Thursday, November 14, 2013

1950's Aunt Jemima Face Apron Pattern

In 1955, ads for a series of mail order "Face" or "Girl" aprons appeared in Newspapers across the US. This "Mammy" or Aunt Jemima face apron was available through Laura Wheeler and Alice Brooks pattern companies. For twenty-five cents you could have this pattern delivered directly to your door.

1950's Aunt Jemima Apron Pattern

What strikes me as curious is that the same face apron was also issued but with a fair skinned "Girl" represented in the newspaper ad. 1955 was the year Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to vacate her seat in the front of the bus in Montgomery Alabama, which was the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement in America. Odd that these images, which are such blatant stereotypes, would be so available.

Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University

But the "Jim Crow Mammy" image had been in use since the 1800's as a commercial identity for selling a vast array of household goods from baking soda to coffee to dishes and linens. It was in the late 1940's when Quaker Oats enlisted their third Aunt Jemima, an image that would become a American Icon. The more recent figure of Aunt Jemima is a much altered figure from the earlier version and certainly less racist.

We may consider the images of the "Dutch Girl" less racist but still represents a stereotype image.  So how about downloading this simple "Santa Face" Apron Pattern to celebrate the holidays.

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