Category Archives: 1900s

Who Was Mrs. Ralston?

If you have ever looked at issues of Ladies Home Journal in the early twentieth century, you probably have come across articles by one Mrs. Ralston.  She gave advice on current fashion trends for all age groups and answered questions … Continue reading

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Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Philosophy of Dress

Feminist philosopher Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935), suffragist, novelist, and economist, spent a lot of her life thinking about clothes.  She considered herself a dress reformer, but was not interested in the extremes of bloomers or pants.  Instead, she followed her … Continue reading

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At the Breakers Bath House, ca. 1906

This photo postcard has a 1900s look about it, but historical events allow me to date it more precisely.  According to printed information on the back, it was taken at a photo studio at the Breakers Bath House in Galveston, … Continue reading

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Pants for Women in Montgomery Ward Catalogs, 1907-1924

When did Montgomery Ward begin offering pants designed for women?  The first mention I found (and I could have easily missed some) had to do with horseback riding.  In 1907, you could buy a custom made divided skirt “for cross … Continue reading

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Made to Measure Clothing from Montgomery Ward

The big American catalog companies that started in the late nineteenth century—1872 for Montgomery Ward and 1888 for Sears—fueled the American ready to wear industry.  In order to supply clothing to far flung parts of the United States without easy … Continue reading

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Mary Colter–Architect of the Southwest

You don’t have to spend much time at the south rim of the Grand Canyon to hear the name Mary Colter (1869-1958).  She designed Bright Angel Lodge, the Hopi House, and the Lookout Studio, which fits into the walls of … Continue reading

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The Garrison Family at Schroon Lake, 1908

Well known for their progressive politics, the Garrison family was involved in the abolition movement, efforts to repeal the Chinese Exclusion Act, and the fight for women’s suffrage. This photo comes from the Garrison Family collection at the Smith College archives.  … Continue reading

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The Politics of Valentine’s Day

So you thought Valentine’s Day was all about candy and flowers?  During the early twentieth century, when women’s suffrage was a hotly debated topic in America, even this seemingly apolitical holiday sparked satire. In this 1907 anti suffrage postcard, the … Continue reading

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Dr. Mary Walker, A Pioneer in Pants

Next time you worry that it might take a long time to reach your goals, consider the case of Dr. Mary Walker (1832-1919)–physician, feminist, and dress reformer. She worked her entire life to gain equal pay and suffrage, along with … Continue reading

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On the Street in Chinatown, ca. 1900

When did women in the United States start wearing pants on the street?  It depends on where you look.  This picture from San Francisco’s Chinatown shows that pants were common attire for women of Chinese descent at the turn of … Continue reading

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