Sunday, March 10, 2013


Today I was looking through one of my many drawers of ancestral goodies and found this button from the Canastota, New York Sesquicentennial in 1960:

I was pretty young back then but I remember women in long dresses, wooden nickels and much excitement. Apparently, my mother obtained her Swish button during the festivities.

What, I wondered, is a Sister of the Swish? After a little research, I discovered that Sisters of the Swish are part the sesquicentennial and centennial events in towns across this country. Women wear outfits reminiscent of the time when the town was founded. The male counterpart is the Brothers of the Brush. Men are encouraged to stop shaving.  Fines are given if people fail to get in the spirit. There are parades and awards for best costumes.

To learn more about the Sister of the Swish tradition, see “Historical Pageants as a Genealogical Tool” by Judy Rosella Edwards (
Also see “Early, Iowa Quasquicentennial 2007, Brothers of the Brush, Sisters of the Swish” (

If you go to Google Images and type in “Sister of the Swish” or “Brothers of the Brush,” you will find numerous examples of buttons and memorabilia.


Dover Publications, Inc., Mineola, New York, Electronic Clip Art, 150 Silhouette Designs, 2006.


  1. Sounds like dental hygiene!
    -Jody Lutter, former dental assistant

  2. You are a woman of many talents! Lawyer, nurse, dental assistant, genealogist... Are you sure there aren't two of you?