Bloomers

Fairview Cemetery, Council Bluffs, Iowa

Fairview Cemetery, Council Bluffs, Iowa

The inscription on the original tombstone:

AMELIA JENKS

WIFE OF

D. C. BLOOMER

DIED

DEC. 30, 1894

AGED

76Ys. 7Ms. 3Ds.

A pioneer of woman’s

Emancipation

 

DEXTER C.

BLOOMER

DIED

FEB. 24, 1900

AGED

83 Ys. 7Ms. 20Ds.

 

Inscription on the granite block placed later in front of the original tombstone:

IN 1855 THE BLOOMERS CAME TO COUNCIL BLUFFS.  AMELIA WAS ALREADY INTERNATIONALLY PROMINENT FOR HER ADVOCATION OF TEMPERANCE AND WOMEN’S RIGHTS.  IN THE LILY, THE MAGAZINE SHE EDITED AND PUBLISHED, SHE PROMOTED DRESS, REFORM, PUBLICIZING THE BLOOMER GARMENT.  LOCALLY DEXTER HELPED ESTABLISH A BANK AND THE COMMUNITY SCHOOL SYSTEM AND SERVED ON CITY AND STATE SCHOOL BOARDS.  HE WROTE AMELIA’S BIOGRAPHY IN 1895.

 

Amelia Bloomer’s name has become synonymous with the loose fitting clothing that she advocated women to wear even though it was not her creation.  Elizabeth Smith Miller designed the long baggy pantalettes that narrowed at the ankles to give women more freedom of movement than the floor-length skirts which were popular during the Victorian Era.  Because Amelia Bloomer was a strong advocate of “Bloomers” in her magazine, The Lily, her name became attached to the style. 

Bloomer[1]

But her influence was more far reaching than the reform clothing she advocated.  Her magazine became the voice of the suffragette movement and gave a place for leaders such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton to share their reform ideas for temperance and women’s suffrage.

The gray-veined white marble tombstone at the Fairview Cemetery at Council Bluffs, Iowa, is badly weathered, the finial that topped the monument is missing and the inscription is faint but legible.  An additional granite block with an inscription has been placed in front of the original tombstone but is not set. 

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3 Responses to Bloomers

  1. Mary Kim Schreck says:

    That is really fascinating! How did you ever find out the facts behind this tombstone? I didn’t realize that “bloomers” were actually long baggy pants to be worn under skirts…I haven’t used or heard that word–bloomers–for years…my old aunts used to use it instead of “underpants”….what strange finds are in graveyards!

  2. The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and other artistic reformers objected to the elaborately trimmed confections of Victorian fashion with their unnatural silhouette based on a rigid corset and hoops as both ugly and dishonest. Their wives and models adopted a revival style based on romanticised medieval influences such as puffed juliette sleeves and trailing skirts. These were made in the soft colors of vegetable dyes , and were ornamented with hand embroidery in the art needlework style.

  3. Amelia Bloomer did not create the first pair of bloomers, but she does get credit for publicizing them and making this free-legged step toward comfortable women’s clothing more available to ladies. Today we choose to wear dresses, but in Bloomer’s time, there was no other choice if one wanted to be considered a lady. Really the only alternative to being a ‘lady’ was to be considered a whore, regardless of a woman’s actual value or virtue. Such scandalous debate on women’s behavior became tied to Amelia’s name, most likely due to her writings for the feminist-reform magazine, Lily, referred to as ‘bloomerism.’ What is interesting is that the most concern was taken for middle-class women. After all, lower class women were a lost cause and upper class women were, well, classy and untouchable, above the influence of such immorality. Or so it was thought.

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