Carrie Burnam Taylor Project

History suggests that as “big business” started to take hold in the late 1800s, women became more involved in business and working outside the home. However, few women owned companies. Those that did were in industries centered on women, such as home goods, apparel, or personal care.

Today, women own only 40% of businesses in the U.S., making Carrie Burnam Taylor’s business of the early 20th century that much more impressive.

Photograph of Carrie Burnam Taylor,
courtesy WKU Department of
Library Special Collections.

Born in 1855, Taylor dreamed of a dress-making empire. As a young woman, she established the Mrs. A. H. Taylor Company, which made custom dresses for ladies. The company grew from her in-home studio to a factory in downtown Bowling Green that employed over 300 women, providing a model of female entrepreneurship at a time when women were expected to remain wives and mothers.

Taylor’s achievements were researched and published by WKU Professor of Textiles and Clothing Dr. Sallye R. Clark (1941-2019), who worked with the Kentucky Museum’s garment collection and the Department of Library Special Collections holdings of Taylor’s business correspondence and records. Today, Dr. Carrie Cox is continuing this research, in collaboration with WKU fashion merchandising students. Using their research, we will present Styles &thegistofit, an exhibition of Taylor’s life and work, in October 2021.

But we need your help to present this story.

Please consider making a gift in sponsorship of conservation of the collection. All gifts count towards adoption of the collection, either as co-adoptions (gifts of $1 – $999 by multiple individuals) or sole adoptions (gifts of $1,000 or more by a single individual). Adoptions are considered permanent and will be recorded in our artifact database, public database, and showcased on the exhibition label for that garment.

Bodice, 1983.12.2

circa 1890

Bodice made of maroon silk satin and trimmed with maroon and beige striped fabric. Attributed to Mrs. A. H. Taylor, and was constructed near the beginning of her career.

Available for adoption.

Wedding Dress, 1985.82.1

circa 1898

Off-white cotton organdy trimmed with self-fabric ruffles edged with lace and ruched silk satin ribbon. Attributed to Mrs. A. H. Taylor.

The bodice will be displayed in the Styles &thegistofit exhibition.

Available for Adoption

Bodice, 2006.151.1

circa 1898

Black silk faille trimmed with black novelty weave front plastron. Lapels are edged with fringe and trimmed with braid on collar and cuffs. An interior label confirms it was made by Mrs. A. H. Taylor & Co.

The bodice will be displayed in the exhibition.

Available for adoption.

Dress, 4776

circa 1916

Black silk faille over bodice and skirt with black silk satin faced organza under bodice, trimmed with black jet beading, silk satin belt and black cotton net cuff ruffles.

Will be exhibited in the Styles & thegistofit exhibition.

Available for adoption.

Dress, 1955.16.1/4878

1892

Gray ground printed silk with off-white abstract design trimmed with beige lace at collar and cuffs and a beaded yoke. Worn by Martha Florence Beard who married Charles Claudius Russel on December 22, 1892 in Warren County, KY. Interior label confirms the dress was made by Mrs. A. H. Taylor & Co.

Will be displayed in Styles &thegistofit exhibition.

Co-adopted by:

  • Bill & Joey Powell

Basque, 1944.1.5

circa 1893

Off-white silk and wool twill trimmed with ruffles of silk mousseline and purple velvet.

Adopted by Dr. Carrie Cox.

Dress, KM2014.21.1

c. 1903

Printed pink ground silk satin swirly design of white, green, and yellow trimmed with plastron of off-white net and trimmed on bodice and sleeves with off-white silk twill and beige lace. Worn by Corinne Ayers, who attended Potter College for Young Ladies in Bowling Green, Kentucky, around 1894. Interior label confirms the dress was made by Mrs. A. H. Taylor & Co.

Will be on display in Styles &thegistofit exhibition.

Available for adoption.

Dress, 1955.17.1

1906

Trousseau dress worn by Ibbie Beard when she married William Edmunds Allen in Warren County, Kentucky, on January 9, 1906. “S” silhouette in alice blue wool serge with alpaca guipiere trim.

This dress was displayed in the 2019-21 Out of the Box exhibition.

Co-Adopted by:

  • Brenda Bush
  • Anna Jo & James Johnson in memory of Dr. Sallye R. Clark and honor of Dr. Carrie Cox
  • Dr. Darlene Applegate
  • Miki and David Wiseman
  • Carrie W. Taylor
  • Amy & Owen Mitchell
  • Angela Jones and Renita Anderson, in honor of Sonja Jones.

Dress, 1965.2.2/4886

1903

Blue cotton and wool blend trimmed with beige lace yoke, collar, cuffs, and self fabric ruching. Worn by Nora Dixon when she married Curtis Marshall McGee in Burkesville, Cumberland County, Kentucky, on June 3, 1903. Attributed to Mrs. A. H. Taylor.

Available for adoption.

Dress, 1976.13.1

c. 1916

Off white cotton trimmed with off-white silk satin and lace. Worn by Margie Helm (1894-1991) of Bowling Green, Kentucky. Attributed to Mrs. A. H. Taylor.

Available for adoption.

Dress, 1970.21.1/5325

c. 1893

Off-white ground silk brocade with yellow floral design. Made for Hattie Strange of Smiths Grove, Kentucky, to wear at the Bowling Green Fair Hop around 1893.

Available for adoption.

Bodice, 1986.26.1

c. 1899

Bodice of striped silk trimmed with lace. Interior label confirms made by Mrs. A. H. Taylor & Co. Worn by Lucy Snow Ansley of Howard County, Arkansas. According to the donor, Ansley’s granddaughter, her grandmother’s family “always went to Kentucky to get their ‘good’ clothes made.”

Will be on display in Styles & thegist of it exhibition.

Available for adoption.

Dress, 1951.5.1

circa 1915

White cotton trimmed with lace dress worn by Miss Estelle Drake at her graduation from Bowling Green High School in 1913. Attributed to Mrs. A. H. Taylor.

Available for adoption.

Dress, 1948.11.1

circa 1898

Pink moire silk two-piece dress trimmed in satin and velvet. Combination of machine and hand sewing. Attributed to Mrs. A. H. Taylor.

Available for adoption.

Evening Coat, 1967.15.1

1906

Beige wool cloth broadcloth trimmed with lace. Evening coat from the trousseau of Nelle Gooch (1888-1974) when she married Conley Chester Travelstead in Simpson County, Kentucky, on December 3, 1906. Attributed to Mrs. A. H. Taylor.

Will be displayed in Styles &thegistofit exhibition.

Available for adoption.

Evening Jacket, 4895/1965.2.15

circa 1915

Evening jacket, attributed to Mrs. A. H. Taylor.

Will be displayed in Styles &thegistofit exhibition.

Available for adoption.


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