There is a vast store of contemporary documents and writings relating to early America, much of it unexploited. In all this mass of material the student of American costume can never be certain when they will unearth something important and pertinent to his study; but there are certain departments in which the rewards are few. The provincial records, state papers, legislative journals, and administrative correspondence may be searched for examples of the sumptuary laws, and for laws regulating or encouraging industries related to costume. Many of these colonial records have been collected and published and can be found in most of the important historical societies and libraries. Others can only be found in the public archives of the various states, counties, and municipalities.
Many of these state papers, together with correspondence and other material throwing light upon the life of the time, have been printed in the historical magazines of the various States, such as the "Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography"; the "Maryland Historical Magazine"; the collections and proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society; the publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, and the "Virginia Magazine of History and Biography."
The various early newspapers and magazines offer a richer field for costume research than the state papers. The "Virginia Gazette," the "Boston News-Letter," "New England Journal," and the "Maryland Gazette" are a few that may be consulted with profit. There are almost complete files of some of these papers; others have been reprinted. C. S. Brigham's "Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690 - 1820," in late volumes of the Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, gives the best information as to where files of the original papers may be found. An interesting compilation of advertisements taken from New England papers, and relating to arts, crafts, costume, and occupations, is "Arts and Crafts in New England, 1704-1775," by George Francis Dow, Topsfield, Massachusetts, 1927.
Contemporary letters, diaries, and travel accounts are one of the best and most accessible sources for the period. Many have been collected, edited, and published.
Some of the important ones are: "Memoir of a Life Chiefly Passed in Pennsylvania," Edinburgh, 1822, by Alexander Graydon; the "Journal of Madame Knight," Boston, 1920; "Early Letters from Pennsylvania, 1699-1722"; "Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography," 1877; "Travels in the American Colonies," New York, 1916; "Journal of William Black, 1744"; "Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography," 1913; "Journal of a Journey to Georgia, 1745"; "Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography," by William Logan, 1912; "Chronicles of the. Pilgrim Fathers," New York, 1910; "Travels Through the Middle Settlements, 1759 and 1760," by Andrew Burnaby, London, 1775; and "Letters from an American Farmer, 1776-1781," by St. John de Crèvecur.
The pioneer in the field of American costume is "Two Centuries of Costume in America," by Alice Morse Earle, two volumes, New York, 1903. It contains an amazing amount of information, the result of years of patient research. "Historic Dress in America, 1607-1870," by Elizabeth McClellan, two volumes, Philadelphia, 1904, is the other standard work in the field.
"The Quaker: A Study in Costume,"
by Amelia Mott Gummere, Philadelphia,
1901, is a careful study of Quaker dress that, in addition, treats
in a general way of both American and European costume. "Costume
of Colonial Times," one volume, New York, 1894,
is by Alice Morse Earle. It is in the manner of a small dictionary,
dealing concisely with garments, materials, and accessories of
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, evidently a pioneer
book that later developed into the two volumes mentioned above.
"The Psychology of Dress," Frank Alvah Parsons, one
volume, New York, 1920, while dealing generally with the costume
of Europe, has a most instructive chapter on "The Eighteenth
Century in England and America."
"Costume in England: A History of Dress to the End of the Eighteenth Century," by the late F. W. Fairholt, the Dillon edition, London, 1910, is in the form of a dictionary of costume, and is invaluable to the student. It contains many interesting quotations from contemporary sources. "General History of Costume in Europe," by James Robinson Planché, two volumes, London, is of the highest importance to the student, and should be read in combination with Fairholt. Volume I is a general history of costume; Volume II a dictionary of dress. "Costume en France," by J. Quicherat, Paris, is one of the most authoritative of the French books on costume. "Le Costume en France," by A. Racinet, is a large and valuable contribution to the history of costume, but to the beginner is apt to be misleading as to dates. "Comment Discerner les Styles du VIII au XIX Siècle," by L. Roger-Miles, Paris, is valuable for the great variety of costumes shown in the illustrations. "Costume Civil en France," by, C. Piton, Paris, is extremely rich in photographs of contemporary material, but text not of much value. "Die Mode," by Max von Böhn, eight volumes, München, 1923, is a splendid series of small handbooks, profusely illustrated with contemporary material of the different centuries. "Bilderbuch aus drei Jahrhunderten," by Georg Hirth, six volumes, Leipzig and München, is invaluable to the student of costume. "The History of Costume in France," from the French of M. Augustine Challamel, New York, 1882, is an extremely fascinating book on French costume. "Historic Costume," by Francis M. Kelly and Randolph Schwabe, New York, 1925, is one of the most comprehensive and valuable contributions to the history of costume in modern times. Every student of costume should have this valuable book always at his elbow. "English Costume," by Dion Clayton Calthrop, was published during 1906 in four volumes; in April 1907 in one volume, London. It gives splendid pictures of the life in England in relation to costume. Small pen-and-ink thumb-nail sketches appear throughout the book and are of great interest. They make the history of costume come to life.
The best picture of the sweeping pageant of
American colonial development is given in the first volume of
"The Rise of American Civilization," by Charles A.
Beard and Mary R. Beard, two volumes, New York, 1927. Excellent accounts of the political development
of the country are found in Volume I of Henry William Elson's
"History of the United States of America," five volumes, New York, 1908; in the first and second
volumes of Edward Charming's "History of the United States,"
six volumes, New York, 1905; and in Volume I of "History
of the American People," by Woodrow Wilson, Boston, 1889.
Several volumes of "The American Nation," a history
in twenty- eight volumes, edited by Albert Bushnell Hart, New
York, 1904-1918, cover the period of the colonial scene; Lyon
G. Tyler's "England in America, 1580-1652", E. B. Greene's
"Provincial America, 1690-1775." The clearest and most comprehensive summing up of colonial expansion and development is to be found in several volumes of "A History of American Life," edited by A. M. Schlesinger and D. R. Fox, New York, 1928. Volume II of "The First Americans 1607- 1690," by Thomas Jefferson Wertenbaker, traces admirably the vicissitudes of the early settlers; Volume III, "Provincial Society 1690-1763," by James Truslow Adams, is a splendid presentation of the economic growth and social structure during the period covered.
The most searching economic and social interpretations of early New England are found in James, Truslow Adams's works - "The Founding of New England," Boston, 1921; and "Revolutionary New England," Boston, 1923; W. B. Weeden's "Economic and Social History of New England, 1620-1784," two volumes, Boston, 1890. John Fiske's "Beginnings of New England," Boston, and "New France and New England," Boston, 1902, are well known, as is Francis Parkman's "France and England in North America," nine volumes, Boston, 1892. There are numerous local histories, some of which contain material of worth.
The South is treated in "Economic History of Virginia in the Seventeenth Century," by P. A. Bruce, two volumes, New York, 1896; "The Planters of Colonial Virginia," by T. J. Wertenbaker, Princeton, 1922; and "Old Virginia and Her Neighbors," by John Fiske, two volumes, Boston, 1897,
For conditions in the middle colonies, there are "The Dutch and Quaker Colonies in America," by John Fiske, two volumes, Boston, 1903, and "Pennsylvania, Colony and Commonwealth," by Sidney G. Fiske.
One of the best works on colonial architecture is Fiske Kimball's "Domestic Architecture of the American Colonies and of the Early Republic," New York, 1922. H. D. Eberlein's "The Architecture of Colonial America," Boston, 1921, gives an excellent general survey of the field. Popular accounts of special sections of the country are given in "Old New England Houses," by A. G. Robinson, New York, 1920; "The Colonial Homes of Philadelphia and Its Neighborhood," by H. D. Eberlein and H. M. Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1912; and "Historic Virginia Homes and Churches," by R. A. Lancaster, Jr., Philadelphia, 1915.
Volume I of "A History of American Art," by Sadakichi Hartmann, Boston, 1902, and "American Pictures and Their Painters," by Lorinda M. Bryant, London, 1917, contain some information on some of the earlier painters. A fuller account is given in "American Artistic Life," by Henry Nickerman, New York, 1867. William Dunlap's "A History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States," Boston, 1918, is still indispensable. Other valuable publications are: "Little Known Early American Portrait Painters," Boston, and "The Life and Works of John Singleton Copley," both by F. W. Bayley, Boston, 1915; "Joseph Blackburn, a Colonial Portrait Painter," by Lawrence Park, Worcester, 1923, and "An Account of Joseph Badger," Lawrence Park, in Publications of the Massachusetts Historical Society for December, 1917.
"The Practical Book of Early American Arts and Crafts," by H. D. Eberlein and Abbot McClure, Philadelphia, 1916, treats the whole field generally. Excellent books on individual arts are: John Spargo's "Early American Pottery and China," New York, 1926; Rhea Mansfield Knittle's "Early American Glass," New York, 1928; F. W. Hunter's "Stiegel Glass," Boston, 1914; Emily N. Vanderpoel's "American Lace and Lacemakers," New Haven, 1923; Arthur Hayward's "Colonial Lighting," Boston, 1923; and "Early American Craftsmen," by Walter A. Dyer, New York, 1915.
"A History of English Furniture," by Percy Macquoid, four volumes, New York, 1904-5, and "English Furniture of the Eighteenth Century," by Herbert Cescinsky, three volumes, London, are the outstanding authoritative works on English furniture, and splendid to study in conjunction with American books on the same subject. For American furniture, "Colonial Furniture in America," by Luke Vincent Lockwood, two volumes, New York, 1921, is the standard work. "Furniture Treasury," two volumes, Farmington, Massachusetts, 1928, is a magnificent picture-book of the furniture in America during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. "Furniture of Our Forefathers," by Esther Singleton, New York, 1913, is filled with interesting research in relation to old bills, invoices, and prices. "English and American Furniture," by Herbert Cescinsky and George Leland Hunter, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1929, is an admirable book on the comparison of the two styles. "Early American Furniture," by Charles O. Cornelius, New York, is rich in the historical background of furniture during the colonial period.
There are many books treating of the home life and quaint customs of colonial days. Most of them are packed with interesting information, but usually little attempt is made to trace the development of the various phases of colonial life through the succeeding decades.
Alice Morse Earle's "Home Life in Colonial Days," New York, 1926, is a mine of information on the background of early American life. All of her books, such as "Stage Coach and Tavern Days," New York, 1900; "Colonial Dames and Goodwives," New York, 1900; "Customs and Fashions in Old New England," New York, 1894; "The Sabbath in Puritan New England," New York, 1891; and "Child Life in Colonial Days," New York, 1899, are the result of much research, and are crammed with information of value. Two books similar in character are Mary C. Crawford's "In the Days of the Pilgrim Fathers," Boston, 1920, and Marion N. Rawson's "Candle Days," New York, 1928. Sidney G. Fisher, in his "Men, Women and Manners in Colonial Times," two volumes, Philadelphia, 1898, treats each colony separately.
New York is covered by Esther Singleton's "Dutch New York," 1909, and her "Social New York Under the Georges 1714-1776," New York, 1902. "New York, Old and New," by R. R. Wilson, Philadelphia, 1902, is also of interest.
J. F. Watson's "Annals of Philadelphia," two volumes, Philadelphia, 1857, is valuable for Philadelphia and its vicinity; and S. G. Fisher's "The Makers of Pennsylvania" covers the entire State.
There is excellent material regarding early Virginia in Mary N. Stanard's "Colonial Virginia, Its People and Customs," Philadelphia, 1917.
Special phases of colonial life are treated in Carl Halliday's "Women's Life in Colonial Days," Boston. 1922; Geraldine Brooks's "Dames and Daughters of Colonial Days," New York, 1902; C. K. Bolton's "Scotch-Irish Pioneers," Boston, 1910, and A. B. Faust's "The German Element in the United States, two volumes, Boston, 1909.