My Relative, Minna Schmidt

Happy International Women's Day, and Funeral Friday! I'm sharing a gravestone from a special woman in my life: my great great grandmother, Wilhelmine Friederike “Minna” Moscherosch Schmidt. Born on March 18, 1866 in Sindelfingen, Germany, emigrated to America at the age of 20, and passed away on December 08, 1961 in Chicago Illinois.

Minna Schmidt was an authority on the history of clothing. Her accomplishments include:

1. Costume Rental Business: She owned the largest costume rental business in Chicago during the early 20th century. Her shop provided costumes and wigs for various occasions, from amateur plays to pageants.

2. Minna established the Chicago Schmidt College of Scientific Costuming, a pioneering institution dedicated to researching and reconstructing historical costumes.

3. Lecturer at the University of Chicago: From 1930 to 1937, she lectured at the University of Chicago in the Department of Home Economics.

4. Author: Minna Schmidt authored several books, including “400 Outstanding Women of the World” and “Costumes of Their Time” (1933).

5. Early Feminist Views: She was considered an early feminist due to her belief in women’s role in supporting the structure of society.

6. Educational Pursuits: At the age of 58, Minna earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Kent School of Law and later her Master’s Degree in 1929.

7. Illustrating Women in Ethnic Apparel: For the 1933 World’s Fair, she created dolls representing 400 outstanding women in history, dressed in ethnic apparel. This collection was donated to Trinity College in Washington, DC.

Minna Schmidt’s dedication to costumology was her tribute to the motherhood and sisterhood of the world. She transformed her artistic passion into a thriving business, leaving a lasting impact on Chicago’s cultural landscape. Her journey from Germany to America, her creative endeavors, and her contributions to costume history make her a truly remarkable figure.

Photo by Don M from