The Life Cycle of Clothing

A Road Scholar Program by Erika Holst (Edward Place Dresses)

Edwards Place Dresses12 BEST

Apr 27, 2023


Little White School Museum
72 Polk St
Oswego, IL 60543



Americans invested a tremendous amount of labor into making and maintaining their wardrobes during the 19th century. 

This presentation will explore the life cycle of clothing during the 1800s: how it was created, mended, remade, washed, and ultimately recycled.

This presentation will highlight examples of garments and artifacts from the Illinois State Museum’s collections. 

After the presentation, the audience will have the opportunity to do the following:

  • Reflect on their own experiences with making, mending, washing, and recycling clothing, drawing parallels between the 19th century and today;
  • Share memories of this work in their families from earlier generations; and
  • Explore modern attitudes towards “fast fashion” and mending vs. discarding.
Historic dresses studio 9

piece from the Illinois State Museum’s exhibition: “Fashioning Illinois, 1820-1900

This event is Free and Open to the public. For more information, please contact Anne Jordan at


As of right now, we do not require any masks or social distancing. However, we do provide masks for those who wish to wear one and also have hand sanitizer throughout the building. We ask all participants to evaluate their comfort level and come at their own risk

Learn more about Erika Holst, this program, and how to book it here.

Host Organization