Costume Design

Research Guide

Welcome! This page highlights key resources for conducting effective research in the history and practice of costume design. 

If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation.

Personal Librarian:
TBD.  If you need assistance identifying additional resources, search terms or strategies, please schedule a research consultation.


Contemporary Fashion
Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion
Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History (Barnard Reference, TT957 .S46 2006)
Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life in America (Barnard Reference, E169.1 .G7553 2009)
Historical Encyclopedia of Costumes (Barnard Reference, GT510 .R3313 1988)
In an Influential Fashion: An Encyclopedia of Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Fashion Designers and Retailers (Barnard Reference, TT505.A1 I5 2002)
Reference Book of Men's/Women's/Children's Vintage Clothing: 1900 - 1919 (Barnard Reference, GT615 .L28 1992)

Find Books and Browse the Stacks

CLIO (Columbia Libraries Information Online) provides access to the vast resources of the Columbia University Libraries, including Barnard Library, but excluding Teachers College and the Law Library. Search the Catalog for book and media materials. 

CLIO Search Tips:

  • Use keyword searches to locate items, and then go to the stacks and browse those items as well as the ones nearby
  • Use catalog to identify coverage dates for publications, both in print and online
  • Remember you can limit search results to items physically held at Barnard
  • Substitute different century numbers or country names as needed
  • Use the catalog records to identify useful subject headings such as:
    • Clothing and dress (works on the utilitarian aspects of clothing, including works on how to dress)
    • Costume (works on clothing treated as an artistic object, as well as works on clothing created for the stage, screen, or special events)
    • Costume design (works on the design of costumes for the stage, screen, or special events)
    • Costume--history
    • Dressmaking
    • Footwear
    • Fashion Design (works on the design of clothing and accessories for personal wear)
    • Illustrated books
    • Pictures
    • Shoes
    • Suits (Clothing)
    • Uniforms

Browse the stacks using the call number ranges:
GT Manners and customs (including Costume, Dress, and Fashion)
N Fine Arts
NA Architecture
NB Sculpture
NC Drawing, design, and illustration
ND Painting
NE Print Media
NK Decorative Arts
NX Arts in general
TR Photography
TT Handicrafts, arts and crafts

Scanners are available in Barnard and Avery.
There are color printers in Avery Library and the Business and Economics Library, as well as in the CUIT computer lab and the Digital Social Science Center in Lehman Library. (Note: Lehman Library is in the International Affairs building, not Lehman Hall at Barnard.)

Recommended Databases for Journal Articles

Art Full Text offers full text plus abstracts and indexing of an international array of peer-selected publications, as well as international periodicals, yearbooks, and museum bulletins.

Design and Applied Arts Index indexes over 130,000 annotated references from more than 500 design and craft journals and newspapers published from 1973 onwards.

JSTOR provides access to back issues of core scholarly jounals in the humanities and social sciences from the earliest issues to within a few years of current publication. 

Film Literature Index covers journal and magazine titles for film and television reviews, scholarly and critical analysis of cinema and television, and articles of popular interest about film and television.

International Index to the Performing Arts is a multidisciplinary index to the performing arts, including stagecraft. Includes full-text.

Recommended Databases for Primary Resources

19th Century British Library Newspapers provides searchable full text of full runs of newspapers specially selected by the British Library to best represent nineteenth-century Britain. Special attention was paid to include newspapers that helped lead particular political or social movements such as Reform, Chartism, and Home Rule.

19th Century UK Newspapers provides full-text and full-page-image access to periodicals in the following subject areas: Women's, Children's, Leisure and Sport, and Humor.

British and Irish Women's Letters and Diaries includes thousands of letters written from 1500 to 1900, representing all age groups and life stages, all ethnicities, many geographical regions, the famous and the not so famous.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers offers full-text and full-image articles from major American newspapers.

Social and Cultural History: Letters and Diaries Online provides access to English language letters, diaries, autobiographies, oral histories, and other personal narratives.

Visual Resources

ARTstor documents the fields of architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, decorative arts, design, anthropology, ethnographic and women's studies, as well as many other forms of visual culture.

Berg Fashion Library provides integrated text and image content on world dress and fashion throughout history.

Catalog of Art Museum Images Online (CAMIO) is a growing collection documenting works of art from around the world, representing the collections of prominent museums.

Europeana is an online collection of millions of digitized items from European museums, libraries, archives and multi-media collection.

FIDM Museum and Galleries provides access to the collections of the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, which span more than 200 years of fashion history.

Flickr is an online photo management and sharing tool, including select collections from libraries and museums. Search Tip: Conduct an Advanced Search to limit to Creative Commons licensed material.

Google advancedLife contains millions of photographs from the LIFE photo archive, stretching from the 1750s to today, most never before published.

Kent State University Museum Online Catalogue showcases a wide range of clothing from the eighteenth to twentieth century and around the world. 

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Online Catalog includes photographs, fine and popular prints and drawings, posters, and architectural and engineering drawings. While international in scope, the collections are particularly rich in materials produced in, or documenting the history of, the United States and the lives, interests and achievements of the American people.

New York Public Library Picture Collection Online provides free and open access to over 800,000 images digitized from the New York Public Library's vast collections. 

V & A provides access to over one million objects and almost 400,000 images from the collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Vogue Archive is a complete searchable archive of American Vogue, from the first issue in 1892 to the current month. Every article, cover, photo shoot, illustration and advertisement has been digitized, with indexing that enables you to find images by designer and brand names.

Fashion Blogs

The internet fosters conversation about contemporary fashion, both within and outside of the industry. Scott Schumann, for instance, uses his blog The Sartorialist, to promote a "two-way dialogue about the world of fashion and its relationship to daily life." As you find new resources, be sure to use the Guidelines for Evaluating Web Resources to assess their authenticity.


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