Manufactured by
Cox Sons & Vining, Inc., American, founded 1837
Owned by
Hurston, Zora Neale, American, 1891 - 1960
Worn by
Cohen, Lucy Kramer, American, 1907 - 2007
Subject of
Barnard College, American, founded 1889
fiber with metal
H x W (Gown): 45 1/4 × 18 3/16 in. (115 × 46.2 cm)
Chest (Gown Internal): 47 1/16 in. (119.5 cm)
This commencement gown originally belonged to writer and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. Hurston was a member of Barnard College's graduating class of 1928. Her degree was conferred on February 29, 1928; however, Hurston did not participate in the commencement ceremony. Having completed her coursework and obtained funding, she sold the cap and gown before leaving New York to conduct anthropological research in Florida. Her fellow anthropology classmate Lucy Kramer purchased the regalia from Hurston and wore the gown during commencement. Kramer had to alter the hem so that the gown could fit her four foot, ten inch frame, but Hurston's monogram remains intact in the yoke of the gown.
A commencement gown purchased by Zora Neale Hurston, for the 1928 Barnard College commencement ceremony. The gown is long and black with wide, long, pointed sleeves. The robes have a rounded collar and opens at the front into a “V.” Down the front hems are five (5) closures: four (4) hooks (1 missing) and (5) eyes. The front hems of the robes are embellished with a vertical folds of fabric. The sleeves are gathered at the shoulders and on either side of the chest. A black tag is stitched to the inside of the collar. It is embroidered with gold text reading "COX SONS AND VINING / 131-133 [loss] ST / NEW [loss]." Below the tag, pieces of fabric with the monogram letters "Z," "N," and "H" have been stitched in. There are two (2) cape ties attached to the interior of the robes at the shoulders. The back of the gown is heavily gathered at the seams of both sleeves and at the mid-back. Also on the back is a hood fastener constructed from a fabric covered button and a plied cord.
Place made
New York City, New York, United States, North and Central America
Place used
New York City, New York, United States, North and Central America
Harlem Renaissance (New Negro Movement)
Clothing and dress
Credit Line
Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, Gift of Zora Yaa Adams-Williams and The Family of Lucy Kramer Cohen (Barnard College, 1928)
Object number
Restrictions & Rights
No Known Copyright Restrictions
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