A Salem Witch Museum visitor named Mike was wondering about an article of clothing displayed in our textile case. “It looks like a pillow used during air travel,” offered one cheeky staff member. Though it does appear to be something worn around the neck, think…lower.
According to Nancy Cooke, the seamstress expert in historic textiles who created the piece, it’s called a “bum roll.” It was a stiffened roll of material tied under a woman’s skirt at the waist as an extension of the corset. By the standards of colonial fashion this garment served to exaggerate the backside giving the waist a slimmer silhouette.