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Commencement gown owned by Zora Neale Hurston

Catalog Data

Manufactured by:
Cox Sons & Vining, Inc., American, founded 1837  Search this
Owned by:
Zora Neale Hurston, American, 1891 - 1960  Search this
Worn by:
Lucy Kramer Cohen, American, 1907 - 2007  Search this
Subject of:
Barnard College, American, founded 1889  Search this
fiber with metal
H x W (Gown): 45 1/4 × 18 3/16 in. (115 × 46.2 cm)
Chest (Gown Internal): 47 1/16 in. (119.5 cm)
Place made:
New York City, New York, United States, North and Central America
Place used:
New York City, New York, United States, North and Central America
This commencement gown originally belonged to writer and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. Hurston was a member of Barnard College's graduating class of 1928. Her degree was conferred on February 29, 1928; however, Hurston did not participate in the commencement ceremony. Having completed her coursework and obtained funding, she sold the cap and gown before leaving New York to conduct anthropological research in Florida. Her fellow anthropology classmate Lucy Kramer purchased the regalia from Hurston and wore the gown during commencement. Kramer had to alter the hem so that the gown could fit her four foot, ten inch frame, but Hurston's monogram remains intact in the yoke of the gown.
A commencement gown purchased by Zora Neale Hurston, for the 1928 Barnard College commencement ceremony. The gown is long and black with wide, long, pointed sleeves. The robes have a rounded collar and opens at the front into a “V.” Down the front hems are five (5) closures: four (4) hooks (1 missing) and (5) eyes. The front hems of the robes are embellished with a vertical folds of fabric. The sleeves are gathered at the shoulders and on either side of the chest. A black tag is stitched to the inside of the collar. It is embroidered with gold text reading "COX SONS AND VINING / 131-133 [loss] ST / NEW [loss]." Below the tag, pieces of fabric with the monogram letters "Z," "N," and "H" have been stitched in. There are two (2) cape ties attached to the interior of the robes at the shoulders. The back of the gown is heavily gathered at the seams of both sleeves and at the mid-back. Also on the back is a hood fastener constructed from a fabric covered button and a plied cord.
African American  Search this
Clothing and dress  Search this
Education  Search this
Literature  Search this
Science  Search this
Women  Search this
Credit Line:
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Zora Yaa Adams-Williams and The Family of Lucy Kramer Cohen (Barnard College, 1928)
Object number:
Restrictions & Rights:
No Known Copyright Restrictions
See more items in:
National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection
Harlem Renaissance (New Negro Movement)
Data Source:
National Museum of African American History and Culture