Grandmother's dancing dress

In Attire

This is my grandma’s dress. She wore it in the 1950s when she first emigrated to the United States. Grandma grew up in southern Ireland, in Skibbereen, in a farming family of seven girls and one boy. The son inherited the farm and after the war, there weren’t many opportunities for women. So my grandmother and a sister left, first to London where my grandma went to secretarial school and took nighttime ballroom dance lessons, and then to the states when another sister sent word that she was getting married to an American in Virginia. My grandmother and her sister booked tickets on a ship to New York, and then traveled to Virginia. By the time they got to her sister’s place though, the wedding had already happened! From there, my grandmother and her sister decided to join yet another sister who was making a life for herself in San Diego. It was there that my grandma started working as a ballroom dance teacher. It was a good job, with all the marines stationed in San Diego at the time, and she ended up marrying one of them—her most stubborn student—my grandfather. She bought this ballroom dress to wear in competitions and demos, and took it with her to Boston when she and her new husband moved there. I wore this dress to my high school prom—there definitely wasn’t another one like it. 

Place(s): Ireland, San Diego, Boston
Year: 1952

– Virginia Marshall

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant