Renfrew’s Women Through History Program is a great reflection of the women who lived in Renfrew from the 1800’s and 1900’s and includes the stories and history of local women who have loaned their treasured heirlooms for display.

A collection of local women’s items from the 1800 and 1900’s

In Renfrew’s Museum House, Summer Kitchen, Visitors Center and Wagon Shed, the letters of local women, ledgers, clothing, pottery, food preparation items, quilts, coverlets, samplers and more fill the space. Jet buttons, made from compressed coal, make an appearance all throughout the exhibit, adorning clothing, hats, purses and other items on display. Several quilts include intricate patterns from the 1800’s, including an intricate white quilt that contains 16 stitches to an inch.

One of the most unique and valuable items is a first edition Godey’s Ladies Books from 1863, the precursor to modern lady’s beauty magazines, said Cindy Funk, Grants Administrator at Renfrew Institute. These books included fashion, suggestions on housekeeping, stories and patterns. The books are in an almost mint condition despite their age.

A period dress

Some of the items on display are property of the museum but many are on loan after the community was asked to share stories, photographs and more, from jewelry caskets to silver plated brushes.

“I am so grateful that these women have shared their family’s stories with us,” said Funk. “After going through the items they have lent us, I feel like I know these women, even though many may have passed on.”

There are several more seminars in conjunction with the exhibit. On May 23, Dr. Karin J. Bohleke, Director of the Fashion Archives and Museum at Shippensburg, will host a lecture on caring for family heirloom textiles. On May 30, Pat Holmgren will talk about “Herbs in History and Modern Times.” During a seminar on June 13, Pat Holmgren will present a seminar on “Preserving Food in the 18th and 19th Century.” The last seminar will be presented by Cindy Fink and Doug Parks on June 20 and will be about “The Summer Kitchen Program.”

The exhibit will run until July 1.