Skip to main content
Milne Library SUNY Geneseo Subject Guides

THEA 234: History of Costume: Books & Media

A guide to assist you in finding primary source material for costuming images.


When searching for information in the Humanities, books are often the place to search first and articles second. If you are uncertain of the correct subject heading to use, begin with a keyword search. Keyword searches can be particularly useful if you are looking for a specific dress mode or historical term (e.g. farthingale or "illusion waists".)

IDS Search

Search for books, DVDs, and other materials throughout New York State and beyond



Go to the Advanced Search

Reference Materials in Milne

I highly recommend beginning with reference materials, especially if you are unfamiliar with your topic. Reference materials “contain many brief articles that cover a broad scope of knowledge in one book, or a set of books” and their purpose is to “allow quick access to essential information about given subjects.”  (Wikipedia )

Catalog Subject Headings

Subject headings are a powerful tool for finding what you need in library catalogs. When you find a useful subject heading in the record of an item, click on it to see all the books we have under that subject. Here are some subject headings that may prove useful for this assignment:

Costume                     Dress Accessories
Costume--History        Dressmaking
Clothing and dress      Fashion

These subject headings can then be further subdivided by geographical and/or time period:

Clothing and Dress—France--17th century
Costume—United States

Don't forget to consider narrower (more specific) terms as well:

Children's costumes--History--19th century
Dress accessories
Women's clothing

Collection Browsing

Materials in Milne are organized using the Library of Congress Call Numbering system. Here are some general areas where you can go to browse:

GT 500-2370  Costume. Dress. Fashion.
N 400-5098 Museums. Galleries. Exhibitions.
N 5300-7418 Visual Arts, history.
NB 60-1115 Sculpture, history.
ND 49-813 Painting, history.
ND 1300-1337 Portraits.
TS 1300-1865 Textile industries.
NK 4700-4890 Decorative Arts, costume.
TT 490-695 Clothing manufacture. Dressmaking. Tailoring. 
TT 950-979  Hairdressing. Beauty culture.