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 Anne Jordan at

Little White School Museum COVID-19 Policy

As of right now, we do not require any masks or social distancing. However, we do provide masks for those who wish to wear one and also have hand sanitizer throughout the building. We ask all participants to evaluate their comfort level and come at their own risk

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