Veiled: The History and Significance of a Family Heirloom

Abstract Title of Project: Veiled: The History and Significance of a Family Heirloom Susan W. Mitchell M.A., American Studies; May 2022 The Pennsylvania State University, Harrisburg, Anne Verplanck, Ph.D., First Reader

Cultural shifts in the United States over the last six decades in areas such as gender identity and sexuality, religious observance, and other normative structures, have influenced how brides incorporate tradition in their modern ceremonies. This research interrogated the processes of tradition and variation in the material culture of weddings across three generations of one American family. This project provided insight about the importance of communication and enculturation of familial tradition between generations. I explored how the feminist movement and the evolution of women’s sexuality impacted wedding rituals in the United States since the mid-twentieth century. I also examined how the ritual use of the Catto veil and associated life lessons have been transmitted between three generations. Connections were made between the evolving roles of women in American society, and the many elements that have influenced the institution of marriage.

This research project focuses on three generations of women from my family over a sixty-five-year period, from 1955 to 2022, who have all worn, or are planning to wear the same heirloom wedding veil. The stories shared by interviewed family brides illustrated how older generational influence continues to permeate through the family. Shared discourse illuminated how social and political influences such as the feminist movement, accessible birth control, the corporate bridal industry, and emerging views of women’s sexuality have all had an impact on what traditions are continued or discarded. Because I am a family member and also a Catto veil wearer, I have insider information with the object, as well as relationships with many of the fellow informants. Oral interviews, photographs and memorabilia, as well as the Catto veil itself, served as primary sources for this research. This research strived to uncover shifting values over the past sixty-five years in how American women present themselves and their priorities, and it also pointed to lingering commonalities. This research elucidated the pivotal role that future Catto veil wearers in our family will negotiate in balancing competing ideologies of (potentially passé) tradition with modern, often feminist values.

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Work Title Veiled: The History and Significance of a Family Heirloom
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Open Access
Creators
  1. Susan Mitchell
License No Copyright - U.S.
Work Type Masters Thesis
Acknowledgments
  1. I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Anne Verplanck, Dr. Mary Zaborskis, and Dr. Jeffrey Tolbert who guided me through this project. I wish to acknowledge the support and expertise provided by Rob Mitchell, Margaret Mitchell, and Linda Monson. Lastly, I want to acknowledge my wonderful informants who made this project possible: Evelyn, Anne, Meg, Allison, Ellen, Margaret, and Clara.
Publication Date April 24, 2022
Deposited April 25, 2022

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Version 1
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    Acknowledgments
    • I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Anne Verplanck, Dr. Mary Zaborskis, and Dr. Jeffrey Tolbert who guided me through this project. I wish to acknowledge the support and expertise provided by Robert Mitchell, Linda Monson and Dr. Michael Williams. Lastly, I want to acknowledge my wonderful informants who made this project possible: Evelyn Contois, Anne Souvignier, Meg Cone, Allison Miller, Ellen Smithback, Margaret Mitchell, and Clara Souvignier.
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    Publication Date
    • 2022, May
    • 2022-04-24
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Version 2
published

  • Created
  • Updated Acknowledgments Show Changes
    Acknowledgments
    • I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Anne Verplanck, Dr. Mary Zaborskis, and Dr. Jeffrey Tolbert who guided me through this project. I wish to acknowledge the support and expertise provided by Robert Mitchell, Linda Monson and Dr. Michael Williams. Lastly, I want to acknowledge my wonderful informants who made this project possible: Evelyn Contois, Anne Souvignier, Meg Cone, Allison Miller, Ellen Smithback, Margaret Mitchell, and Clara Souvignier.
    • I would like to express my gratitude to Dr. Anne Verplanck, Dr. Mary Zaborskis, and Dr. Jeffrey Tolbert who guided me through this project. I wish to acknowledge the support and expertise provided by Rob Mitchell, Margaret Mitchell, and Linda Monson. Lastly, I want to acknowledge my wonderful informants who made this project possible: Evelyn, Anne, Meg, Allison, Ellen, Margaret, and Clara.
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