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WWII Wedding Dress Rediscovered


A wedding dress can be one of the most memorable parts of a wedding for the bride.

This dress was worn for a wedding at the end of World War II by a local UVA grad, and their two sons visited the dress at UVA today.

It's been in the health sciences library at UVA for years and it’s one of their most popular artifacts. No one knows how the dress got there, and there seems to be a lot of questions surrounding the dress. The family member visit was able to clear up some forgotten history.

The marriage happened near Verona, Italy as World War II came to a close in 1945. Lt Hilda Franklin and Captain Richard Bell both graduated from UVA and worked in the 8th Evacuation hospital. Many weddings featured the bride and groom in suits. Hilda was glad to wear a 'Real wedding dress'.

According to the sons, Hilda made it herself.

"Stitches, mom was a seamstress, she was a great seamstress," comments Frazier Bell, son of the bride.

The dress has been at the library for years, and they excited to get some more information

"I think this is fabulous, I'm pleased, because we always show it. It's one of our favorite, favorite artifacts," mentions Joan E Klein, curator for historical collections at UVA.

One of the biggest mysteries? How they didn't even know the dress was right under their noses this whole time!

“My brother Dick and I have lived here since we took our degrees from the university, a great place to stay so we've been here a long time," regards Frazier.

They learned about it a couple weeks ago from a random conversation between one of their cousins and his old high school teacher in Richmond. Now that they're here, they can help date the dress's arrival.

"We're thinking maybe 1990 is when our mother donated it, but we don't know, they don't know"

They were happy to lay eyes on their mothers wedding dress; something they thought was lost forever.

Many of us look back and wish we could've learned a little bit more about our family history.

During the war materials were pretty scarce, so the dress was actually made out of parachute material. Dick and Frazier brought with them many other photos and documents to donate to the library that belonged to their parents which had been taking up space in a drawer. They'll now be scanned in, documented, and shown for a very long time.


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