October 23, 2021 to August 12, 2023
History suggests that as “big business” started to take hold in the late 1800s, women became more involved in business and working outside the home. However, few women owned companies. Those that did were in industries centered on women, such as home goods, apparel, or personal care.
Today, women own only 40% of businesses in the U.S., making Carrie Burnam Taylor’s business of the early 20th century that much more impressive.
Carrie Taylor was a dressmaker who began her business, the Mrs. A. H. Taylor Company, in 1878. Taylor developed the business early in her adult life and continued running it until her death in 1917. For nearly 40 years, the Mrs. A.H. Taylor Company was known for quality, lace-embellished dresses.
Curated by Dr. Carrie Cox, this exhibition explores Taylor's life and work. Through her success, we can understand shifting gender roles, the transition from custom-made to ready-to-wear fashion, and female entrepreneurship at the turn of the 20th century.
About the Taylor Collection
A collection of nineteen garments produced by the Mrs. A. H. Taylor company is held by the Kentucky Museum at WKU, complemented by the personal and business papers of Mrs. Taylor held by the WKU Department of Library Special Collections. Additional information and photographs have been provided by descendants of Carrie Taylor.
These collections formed the basis for research and publications by WKU Professor of Textiles and Clothing Dr. Sallye R. Clark (1941-2019). Today, Dr. Carrie Cox is continuing this research, in collaboration with WKU fashion merchandising students. Dr. Cox’s research is complemented by research conducted by Dr. Whitney Peake (WKU, Department Chair, Vitale Professor of Entrepreneurship, and Associate Professor – Management) and Dr. Kate Hudepohl (Associate Professor, Anthropology) in the 2019-20 exhibition, Out of the Box.
You can explore the Carrie Burnam Taylor collections online in KenCat.
The following Taylor garments are available for adoption. All gifts may be made as one-time, installment, or collaborative gifts and are recognized in object labels and our KenCat database in perpetuity. Funds are utilized to preserve the collection for research and display.
To help conserve, please click here to make a tax-deductible donation and put "Taylor" in the Additional Information field. Thank you!
1985.82.1, circa 1898 wedding dress. Available for adoption, $1,000.
1983.12.2 , circa 1890 maroon silk bodice. Available for adoption, $500.
1948.11.1, circa 1898 pink silk two-piece dress. Available for adoption, $1,000.
Special thanks to our Artifact Adopters for their assistance preserving this collection
JoNell Hester, Beth Hester and Scott Gilbert, Herbert H. Beckwith, Bill and Joey Powell, Carrie Cox, Brenda Bush, Anna Jo and James Johnson in memory of Dr. Sallye R. Clark, Dr. Darlene Applegate, Miki and David Wiseman, Carrie W. Taylor, Amy and Owen Mitchell, and Angela Jones and Renita Anderson in honor of Sonja Jones.
News and Features
"Historical Bowling Green Fashion Exhibit Opens at Kentucky Museum" in Talisman, February 10, 2022
"Constant Reinvention: Bowling Green's Impact on Fashion Evolution" in Talisman, October 5, 2021
Fashion Guide 2021 in Talisman
"Throwback Thursday - Bowling Green's Fashion Mogul: Carrie Burnam Taylor" by Telia Butler for WNKY CBS 40, February 2021.