Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Today's Hours
Museum: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Gardens: 7:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Virginia, front
Virginia, back
We don't have any info on what type of doll Virginia is or the origins of her
costume; she is not a Gray/Blumenstiel doll. Virginia wears a red velvet walking
dress trimmed in white fur over a crinoline, or hoop skirt. For truly
fashionable women, 1868 was the last year in which the crinoline was generally
worn, though it tended to remain popular longer with middle and lower class
women who were not quite as fashion-forward. High fashion instead shifted to the
half-crinoline, which was actually a forerunner of the bustle; it basically
consisted of a large pad of horsehair tied around the waist with tapes. Legs
were still supposed to be invisible (this was the Victorian era in which even
pianos were provided with skirts lest their legs inspire indelicate thoughts),
and so very elaborately trimmed pantaloons became quite popular. For little
girls, whose skirts were usually only mid-calf length, the pantaloons, which
came to their ankles, were particularly important. If parents couldn't afford
full pantaloons for their daughters, they put them in pantalettes, little tubes
of white linen that tied just above the knee. These were quite popular and sold
in the thousands. Another way of hiding a woman's delicate ankles and lower leg
was through the popularity of heeled boots that came halfway up the calf,
replacing the lightweight slippers of earlier decades.

Eliza Virginia Dimitry Ruth

Virginia's warm costume may reflect the colder weather she found during her time
in Washington D.C. as the bride of Captain Enoch Fenwick Ruth who served in
Washington's Indian Bureau. A native of Louisiana, Virginia returned to the
state after her husband died. To support herself and her three daughters, she
became one of the earliest professional women writers in the state under the
name Virginia Dimitry Ruth. Later, she established a notable private school for
young ladies which was known for its "educational rigor and cultural
attainments." So significant was the school that notable Louisiana women of the
late nineteenth and early twentieth century listed having attended it as one of
their accomplishments in their official biographies.