Mourning Rituals And The American Civil War

Wartime convention decreed that a woman mourn her child’s death for one year, a brother’s death for six months, and a husband’s death for two and a half years. She progressed through prescribed stages of heavy, full, and half mourning, with gradually loosening requirements of dress and behavior. Mary Todd Lincoln remained in deep mourning for more than a year after her son Willie’s death, dressing in black veils, black crepe and black jewelry. Flora Stuart, the widow of Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart, remained in heavy morning for 59 years after the 1864 death of her husband, wearing black until she died in 1923. By contrast, a widower was expected to mourn for only three months, simply by displaying black crepe on his hat or armband.

File name: Elizabeth Ann Valentine_L_68_80_08.tif  c. 1855 [in mourning]; by Tyler & Co., Boston, Massachusetts Medium: Sixth-plate daguerreotype ID number: L.68.80.08 Original Author: Unknown Created: ca. 1855 Medium: Sixth-plate daguerreotype Courtesy of Valentine Richmond History Center

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