Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Dresses of Mormon girls, ages one to twelve, in the Great Salt Lake and Utah Valleys from 1847 to 1896

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  • This study compares remaining dresses that were worn by Mormon girls, ages one to twelve years, with dresses for girls of the same age group shown in the leading fashion magazines of the time. The review of literature indicates that little research has been done concerning dresses of Mormon girls during the first half century of settlement and colonization of the area known as Great Salt Lake and Utah Valleys. Only dresses were studied as it was felt that other clothing may not have been kept and preserved; this proved to be the case. Twenty-one dresses known to have been worn by girls ages one to twelve in the Great Salt Lake and Utah Valleys were located and documented. With the exception of one, these dresses dated from the decades beginning 1860 and 1890. Fashion magazines of the last century were researched for illustrations of dresses for girls of the same age group. One hundred and sixteen illustrations were photocopied. Eighteen general dress features were investigated and comparisons of the two groups of dresses were made on thirty-nine specific dress characteristics, including bodice style, neckline shape and position, sleeve length and shape, use of collar and skirt style. Comparisons were made with respect to the percentage occurrence of the specific dress characteristics for those decades for which sufficient data were available. Because of the inability of the author by the very nature of the study to make random selections for comparison, the statistical methods of comparison used were rank-order correlations and percentage occurrence by decades. Subjunctive comparisons of specific dress characteristics were also made. The results of the rank-order correlation of the specific dress characteristics studied showed a moderate degree of similarity between the dresses of Mormon girls and the fashion illustrations for the decades beginning 1860, 1870 and 1880, and a relativity high degree of similarity for the decade beginning 1890. The correlations were found to be + 0.46, + 0.40, + 0.39 and + 0.77 respectively. The study of percentage occurrence by decades showed a tendency toward lag in the usage in Mormon girl's dresses of some new styles shown in the fashion magazines for the decades beginning in 1880. This lag was less by the decade beginning 1890. Subjective study of the individual Mormon dresses revealed a high degree of skill in workmanship on the part of those individuals who made them, and similarities to specific dress characteristics as shown in the fashion magazines of each decade. The dresses with the highest number of similarities were those of the 1890's. The usage of specific dress characteristics explains and supports the findings of the rank-order correlations and percentage comparisons. Comparisons of individual dresses worn by Mormon girls also showed a persistent usage throughout all the decades studied of a style of dress similar to those found in the fashion magazine illustrations of the late 1650's and early 1860's. Comparisons for the decades beginning 1840, 1850 and 1870 were impossible due to the lack of or small numbers of Mormon dresses. The findings of this study would indicate that, for the decades beginning 1860, 1880 and 1890, those who constructed dresses for the Mormon girls of the Great Salt Lake and Utah Valleys had knowledge of and used some of the styles shown in the fashion magazines of the time and that this usage increased with time.
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