Dishong Collection
These gowns comprise the Presidential Archive's Dishong Collection, a collection of handmade replica gowns of the First Ladies.

In 1970, the Presidential Museum received a replica of former First Lady Mrs. Lyndon Johnson’s inaugural gown from its designer, John Moore of New York City. Dorothy Croft, then serving as chairman of the Museum’s board, envision creating a collection of miniature gowns of all the First Ladies; along with Mrs. Aubrey K. Evans, she made an initial donation to establish the project. Thereafter, Goldie Dishong, who was well known for her needlework, and her husband Gayle Dishong, a lifelong community leader, generously continued the project for twenty-one years.

Almost all of the construction and decoration of the First Ladies’ dresses and accessories was done by hand, although some hidden seams were machined-sewed for extra strength. Mrs. Dishong spent countless hours cutting, stitching, beading, fringing, embroidering, and fashioning in numerous ways so that each piece would be as authentic as possible.

Talking about the creation of the First Lady Dolls, Mrs. Dishong remembered:

“Through my interest in collecting and dressing antique dolls, I was familiar with the Mark Farmer company in Point Richmond, California, which had First Lady Dolls in its line. Having a reliable source of dolls, I agreed to tackle the project.

“Each doll is a basic Dresden, 15 inches tall with a classic face. The dolls appear to be individual because the wigs are styled according to the fashion of the First Lady, and each doll’s eye color is accurate.

“A basic pattern accompanied the dolls, but the dresses were a challenge requiring much thought and research. Although Mark Farmer specified fabrics and trims, no other instructions were provided. The pattern pieces were not even marked.

“Mark Farmer relied for authenticity on the famous collection of First Lady gowns at the Smithsonian Institution; I received slides that I had made into pictures. I used other books to study detail.

“Nothing was too good for my dolls. I put everything into each one, and each was a pleasure to create. I hope visitors to the Museum will experience some of the beauty and splendor of our First Ladies.”
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