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Theatre: Clothing and Costume History

A guide to print and online resources available through McFarlin Library for drama, theater, dance, and the performing arts in general.

Visual Resource Collections: Internet

  • Ad* Access, Duke University Libraries  
    The Ad*Access Project "presents images and information on over 7,000 advertisements printed in U.S. and Canadian newspapers and magazines between 1911 and 1955. Ad*Access concentrates on several subject areas including Beauty and Hygiene.
  • B. J. Simmons & Co. Costume Design for Stage and Screen, Harry Randsom Center, University of Texas
    The British theatrical costume company B. J. Simmons & Co. created stage costumes for hundreds of theater and film productions from 1857-1964, many have now been digitized.
  • Casey Fashion Plates Collection, Los Angeles Public Library
    This digitized collection includes over 6,200 hand-colored fashion illustrations produced between 1780 and 1880 for British and American fashion magazines.
  • Design Center at Philadelphia University
    "The Design Center at Philadelphia University houses 200,000+ objects related to textiles and fashion." Go to the Archives of this Tumblr site to see an ever-growing digitized collection of historic fabric swatches.
  • Europeana Fashion
    Online access to outstanding fashion content from Europe’s leading museums and private fashion archives.
  • Fashion Design History Collection, Kellen Archives Center  
    The Parson's New School for Design libraries have digitized over 1,500 fashion design sketches from the archival collections of Claire McCardell, Norman Norell and Mildred Orrick with the intent of documenting the history of 20th century American Fashion.
  • Flickr, "The Commons"  
    The Commons on Flickr was launched as a collaboration with the Library of Congress and now includes digital contributions from a number of museums and historical agencies with the aims of showing "hidden treasures in the world's public photography archives."
  • Godey's Lady's Book
    This website provides highlights from Godey's Lady's Book from 1855 to 1858 and three complete issues of Godey’s Lady’s Book for 1855.
  • Harper's Bazaar, 1867
    Visitors can access articles and images from the first issue of Harper's Bazaar, November 2, 1867.
  • History of Costume Index
    This site is based on the German publication, "Zur Geschichte der Kostume" printed in Munich from 1861 to 1880. This is a good source for researching fashion during the Victorian era and includes both formal and folk dress.

Clothing And Costume History

Costume sketch by Léon Bakst

Visual Resource Collections: Internet

  • L'Officiel de la Mode
    Access to both the text and images of this French fashion magazine (in French) from 1921 to the present.
  • Library of Congress, American Memory, Prints & Photographs and Other Collections
    "American Memory provides free and open access to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. It is a digital record of American history and creativity. These materials, from the collections of the Library of Congress and other institutions, chronicle historical events, people, places, and ideas that continue to shape America, serving the public as a resource for education and lifelong learning."
  • LIFE Photo Archive Hosted by Google
    The LIFE photo archive contains millions of photographs from the mid-19th century through the present. Images are licensed for "personal non-commercial use only". Persons interested in fashion may type in a keyword, a designer's name, or may choose to browse by decade to get a sense of clothing styles.
  • New York Public Library, Digital Gallery  
    NYPL Digital Gallery provides free and open access to over 800,000 images digitized from the The New York Public Library's vast collections, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints, photographs and more.
  • Scottish Register of Tartans
    Created in 2008, the Scottish Register of Tartans is a database of tartans intended to protect, promote and preserve tartan designs. Visitors may search the register, by tartan name or colors, to find information about thousands of tartans. They can also access information on resources in the National Records of Scotland for the study of tartan history.
  • Textile Manufactures of India Sample Books, 1866
    Published by the India Office of the British Government in 1866, this 18 volume set of fabric sample books has been digitized, proving textile students with both history and inspiration.
  • Textiles and Victorian Trade Card Collection, Paul J. Gutman Library
    This digitized collection from the Paul J. Gutman Library Special Collections consists of Victorian Trade Cards (1880 - 1900) which highlight with processes and products of the textile industry.
  • Visual Arts Data Service (VADS), University College for the Creative Arts (UK)
    VADS is an online resource for the students and educators in the visual arts. It consists of "over 100,000 images that are freely available and copyright cleared for use in learning, teaching and research in the UK." The site includes online fashion and textiles collections from a number of UK art and design colleges and universities.
  • Vogue Francaise (Paris), 1920-1940
    Search and read full-text editions of French Vogue from 1920-1940
  • Zandra Rhodes Digital Study Collection
    This extraordinary collection supported by the University of the Creative Arts allows visitors to explore the work of British fashion designer Zandra Rhodes through a selection of 500 her pieces and hundreds of her fashion illustrations dating from the 1960s to the present.