Photo of Eliza McKee
20182021

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My Ph.D thesis investigates non-elite clothing acquisition methods used to obtain clothing in Ulster in the post-Famine period, c. 1850-1914. The research explores geographical variations between industrial Belfast and rural Ulster, to ascertain whether people in Belfast – a city which was a centre of factory-based textile production – accessed clothing in different ways to people in other parts of Ulster. The research assesses whether fashion influenced the acquisition of clothing among non-elites, social ideas influencing the clothing distributed as charity or welfare, the impact of industrialisation, geographical variations and change through time. Throughout the thesis, clothing obtained at different life stages and when fulfilling different roles is reflected upon. This includes clothing graduations at different ages, gendered roles, occupational/working clothing, and the clothing worn by the dead for burial. The project combines archival research, folklore sources, and some analysis of visual and material culture held in museums.

The thesis explores on the market and off the market clothing acquisition options that were utilised by non-elites. The first two chapters of the thesis specifically address the clothing of the poor and methods that were very clearly a part of the economy of makeshifts and survival strategies of the poor. These include poor law clothing and charity. Chapters three to six explore other formal and informal acquisition methods utilised by non-elites to acquire clothing. These chapters explore fixed traders, non-fixed traders, informal and illicit clothing networks and domestic production. 

My research interests include non-elite clothing traditions in Ireland, the clothing of the poor, women and needlework, and the use of folklore sources in dress history.

I am a member of the Association of Dress Historians, the Costume Society, The Dress and Textiles Specialists Network and the Women's History Association of Ireland. I am also a member of the 19th Century Dress and Textiles Reframed research network and of the ACORSO 'Tailoring for women 1750-1920' international research group. 

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Contact: emckee10@qub.ac.uk

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