Past Event

The Life Cycle of Clothing in the 19th Century

A Road Scholar Program by Erika Holst

Click here to attend the free Zoom event!

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.

Orange and black historic dress

The 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 virtual Zoom event is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Sarah Parkes at

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