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Historic Fashion Newsletter

In 2023, MHS intern Clare Barnett began to create an online newsletter. Until now, the number and quality of the garments preserved at the Allis-Bushnell House Museum was unknown. Subsequently,  “Costume In Detail” reveals these objects, and delves into our impressive collection of historic fashion.

In each issue, Clare offers original research on the fashions she examines. To illustrate, this publication is akin to garment analyses on FIT’s Fashion History Timeline.  Clare prepares a new issue every few weeks, so readers should be sure to explore this page frequently.

Clothing Tells a Story

Clare spotlights a different garment in each issue. Thus, she reveals how certain items of clothing were perceived by those who wore them, and how these garments have survived for centuries. Without doubt, the acts of making, wearing, and keeping clothing have their own language. 

We may view the wear and tear our clothing collects as a drawback. However, the “weaknesses” of those materials are the very details that tell our stories. Importantly, hints about people of the past are revealed in the hundreds of garments of the MHS collection. They all can be decoded to reveal small portions of life in bygone times.


Brown velvet victorian dress

Liberty & Co., Ltd Bodice

Victorian Parasol

Victorian Wedding Dress

Edwardian Mourning Dress

Edwardian Ribbon Corset

Victorian Court Dress

1830s sleeves

Corded Corset, Victorian Corset

1700s wedding dress

Historic Costume Patterns

About the Author

Clare Barnett, a high school senior, works as an intern at the Madison Historical Society. She focuses on improving organization and cataloging of the costume collection. The collection is housed at the Allis-Bushnell House Museum. Her interests are in historical dressmaking processes.

Apart from this, she sews historical reproduction garments with period techniques. Her further interests are in art history and fine art. 


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