Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Petticoat Junction: A Fashion History Research Guide

Where To Go From Here

Besides the research tips provided below, there are also great ways to piggyback further research off the initial sources one finds. Many of the resources provided in this guide have their own citations which can be accessed online. When searching for more information, use the citations to guide you--if they are being used by a source you trust, they are most likely great new avenues to go down. 

If restrictions permit, visit museums and special collections that contain exhibitions of clothing. There is nothing more magical than seeing a historic garment right before your eyes (even if you and the garment are separated by plate glass). The cards and written information will be informative, but there are also typically docents at museums who are ready with more information about the exhibits. 

If there is an article that you have enjoyed reading and want to learn more about the topic on which it was written, see if you can reach out directly to the article's author, typically via email. Many of them are happy to discuss their scholarship and to answer questions you might have come up with while engaging with their research. Some of our most valuable resources are the people who do the research firsthand. 

Good Research Tips

The research process can be greatly streamlined if one knows just how to do it! Feel free to use these tips to help you while you look for information on your chosen topic. 

  1. Determine your topic and the scope of your research. 
    • What do you want to research? This can range from things such as "French court dress of the 16th century" to "the effect of industrialization on American women's shopping habits." 
    • How deeply do you want to dive into this topic? Or, what is the scope of your topic? Are you doing some creative writing set in a different time, or are you writing a paper with specific length and citation requirements? 
  2. When searching, craft appropriate search terms.
    • Crafting search terms is an invaluable skill to a researcher, but it is one that requires time and patience to hone. If your initial searches don't yield the results you hope for, do not fret! Even the most skilled librarians face the trial-and-error process that comes with a successful search session. 
    • If there is specialized vocabulary in your topic, be sure to use it in your search terms. For example, if a user is interested in the construction of corsets in the 1890s, instead of searching "19th century undergarments" they might use "1890s corsets" or "1890s corset construction." 
    • Utilize the tools provided in a catalog search. One of the most helpful tools is the Boolean operator search. This option allows users to search for terms that contain one topic AND/OR/NOT another topic. For example, if I am interested in medieval fashion for men but NOT for women, I will toggle the Boolean operator options to reflect that search. Furthermore, there are filters in place in library catalog searches to provide you with options such as articles or eBooks only, or even sources that have been published most recently. Explore the catalog and don't be afraid to change up your searches until you achieve results you find most helpful!
  3. Know where to look for information and what types of sources you might need. 
    • Library catalogs are appropriate for a host of research, though they do contain more academic writing than casual research. While internet search engines like Google may be helpful for some basic research, they often lack the ability to engage in in-depth searches, or even lack the ability to handle searches beyond a basic keyword search. 
    • Understand that different writing requires different sources. If writing for a creative venture, a blog or informational web page might suffice if it provides the necessary information. If writing a paper for class, one might need to seek academic journals, monographs, or peer-reviewed articles. 
    • Use the method listed in this guide, Evaluating Resources, created by information professionals at Simmons University's Library to get a grasp on how to determine if a resource might be appropriate for your project. 

Some suggested search terms for general fashion history resources: fashion history, history of fashion, medieval women's clothing, renaissance fashion, regency fashion, victorian fashion, edwardian silhouettes, evolution of women's fashion, etc. 

Simmons University Library also has a wealth of information on how to perform better searches in their How-To Guides. Feel free to explore this guide as well to help inform your research!