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Maine Historical Society

MAINE HISTORICAL SOCIETY

PRESERVING HISTORY
ENGAGING MINDS
CONNECTING MAINE

On-Demand Programs

Only the Clothes on Her Back: Clothing and the Hidden History of Power in the 19th-Century United States
*NORTHERN THREADS SERIES* Book Talk with Laura F. Edwards

Recorded on June 21, 2022

Fashion choices can tell us a lot about a person and the world they lived in, but did you know that historic textiles can also reveal hidden stories of ordinary people and how they made use of their material goods' economic and legal values? Historian Laura F. Edwards discusses her book Only the Clothes on Her Back: Clothing and the Hidden History of Power in the 19th-Century United States, exploring long-forgotten practices that made textiles—clothing, cloth, bedding, and accessories—a unique form of property that people without rights could own and exchange. These stories are about far more than cloth and clothing; they reshape our understanding of law and the economy in America.

Purchase the book from our museum store.