Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Kristen: Archive of 19th century Ladies' Magazines

I'm one of those people who can spend hours reading just about anything. I'm not afraid to jump into a difficult text, especially magazines from the 19th century. I've noticed that educational institutions have access to a variety of magazines/periodicals, but never the same collections. It's quite frustrating when trying to find an answer or linking a motif across different magazines. So here it is, the source for most of my research. Click away my fellow reenactors!

But before you start...
It's best to know what you're looking for. If you just want to stare at the pictures, you might be overwhelmed by all of the material. I've tried to list the basic topics that the magazines cover, but it is definitely not everything. Also, if you're only interested in Godey's, it still might be useful to skim Der Bazar. It's surprising the little tidbits that cross over different magazines!

As much as people go on about how the computer is effectively wiping out social interaction, I'd like to add that it is also helping greatly with research. All of the links that I've listed allow free access to the text, a luxury for those of us unable to get to a library or buy an original. I've listed only the years that I could find or thought were useful for Civil War reenacting. Sometimes a link will lead only to a few months from that year; I hope to eventually complete the list.

Title: Godey's Ladies' Book
Author: Sarah Hale, Louis Godey
Published: 1830-1898
Location: Philadelphia, United States
Topics: Advertisements, Short stories, health remedies, recipes, fashion plates, crafts, patterns, poetry. This magazine is cited the most often for American Civil War reenactors, though it takes many of its plates from the European magazines.

1854                                  1859 Jan-JunJuly-Dec           1864
1855                                  1860                                     1865
1856                                  1861
1857 Jan-Jun, July-Dec        1862
1858 Jan-Jun, July-Dec        1863

Duke University
Title: Arthur's Home Magazine or Arthur's Illustrated Home Magazine, Arthur's Lady's Home Magazine, The Home Magazine, Ladies' Home Magazine, Lady's Home Magazine
Author: Timothy Shay Arthur, Arthur and Virginia Townsend
Published: 1852-1898
Location: Philadelphia, United States
Topics: Short stories, health remedies, recipes, fashion plates, crafts, patterns, poetry. You'll find many similarities between this magazine and Godey's.

1854           1859           1864 
1855           1860           1865 
1856           1861
1857           1862
1858           1863 

HCA Auctions

Title: Frank Leslie's Lady's Gazette
Author: Frank Leslie
Published: 1860-1863
Location: New York, United States
Topics: Literature, fashion engravings, crafts, patterns, comics. I could not find very much information about this particular version of Leslie's, though the two years could be helpful for research. Leslie has many newspapers out there, so this is just a snippet.


Title: Peterson's Magazine
Author: Charles Peterson
Published: 1842-1898
Location: Philadelphia, United States
Topics: Literature, fashion engravings, crafts, patterns, music. This is an amazing resource that is often overlooked. Notice how it mirrors the other magazines!

1855            1861
1856            1862
1857            1864
1858            1865

Title: The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine
Author: Samuel Beeton
Published: 1852-1879
Location: London, England
Topics: Literature, health advice, gardening, cooking. Less fashion advice in this source, but certainly helpful in regards to middle class life.


Google Books

Title: The What-not; or Ladies' Handy-Book
Author: Unknown
Published: 1859-1863
Location: London, England
Topics: Literature, health advice, gardening, fashion, crafts, patterns. I don't have much as much experience with this source, though it parallels Godey's. I will be using it in the future!


Google Books
Title: Les Modes Parisiennes IllustrĂ©es
Author: Aubert
Published: 1863-1865
Location: Paris, France
Topics: Literature, fashion engravings, crafts, patterns, just about everything. My French is a nonexistent, so using this has been somewhat difficult. Google translate has been extremely helpful!


Google Books

Title: La Mode IllustrĂ©e Journal de la Famille
Author: Firmin-Didot
Published: 1860-1948
Location: Paris, France
Topics: Literature, fashion engravings, crafts, patterns, music, again everything. Very similar to the other French magazines, which can be helpful when gathering documentation.


Google Books
Title: Le Moniteur de la Mode
Author: Adolphe Goubaud
Published: 1808-1892
Location: Paris, France
Topics: Literature, fashion engravings, crafts, patterns. There are less illustrations in this magazine, though by now I think I'm fluent enough in Google Translate to figure out the trends!

1855           1865

Ted Kaehler
Title: Der Bazar
Topics: Literature, fashion engravings, crafts, patterns, music. This is a very good archive, though I have yet to figure out the searching component. Plenty of illustrations that are the same as Godey's, though this magazine published them first! They are more clear to read.

1857         1862
1858         1864
1859         1865

In conclusion...
LOOK AT ALL THE SHINY THINGS! But realize that it doesn't include everything. This list is certainly not complete; as time goes on, different archives will upload more sources, perhaps finishing this list. I plan to keep updating if I notice a broken link as this will be my main research page.

While spending hours researching links and sources might not be the most sane way to spend an afternoon, I'm glad it's done. I hope this helps some of you newer reenactors, since it can be difficult to find exact sources when just starting. And you veterans...go dwell in the text for a bit. Who knows, you might find something old new! The most amazing part? Everything is free! Go spend your money on another rainbow snood! (Please don't)
Rainbow snoods are the leading cause of reenactor deaths


  1. Thanks for compiling the list! I've pinned it.

  2. Very nice post! I'm going to add this to my list of helpful pages.

  3. I just have to tell you, this list is the best! Just wondering; how do I find more Les Modes Parisiennes in non-Civil war years? I've tried Google books, but all I get is a bunch of books to buy. Is there a way to search only books that are accessible online?


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