Past Event

The Life Cycle of Clothing

dress from the 1800s
piece from the Illinois State Museum’s exhibition: “Fashioning Illinois, 1820-1900”

A Road Scholar Program by Erika Holst

Americans invested a tremendous amount of labor into making and maintaining their wardrobes during the 19th century. This presentation will explore the life cycle of clothing during the 1800s: how it was created, mended, remade, washed, and ultimately recycled.

This presentation will highlight examples of garments and artifacts from the Illinois State Museum’s collections. After the presentation, the audience will have the opportunity to do the following:

  • Reflect on their own experiences with making, mending, washing, and recycling clothing, drawing parallels between the 19th century and today;
  • Share memories of this work in their families from earlier generations; and
  • Explore modern attitudes towards “fast fashion” and mending vs. discarding.

This event is Free and Open to the public. For more information, please contact Kathleen Rister at

Groff Memorial Public Library COVID-19 Policy

Depending upon COVID transmission numbers within the community, masks may be required. Otherwise, masks are optional.

Learn more about Erika Holst, this program, and how to book it.