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. In honor of Dr. Clark, the Kentucky Museum’s Collections Curator, Sandy Staebell, and Dr. Cox will present a Fall 2021 exhibition highlighting Taylor’s life and work.

But we need your help to present this story.

Please consider making a gift in sponsorship of this exhibit and 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).

Basque, 1944.1.5

circa 1890

Lace trimmed basque made by the Mrs. A. H. Taylor Company.

Adopted by Dr. Carrie Cox

Chemise, 1945.25.1

Date unknown

Chemise made of white muslin with machine embroidery, eyelets, and lace trim, purchased for a wedding trousseau.

Available for adoption.

Petticoat, 1945.25.2

Date unknown

Long petticoat in fine white muslin with lace trim and inserts, plus ribbon drawn through pale green silk lace. Purchased for a wedding trousseau.

Available for adoption.

Dress, 1948.11.1

Date unknown

Pink moire silk two-piece dress trimmed in satin and velvet. Combination of machine and hand sewing.

Available for adoption.

Dress, 1951.5.1

1913

Lingerie dress worn by Miss Estelle Drake at her graduation from Bowling Green High School in 1913.

Available for adoption.

Dress, 1955.16.1

1892

Two-piece dress constructed from foulard silk and trimmed with lace. Part of a trousseau assembled for by Martha Florence Beard when she married Charles Claudius Russell on December 22, 1892 in Warren County, Kentucky.

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.

Available for adoption.

Dress, 1965.2.2

1903

Trousseau dress worn by Nora Dixon when she married Curtis Marshall McGee in Burkesville, Cumberland County, Kentucky, on June 3, 1903.

Available for adoption.

Evening Coat, 1967.15.1

1906

Evening coat from the trousseau of Nelle Gooch (1888-1974) when she married Conley Chester Travelstead in Simpson County, Kentucky, on December 3, 1906.

Available for adoption.

Dress, 1970.21.1

c. 1893

Two-piece dress, circa 1893, reportedly made for Hattie Strange of Smiths Grove, Kentucky, to wear at the Bowling Green Fair Hop.

Available for adoption.

Dress, 1976.13.1

c. 1916

Party dress worn by Margie Helm (1894-1991) of Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Available for adoption.

Dress, KM2014.21.1

c. 1894

Three-piece dress composed of bodice, overskirt, and underskirt that was worn by Corinne Ayers, who attended Potter College for Young Ladies in Bowling Green, Kentucky, around 1894.

Available for adoption.


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