Power and Pomp: Fashion History at the Library Company of Philadelphia

The Library Company of Philadelphia will spend the month of April exploring topics related to nineteenth-century historic dress and textile production with an emphasis on gender dynamics. Every Thursday the Library Company will hold virtual and hybrid presentations including:

“Only the Clothes on Her Back: Clothing and the Hidden History of Power in the Nineteenth-Century United States” on April 14 at 5:30 p.m. Historian Laura F. Edwards will demonstrate the ways textiles reveal stories of ordinary people and how they made use of material goods’ economic and legal value in the period between the Revolution and the Civil War.

A Fireside Chat titled “The One that Wears the Breeches: Women’s Fashion, Dress Reform and Gender Expectations in Nineteenth-Century America” on April 21 at 7 p.m. The presentation will draw from Laura Ping’s work Beyond Bloomers: Fashioning Change in Nineteenth-Century Dress, which demonstrates how dress reform was more widely accepted when it was adopted for function rather than as a symbol of women’s rights.

“Dressing Up: The Women Who Influenced French Fashion” on April 28 at 5:30 p.m. In a virtual conversation, Dr. Elizabeth Block, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Erika Piola, Director, Visual Culture Program, Library Company of Philadelphia, will discuss Dr. Block’s new book that examines American women’s influence on French fashion over the long nineteenth-century.

All events are free and open to the public and will be either virtual or hybrid. For more information and to register for the events, click here.

The Library Company of Philadelphia was founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1731 as a subscription library. It stands today as America’s first successful lending library and the oldest cultural institution. The Library Company of Philadelphia is an independent research library concentrating on American society and culture from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. Its mission is to foster scholarship and increase public understanding of American history before 1900 by preserving and interpreting the valuable materials in their care.