The Colored Apron

I chose the colored apron that was given to Mary Collins on January 30th 1796. A different colored apron also appeared in the Staplehurst Kent Inventory taken in October of 1806. When displaying this object in the context of a museum, it would be interesting to identify that the colored apron belonged to an individual pauper, as that evokes a sense of connection with individuals within the workhouse, allowing for more compassion and empathy. Including an interactive element where visitors would get to dress up in pauper’s uniforms would help visitors understand the feeling of wearing the clothes and having their choices limited. Then, allowing one of the visitors a colored apron, saying they had been “well-behaved”, demonstrates how the parish functioned to promote hard-work and good manners. The colored apron then demonstrates how parishes functioned as total institutions, restricting individuality, while also demonstrating how parishes did serve to aid the poor and allow them not only basic necessities but also occasional frivolities.

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