The abundant textile collection includes over 3,000 examples of historic and modern clothing and furnishing textiles such as upholstery, window treatments, floor coverings, quilts, bed and table linens. Among its earliest items are 50 complete or fragmentary 18th-century pieces associated with the Washington family, including one of Martha Washington’s twelve shell-shaped, needlepoint cushions and two late 18th-century wool rose blankets. Another early piece is the ca. 1790 silk needlework picture embroidered by Elizabeth Peter Dunlop, the sister of Tudor Place builder Thomas Peter.
In household furnishings, the collection includes extensive holdings of 19th-century table linens; early printed, cotton bed hangings; several sets of early-to-mid 20th-century window treatment;, and finely woven cotton bed linens.
Floor coverings include two fragments of 19th-century English woven rugs, and more than 35 late 19th-century hand-knotted and -woven rugs from southwest Asia.
The costume collection includes 1,500 examples of men’s, women’s and children’s apparel that offer insights into public and private customs; the cost and availability of materials; the impact of technological innovations like the sewing machine; and the strictures of climate and geography on fashion in Washington, DC. Changes in style details, such as the fluctuation of waistlines and hemlines, yield insights into changing social roles, such as the migration of women from the domestic sphere.
The collection’s nearly 100 pairs of shoes showcase both luxury and labor in the history of six generations of wearers.
The costume collection’s strength lies in its variety. Some 19th-century highlights include hand-sewn garments dating to Tudor Place’s founding generation, such as Martha Peter’s ca. 1800 Empire-style silk gauze dress with matching rose-colored silk shawl. From the 1840s, there is Britannia Peter Kennon’s wedding dress, and from the two decades following, boldly patterned ladies’ bodices. Over 40 pieces of clothing worn as a child by Anna Williams Peter illustrate childhood and maternity in the 1870s and complement the moiré silk wedding dress she wore in 1894.
The 20th-century costume collection draws from the wardrobes of Caroline Ogden-Jones Peter and her husband, Armistead Peter 3rd, and features couture, accessories, and popular styles from the 1920s to ‘60s. Examples from the Parisian couturier House of Lanvin include a stunning fall 1920 robe de style and an early 1930s embroidered wool bathing suit. French accessories include a matching leather jacket and cloche hat by Hermès, and a silk scarf by Rodier. Caroline’s acquisition of these high quality tailored goods reflects the retail history of these labels as well as other brands acquired in department stores such as Washington, DC’s Julius Garfinckel’s & Company and Bergdorf Goodman in New York City.