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LIBRARY GUIDE TO THA 3025 - Costume History

Stage costumes 
Image by Steve Cranston, licensed to share under CC BY-SA 2.0.
Reference book checklist

The following books from the library reference collection provide a variety of resources for research on clothing and costume across various countries, cultures, and time periods. Many of them provide references for further research and so are an excellent place to begin one's research:

  • The Berg Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion is available in print (Reference GT 525 .B47 2010 ) and online through the Berg Fashion Library.
  • Greenwood Encyclopedia of Clothing through World History. Reference GT 507 .G74 2008 v.1-v.3
  • Encyclopedia of clothing and fashion. Reference GT 507 .E53 2005 v.1-v.3
  • Cunnington, C. Willett. A dictionary of English costume. 3rd floor: GT507 .C8 1965
  • Davies, Stephanie Curtis. Costume language : a dictionary of dress terms. 3d floor: GT 507 .D38 1994
  • Baclawski, Karen. The guide to historic costume. Reference GT 513 .B33 1995
  • Historic costume in pictures. Reference GT 513 .H57 1975
  • Lister, Margot. Costume: an illustrated survey from ancient times to the twentieth century. Reference GT513 .L5
  • O’Hara, Georgina. The encyclopedia of fashion. 3d floor: GT507 .O53 1986
  • Paterek, Josephine. Encyclopedia of American Indian costume. Reference E 98 .C8 P37 1994
  • Yarwood, Doreen. The encyclopedia of world costume. 3d floor:  GT 507 .Y37 1978
  • New Encyclopedia of furniture. Reference NK 2205 .A7 1967
  • Furniture: World Styles from Classical to Contemporary. 3rd floor: NK 2235 .M54 2005
  •  Encyclopedia of Furniture  (NK 2270 .S3)
  • Encyclopedia of Architecture (Ref. NA 31 .E59 1988)
Find articles

Design and Applied Arts Index
The best resource for design and fashion articles.

Restricted to OU students, faculty, and staff International Bibliography of Theatre & Dance
The definitive research tool for the study of theatre and the performing arts. Over 60,000 journal articles, books, book chapters and dissertation abstracts on all aspects of theatre and performance in 126 countries. Has a subject on "clothing and dress". Includes 2003 to 2007 issues of Dress.

Berg Fashion Library
The Berg Fashion Library includes the Encyclopedia of World Dress and Fashion, eBooks, reference works, images, and more.

Art and Architecture
Art research covering fine, decorative and commercial art, as well as architecture and architectural design. Strong international coverage including full-text art journals, magazines and books, plus detailed indexing, abstracts, and  images.  Thanks to MeL  

Library Catalogs
Kresge Library Catalog  
  • Costume History: GT 507-2399
  • Fine Arts: N
  • Theatre Arts NX; PN 1500-2300s; varies
  • Reference: 2nd floor (same call numbers)
  • Periodicals: 4th floor (same call numbers)
MelCat   Lists books owned by Michigan libraries, academic and public. May be requested online and will be delivered to OU.
Additional recommendations

Evaluating internet resources: Is it CRAAP?, a worksheet from Juniata College Library that will walk you through what to look for when looking at websites for research purposes.

Digital Dress
A Detroit-area site hosted by Wayne State University linking to the collections of several different institutions, with very rich photographic archives.

Costume Institute Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Fashion History Timeline, from the Fashion Institute of Technology, State University of New York

Milieux: the Costume Site
Listing of sites pertaining to costumes, including Gothic and alternative fashion.

An online gallery of European cultural heritage; includes images, text, sound, and video sources.

An online "reference of historic costume and textiles ranging in date from 1800 to 2010."

Dressed--The History of Fashion 
Unravel: Fashion Podcast

Ask the MTD Librarian
Library Contact
Picture: Katie Greer

Katie Greer
Associate Professor

Images and other primary sources

Finding primary source material regarding dress and costume usually requires finding contemporary images.

The Berg Fashion Library is an excellent place to start.

Another source of images is Restricted to OU students, faculty, and staff ARTstor . The ARTstor image library contains high quality reproductions of paintings and artifacts, including fashion items. ARTstor provides a guide to its collections containing fashion-related images. You can also browse the Fashion, Costume and Jewelry classification which contains nearly 18,000 items. In addition there is a section on Decorative arts, utilitarian objects and interior design and one for Architecture and city planning.

For the pre-photographic era, the chief source would be paintings, but beginning in the late 19th century the rise of the popular magazine and the incorporation of photography and sketch art in newspapers makes those a rich source of visual material illustrating period dress and decor.

Some very useful popular magazines are found in the AP2 and AP4 call number areas in the periodicals. Examples include:

Restricted to OU students, faculty, and staff International Bibliography of Theatre & Dance has thousands of illustrated magazines as well as a large collection of images.

Meadow Brook Hall Historic Costume Collection is part of a WSU Digital Dress initiative to provide
digital images of men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing and accessories representing fashion during a period of urban transformation (1800-2000).


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