The Delineator is a women’s magazine that was created in 1873 by Ebenezer Butterick, a tailor who invented the tissue-paper pattern for sewing garments. Nashville Public Library owns the volumes from 1906 through the magazine’s end in 1937.
Features in The Delineator covered many areas of interest to women at the time: family and parenting, housekeeping, and social issues like women’s rights, divorce, homelessness, child labor, and even careers for women. There were articles by presidents and first ladies discussing political issues and short fiction written by prominent authors. For a time, the magazine was even edited by Theodore Dreiser.
After discovering this title in our Periodicals collection, I become fascinated with the health and beauty advice offered in each issue and the ads for common products of the day are entertaining as well.
But the real stars of every issue are the lovely illustrations (some in black and white, some in color) of women’s fashions and accessories, including intricately embellished hats for society ladies.
I’m a sucker for these sweet pictures of genteel ladies and their beautiful clothing, even if I can’t imagine having to wear the dresses myself. But what better time to indulge in a little nostalgia over frilly pastel gowns and feathered hats than Spring?
If you’re interested in seeing The Delineator in person (be forwarned, they are very fragile), check at the Periodicals desk on the 3rd floor at the Main Library.
For more reading on the genteel fashions and customs of yesteryear, check out these titles in the library’s collection:
Encyclopedia of the Exquisite: An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights by Jessica Kerwin Jenkins