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jeans

Discussion in 'Terms beginning with the letter: J' started by donna, Mar 22, 2012.

  1. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    jeans This famous American name meant any type of trousers during the Civil War. Levi Strauss, the first manufacturer of denim jeans, didn't begin producing them until several years after the war. The name "jene" was first used in England in the sixteenth century for a type of twilled cotton cloth.

    From The Language of the Civil War by John D. Wright page 162.
     

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  3. James B White

    James B White Captain Trivia Game Winner Honored Fallen Comrade

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    I'd disagree. It was used as the name of a kind of fabric during the war, not the name of a garment. There was a recent discussion on the fabric here.

    Is there any evidence that the word referred to trousers rather than fabric, when used alone? Or even that a phrase like "jean trousers" would refer to any kind of trousers except those made from jeans?
     
  4. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    That is why there is debate here. I wrote what Mr. Wright had.
     
  5. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    I found reference to "grey-blue Kentucky jean trousers" in the book, "American Civil War Armies: Volunteer militia". I believe the author is Philip Katchen. I will have to recheck. The book has a photo of soldier from Louisiana/ Orleans Battalion of artillery wearing the pants referred to as "grey-blue Kentucky jean trousers.

    Also from "Just a Few Words that they Used" at http://www.angelfire.com/me/reenact/terms.html
    "Jeans/ a twilled cotton cloth. Actually a "jean" can be any material. The definition depends on the weave (always a 2/1 twill) not the material. CW period jeans was most commonly wool on a cotton, a cotton wrap. "Jeans" meant clothing from "jean"..

    I saw other references to jeans being a trouser and that they referred to the pants worn by Confederate soldiers.

    This just a few instances where it would seem Mr. Wright got the connection of the word jean/trouser. I could be misunderstanding the terms.
     
  6. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    The authors on book with reference "grey-blue Kentucky jean trouser" are Philip Katcher and Ron Volstad.

    The word jean and Kentucky jean are mentioned in Glossary of Country Cloth/Char. R. Childs. It is at http://www.crchilds.com/Glossary 2011.html
    Look at definition of Jeans and definition of Other Issue (Mystery) Trousers.
     
  7. James B White

    James B White Captain Trivia Game Winner Honored Fallen Comrade

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    Exactly. Kentucky jeans was a typical cloth of the time, so the person would be referring to trousers made of Kentucky jeans, which were colored grey-blue, but he would only be referring to trousers made of that kind of fabric. He could just as easily have said someone was wearing a "grey-blue Kentucky jean coat."

    Edited to add: The Country Cloth/Chas. R. Childs website also contradicts Wright, and backs up what I'm saying, though he's writing informally, for reenactors. I'd be looking in places like the OED, or much better yet, searching primary sources, if I wanted to prove that jeans=trousers, but it's not worth it to me, because I'm pretty comfortable with what I've seen over the years, and I'm not making the unusual claim that Wright is. For what it's worth, if one wants a modern guru to believe, one can't get any better than Charlie Childs when it comes to jeans, LOL! You may already be aware of this, but he was one of the pioneers in reproducing and encouraging jeancloth on Confederate reenactors.

    Unfortunately, the author wrote that in an unclear way, since "material" has two meanings, fiber, and fabric. The author means that jean can be of any type of fiber, such as silk, wool, linen, etc., since it refers to the weave, but as he/she states, the most common fabric called jeans in the period was a wool weft and cotton warp.

    Yes, it was typically used for Confederate uniforms, both coats and trousers, because it was cheap and sturdy.

    I think you are. Unless there are period examples of "jeans" being used alone to refer to "trousers," I think that Wright is just wrong in this case. That's why footnotes are so important, and their lack is so annoying. Since you provided a footnote in the first post, it's easy to track the information back to Wright, but I'm assuming Wright has no footnote on this to back up his claim, so the trail is lost, and at that point, I've noticed that people tend to split, based on whether they approach history as science or religion. If it's as religion, then he's an authoritative leader who should be taken on faith. If it's as science, then evidence is everything, and he has none to offer, for an unusual claim.
     
  8. 1st OVHA

    1st OVHA Private

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    Actually, jean cloth wasn't even pronounced jean it's pronounced jane. So it would be jane cloth. Here is the 1857 Webster dictionary with has it jean (with a line over the letter "a" to show it is pronounced long), it is a noun meaning "A twilled cotton cloth. -- Satin jean is woven smooth and glossy after the manner of satin." When one looks up jane it says "1. A coin of Genoa... 2. See jean."
    In this 1849 reference it refers to a number of businesses and the type of cloth that they deal in... "Ripley & Willard, Hinsdale... Satin Janes. Ripley, D.H. Hinsdale... Cassimere and Satin Janes."
    Or this reference 1842: when convicts are released from the Kentucky State Penitentiary they are to be given, "the sum of five dollars, one hat, one new janes coat and pantaloons, one waistcoat, two new shirts, one pair of socks and one pair of shoes...
    1861 "Garlandsville Aid Society... 145 pairs of pants, 100 pairs of drawers of the very best woolen goods, 100 shirts, 100 pairs of socks, 75 blankets, donated ten comforts, five coverlids, 100 towels, and ten comforters, and some articles of clothing donated but not sent in, 300 yards of janes made in the county, and just coming in and being made up into coats, 300 yards of domestic for lining besides buttons, thread and many small articles for the benefit of the soldiers, some leather for shoes."
    Of course it was also spelt the normal way jean, but this just shows how it was pronounced. The term more than likely did not became synonymous with pants till after the start of the 20th century.
     
  9. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Thanks to both of you. I guess I didn't understand the term right. Mr. Wright didn't have a footnote. He refers to books in his introduction but not to one in particular for the word jean.

    I am just putting terms, quotes and language of Civil War . I am not saying anyone is exactly right. I guess for some words best to leave out if don't have footnotes or several sources for backup.

    My question is how come no one else who has supplied words, place, people, quotes, etc. to this thread has provided references. I try by proving with book or some other sources. It would seem other terms that have been posted could be questionable. I can't believe I am the only one who is wrong at times or uses a bad source.. But do appreciate the corrections. Thanks.
     
  10. 1st OVHA

    1st OVHA Private

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    I guess to me, I'm just interested in words, and more particularly the words that I've responded to in these threads. I mean "doughboy," doesn't everybody know that it's a WWI term? :sneaky: So I did a little sleuthing and found it in the Brooklyn Eagle in 1861 referring to a detachment of infantry marching off, and in the Deseret News 1853. To me, I think that's cool. However, with two scant sources I'm still not ready to suggest that it's a term to start bandying about at reenactments without more documentation.

    On the political and military threads people have to back up what they say with documentation, particularly if they're going to suggest something odd or unusual. I remember once finding a source that said that Lincoln believed that all AA should be citizens, and have the right to vote, etc. It was a primary source! I was called out on it, and indeed the primary source was wrong. The NY Times went into excrutiating detail to show how it was wrong, they were right it was Salmon P. Chase the abolitionist who had made that comment, but in the 1860s they didn't know who was to blame. But it had already gotten into many papers including those in the south, and at least the governor of Virginia believed it true and added it to one of his speeches. So people get called out all the time even when they use primary sources. :D

    The problem is, you're taking someone else's research where the author doesn't include footnotes or references for a specific term and trusting him. I spend a lot of time with my nose in primary sources, so when I see something that looks out of place I have to wonder, and if the purpose is to find period correct terms I get to searching to find out more on my own.

    One of the terms in Bartlett's under biling is "Kit and bilin'... The phrase the whole (or more commonly hull) kit and bilin, means the whole lot, applied to persons or things." Word etymologies online are oftentimes no better. I just proved that kit and bilin' was around since at least 1859 when this edition of Bartlett's was published, yet this seems to only put it as far back as 1920, Sinclair Lewis, in 'Main Street.'

    It's really not difficult to do a google book search for a word. Just go to Google advanced book search Put in the exact phrase or word you're looking for. You can narrow down your search by date by going down to "Return content published between" and then add the start and end date (maybe something like 1850-1865), and then click search. It will show you all the hits in Google books within those dates; but beware, always go to the title page of a book, sometimes Google reads a date wrong and something that might look like it's 1860 may really be 1960. That's what I've been doing. :smile:
     
  11. James B White

    James B White Captain Trivia Game Winner Honored Fallen Comrade

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    I'd say that there's less discussion on the word threads, simply because there aren't as many people on this site interested in words, compared to politics or slavery, for example. People do expect politics or slavery to have rigorous sources, and call out those who don't provide it, but word-history discussion just doesn't get much traction. If the same things were posted on an etymology forum, I bet there would be more than enough debate on every word thread, while the slavery and political threads would probably just lie there.

    If you see something that doesn't seem right in another thread, why not post and ask about it?

    Typically, I find that historians are flattered when someone cares enough about what they post to take it seriously and ask for more; at least I would be. It's what I love about discussion forums. Nothing like debate to hone one's opinions and make one reexamine one's sources, and help get to the best available information about life during the Civil War, which is the overall goal, or at least, is my goal.

    If a person wants to always be right even after challenges, they'd better be darned sure they've checked all the angles before posting. If a person just wants to toss out something for discussion, without endorsing it strongly one way or the other, well, that's fun too, but of course it will lead to discussion.

    I got called out just last night on a word-origin thread for linking to a period book but not the specific page of the book--a computer issue apparently, since I thought the link went to the page. This thread, posts #3, 8 and 10. Didn't bother me at all to be called out on it, and I just provided better evidence. I also made clear I'd be willing to defend my claim that "hooker" was older than General Hooker, but not the specific etymology in the book I cited, which I have no other sources to back up. I dunno. I thought call for evidence, offering of evidence, debate, etc. was just how history worked. It seems to fit when I do it in the political and slavery threads here, but the word and foodways threads are different, and apparently I'm doing something wrong in them.
     
  12. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Thanks again to both of you for your comments. I do like looking into words and will search out more sources.

    My Dad use to collect dictionaries. When he passed away I got all of them. I need to get them out and see what I have. Some are old and some are newer. He loved words and their meaning.
     
  13. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    In looking up some other words and saying ran into this definition of Jeans. It is from http://www.angelfire.com/me/reenact/terms.html

    I am not saying it is right just another reference to word I have found by accident. It says "Jeans A twilled cotton cloth. Actually a "jean" can be any material. The definition depends on the weave (always a 2/1 twill), not the material. C.W. period jean was most commonly wool on cotton a cotton warp. "Jeans" meant clothing from "jeans". "
     
  14. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Levis! A whole different story of jeans, denims and brown canvas is told by the makers of classic Levis. True or not, they were indeed the pioneers in riveted clothing. Levi (Loeb) Strauss, a clothing manufacturer in San Francisco, saw a need among miners and lumbermen for clothing reinforced in various areas like the pockets. Davis, a tailor in Nevada, came up with a low cost riveting method and the distinctive Levi Strauss pants were born! (Good thing Mr Strauss changed his name to Levi - otherwise we'd be wearing Loebs!)
     
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  15. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Thanks diane. I have been to Levi's homepage and read their story. It is very interesting.

    I just been curious about the word "jean" since I read what Mr Wright wrote in his book "Language of the Civil War". It seems there are many definitions out there on the word in different time periods. That is what makes words so interesting. The more you think you know on what they mean, the more you run into other definitions or ideas by others.
     
  16. James B White

    James B White Captain Trivia Game Winner Honored Fallen Comrade

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  17. diane

    diane Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    I worked for them at one time when I was in the Bay Area - great company at that time. Unbelievable perks including a gym and a restaurant that was full of fantastic food at fantastically low prices - and they even gave a 'mental health' day off once a month. If you got so upset with your co-workers you couldn't stand another day with them - you could just take off one, paid, no questions asked! They also had a really interesting company museum - lots of information on obscure things about levis.
     
  18. donna

    donna Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host

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    Sorry Mr. White. See you were there already.

    I was just at that site for other words and should have checked all the previous post here in more detail.. My error.

    When we lived in Bay area many years ago, wish I had gone to the Levi Museum. There are so many great museums in San Francisco and the area around. I was really glad we got out to Alcatraz. The Museum of Natural History and Art Museum were great too. Just barely scratched the surface .
     

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