MICHIGAN HISTORY: Jackson, the Country’s Corset Mecca!
When the city of Jackson, Michigan is mentioned, what's the first thing you think of?
Why, corsets of course.
You know, girdles.
Okay, so you might not immediately think of corsets, so I'll help you along.
Corsets of the 1800's were made from whalebone or steel, and was meant to
squee-e-eeze a woman's waist to extreme measures in order to fit into those thin-waisted dresses of the era that women were anxious to wear. They had to be fashionable, right?
In the 1800's, Jackson was a corset mecca. A local company named Bortree invented a duplex corset in 1875 that gave Jackson a huge push into the business of making women look slimmer, or to some, more fashionable.
At its girdle apex, Jackson had sixteen corset companies, most of them lining up and down Cortland and Pearl streets.
The Bortree Corset Company, founded in 1868, was located at 112 W. Cortland and was the first American corset manufacturer located outside of New York City.
The Coronet Corset 'Manufactory' opened in 1880 at 146 W. Main Street, re-locating to 131 W. Pearl Street.
The Jackson company that wound up being the largest corset manufacturer in the entire country was the Jackson Corset Company, founded in 1884 at 209 W. Cortland Street.
Other Jackson corset companies included:
American Lady Corset Company
I.M. Dach Company
Jackson Skirt & Novelty Company
Kellogg Corset Company
Reliance Corset Company
S.H. Camp Company
Standard Manufacturing Company
The few that remained began manufacturing and selling therapeutic wear.