Jennifer Van Horn: The Deceptive Caboodle

I remember with fondness, as do many of us who came of age in the 1990s, my neon pink and purple “caboodle.” For those of you unfamiliar with the form, it is a molded plastic container with a latched top that raises up to reveal a multitude of trays, containers, and mysteriously shaped indentations all intended to house cosmetics, hair products, and personal accessories. For my teenage self the caboodle was the ultimate symbol of femininity and the mysterious physical manipulations of skin and hair that being an adult woman required. My caboodle is long since gone, but I suspect its lingering memory shaped my interest in eighteenth-century cosmetics and the dressing furniture that housed them. Continue Reading Jennifer Van Horn: The Deceptive Caboodle

Jennifer Van Horn: Problematic Prostheses

We might imagine that the first time prosthetic legs grabbed the American public’s attention was during the Civil War. But in fact, the American Revolution was the first armed conflict when controversy swirled around men’s amputated limbs. The number of amputees rose dramatically in the conflict, since amputation was the primary medical procedure used to save soldiers whose bones had been shattered by cannon and musket balls. Wooden legs were the predominant form of artificial limb in the eighteenth century (the Americans’ wounded British foes also donned them). However, only one lower limb prosthesis is known to survive from early America. It belonged to American statesman Gouverneur Morris and is now in the collection of the New-York Historical Society. Continue Reading Jennifer Van Horn: Problematic Prostheses