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Purse exhibit examines handbags through history

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For function, fashion or both, purses have been a part of women's culture for decades.

"The Purse and the Person: A Century of Women's Purses" is showing through Sept. 30 at the Edmond Historical Society & Museum. The exhibit, comprised of 170 bags and more than 300 artifacts of collector Anita Davis' original 3,000-purse collection, aims to tell the story of women's history through their handbags.

"People enjoy seeing how women's lives have changed through those decades," said Iris Muno Jordan, interim director.

Starting with the flappers of the Twenties and finishing with the "superwomen" of the Nineties, the exhibit explores:
" shoulder bags,
" wristlets,
" clutches,
" coin purses and
" their sometimes-surprising contents.

"It's the artifacts that helped pull the purses and the women and the story they're trying to tell together," Jordan said.

JUNK?
Although the purses of the early 20th century are a far cry from the fashion accessories of today, some things remain the same.

"We still all carry makeup, we still all carry cigarettes, and things like that, but some of the things have gone by the wayside," Jordan said. "As you get into the more modern purses, you see more purse debris "? just junk that you find in the bottom of your purse."

Visitors of the exhibit can fill out surveys describing their "pursenalities," recording their purse's:
" weight,
" style and
" strangest content.

Answers to the latter have included:
" screwdrivers,
" salsa bowls,
" dirty diapers,
" crayons and
" a hermit crab.

"?Lauren Hopkins

For the full story, pick up a copy of Oklahoma Gazette.

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