Interested in 19th century fashion reform? Here’s some references.

Following up some more on chapter 5 of Eight Cousins (A Belt and a Box), another member of the Louisa May Alcott Society, Melissa M. Pennell, Ph.D., Professor of English, UMass Lowell, Lowell, MA provided some texts from the 19th and 20th centuries (including two by Bronson Alcott’s cousin, Dr. William Alcott)  if you wanted to read more. Several of these books are available on Amazon and/or Google Books:

Some 19th Century Texts

  • Alcott, William A.  Tightlacing (Health Tracts No. 9) Boston, 1841.

    Dr. William Alcott was the cousin of Bronson Alcott. He was passionate about education as a boy which greatly influenced Bronson.

  • Alcott, William A.  The Young Woman’s Book of Health.  Boston, 1850.
  • Dietrick, E.B. “Male and female attire in various nations and ages; a defense of dress reform,” Arena 10 (August 1894): 353-65
  • Fowler, Orson Squire.  “The evils of tightlacing” in his Phrenology and Physiology Explained and Applied to Matrimony.  New York, 1842.
  • Livermore, Mary Ashton Rice.  What Shall We Do with our Daughters and other lectures.  Boston, 1883.
  • Phelps, Elizabeth Stuart.  What to Wear? Boston: 1873.
  • Russell, F.E.  “American Dress-Reform Movements of the Past, with a view of representative women.” Arena 6 (August 1892):325-39.

20th Century texts:

My thanks to Dr. Pennell who, in the midst of grading mid-terms, generously gave of her time.


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5 thoughts on “Interested in 19th century fashion reform? Here’s some references.

  1. SilverSeason says:

    It’s fascinating how your interest in Louisa May Alcott has led us into various 19th century issues. Women’s dress reform seems to have been the “green” movement of its day.

  2. Sarah says:

    I’ll definitely keep some of these titles in mind. Thanks for sharing!

  3. jbee says:

    I know this is an old post, but I went down another LMA rabbit hole today 😉 and started reading up on dress reform (again). Thought you might like another addition to the list.

    According to the LMA Encyclopedia (which, by the way, is a wonderful reference and I highly recommend it–I found a used copy at a reasonable price), Roberts Brothers (LMA’s publisher) published the texts from a series of lectures on dress reform that had been presented in Boston in 1874. LMA studied these lectures and sketches when working on Eight Cousins. The book is Dress-Reform edited by Abba Goold Woolson.

    Here is the reference in the LMA Encyclopedia, from Google Books: https://books.google.com/books?id=sPMBb1Ql_9UC&pg=PA86&lpg=PA86&dq=louisa+may+alcott+dress+reform&source=bl&ots=N4kpsb_teo&sig=0IHK2YZSyc6_GdKms5sdytjM11Y&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiY3M-TkMXRAhVC4iYKHY0hAOwQ6AEIPDAF#v=onepage&q=louisa%20may%20alcott%20dress%20reform&f=false

    And here is a link to the book, available in multiple formats: https://archive.org/details/dressreform00wool

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