Ryerson University



The MLC Archive is pleased to share the recent acquisition of nine issues of The Delineator, one of the foremost women’s and fashion magazines of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. From 1873 to 1937 The Delineator devoted itself to fashion and culture, each issue brimming with depictions of the latest dresses, illustrated short stories, and articles on arts, social issues, and homemaking alike. Details of fashionable patterns available for purchase were always a major component of the magazine, which was in fact published by Butterick, prominent seller of sewing patterns. Despite this commercial footing, The Delineator did not hesitate to put itself on the side of women’s rights and was a staunch advocate of suffrage from the turn of the century. 

Changing covers of The Delineator: July 1898, March 1904, and October 1919



At the turn of the century, The Delineator began to publish select fashion illustrations on full colour plates. By the 1910s, the increasing numbers of colour plates began to be used primarily for advertisements—most of which still foregrounded the height of fashion. These two examples, one from 1901 and the other from 1919, also illustrate a second shift, this time societal: the Victorian, domestic conception of femininity, coloured in pastels, giving way to the bold colours and striking design of the modern new woman.  

Indeed, the interactions of fashion with society, culture, and world events are evident throughout. This description of current fashions in wedding dresses in 1919, for instance, begins by alluding to recent experience of the home front:

“The war bride may have had more excitement than the peace bride, but she didn’t fare nearly as well as to her wedding gown and wardrobe.”

The illustrated pages of The Delineator offer copious insights not only into contemporaneous fashion and culture, but also into the interests, priorities, and concerns of its readers and the ways they shifted over the decades of its publication. Such magazines aimed at women are particularly important in this regard, opening windows into aspects of life other male-oriented media was prone to overlook. The MLC Archive’s issues of The Delineator join the variety of period women’s magazines in the collection to allow scholars a view into the richness of women’s social and cultural histories. 

Scholars of art, fashion, and culture will greatly benefit from this acquisition to the MLC Archive. To donate original materials from the modernist era (1880 - 1940), or to conduct a research project on our holdings, please contact the MLC Archive at archive@mlc.ryerson.ca.

The Great War in Literature and Visual Culture

MLC Themes

The Great War in Literature and Visual Culture

Amid the unprecedented social change of World War I, women renegotiated their identities by dramatically changing the way they engaged with the arts. But how did they do so? And how did everyday citizens engage with the war?

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

MLC Themes

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, considered by many to be the mother of Dada, was a daringly innovative poet and an early creator of junk sculpture. “The Baroness” was best known for her sexually charged, often controversial performances.

Modernism in the World

MLC Themes

Modernism in the World

Recent research has departed from the Euro-centric and national view of Modernism to include approaches and methods studying Modernism across national boundaries and across different art forms to include fashion, dance, performance, technology, and visual culture.

Lucy Maud Montgomery

MLC Themes

Lucy Maud Montgomery

L.M. Montgomery is perhaps Canada's most important literary export. She was prolific writer of over 500 short stories and poems, and twenty novels, including the beloved Anne of Green Gables.

Canadian Modernism

MLC Themes

Canadian Modernism

The works of numerous Canadian authors who lived during the modernist era may well constitute the most central and experimental articulation of Canadian modernism in prose, allowing authors to stage cross-cultural, controversial, and even conflicted identities.

Modernist Biography and Life Writing

MLC Themes

Modernist Biography and Life Writing

Life writing, including autobiographical accounts, diaries, letters and testimonials written or told by women and men whose political, literary or philosophical purposes are central to their lives, has become a standard tool for communication and the dissemination of information.