When the Work is Done: Leisure, Society, & Happier Days
Even in times of war, social activities had a place. In this 1861 note, Robert E. Lee's daughter, Anna, invited Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard to a dance in Henrico County, Virginia, on Christmas night.
Yellow Sulphur Springs resort was located in Montgomery County, Virginia (between current day Blacksburg and Christiansburg). Opened as a health spa in 1810, it catered to a wide variety of guests from around the south, students from nearby Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College, and a fair share of famous figures in America. These sample pages from 1888 include plenty of women traveling with families or independently.
Mary Josephine Hardwick was one of the early female students to attend Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College and Polytechnic Institute. Between 1924 and 1929, she studied Home Economics and helped found the women's basketball team. She was also invoved in the creation of the women's yearbook, The Tin Horn.
Quilting parties were a major social event for Appalachian communities. Women came together to sew, talk, share, and celebrate (and make quilts for home use, of course!).
Photograph from the first Ring Dance held at VPI, April 27, 1934.
The letter is from Mildred Tate to Mrs. Gillette inviting her to a dinner to celebrate Hillcrest, the first dorm for female students at VPI, which opened that fall. Because of its all-female inhabitants, it's nickname on campus was the "Skirt Barn." Tate was a professor of Home Economics at VPI from 1937 until 1960.
The collection consists of an illustrated scrapbook, detailing the set up for a household, possibly compiled for a new bride or a school assignment. Each room is mapped out and illustrated with magazine pictures and includes a price list of furnishings and housewares (including barware for all those cocktail parties and guests waiting to be entertained!). This item probably dates from the 1940s.