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Genealogy Resources

Fashion and Clothing

What was the fashion during your ancestor's time? You may even get some tips for dating old family photos with clothing clues.

  • Blayney, Molly Dolan. Wedded Bliss: A Victorian Bride's Handbook. Abbeville Press, 1992.

  • The Collections of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Online.  Colonial Williamsburg's collections encompass more than 60,000 examples of fine, decorative, mechanical, and folk art. Included are American, British, and Continental ceramics, glass, furniture, textiles, costumes, tools, firearms, numismatics, metals, prints, maps and drawings from the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as well as outstanding examples of eighteenth-, nineteenth-, and twentieth-century American folk art.

  • Dalrymple, Priscilla Harris. American Victorian Costume in Early Photographs. New York : Dover, 1991.
  • Fashion-era Contains 580 content rich, illustrated pages of Fashion History, Costume History, Clothing, Fashions and Social History

  • Lipsett, Linda Otto. To Love and to Cherish: Bride's Remembered. Quilt Digest, 1989.

  • Mordecai, Carolyn. You Are Cordially Invited to Weddings: Dating & Love Customs of Cultures Worldwide, Including Royalty. Nittany Publishing, 1999.

  • Olian, JoAnne. Wedding Fashions, 1862-1912: 380 Costume Designs from "La Mode Illustree." Dover, 1994.
  • Severa, Joan L. Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840-1900. Kent, Ohio : Kent State University Press, ©1995.

  • Steward, Arlene Hamilton. A Bride's Book of Wedding Traditions. Hearst Books, 1995.

  • Taylor, Maureen Alice. Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles, 1840-1900. [United States]: Picture Perfect Press, 2009.  Genealogist and photo identification/preservation expert reveals information you can learn from family photographs about a person's fashion sense and character. Taylor writes for those interested in using "this handy guide to study the tresses and trims in your ancestral portraits and learn when different hairstyles and facial hair were in vogue." Her analysis of sample photographs from each decade illustrates how people can use "clues of clothing and hairstyles ... [to] discover when those pictures were taken, how old the subjects were at the time, and how wealthy they were." Includes "fast facts" and "fun facts" about hair styles through the 19th century.