RESOURCE:

Hattie Carnegie Original Two-Piece Dress

Grade Range: K-12
Resource Type(s): Primary Source, Artifacts
Date Posted: 3/10/2009

Hattie Carnegie, one of a few female entrepreneurs in the early to mid-20th century, was born Henrietta Kanengeiser in Vienna, Austria, in 1886. She came to the United States in 1892. Her first job was as a messenger, sometime milliner, and model in Macy's department store. She decided to change her name and chose the surname of the richest man in the country, Andrew Carnegie, to reflect her ambitions. With determination and an innate sense for style and business, she became a symbol of taste and high fashion to many Americans.

From the very beginning her wholesale and retail establishments attracted the wealthy. She opened her first shop, "Carnegie—Ladies' Hatter" in 1909, making and selling custom-made dresses and hats. As her business grew, she established her own wholesale house, which manufactured clothing with her label and sold in select stores. Well-known designers such as Claire McCardell and Norman Norell began their careers designing for her. By 1945, her shop on 49th Street in New York had added more departments, including American and French designs and accessories for "smart" dressing.

From the very beginning her wholesale and retail establishments attracted the wealthy. She opened her first shop, "Carnegie—Ladies' Hatter" in 1909, making and selling custom-made dresses and hats. As her business grew, she established her own wholesale house, which manufactured clothing with her label and sold in select stores. Well-known designers such as Claire McCardell and Norman Norell began their careers designing for her. By 1945, her shop on 49th Street in New York had added more departments, including American and French designs and accessories for "smart" dressing.

This dress was worn by the donor, Mrs. Morehead Patterson, nee Margaret Tilt, the daughter of Charles A. Tilt of Chicago's Diamond T. Motor Car. She was at one time married to Moorehead Patterson, CEO of the American Foundry Machine Company (AMF), New York City.

Use this Investigation Sheet to guide students through describing the object and analyzing its meaning.


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