In the FIT Library, we spend a lot of time talking about sources for your research. It’s super important that you have to quote them and cite them*. Plus, we can teach you ways to find things that used to be out of reach. It’s the busy part of the semester, so I thought I would write about some of our historic sources and how they were transferred into formats that we could make easier use of.
This document was sourced the hard way: It’s a document from 1503, from England about clothes for Henry VIII’s sisters, the Princesses Mary and Margaret. They were in mourning for their mother, and this warrant tells the Clerk of the Wardrobe to get them 3 black dresses with different kinds of trims.
This was not an easy document to access: I had to fly to England, get permission to use the archive, photograph it, then decipher the old handwriting and language to see what it says.
In contrast, we have lots of easy ways to get you primary source information that is a heckuva lot easier to find, figure out, and use. So many sources from the 20th and 19th century are online, that you can flip through old magazines, study wallpaper, paintings or drawings, or read old newspapers all from the comfort of your home. I thought it would be fun to take a look at some images reached through these new, easy to get sources.
19th century saw the birth of the first mass-produced fashion magazines. ProQuest has digitized several of these important sources about domestic life and fashion. This page here shows corset styles and skirt drapery styles September 5, 1868, not long after the Civil War.
It’s easy to get to the .pdf of pages or “flip” virtually through the issues thanks to the work that ProQuest did to digitize these important sources.
To take a closer look at these digitized titles, here’s the ProQuest search screen:
Remember that you have to log in first, using your FIT username and password.
This is to remind you that the ProQuest titles include more recent magazines with color images. This image from Better Homes & Gardens December 2005 issue. BH&G is just one of the group of “women’s magazines” that Proquest has made available. This initiative provides plenty of insight on women’s activities and aspirational influences throughout the 20th century. In addition, these titles depict idealized American home design and decoration as well as food availability, styling, advertisement, and tastes.
The Kolomon Moser print at the beginning of this post and the Tania print to the right are both examples of the range of images available in Artstor, another FIT database. Thousands of archives and museums have contributed to their image collections, allowing you to research almost anything you can think of.
You need to set up a personal account in Artstor in order to use its saving functions:
Here are our research guides on citing sources properly:
I especially love this image below of women in their dorm rooms in 1942.
We’ve also got research guides to tell you how to search for images:
And our Special Collections and College Archives area has more on using archival sources:
I hope this gave you some ideas about how to begin your research. FIT has so many resources to help you!
* Not citing sources properly is the same as having someone use your hard work and not giving you credit for it!