Notable Washington Belles in 1897

I was looking for photographs of fashions in the 1890s when I came across this little article about popular ladies in Washington society.  I have to own a shameful secret: I was one of four girls not asked to be a debutante in my graduating class. I know, I know, you are horrified and will never visit my blog again.

Anyway, here is the article from Godey’s. I have removed most of the names.  Below the article, I have pasted some fashion photos.


MISS MARTHA H– is called the handsomest girl in Washington, and to her personal beauty she adds an attractiveness of manner, which two possessions make her a veritable belle, so that wherever she appears she is always surrounded by a court of admirers. She is the only daughter of Commodore —, the distinguished Chief Constructor of the United States Navy, and her mother holds the office of a leading vice – president of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Miss H– is tall and graceful, entirely unconscious and simple in manner. She is gray – eyed and has brown hair and a brilliant color. With all her simplicity she has much strength of character and savoir faire. Athletic sports she delights in, and is equally good at all of them. She also possesses a talent for mimicry, being droll and entertaining to a degree. She is skilful with her hands and has an especial taste for embroidery.

The daughters of ex-Vice President and Mrs. Adlai E. Stevenson have always been favorites in the capital city, where their personal loveliness, intelligence, and sweet dispositions have been thoroughly appreciated. Since the marriage a few months ago of the older sister, Julia, to Rev. Martin D. Hardin, Miss Letitia has assumed the position of her mother’s right hand, an able assistant. She was one of last season’s debutantes. Mrs. Hardin is a brunette, Miss Stevenson a perfect blonde, both having noticeably beautiful skins. The former possesses a literary bent, writing with case and force. Letitia’s is a wonderfully symmetrical character, and on all occasions she portrays a keen insight into the surrounding conditions, as well as marked discretion and a sense of justice and duty.

Mrs. Stevenson’s nieces, Mrs. Charles S. B– and Mrs. Carl V– both made their entrance into society at Washington, and married soon afterward. They are pretty and accomplished and winning in manner. Mrs. B–, whose marriage to a young officer in the United States Engineer Corps was celebrated in the fine residence of her mother near Scott Circle, is a practised horsewoman; she also has a penchant for the wheel, and handles the foil with skill. But music is her real bent, and nothing is ever allowed to interfere with her piano lessons and daily practice. Mrs. V– was a “bud” last season, a bride this, the fortunate man being a Harvard graduate, and though only twenty – four years old, he has already made his mark in the field of oratory and social and religious reform. He was president of three college organizations during his Harvard course and is an honorary member of the Oxford Union, Oxford College England. Mrs. V– is brilliantly educated, her studies finishing in Paris after which is travelled with her family to the Continent.

One of the acknowledged belles of the Washington is Miss Miriam B–, daughter of M—B–, her mother ranking as a prominent member of the Daughters of the American Revoution and also as one of the capital’s social leaders. Blessed with youth heirloom in her father’s family. She is an active young lady in club circles, and is the President of the Buff and Blue Chapter of the Children of the American Revolution.

Miss Harriette K-, daughter of the noted author and traveler, D—K–, has spent most of her winters of her young life in Washington where is greatly admired. She is a fair-haired girl with handsome beauty, a sunny nature and quick wit, Miss B–’s career in the fashionable world has been attended with continual success. She is a slender blonde, graceful in carriage and is always gowned to perfection. Descended from a long line of distinguished ancestors, she claims among them the famous Samual Bruche, whose house still stands in the centre of Washington, and is pointed out as one of the city’s landmarks. In her house hangs the “missing copy” of the Declaration of  Independence, an dark eyes, and is a fine conversationalist. She is an adept at the art of whistling, and is great demand at social functions because of this accomplishment. Her fancy is inclined toward good works, and she devotes much time and energy to charity. Having travelled throughout Europe, she is broadened in her views of life. Her older sister was lately married to Lieutenant K–, of the United States Army and her mother is a Vice-president of the Daughters  of the American Revolution, in which she has always been one of the most influential members.

Miss Clemence C– spends a great deal of time in Washington, where her pretty face and winning ways have gained for her much attention. She is a fair Virginian with brown eyes and a soft pink-and-white skin. She is the owner of a fine and cultivated voice, and has a taste for art, in which line she shows much talent. As a dancer she excels, which fact adds to her popularity in social circles. Part of her life in New York City, where her father, the late Reve. William H. C–, was connected with Trinity parish.

The two daughters of Senator M–, of Mississippi, do not give themselves up entirely to the gay doings of the capital, as both are interested in other pursuits as well. Lillian recently became the wife of  B R–, a rising lawyer and a nephew of Judge Culberson, member of Congress from Texas. She has already given evidence of an artistic tendency. Miss Mabel C. M– is musical, making a study of the violin.

A much-sought young matron is Mrs. Hallie Davis Elkins, wife of Senator Stephen B. Elkins, whose charming personality always makes her a central figure in every coterie. Exceedingly domestic in her inclinations, she is also fond of entertaining, and her functions are noticeably agreeable. The luxurious home of Senator and Mrs. Elkins is one of the show houses of Washington, being spacious and admirably located, artistic, also, and picturesque in all its appointments.

 Here are some fashion photos from Cassell’s Family Magazine in 1894

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