Don’t miss my recent post– What is a Calico Ball?

Calico Balls: Fashionable!

Calico Balls in America’s 19th Century Newspapers

The dresses from Mrs. COMAN’S Calico Ball had not, yesterday, arrived at the House of Industry, but will probably be “on hand” to-day. The arrival of the dresses is looked for with much interest by many “anxious expectants.”

~ The New York Times of New York, New York on January 18, 1855

Calico Ball in St. Louis. The Louisville Daily Courier of Louisville, Kentucky on January 25, 1855.

The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, Louisiana on January 28, 1855.

NOTE: Notice the inclusion of male attire (700 garments!): coats, vests, pants &c. of the finest quality. So it’s no big surprise that Dr. Henry Merritt, DDS, would wear calico to the ball

CALICO BALL AT BEERSHEBA.–The guests at Beersheba are preparing to have a lively time on next Tuesday night, the 31st. On that evening a grand “fancy calico ball” will come off, oromising infinite sport and entertainment to all who may be present. The pretty girls will appear prettier in their neat, plain attire, and the ugly ones–but no, there are no ugly girls at Beersheba and we hav’nt heard of any who are going. We tuppose the ladies will discard hoops and crinoline, and their beaux will have an opportunity of judging what sort of dairy maids they would make. We suppose no one who is able to get there will stay away, and we understand that the gentlemanly proprietor, Mr. SCOTT, has provided accommodations for all the world and the rest of man and womankind. [sic]


~ (transcribed with care, including all spelling and punctuation) Nashville Union and American of Nashville, Tennessee on August 24, 1858.

The Assembly Ball Club of Frankfort Announce a Grand Fancy Calico Ball for Wednesday, Feb. 1, 1860. At the CAPITOL HOTEL, Frankfort. E.H. Taylor, President. John Mason Brown, Secretary. Published in The Louisville Daily Courier of Louisville, Kentucky on January 30, 1860.

Calico Ball in the West, to appear as washday-ish as possible. The Emporia Weekly News of Emporia, Kansas on February 4, 1860.

“A Universally Popular Affair” – Dresses to be left in the dressing room after the event. Published in National Republican of Washington, District of Columbia on January 23, 1861.

The Calico ball at Odd Fellows’ Hall, announced in The Leavenworth Times of Leavenworth, Kansas on March 26, 1869.

GRAND CALICO BALL.–Palmer & Darr give a ball at McDonald Hall on Friday evening next, the proceeds of which, after paying expenses, will be distributed among the needy and poor of this city, by Capt. Dan Young, of the police force. The members of the Band attached to the Wilder House render their services on this occasion gratuitously.


Tickets only $1.00 for the above worthy object, to be had at the Wilder House.


~ Fort Scott Daily Monitor of Fort Scott, Kansas on January 5, 1870.

The calico ball of the Young Men’s Club, reported in The Leavenworth Times of Leavenworth, Kansas on November 11, 1870.

The New North-West of Deer Lodge, Montana on January 20, 1871.

Lawrence Daily Journal of Lawrence, Kansas on January 20, 1872.

The Calico Ball, given by the Social Club. Wyandotte Gazette of Kansas City, Kansas, on January 2, 1874.

Grand Calico Ball and Strawberry Festival. Nevada State Journal of Reno, Nevada, on May 29, 1874.

Thanksgiving Calico Ball! Santa Cruz Weekly Sentinel of Santa Cruz, California on November 20, 1875.

Leap-Year Calico Ball. Reading Times of Reading, Pennsylvania on February 29, 1876.

Good Templars’ Calico Ball announced in Rocky Mountain Husbandman of Diamond, Montana on November 9, 1876.

The Calico Ball.


Night before last the calico ball come off under the auspices of the old Las Vegas Social Club. The entertainment was one of the most successful events of the season. The ladies all wore calico dresses and made an exceedingly neat appearance. The young gentlemen wore calico neckties or a strip of calico tied in a bow around the left arm. The best society of Vegas was present. The attendance was not so large as at some former occasions but enough were present to have a good time. T.A. Jones prepared the repast and it was served at his restaurant on the plaza. The dance lasted till about 2 o’clock in the morning when it broke up and all returned to their homes well pleased with their evenings entertainment. This as well as the Leap Year party was something novel and was consequently much m ore enjoyable than the usual routine dances. That’s right always get up something new and it will always be appreciated. The following named ladies were in attendance:


Mesdames, Marvin, W.H. Shupp, W.A. Givens, John Speers, Overhuls, M. Hise, Kohn, Scott Moore, Clancy, John Mills. Misses Idy Wiley, Julia McKay, Fannie Rosenthal, Carrie Stoops, Miss Carpenter, Jessie Hubbell, Belle Kohn, Fannie Herbert.


~ Daily Gazette of Las Vegas, New Mexico on March 7, 1880

(transcribed from a digital scan of the newspaper article. Whether of poor quality to begin with, or the ink lost with age, the scan is difficult to read, so I provided a carefully transcribed, word-for-word, with care taken to preserve historic punctuation, spelling, formatting, and the like.

Coming next

Hidden Benefits of a Calico Ball

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