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Topics in Chronicling America - The Bloomer

Fashion became political in the 1850s with the introduction of the bloomer, loose-fitting trousers named after women’s rights activist Amelia Bloomer. Promoted as a healthier and more liberated dress alternative to tight corsets and heavy petticoats, the bloomer was quickly adopted by suffragettes such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. While the 1850s fashion trend was short-lived, the bloomer’s popularity returned stronger than ever with the bicycling craze of the 1890s. Read more about it!

The information and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/). Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.


Drawing of Amelia Bloomer

Jump to: Sample Articles

Important Dates:

  • August 14, 1851. Women may look more graceful in “old mode” dragging skirts, but they feel more graceful in bloomers.
  • July 30, 1852. Bloomers seen as a fashion and political failure.
  • February 25, 1853. Amelia Bloomer addresses temperance movement in bloomers.
  • August 19, 1887. Lighter, looser, healthier bloomers subject to hooting and jeering crowds..
  • June 29, 1893. Amelia Bloomer criticized for trying to force a change in fashion.
  • August 13, 1893. Dress reform makes slow progress. Men and women regard bloomers as “ugly and unfashionable.”
  • December 30, 1894. Amelia Bloomer, pioneer of dress reform, is dead.
  • 1895. Bicycle craze makes bloomers fashionable and popular.

Suggested Search Strategies:

  • [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as phrases using Search Pages in Chronicling America.] Amelia Bloomer, bloomer, bloomer costume, bloomers, trousers

Sample Articles from Chronicling America:

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  July 15, 2015
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