Muriel McPhee’s mourning overdress
First World War tragedy
Muriel McPhee grew up on a cattle property near Grafton in northern New South Wales. During the First World War, she worked on the family farm by day and sewed by lamplight in the evening.
An accomplished seamstress, Muriel carefully stitched underwear, nightdresses, pillowcases, tablecloths and doilies. These formed her trousseau, a collection of items made in preparation for married life.
Muriel kept a photograph of a young soldier on her dressing table, but little is known about the man she was to marry. When he was killed, she packed away the trousseau.
This dress is the only black item among Muriel’s trousseau. Worn over everyday clothes, it provided a cost-effective way to acknowledge the death of a loved one.
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