Possible Mourning Dress
This dress was owned by Cara Broughton, née Cara Leland Huttleston Rogers (1867-1939), who married Urban Hanlon Broughton (1857-1929) in 1895…This forms part of a large donation of late 19th and early 20th century garments and accessories (with a few historical textiles) donated to the Museum in 1972 by Cara’s grandson and Henry’s son, Major Ailwyn Broughton and his wife…Some of the nineteenth century garments are thought to have been worn by Cara’s sister, Anne (1865-1924). If this dress was worn by Cara, she probably chose a black dress as she was a young widow. She married Bradford Ferris Duff on November 17 1890 but sadly, he died the following year of a lung ailment. By 1894, it would have been permissible for the young widow to gradually re-enter social life and attend evening engagements. This extremely fashionable black velvet gown with black bead embroidery would have been considered an appropriate half-mourning evening dress for a smart young widow. It could well have been one of the first smart evening gowns Cara had after her widowhood, which suggests a reason why she might have chosen to preserve this particular dress… A label attached below the Stern Brothers tag on this dress is marked “A.P. Rogers 1894”. Abigail (“Abbie”) Palmer Rogers (1841-1894) was the mother of Cara. She died suddenly on 21 May 1894 following an operation, which would make this one of the last evening dresses she owned. It was probably preserved by her family in her memory, which is why it has survived in such excellent condition.