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Fashion/Costume Design Resources: Primary Sources

A guide to resources helpful for researching fashion history and costume design.

Images in History Books

History Books (2nd floor):

Since history books usually contain photographs, search the online catalog for history books relating to the era, country, or event you are researching to see images of people in the popular fashions and hairstyles of the era.

Curriculum Collection (4th floor): Look through text books in the curriculum collection on the second floor to find pictures of children dressed in 1970's - 1990's fashion.

Reference Books (2nd floor):

  • American Decades REF. E 169.12 .A419:  Concentrates on the social aspects of a 10-year period in American history, covering arts, medicine and health, media, education, world events, religion, government and politics, lifestyles and social trends, law and justice, religion, business and the economy and sports. Starts with Volume 1, 1900-1909 and ends with Volume 11, 2000-2009.
  • American Eras REF. E169.1 .A471979 1997:  Events, lifestyles, social history and key figures unique to each featured era are covered. Includes: Volume 1- The Colonial Era, 1600-1754; Volume 2- The Revolutionary Era, 1754-1783; Volume 3- Development of a Nation, 1783-1815; Volume 4- The Reform Era and Eastern U.S. Development, 1815-1850; Volume 5- The Civil War & Reconstruction, 1850-1877; Volume 6- Industrial Development, 1878-1899; Volume 7- Early American Civilizations & Exploration to 1600; Volume 8- Westward Expansion, 1800-1860.

Online Periodicals

Print Magazines

If you want to look at images of everyday from the 1930's forward, old issues of periodicals may be useful to you.


  • Magazines (except current year) are on the 2nd floor in alphabetical order.
  • Magazines from the current year on the 1st floor in alphabetical order.


  • Loose = Each issue is separate, just like it would have been bought at the store.
  • Bound = The issues for the volume have been bound together into a book.
  • Microfilm = Scanned onto microfilm, the issues are now only in black-and-white.

Magazines Useful as Primary Sources for Images:

  • American Film Shows what they were wearing in the movies for that time. 1975-1991 loose, some issues missing.
  • American Libraries Pictures of librarians, professors, and library patrons. 1939-1971 bound, 1972- 2014 loose.
  • Fortune Pictures of the general public, advertisements. 1930-1959 bound, 1960-1962 microfilm, 1963-1989 bound, 1990-2001 microfilm, 2001- 2014 loose.
  • Life Pictures of the general public, advertisements. From 1936-1960 are kept loose, 1960-1972 on microfilm, 1978-2000 are on microfilm.
  • Newsweek Pictures of the general public, advertisements. From 1945-2012 either loose or bound.
  • Saturday Evening Post General public, famous people, advertisements. 1982-1999 loose.
  • Time Pictures of the general public, advertisements. From 1937-1960 are bound, 1960-1961 on microfilm, 1961-present are bound.
  • U.S. News and World Report Pictures of the general public, advertisements. 1948-1960 bound, 1960-1963 microfilm, 1964-present are bound.

Subject Guide

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Amanda Pippitt
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