Clothing through American History: The British Colonial Era

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9780313335938: Clothing through American History: The British Colonial Era

This study of clothing during British colonial America examines items worn by the well-to-do as well as the working poor, the enslaved, and Native Americans, reconstructing their wardrobes across social, economic, racial, and geographic boundaries.

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About the Author:

Kathleen A. Staples is a textile historian and curator specializing in the cultural and technical histories of fabrics and embroidery in early-modern England and colonial America. She has served as curator or historical advisor for exhibitions at museums such as The Charleston Museum.

Madelyn Shaw is an independent curator and historian specializing in the exploration of American history and culture through textiles and dress. She had held curatorial and administative positions at museums such as Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum.

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Much like today, what people wore in colonial times represented an immediate, visual form of communication that often conveyed information about the real or intended social, economic, legal, ethnic, and religious status of the wearer. This volume presents a description of the major aspects of dress in colonial America, including the social and historical background of British colonialism. Coverage includes men’s, women’s, and children’s garments as worn by the well-to-do as well as the working poor, the enslaved, and Native Americans; and it reconstructs their wardrobes across social, economic, racial, and geographic boundaries. The book begins with a chronology of the events from 1585 to 1785. The narrative portion illustrates various fashions; ­discusses society, culture, and dress; and explains clothing and textile technologies and trade. Some small black-and white illustrations are included. The authors, both textile historians and curators, present the information in an interesting and palatable manner. The inclusion of quotes from primary sources helps bring history home. Each section of the book is augmented by an extensive resource list, and the volume concludes with a list of general print resources, a list of museums where artifacts can be viewed, glossary, and an index. Although it’s written for an academic audience, the readability of the information makes this a good source for high-school students as well, although the dearth of illustrations may limit the appeal. Recommended for most public and academic libraries. --Diana Shonrock

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