Enolliah Williams, 77, prepared costumes for historical society


Enolliah Williams, who prepared the Maryland Historical Society's costumes and textiles for shows, died Wednesday at her West Baltimore home of cancer. She was 77.

Mrs. Williams began working at the museum in the early 1950s in the maintenance department, and in 1959 was named a gallery assistant, the position she held when she retired in 1985.

She continued to volunteer at the society until 1992.

"She always loved what she did," said a niece, Ruby Bond of Baltimore. "She used to always bring me down there to look and see what she did. She was very good."

Mrs. Williams was charged with the care of the more than 50,000 items in the society's textile collection. She also dressed JTC mannequins for shows, spending hours ensuring that each was adorned correctly.

"She was meticulous in the fullest sense," said Gregory Weidman, the society's assistant director of special projects and its former curator. "She was crucial to the care and preservation of a nationally recognized costume and textile collection."

Mrs. Williams had a flair for costume display, Ms. Weidman said.

"As far as I know, it was all instinctive and she never took lessons on how to do it," she said.

Mrs. Williams took great care in preserving the costumes, storing each garment in acid-free boxes, cleaning them by hand and personally steaming and pressing them before an exhibit.

Stiles Colwill, the society's director from 1972 to 1988, said Mrs. Williams often worked six days a week to make sure costumes and exhibits were ready for shows.

"For many years she was the heart and soul of the textile collection," Mr. Colwill said. "That's for sure. She enjoyed the historical aspect and who wore them."

The costumes she cared for included those worn by Betsy Patterson Bonaparte in 1810 and the 1940s dresses worn by the Duchess of Windsor.

A native of Peachland, N.C., the former Enolliah Brown moved to Maryland in the 1930s. Since the early 1950s, she had lived in a two-story rowhouse in the 2500 block of W. Fairmount Ave.

She married James Williams in 1970; he died in 1973. The couple had no children.

Mrs. Williams was a 40-year member of Faith Baptist Church, 833 N. Bond St., where services will be held at noon today.

She is survived by four sisters, Mary Sturdivant of Wingate, N.C., and Olla Brown, Edna Ward and Lurray Utsey, all of Baltimore.

Pub Date: 10/01/96

Copyright © 2021, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad