Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Florence Whitman's 1883 Wedding Dress

I have made a couple of posts where I have discussed the Summer Bride exhibit we are currently running at the O'Dell House Museum. As I walk through the exhibit, there are a couple of dresses which always stand out. To be entirely clear, my wife's dress is my favorite in the exhibit for a variety of reasons (as well as for the most obvious of reasons). One of the other dresses which always catches my attention is that of Florence Whitman (Ritchie) who was married in Annapolis Royal on April 22, 1883.

Florence Ritchie was a member of the prominent Ritchie Family of both Annapolis Royal and Halifax. There is historically no other family whose fingerprints are more firmly placed on the Nova Scotia legal system. Members of the Ritchie family, including Florence's father, had been Judges in this province for generations. The most noted jurist in the family was Florence's uncle William Johnstone Ritchie who became Chief Justice of the Canadian Supreme Court.

This dress with its high neck and impressive bustle would have been the height of fashion in Nova Scotia in 1883 (we were often noted for being about a decade behind the fashions of London and Paris). Since the Ritchie's were a family of means, an attempt was obviously made to have a quality wedding dress. The historic photograph of Florence at the top of this post was taken as a studio shot in New York City. I like this dress since it speaks to me (no not literally) of the nineteenth century rather than the twentieth. There is an element of pastoral grace about this dress which I find appealing.

After their marriage, Florence and her new husband, Francis Cutler Whitman, settled in Annapolis Royal. This dress is now a part of the Annapolis Heritage Society's costume collection. Summer Bride will be on display at the O'Dell House Museum until the end of August 2009.

All for now,


  1. I agree that this is a beautiful dress. We have many photos of "Granny Whitman" in this stunning gown that we treasure

  2. I am married to this lady's great-great grandson, Alexander Jackson of Kenora Ontario.