Dressmakers

Dressmakers, Owatonna, c. 1890.

The dressmakers represented in this collection operated prominent custom clothing businesses in Minneapolis and St. Paul. We can identify their work through the labels stitched into the dresses. This collection does not document women who provided custom work for their neighbors, nor many dressmakers working before 1880. While we have accounts of these dressmakers from family and friends, they seldom stitched labels into their finished work.

Labels are common only after about 1880 and only for a relatively small number of the more prominent businesses.

The dressmakers documented here worked in various settings. Some worked in their own homes, often with a small team that might include family members (McReynolds). Others opened shops in locations convenient to their clients, such as downtown office or retail buildings (Molloy) in St. Paul; (McGahn Importing) in Minneapolis. Still others rented space in prominent department stores (Worley) at Mannheimers; (Helen Gjertsen) at Dayton's. The exclusive dressmakers operated from their own salons (Boyd; Christianson) and employed as many as 100 seamstresses, tailors, cutters or fitters. 

Their names are listed below in date order. These dates represent the span of years they were in business and listed from ealiest to latest. 

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Mrs. Worley 1866-1894
Mrs. Wilson 1872-1891
Molloy 1879 -1913
Miss L. Green 1882-1902
DeLong 1885-1901
Hattie H. McGahn 1880-1924
Christianson 1886-1904
Boyd 1886-1917
H. J. English 1889-1915
Morrissey 1889-1930
Underhill 1889-1902
McReynolds 1891-1932
Cullen and Johnson 1891-1907
Mrs. George F. Hall 1892-1906
Kate Puetz 1895-1899
Nicholson 1895-1924
Misses Tomasek 1895-1941
Esler 1896-1915
Kiernan 1896-1916
Thomas 1897-1901
Martha 1900-1923
Mary Lorch 1900-1934
Norquist 1900-1940
Spettel 1900-1946
Helen 1906-1923
Caroline 1907-1915
Jenny Lee 1910s-1930s
DuBois 1912-1964
Agnes Reed 1920-1995