A robe belonging to John Wilkes Booth?

>A friend of mine saw these pictures on a Lincoln assassination forum. This piece of clothing is supposed to have belonged to the one and only John Wilkes Booth. It is part of a private collection and the owner believes it was a dressing gown, or as we call it today, a bath robe.

For argument’s sake, let’s say this is in fact a piece of clothing owned and worn by Booth. One thing stood out to me right away but I didn’t know enough about men’s clothing to say so with confidence. That is I have never seen a man’s dressing gown from the nineteenth century with a hood on it. I have never seen a woman’s dressing gown from the nineteenth century with a hood on it either and women’s clothing from that period is something I have researched extensively. I have seen women’s cloaks with hoods on them, but not men’s capes, and they were not cut in this manner.

In short, I have never seen a dressing gown like this. I have never seen a coat or cloak like this either.

So what is it? Was Booth taking fashion risks or was there something more to it?

I posted one of these pictures on my Facebook out of curiosity and someone made the comment that this piece of clothing looks like a robe worn by the early Ku Klux Klan. I inquired further and was reminded that there has existed a theory for a long time that Booth was the Washington area leader of the Knights of the Golden Circle. According to what I was told, this later morphed into the Klan. The theory has been made that if this piece of clothing did indeed belong to Booth, it was probably a ceremonial robe, and not a dressing gown.

What do you think?

3 responses to “A robe belonging to John Wilkes Booth?”

  1. Jenny says:

    Have a bit more info regarding the JWB robe. Someone indicated that the robe would have been worn before and after performances since the dressing rooms of that era were drafty and lacked heat. It would have apparently been a very large robe for someone the size of JWB and would have been worn over a costume. Still, I don't know about the hood…

  2. Thomas Wolke says:

    >Apparently, JWB's dressing gown is in a drawer at Gettysburg. Is this the same one? Scroll down at

  3. popup82 says:

    >I don't know much about this stuff, but it seems a little too ornate to just be a "robe". I like the ceremonial theory. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

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