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Historic Costume: North America and Western Europe: Visual Reference

Visual Resource Tools

"Visual Reference" is a general term for a wide range of materials that fall into two general categories:

Primary sources were made in the period and place being studied. Examples include clothing advertisements from  women's magazines, dress patterns printed in period newspapers, drawings by a fashion designer, or an actual article of clothing. Primary resources that are rich with images can also yield, with careful analysis, an insider's view of the ideas, concerns, and values of a place and time. 

Secondary sources, on the other hand, are created by scholars and costumers who have studied primary resources, synthesized what they have learned, and presented it for others in the field. Secondary sources are arranged by century indicated on each tab. To find more, search OBIS using the tips on the "Databases" tab of this guide.

Websites and museum collections


Make a research appointment with the Art Librarian.
Chat with an Oberlin College librarian.
Review our other Research Guides.
Researching an object in the Allen Museum? See our AMAM research guide.

Barbara Prior's picture
Barbara Prior
Clarence Ward Art Library
Allen Art Building
she, her, hers