Kelsey Salvesen

Women’s History Series: Reading Between the Threads

March 16, 2019 @ 2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
Wyck Historic House, Garden, and Farm
6026 Germantown Avenue
PA 19144
$20; Friends of Wyck $15; Students under 25 $10
Tess Frydman, Director of Interpretation and Public Outreach

Reading Between the Threads: Explorations into the Language of Women’s Textiles

It can be difficult to access women’s viewpoints in Early North American history, but textiles, needlepoint, medical texts, and recipe books provide unique insights. With these two, back-to-back lectures, Wyck invites you to consider how women made masterful use of material culture to assert their opinions and to improve their experiences throughout history.

This two-part program is suited for ages 10 to adult (all ages welcome to attend).

Kelsey Salvesen and Wistar scone
Left: Kelsey Salvesen Right: Sconce, Margaret Wistar, Philadelphia, 1738. Silk on silk satin with linen border. Courtesy Wyck Historic House, Garden, and Farm, Philadelphia.

Stitching Their Worlds Together: Gender, Faith, and Feminine Material Culture in Early America

In this lecture, Kelsey Salvesen looks at needlework as both practice and product and how it shaped and reflected the lives of girls and women in the 18th and 19th centuries. As stitchers grappled with ideas about faith, race, class, and personal and national identity, these struggles played out in their needlework. Items like embroidered samplers and other sources of stitched text–made by female hands, typically under female instruction and supervision, and circulated among networks of female friendship and descent–provide unique insight into how girls and young women thought about themselves and their places in their families, their communities, their faiths, and the wider world.

Kelsey Salvesen is a Ph.D. candidate in the History Program at the University of Pennsylvania studying feminine material culture for her dissertation titled,  “The Word Became Thread And Was Stitched Among Us: Gender, Empire, and Religion in Early North America.”



Tess Frydman
Left: Tess Frydman Right: An image from an 1868 patent for a catamenial receiver shows two views (front and back) of a woman getting into bed wearing a menstrual device. Libbey, H.W. Catamenial Sack, U.S. Patent 75,434 issued March 10, 1868. Image in the public domain.

 America’s Bloody History: Menstruation Management in the Mid-Nineteenth Century

Tess Frydman shines a light on the daily realities of managing menstruation before menstrual devices were available over-the-counter. Her lecture explores what women wore to absorb menstrual blood, how women shared solutions and stayed informed on best medical practices, and how they effectively responded to cultural conceptions of menstruation. Despite the scarcity of documentary sources describing menstrual practices, an analysis of surviving material evidence reveals the ways in which networks of women participated in an intimate menstrual culture in antebellum America.

Tess Frydman is the Director of Interpretation and Public Outreach at Wyck Historic House, Garden, and Farm, and a recent graduate of the Winterthur Program in American Material Studies.

Online sales for this event are closed.  Tickets are available at the door (Cash, Check, and Credit Cards accepted).


The Reading Between the Threads program is inspired by the legacy of Wyck’s own Jane Bowne Haines II, who founded the Pennsylvania School of  Horticulture for Women in 1910.  The entire Women’s History Series at Wyck is presented in honor of the wondrous women who called Wyck home between 1690-1973, to continue their legacy of innovation, education and equality.

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