One of my favorite photo streams on Flikr is the State Library and Archives of Florida. To mark Women’s History Month, they have been posting photos of important Florida women. This one shows Dorothy Dodd, the state’s first archivist, being honored by the governor. “Much of the Florida State Archives’ collections were first gathered and preserved through Dodd’s efforts,” the photo caption reads. Born in 1902, she was about 78 in this photo.
What is an archivist, you might ask. That person’s job is to locate, collect, preserve, and make available rare documents, photos, and objects that make up the raw materials for historical research. If you have even been to a flea market, you know how many items are discarded by families and businesses, perhaps even ending up in the trash. It is an archivist’s job to find precious records and preserve them for future generations. Read about Dodd’s invaluable contributions to her state’ history here.
I thought it was fitting that Dorothy Dodd was dressed in what we might an archival collection of clothing for this special event in 1980. None of her pieces appears to be from the present, nor does it look like an outfit that came from a particular moment in time. The skirt is very long, maybe from the thirties? The jacket does not have the big shoulder pads of the 1980s and is much longer than women’s jackets worn in the 1940s and 1950s. It almost looks like a man’s jacket, but it fits her well in shoulders.
In her wonderful book on fashion, The Language of Clothes, Alison Lurie reminds us that “elderly persons are easily subject to chills.” Perhaps this was the governing principle behind Dodd’s clothing selection—she wore dressy clothes that would mark the event but also keep her warm.