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Elizabeth E. Parke1,2,3

b. 17 November 1897 or 17 November 1902, d. 18 October 1990

Family Harvey Samuel Firestone Jr. b. 20 April 1898, d. 1 June 1973
Marriage* 1921  Principal=Harvey Samuel Firestone Jr.1,2 
Children  1. Elizabeth Chambers Firestone b. 1922, d. 18 Oct 1989
  2. Martha Parks Firestone b. 16 Sep 1925
  3. Anna Idabelle Firestone b. a 1930
  4. Harvey Samuel Firestone III b. Feb 1930, d. 5 May 1960

Birth* 17 November 1897 or 17 November 1902  IN, Even though the SSDI gives the date as 17 Nov 1902, the 1930 census and newspaper clippings indiavte she died in 1990 at age 93 making her birth date most likely 17 Nov 1897.1,2,3 
Married Name 1921  Firestone1,2 
Marriage* 1921  Principal=Harvey Samuel Firestone Jr.1,2 
Census* 1930  1930 Federal Census, Ohio, Summit County, Akron Township, Akron, Ward 8, ED: 77-147, Series: T626, Roll: 1880, Page: 18A, April 2
Sheet 18A, Block 85 Tract G, 50 Twin Oaks Road
(enumerated with husband, Harvey S Firestone Jr)
02, 170, 179, Firestone, Elizabeth P, Wife-H, , , , No, F, W, 31, M, 23, No, Yes, Illinois, Illinois, Nebraska, , 61, , , , , Yes, None, , , , , , , ,1 
SSN* 18 October 1990  Elizabeth FIRESTONE
Birth Date: 17 Nov 1902
Death Date: 18 Oct 1990
Social Security Number: 304-70-3164
State or Territory Where Number Was Issued: Indiana3 
Death* 18 October 1990  1,2,3 
News/Obit* 16 March 2005  News Item,
Henry Ford Museum exhibits one of the great wardrobes of the 20th century

By Donna Abramczyk, The News-Herald

Blond, blue-eyed Elizabeth Parke Firestone possessed a sense of adventure, a love of dancing and an innate sense of style.

Eizabeth Parke Firestone

The daughter of a wealthy Illinois businessman, she was educated in Europe, which helped to foster her appreciation of French culture and style.

Her 1921 wedding to Harvey S. Firestone Jr., son of rubber magnate Harvey S. Firestone, was the highlight of the Decatur, Ill., social season.

The couple, married for 52 years, raised four children in homes in Akron, Ohio; New York City; and Newport, R.I. They traveled, entertained and lived among the world's elite.

She was photographed the world over, gracing the covers of fashion and society magazines, including a Vogue magazine cover shot by the legendary Cecil Beaton.

In the 1950s, she was named one of the best-dressed women in the world, along with the likes of the Duchess of Windsor and actress Olivia DeHavilland.

To achieve her unique style, Firestone, who maintained a 24-inch waist into her 50s, frequented French design masters such as Christian Dior, Jean Patou, Alix and Cristobal Balenciaga; and American designers Carrie Munn, Peggy Hoyt and Sally Milgrim.

Prior to her death at the age of 93 in 1990, Firestone and her family bequeathed a portion of her large collection of designer fashions to The Henry Ford.

For the first time, a selection of Firestone's clothing can be viewed by the public at the new exhibition "Vintage Couture: The Fashions of Elizabeth Parke Firestone," at Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn.

The display features 50 of Firestone's evening gowns, suits and accessories culled from The Henry Ford's collection of approximately 1,000 Firestone items, from buttons, hats and gloves to 125 to 130 dresses and 500 pairs of shoes.

The exhibition features 125 pairs of the custom-made shoes arranged by color, creating a rainbow of hues.

The dress styles, which cover the world of haute couture from the 1920s to the 1960s, are displayed on custom-made, museum-quality mannequins, as department store mannequins emit gases that can damage vintage clothing, said Nancy Bryk, The Henry Ford curator.

"The clothing was in great shape," she said. "It had been very nicely stored."

Helping to choose the items to be displayed was Martha Firestone Ford, wife of Henry Clay Ford and one of Firestone's two surviving children.

"Mrs. Ford has a good eye and sense of her mother's style over the five decades," Bryk said.

In deciding what pieces to display, the team also considered how the dresses would look hanging on a mannequin and their condition, said Fran Faile, textile conservator for The Henry Ford.

While they had been stored properly in acid-free containers, some of the fragile silks and satins were in need of minor repairs and stain removal after 50 to 60 years of storage, Faile said. The wools, miraculously, were free of moth and other bug infestation.

Faile took great care in displaying the garments."We make the mannequin fit the dress, not the dress fitting the mannequin, by padding it so there isn't a lot of weight on the dress," she said.

Firestone chose her clothing meticulously, primarily choosing variations of blue and pink, colors she felt complemented her fair skin and blond hair, Bryk said.

Highlights of the exhibition include a 1925 turquoise blue silk evening gown by New York designer Peggy Hoyt with matching satin shoes, the silver satin Christian Dior gown she wore to the 1955 opening of the Vienna Opera House and the Saks Fifth Avenue Salon Moderne couture gown she wore while being photographed by Beaton for Vogue in 1946.

The exhibit also includes a collection of her suits, which she wore during the day, Bryk said, including the Dior gray flannel outfit she wore on a transatlantic trip with her husband in 1950.

"Each ensemble came with multiple matching hats, gloves and shoes as well," Bryk said. "Each dress is truly a work of art."

The exhibit, in a special temperature- and light-controlled area of the museum, will be open through Aug. 13 and is free with admission to the Henry Ford Museum.

The museum is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. More information is available by calling 1-313-271-1620 or online at

Appeared in The News Herald, (MI), March 16, 2005


Last Edited 12 Oct 2005

  1. [S248] 1930 U.S. Federal Census , 1930 U.S. Federal Census.
  2. [S658] Firestone Family of Frederick Co. MD (1993), George Ely Russell.
  3. [S129] SSDI Death Index,.

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