Preserving History

Rath-Wald, Carmen. "Preserving History." Napoleon Homestead, 28 November 2017, 2.

On February 12, 2018, some of the Dakota Kids 4-H’ers and a few of the Logan County Historical Society members participated in a padded hanger workshop by Jenny Yearous, Curator of Collections Management at the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Chris Hansen, Jean Hansen, Betty Sperle & Gladys Marquart cutting and wrapping batting and fabric.
Viola Wolf stitching a hanger.
Jazlyn Weigel with Jenny Yearous, Sabrina Haas & Anthony Horner
Anthony Horner, Karissa Mann & Teagan Erberle
Sabrina Haas

The padded hangers will be used at the Logan County Historical Museum to hang vintage clothing and uniforms. Metal hangers were covered with batting and muslin so the vintage material could be protected from rust and helps them from stretching at the shoulders. Big thanks to all involved with this worthy service project!

When working with vintage materials there are precautions that need to be taken in order to preserve the integrity of the garment. Here are some additional tips:

  • Take care in handling delicate fabrics. Make sure to wash your hands often as to not transfer grease, make-up or food stains from your hands to the clothing.
  • If possible, take off all jewelry that could catch or snag the cloth. This can cause unnecessary wear or holes that may become not repairable.
  • Hats can be stuffed with acid-free paper, and stored in trunks or boxes. Hats hold up quite well and using acid free paper to stuff and loosely wrap will keep them nice for another 100 years. Store in a cool, dry place. Alternatively, displaying them in an area where the sun will not hit them is also acceptable.
  • Never store vintage clothing in plastic bags–clothing needs to breathe. Old pillowcase/sheets work to cover your pieces.
  • Never use wire hangers–they will stretch your clothes and can rust, leading to discoloration. Instead, pad out wire or wooden hangers for your vintage pieces.
  • Fold heavy pieces such as beaded gowns and sweaters. Pad out the folds with acid-free tissue or cloth crumpled into “sausages” to keep the folds from making permanent creases. Try not to stack heavy folded items as this will cause unnecessary wrinkles and fold marks if stored for a long period of time. Light items can be stacked with a piece of tissue or cloth between the items.
  • Make sure your clothing is in a climate-controlled environment – dampness can cause mold and mildew and heat can cause discoloration. Both can attract unwanted pests and critters.
  • Keep fabrics away from light. Light will cause discoloration and fading over time.

On Saturday, March 3, the Napoleon Park Board is sponsoring a luncheon at the White Maid along with a vintage apron fashion show. The aprons are the collection of the Tri-County Tourism Alliance and an interesting note about those aprons is that Mary Ann Lehr, a Tri-County Tourism Alliance member from Lehr, carefully starched the aprons with cooked Argo Gloss Laundry Starch with a cube of Sateena wax added. Mary Ann’s mother was very meticulous with her laundry, usually using bluing for the whites and then carefully starching items with her cooked Argo starch.

For more information on preserving heirlooms, you may contact Jenny Yearous at For questions about this column or something else, you may contact me at the NDSU Extension Service office in Logan County at 754-2504 or email: I would be glad to help!

Reprinted with permission of Napoleon Homestead.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller