s Dress

Miss Munda in the dress on her 80th birthday

Winter is the perfect time for working in the Archives and the EHF staff started an important collections project last week—cleaning Munda Anderson’s dress.  Miss Munda helped run the store for many years and is an important figure in the Anderson Store’s history.  She made this cotton dress in the mid-1880s and even wore it for her 80th birthday in 1949.  The dress has been on display for many years and is an important artifact in sharing the history of the Andersons and the store.

Miss Munda’s dress on the mannequin

We decided it was time to take the dress off exhibit for a thorough cleaning, as well as cataloging and photographing, before it goes back on display for the 2017 season.  As we removed the bodice, we discovered that the mannequin was made of chicken wire and covered with cotton batting.  It was custom-made to display the dress, since Miss Munda was a petite woman and the dress will not fit on traditional mannequins or dress forms.  The mannequin is showing its age and has a few rust spots, so we’ll be exploring other options for displaying Miss Munda’s dress.

The mannequin after the dress was removed

The mannequin was fully outfitted, with the dress in three parts (bodice, overskirt, and skirt), three petticoats, stockings, and shoes.  The dress is in excellent condition for its age, with only one split seam, one small tear, and a few water stains.

Fabric is especially sensitive to light and over the course of its life, Miss Munda’s dress has faded.  You can see the color difference in the fabrics below: the fabric on the left was covered by the overskirt and the fabric on the right has been exposed to light.  UV filters on the lights and limiting exposure to sunlight will help minimize further fading.

At left - original fabric At right - fabric after light exposure
At left – original pattern
At right – pattern after light exposure

Now that the dress has temporarily returned to the EHF Offices, the next step will be a careful washing to remove dust buildup.  Look for a future blog post about the cleaning process and returning Miss Munda’s dress to the Anderson Store!

-Guest Blogger Emily Irwin

2 thoughts on “Miss Munda’s Dress”

  1. Thea, This is very interesting and it is a very good idea to look at items like this and find ways to keep them if the best condition we can for future generations. I will be looking with interest to see what you have done the job of restoration. I will look at the dress next summer with a new appreciation and interest.

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