Sears catalog coverSears catalogs
Call numbers vary


More books


For images of clothing from historical periods, start with a search for books listed in the online catalog. Search terms that you might use are:

Look under narrower subject headings, if applicable, such as:

If you are looking for images relating to specific time periods or occupations, search relevant headings. For example:


General Internet Image Searches

Note that not all images found on the web are available for reuse. Unless stated otherwise, the creator (artist, photographer, etc) owns the image and holds all usage rights. Learn more.

Beware that internet image searches will often bring up pictures of people in homemade costumes, which may not be historically accurate. 

Google Images

Find reusable images by using "Search tools" (under "Usage rights"). Remember to cite your source.

[More details]
Wikimedia Commons

A searchable collection of 27+ million "freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute."

[More details]
All images are reusable. Remember to cite your source.

A searchable collection of online photos. Please note the copyright & reuse policy for each image. Flickr lets you limit searches to "creative commons," U.S. government, and other reusable/public-domain categories. 

[More details]
Find reusable images by using changing from "Any license" to reusable licenses (on the results screen). Remember to cite your source.

Newspapers & Magazines

Vintage newspaper articles or articles on international topics can include useful photographs.

Vogue Archive

The Vogue Archive contains the backfile of Vogue magazine (US edition), spanning the first issue in 1892 to the current month, reproduced in high-resolution color page images. It preserves the work of the world's greatest fashion designers, stylists and photographers and is a unique record of American and international fashion, culture and society from the dawn of the modern era to the present day.

[More details]
Includes high-resolution, color images of fashion and design. Spans 1892 to the present.
New York Times (ProQuest Historical Newspapers)

Digital archive for the New York Times dating back to 1851. An excellent database for history, including full-text and full-image articles. For most dates, the collection includes digital reproductions of every page from every issue--cover to cover--in downloadable PDF files. For access to recent issues, go to the New York Times online or search US Newsstream.

[More details]
Full-text access to the New York Times from 1851 - present.
Newspaper Databases

is a complete list of Randall Library newspaper databases.

[More details]
More newspapers available from Randall Library.

More Costume Ideas

Performance Design Archive

Includes costume design documents from 1930 to the present, mostly from Europe and the United States

[More details]
Oxford Art Online

Oxford Art Online is an innovative new gateway that offers users the ability to access and search the vast content of Grove Art Online and Oxford art reference in one location. Including eBooks on art and art history.

[More details]
allows you to search two library databases (Grove Art Online and Oxford Art Reference) at one time.
ARTstor Digital Library

The ARTstor Digital Library is a nonprofit resource that provides over 2.5+ million digital images in the arts, art history, architecture, anthropology, history, humanities, foreign languages and literatures, religion, and sciences with an accessible suite of software tools for teaching and research.

[More details]
provides over 2 million digital images.
NYPL Picture Collection Online

A collection of American & international images "mostly created before 1923."

[More details]
American Memory Project

Images, videos, and presentations compiled by the U.S. Library of Congress related to American history.

[More details]
Costume Page

"A directory of thousands of costume and costuming-related links, for the benefit of those who make and/or study costumes."

[More details]
Elizabethan Costume Page

Information about "clothing for peasant, middle, and upper class men, women, and children from the Tudor and Elizabethan periods (sixteenth century) in English history."

[More details]
Fashion Plate Collection

Digitized fashion plates from "French, British, American, and other continental fashion journals" between 1806-1914.

[More details]
History of Costume

A digitized book showing "historical dress from antiquity to the end of the 19th century." Note "that these illustrations have a Victorian perspective to their designs."

[More details]
London College of Fashion Cordwainers Shoe Collection

Images from a collection of English shoes, ranging "from 1780-1990s."

[More details]
London College of Fashion Paper Patterns

Patterns "dating from the 1920s to the present day," from Europe and America.

[More details]
London College of Fashion: The Woolmark Company

Photos "[f]rom the 1940's through to the early 1980's" from London, France, Germany, and the United States

[More details]
Milwaukee Repertory Theater Photographic History

"[A] visual chronicle of the artistic productions of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater in the years 1977-1994," including costumes.

[More details]
Works of Art: The Costume Institute

Photograghs of selected items from Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum, spanning 2000 B.C.E. - present and "five continents."

[More details]
Library of Congress Historical Images

"[P]hotographs, fine and popular prints and drawings, posters, and architectural and engineering drawings"  on a variety of topics. International in scope, but with an emphasis on the United States.

[More details]
Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology

Digital photos of garments and accessories from the 18th century - the present.

[More details]
Europeana Fashion

Visual images from the history of European fashion, "ranging from historical dresses to accessories, photographs, posters, drawings, sketches, videos, and fashion catalogues."

[More details]
Blanche Payne Regional Costume Photograph and Drawing Collection

Collection of drawings, photographs, art, and postcards from research trips to Yugoslavia and other countries in 1930 and years 1936-1937.

[More details]
Motley Collection of Theatre & Costume Design

is "a rare collection of original materials ... comprising over 5000 items from more than 150 productions in England and the United States... from 1932 to 1976 for plays by Shakespeare and modern classics, opera, ballet, and motion pictures."

[More details]
Chicago History Museum - Costume/Fashion

includes examples of American clothing & accessories from 1730 to the present.

[More details]

Lisa Coats

Portrait of Lisa Coats
Humanities Librarian
Phone Number: 

Liaison Librarian to Creative Writing, English, Film Studies, Music, Philosophy and Religion, Theatre, Women's, Gender & Sexuality Studies, World Languages and Cultures

Costume History

Consider also using Randall Library's multitude of history resources when looking at the history of costuming. 

Need Help?

chat loading...

Text us at 910-218-0782

You can also get help by email or phone.

Need a sewing machine?

Randall Library's Curriculum Materials Center, in Watson Education Building, has sewing machines available for student use. If you are a beginner, please schedule an appointment rather than just stopping by, so that someone will be available to help you get started.

Finding Books on the Shelf

Ready to find library books on the shelf? Our books are arranged in Library of Congress call number order. Below are some helpful links and just ask a librarian for help if needed.