Victorian Wedding Dress in the United States: A History Through Paper Dolls
by Norma Lu Meehan and Mei Campbell

Texas Tech University Press, 2009. ISBN 978-0-896-72661-1.
Reviewed by Diana Nolan
Posted on 01/03/2010

Nonfiction: History/Current Events; Nonfiction: Cultural/Gender Focus; Nonfiction: American Women in Their Cultural/Historical Context

When engrossed in wedding preparations, today's brides may find comfort in knowing they are not bound by the customs of Victorian times, and have the freedom to select the best fashion features from that era. Back then, the circumstances of the bride often dictated the necessity to wear a gown of color that could be worn at future social engagements, rather than an elaborate, expensive gown of white.

Fashion illustrator and author, Norma Lu Meehan, and costume curator, Mei Campbell, have produced an appealing publication of wedding styles as they were popularized in the United States during the Victorian era. The paper doll book, Victorian Wedding Dress in the United States: A History Through Paper Dolls, complements a series on fashion history published by Texas Tech University Press.

In addition to the detailed and colorful paper doll illustrations, there are meticulous descriptions of each gown, often including a journalistic report of the wearer of the gown, the location of the wedding, and perhaps information on the family background. The gowns are drawn from the collections at the Northern Indiana Center for History and the Museum of Texas Tech University. Meehan and Campbell also provide a lengthy bibliography and an enlightening glossary that may be useful for a bride of 2010 who wishes to include a bit of ruching on her wedding dress.

Norma Lu Meehan is a fashion illustrator and author of many paper doll fashion histories including Heroine of the Limberlost, and with Jean L. Drusedow, Collection by Design. She lives in South Bend, Indiana, and volunteers as a costume curator at the Northern Indiana Center for History.

Mei Campbell is curator of ethnology and textiles at the Museum of Texas Tech University, and a member of the university's graduate faculty of the Center for Advanced Studies in Museum Science and Heritage Management. She lives near Lubbock, Texas.

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