Bicycle Fashion (1887-1907): Topics in Chronicling America
In the late 19th century, women have caught onto the bicycle fad and fashion designers are accomodating. This guide provides access to materials related to "Bicycle Fashion" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.
Chronicling America is a searchable digital collection of historic newspaper pages from 1777-1963 sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.
Included in the website is the Directory of US Newspapers in American Libraries, a searchable index to newspapers published in the United States since 1690, which helps researchers identify what titles exist for a specific place and time, and how to access them.
It’s the 1890s, the dawn of the golden age of bicycling in America, and women have joined their male friends at Bicycle Row. A Washington, D.C. newspaper reports over 30,000 cyclists take to the streets in 1896. The new drop-frame bicycle solved the problem of entangled skirts, and fashion designers are producing female-friendly bicycle clothing. As one Chicago newspaper reports “the fashionable girl no longer lolls about in tea gowns in darkened rooms, but joins her male friends for a spin in a fetching sailor hat, a shirtwaist with a mannish collar, leg-o’-mutton sleeves, and bloomers.” Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
Women’s drop-frame bicycle makes riding easy for the skirt-clad woman.
Chicago wheelwoman arrested touring south shore boulevards in flesh-colored tights.
Cyclist Annie “Londonberry” pedals the globe on a $10,000 wager.
Washington Evening Star reports on bloomers and bicycles in Paris.
British fashion designer’s bicycle skirt nets $5,000 in four days.
July 9, 1896
Bicycling leads to upswing in immorality among American women claims Women’s Rescue League.
St. Paul minister gives thumbs up to bicycle skirts hiked two inches above the ankle.