Dutch Jacket

Many, many thanks to KittyCalash for posting her latest article, Dutch Treat.  Back in May, I was looking into the caraco as a result of seeing it defended as accurate for Revolutionary War contexts on the basis of a single extant example in the Snowshill Collection.  I came to the conclusion that whatever the item was, it wasn't called a caraco, and that it didn't seem likely to be widely worn in America or Britain.

KittyCalash found two runaway notices mentioning Dutch women running away in "Dutch jackets".  (I really need to get one or two of the runaway notice books, or figure out some way to access American newspapers online without paying for a really expensive subscription.)  I can find other references to Dutch jackets that imply a couple of different garments:

- Several modern sources describe the 17th century coat often seen in Vermeer's works as a "Dutch jacket".  This probably isn't relevant at all.

Woman Holding a Balance, Johannes Vermeer, ca. 1664; National Gallery of Art 1942.9.97

- In a runaway notice from 1750, the Dutch jacket is sleeveless and worn by a Dutch man under a jacket as a waistcoat.

It seems quite possible to me that the "caraco" was called a Dutch jacket in America, and tended to be worn only or mainly by Dutch immigrants.  Perhaps there were specific male and female versions?  I'm not going to insist on the term in any academic context, probably, but in general this seems like a much better turn to use instead of caraco.

ETA: As Sharon Burnston pointed out on Kitty's post, though, it must be remembered that "Dutch" also meant "German" at the time.


  1. You can search the Virginia slave runaway ads here: http://www2.uvawise.edu/runaways/, but it has limitations for costumers. I read Wenches, Wives and Servant Girls fairly often; every time I do, I find something new. Becky Fifield over at the Still Room Blog http://thestillroomblog.com/about/ has a great database of ads (not on her blog, but she has posted charts on the BARWRT page on Facebook and written an article, etc.). The trick is always geography & demographics--are the runaways in your particular area of interest? But they're a great place to start looking and thinking. Now, on to the Dutch museums and libraries!

    1. Thank you for the links! I really need to get one or two of those books. Dutch museums are also a very good idea. Not properly Dutch (though probably Dutch enough for eighteenth century Americans), but I do know of two quilted long jackets in the Danish National Museum - I have pictures on Pinterest, but they've changed the links since I added them and I'm not quite sure where on the site they are now.

  2. I can't remember where it is (grr!) but the Pennsylvania Gazette had some searchable online stuffs too, including runaway ads. If I find it again, I'll link it up! If you can find them, personal inventories are good, too--unfortunately all my resources for those are French, which introduces a whole other set of terminology issues. But again, if I run across any good online resources, I'll pop by with a link!

    Terminology is so tricky--I've noticed that the same thing can be called by different names depending on region or year, so it gets hard to decipher some runaway ads and "fashion commentaries" because I'm left thinking "did they mean X or Y when they said that?" Like the short gown debate, similar to the caraco debate--what, exactly, is meant by "short gown?" Is it literally a short gown, or is it the unfitted jacket that we call a short gown? I've never seen any resolution to this that really satisfied me, possibly because it could easily mean either one, depending on circumstance! But it's also really fun to dig into :) If you're a nerd :)

    1. Thanks, if you can! I'm thinking it must be a term really only used in America, because normally Google Books is excellent with British newspapers and magazines.

      I haven't really looked at runaway ads in general before, and now I'm wondering how many other thing I've missed! Need to get one of those books ... I should also look at period references to short gowns, I haven't done much there either, probably for the same reason - I'm really only equipped (with GBooks and museum fashion plates) to look into more high fashion.


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