Artifacts from American Fashion
by Heather Vaughan Lee, Editor
November 2019, 378pp, 8 1/2x11
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-6457-5
$103, 86€, A148
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6458-2
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Now popular around the world, denim blue jeans were designed and patented by Jacob W. Davis and Levi Strauss & Co. in the late nineteenth century to be used as work pants for miners and cowboys.

Clothing and fashion accessories can serve as valuable primary sources for learning about our history. This unique book examines daily life in 20th-century America through the lens of fashion and clothing.

This collection explores fashion artifacts from daily life to shed light on key aspects of the social life and culture of Americans in the 20th century. Artifacts from American Fashion covers forty-five essential articles of fashion or accessories, chosen to illuminate significant areas of daily life and history, including Politics, World Events, and War; Transportation and Technology; Home and Work Life; Art and Entertainment; Health, Sport, and Leisure; and Alternative Cultures, Youth, Ethnic, Queer, and Counter Culture. Through these artifacts, readers can follow the major events, social movements, cultural shifts, and technological developments that shaped our daily life in the U.S.

A World War I soldier’s helmet opens a vista onto the horrors of trench warfare during World War I, while the dress of a typical 1920’s “flapper” speaks volumes about America women’s changing role during Prohibition and the Jazz Age. Similarly, a homemade feedsack dress illuminates the world of the Great Depression, while the bikini ushers us into the Atomic Age. Here, such artificacts tell the story of twentieth-century daily life in America.


  • Provides readers with an understanding of American history through artifacts of clothing
  • Offers readers the option to read self-contained entries individually or in chronological order for a unique perspective of a given decade from multiple points of view
  • Shows how clothing can be used as an educational tool to understand the real-life experiences of peoples of the past
  • Presents hard facts and information on complex topics like war and politics, as well as entertainment histories
  • Ties large historical events and movements to individuals living in those times, both famous and “everyday”
Heather Vaughan Lee is a historian, author, lecturer, and museum consultant who has worked in the intersecting fields of clothing and history for the last 15 years. She has worked with a variety of museums nationwide, most recently Turtle Bay Exploration Park and Museum and the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. She was president of the Western Region of the Costume Society of America from 2012 to 2014 as well as editor of Clothing and Fashion: American Fashion From Head to Toe, Volume 3 (1900–1945), which appeared on the American Library Association’s 2017 Outstanding References Sources List.


"Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; students in technical programs; general readers."—Choice, July 1, 2020

Daily Life through Artifacts

Daily Life through Artifacts presents a collection of objects and artifacts from daily life that shed light on key aspects of social life and culture for specific historical periods or topics. Each artifact is illustrated with a large image, showing interesting detail and allowing for close-up study. The series serves to demonstrate how objects and artifacts can be "read" as primary sources to provide greater insight into the people and societies who created and used them. Each title in the series provides information on the background material for these objects as well as guidance on how to analyze an object or artifact. Readers will not only learn about the daily life of past societies but also gain the skills of observation and assessment needed to analyze the objects and draw meaningful conclusions from them about their context and significance.
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