Collections Blog

Collections Blog

"Sid McMath is My Man!": Sarah Anne McMath's Campaign Dress

Old State House Museum - Thursday, February 18, 2016

Today marks the beginning of some new posts featuring items from the Museum's permanent collections. We look forward to sharing with you a few of our favorite artifacts, some of which we have not yet had the opportunity to share with the public. 

We are very excited to welcome a new artifact to our collection!

Originally from Slate Spring, Mississippi, Sarah Anne Phillips attended the Mississippi State College for Women until health problems prevented her from finishing. She met Sidney Sanders McMath in Washington, D.C. during World War II through mutual friends. The couple became married on October 6, 1944. When the war was over, the McMaths moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas.

When Sid McMath became governor in 1949, the McMaths became the initial First Family to occupy the home that is now known as the Governor’s Mansion. Anne McMath faced numerous challenges during her time as a First Lady. Not only did she have to manage the duties of being First Lady and preparing the new governor’s house for occupancy, she also had to raise a very young family-- the McMaths’ youngest son was born the same year Governor McMath took office!

Mrs. McMath wore the dress during Sid McMath's second gubernatorial campaign. The ensemble is made from a brown polished cotton and is decorated with several hand-painted areas. The dress label states that it was custom made by Clara in Mineral Wells, Texas.

A portrait of Governor McMath is featured on the left pocket of the dress, while smaller portraits of the McMaths' sons are on the right pocket. We also happened to find a white handkerchief printed with the words "Sid McMath is My Man" in blue lettering. The bottom of the dress has depictions of many important symbols relating to Governor McMath's time in office. The long road around the trim symbolizes Governor McMath's aggressive road building program that added more than 2,000 miles to the state highway system.



Due to bond indebtedness, the Depression, and material shortages caused by World War II, new road construction had not been authorized in nearly a decade. The bonds painted on the dress symbolize the revenue bonds, which were authorized by the voters, that made the road construction possible. Other symbols include the Arkansas State Capitol, an election ballot, and a white hat worn by Governor McMath on the campaign trail.