Aunt Nancy’s 90th birthday brought the good news

On Sept. 17, 2005, her 90th birthday, Nancy Lybarger Rhoades received the news that Swallow Press at Ohio University would publish the Lybarger Civil War letters, a project she had nurtured for many years.

Nancy Rhoades (1915-2007) was the granddaughter of Edwin Lewis Lybarger (1840-1924), who served in the 43rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry, 1862-1865. In 1991, in a trunk in her attic, she discovered 168 letters written by several dozen women family members, friends, and sweethearts to Edwin throughout the war.

Nancy transcribed these letters, and they were published in 2009 by  Ohio University’s Swallow Press, with a social commentary by Lucy E. Bailey, on the significance of women’s war work in the North during the Civil War.

WANTED–CORRESPONDENCE: Women’s Letters to a Union Soldier

Edited by Nancy L. Rhoades and Lucy E. Bailey

March 1860 fashions in Godey's Lady's Book

Passementeries, soutache & ruching

An 1860’s century fashion glossary


gauffered (variation of goffered) flounces: crimped, plaited, or fluted fabric, esp. with heated iron.

mousquetaire cuffs: referring to 18th century royal musketeers, known for their flamboyant dress.

paremont (variation of parament): ornamental ecclesiastical vestments.

passementaries: ornamental edging or trimming (such as tassles) of braid, beadwork, or metallic threads.

ruching: pleated or gathered strip of fabric for trimming.

soutache: narrow braid with herringbone pattern, for trim.

tarletane (variation of tarlatan): sheer cotton fabrid in open, plain weave, sized for stiffness.

Sultana Opera Cloak

The extremely elegant effect of the Sultana Opera Cloak cannot fail to strike the observer. The graceful, easy flow when on the figure is pleasing to the eye, and exhibits symptoms of most successful taste. It will be seen that the folds fall in a totally different direction to the generality of opera cloaks. Instead of draping from the shoulders downward, thereby creating an unnatural stiffness in the figure, they assume a semicircular form, fall gracefully into the waist, and produce a becoming fullness in the skirt otherwise unattainable. The hood, or rather semblance of a hood, is very recherché, and ornamented with tassels, manufactured expressly for the cloak from a design obtained from one of the internal decorations of the principal court of the Alhambra. It is fastened in front with a loop and buttons to correspond with the tassels, and affords unusual protection to the chest.

A discussion of the latest fashions for ladies 

from Jan. 1860 Godey’s Lady’s Book:

Striped silks, the stripes being from four to six inches wide, and alternating in color, style, etc., are among the richest figured materials for street-dress, as a stripe of dark green satin, with the alternate stripe of silk, figured in some pretty floral design. Alternate stripes of black silk and velvet are also very elegant. Moiré antique is worn rather more now than the past season, the favorite colors being royal purple and emerald green. The broché silks are in fact real brocades of our grandmothers, broché meaning only embroidery- a rich black or gray taffeta ground is sprinkled with small sprays or bouquets of flowers. These are much worn for evening-dress. Fawn, green, mode, ashes of roses, etc. are among the shades used as a ground, the flowers being in their natural colors. Black, deep purple, maroon, and deep blue taffetas, figured with black velvet, are, perhaps, the most expensive dresses.

See more Godey’s fashion plates