Three Cheers (& 30 Years) for Liz Pierce!

by Anne Motto, F.M. Kirby Curator of Collections
March 26, 2024

Dolls from Liz’s collection in the 1994 MCHS exhibit.
A personal favorite of hers and mine from her 2005 donation to MCHS.

Virtually every single dress, shoe, hat, accessory, or object donated to MCHS in the past 30 years has been catalogued by a single volunteer – and she probably still remembers it. Liz Pierce, an avid vintage doll collector, first came to Acorn Hall in March 1994 to assist with a doll exhibit and never left. A fixture of the organization through generations of staff, she has steadfastly put her prodigious memory and knowledge of historic clothing to use identifying, describing, and numbering thousands upon thousands of collections items.

When developing an exhibit, the by-far easiest, fastest way to learn all there is to know about a collections item is to simply ask “Liz, tell me about this.” Without hesitation, she can reliably rattle off when it was last displayed, its provenance, its date, and a whole host of ancillary details. Through a lifetime’s worth of experience, she has also seen and remembered how the construction of garments change over time, what materials were common when, and when particular design elements were in vogue. Like many before me, half of what I have learned of historic fashion during my time at MCHS comes from the font of knowledge that is Liz.

In addition to her enormous contribution of her time and talents, she has also over the years donated some of MCHS’s finest 19th-century dresses from her personal collection. For our recent exhibit From the Waist Up alone, eight different bodices from Liz spanning from the 1840s to the early 20th century were displayed. She also gave to MCHS gorgeous accessories, purses, and bathing suits. More exhibits than not include a donation of hers.

Bodices from Liz in From the Waist Up.

All of us at MCHS hope to leave our mark on the organization having contributed in some significant way to its mission and future. Few, however, will leave a mark like Liz, who has given so much and seen so much. Her handwriting is familiar to all who work with MCHS collections, and will be for years and years to come, as almost every object bears a tag she has written and almost every catalog sheet since that fateful day in March 1994 bears the signature “Elizabeth Pierce.”