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Something Old, Something New: Nellie Grant

Something Old, Something New: Eight First Daughters’ Fashionable White House Weddings highlights the glamorous weddings of eight women who took their vows at the White House over two centuries and how their bridal fashion reflects both the taste of each era and their own personal styles. This exhibit was curated by Jillian Staricka, the 2023 Digital Exhibits Intern and MA student in Costume Studies at New York University.

Nellie Grant

Married to Algernon Sartoris on May 21, 1874

This table details the known items of Nellie Grant’s wedding ensemble. A wedding ensemble is comprised of all the garments and accessories worn by a bride on their wedding day. The wedding ensemble is part of the trousseau, a collection of garments, accessories, and personal items that a bride will take into their new marriage.

Ellen “Nellie” Wrenshall Grant married English singer Algernon Sartoris, son of a politician, on the morning of May 21, 1874, to the great delight of the nation. As the only daughter of President Ulysses S. Grant and Julia Dent Grant, Americans clamored for information and stories about her grand wedding—and the press delivered. The Daily Graphic, an illustrated New York City newspaper, published the events of the wedding day, the attire of the attendees, items from her trousseau, the bridal party, and Nellie’s wedding ensemble in exquisite detail. In comparison to the prior weddings of first daughters, Nellie’s wedding was splashed across the front pages of newspapers around the country. Her wedding dress was made of the finest satin and Brussels point lace and trimmed with all the flounces, ruffles, and embroidery, supposedly made with “no limit on price.” Her wedding reflected her charming young spirit and thus, “here and abroad her example has been one worthy of imitation by the daughters of the nation.”