The Washington Post

A Bedtime History to Tell

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In 18th-century America, mattresses were stuffed with straw, moss, feathers, dried corn husks or wheat chaff. Quick, name the softest. Feathers, of course. (Avoid the chaff; it feels like acorns.)

See for yourself at the modest-butcharmin­g free exhibit “And So to Bed: The American Bedroom, 17501920” at the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum, near the White House.

The showstoppe­r is a heavily draped replica of a Colonial fourposter bed with an original whiteand-indigo quilt. Other necessitie­s from the era on view are a longhandle­d bed warmer (fill the brass pan with hot coals before sliding it over cold sheets), a primitive curling iron, and men’s and women’s nightcloth­es and robes, from simple cottons to lavish silks.

While at the museum, don’t miss the original quilts, coverlets, china, silver and fully furnished bed chambers, dining rooms, library and nursery, all part of the DAR’s permanent collection.

Visit by Saturday, before the museum closes for a week, or between July 2 and Oct. 6. For more informatio­n, call 202-628-1776 or visit

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