Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Fashion and Costume History

Clothing is determined by society and culture, and can often be an important indicator of social and cultural processes. People often want, consciously or subconsciously, to reveal something of the vision they have of themselves or the surrounding society. To cite one example: the founder of modern Turkey, Kemal Ataturk, banned the fez at the beginning of the 20th century, the headgear that had become a characteristic of revolutionary innovations in the Ottoman Empire a century earlier.
One of the main problems in historical research into fashion is the availability of resources. Original garments are scarce and rarely give enough information. Therefore, contemporary documents on clothing and clothing accessories are of great importance. However, this material rarely finds its way into a library or museum. Collections in this area are scarce and if they do exist, are mostly the work of private collectors.

Tailor and Collector

J.H.J. van Deventer, tailor in Amsterdam, was such a collector. He acquired great fame in his profession and his firm was notable for many years, while he was also widely known for his training school for tailors. In addition to these activities mentioned, he developed a great interest in the history of the profession. This led him to accumulate an extensive collection of books and magazines. Apart from the technical aspect of the tailoring business, he was also interested in the economical side. In the Collection-Van Deventer we can not only find titles on carnival clothing, reform clothes, shoes, hairstyles and wigs, but also works on tailor guilds and the history of the textile industry.

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The collection also contains a large number of engravings of men and women's clothing from the period 1830-1865. A selection of 15 pictures has been made from this collection.
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Inventory of the Van Deventer Collection

Van Deventer determined in 1935 that on his death, the collection would pass into the possession of the Economic-Historical Library. He died on 7 January , 1950.
In subsequent years, the collection was extended, albeit on a very modest scale. In 1978 an inventory of the collection, the Catalogue of fashion and textile history, was published. The catalogue is organized by subject. View this special catalogue (in Dutch):Catalogus Van Deventer Collectie [PDF]. You can retrieve the titles by classification, via the Reading Room of the IISH. information:


2 February 2015