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THA 325 - Costume History

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)
Library Catalogs
Kresge Library Catalog   A listing of books, journal titles, videos and other materials at Oakland University. For browsing it may be helpful to know that Costume books are shelved in the GT 507-2399 call number areas, Architecture books are in the NA section, and Decorative arts can be found in the NK section.

MelCat   Lists books owned by Michigan libraries, academic and public. May be requested online and will be delivered to OU.
Find articles
JSTOR Access limited to OU students, faculty, and staff
The digital stacks for full-text back issues of scholarly journals across the disciplines but especially strong in humanities and social sciences.

Project Muse Access limited to OU students, faculty, and staff
Current full-text issues of over 250 high impact scholarly journals in the humanities and social sciences.

International Bibliography of Theatre & Dance Access limited to OU students, faculty, and staff
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.

Art Abstracts Access limited to OU students, faculty, and staff   Articles on art, architecuture and the decorative arts.

Social Sciences Citation Index via Web of Science Access limited to OU students, faculty, and staff   Vast multidisiplinary databases across all the social sciences, including the ability to do citation searches on specific authors/sources.
Internet sources

The links below are not scholarly and may or may not contain correct information.  Evaluate any information before using for your research.

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 History
This website is a directory of costume history websites by period.

The Costume Page
A listing of costume and costuming-related links.


This meta site has a long list of quality websites about costume history. Note: The site is no longer updated, and will only be available until 2014.

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."

Library Contact
Picture: Katie Greer

Katie Greer
Assistant Professor

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eBooks in Art, Architecture & Applied Arts - browse or search eBooks held by OU

Guide to eBooks - every eBook provider has different features and restrictions; use this guide to help sort it all out!
Primary sources

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

The main source of images is ARTstor Access limited to OU students, faculty, and staff . The ARTstor database contains high quality reproductions of paintings and artifacts, including fashion items. ARTstore 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 (115,000 items) 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:

  • Country life. AP 4 .C852
  • Holiday. AP2 .H592
  • Life. AP 2 .L547
  • New Yorker. AP 2 .N6763
  • Newsweek. AP 2 .N6772
  • Time. AP 2 .T37

In addition, the library has full-image access to the New York Times 1851-2009. Use the Page Map feature to scan full pages, click on a particular area to focus in on an image.

International Bibliography of Theatre & Dance Access limited to OU students, faculty, and staff 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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