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100 years ago in Spokane: Home for unwed mothers attacks immodest dress, including ‘daring low-necks’

The board of the Florence Crittenden Home (for unwed mothers) were advocating a campaign against “immodest dress,” the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Sept. 28, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)
The board of the Florence Crittenden Home (for unwed mothers) were advocating a campaign against “immodest dress,” the Spokane Daily Chronicle reported on Sept. 28, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)

The board of the Florence Crittenden Home (for unwed mothers) went on the attack against “immodest dress.”

They were advocating a campaign against the “peekaboo waist, the daring low-necks, skirts that stop high above high shoe tops and the clinging-vine variety of attire.”

Some were advocating legislation against such shocking attire, as had been attempted in other states. Others said that “legislation will not do it; the verdict rests with women individually.”

This outcry was spawned by a report by Mrs. Grace B. Kendall, the “special park matron,” who had been hired by the city to patrol the parks and discourage park-bench courting.

Mrs. Kendall said that immodest attire was “working civic and social evils that are little understood” and “are undermining families, creating social unrest and generally harming the morals of the nation.”

She said that “our young men would live in a realm of purer thought if the women of this city and of the country would attire themselves in more becoming dress.”

From the drug beat: Meanwhile, several “pretty, fashionably dressed young women” found themselves in court, admitting that they were “morphine fiends.”

They testified against a “pioneer druggist,” who was on trial for selling morphine without a prescription. They said they had no trouble getting what they wanted from friendly doctors and druggists.


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