First Ladies Gowns - Mary Todd Lincoln

ID: MAH-38067

Creator: Unknown

Form/Genre: Photographic print

Date: c. 1920s

Citation: Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 53, Folder: 3

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Mary Todd Lincoln (1818-1882), wife of President Abraham Lincoln is dressed in a gown of royal purple velvet with a tight bodice and full skirt of the hoop-skirt period. The seams of the dress, skirt, and bodice, the hem of the skirt, and the bottom of the bodice are piped with narrow white-satin cord. The neck is trimmed with an elaborate fichu of black Alencon lace with a white edge, and a bouquet of pansies is placed at her bosom. The short puffed sleeves are made of white net and Alencon lace. The fan is purple taffeta, and a purple parasol, which was carried with the dress, was also displayed in the case. The gown is part of the First Ladies Collection now at the National Museum of American History.


  • Lincoln, Mary Todd 1818-1882
  • National Museum of American History (U.S.) (NMAH)
  • National Museum of History and Technology (U.S.)
  • United States National Museum
  • National Collections
  • Arts and Industries Building
  • First Ladies Exhibit


Historic Images of the Smithsonian


For a later version with her skin tone and hair more natural, see Neg. #57631. For additional information on the collection see the book entitled "The First Ladies Hall" by Margaret Brown Klapthor, Smithsonian Press 1972. Gowns in the collection were mounted on a plaster figure which were given similar facial features copied from a bust representing Cordelia, daughter of Shakespeare's King Lear, done in 1863 by the sculptor Pierce F. Connelly, of Lousiana. By changing the expression of the eyes of each figure, and by copying the coiffure of the lady to be represented, a varied and interesting appearance was given to the entire group. The coiffure was copied from a photograph, painting, or piece of statuary of the lady whose dress was to be displayed. No attempt was made to portray the person represented, as the artistic task involved made this impractical.

Contained within

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 95, Box 53, Folder: 3

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


c. 1920s

Restrictions & Rights

No restrictions


  • Women
  • Artifacts
  • Mannequins (figures)
  • Costume
  • Clothing and dress
  • Exhibitions
  • Gifts
  • First Ladies Gowns
  • History
  • Museum mannequins
  • Presidents
  • Costumes
  • Presidents' spouses
  • Women--History


United States


  • Photographic print
  • Exhibit

ID Number


Physical description

Color: Black and White; Size: 8 x 10; Type of Image: Exhibit; Medium: Photographic print

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