The Myrtle Tyrrell Kirby Fashion Plate Collection

The Myrtle Tyrrell Kirby Fashion Plate Collection comprises 650 images of nineteenth-century fashion plates from the Macpherson Collection of the Ella Strong Denison Library at Scripps College. The collection was donated to the Denison Library in 1948 by Scripps Trustee Benjamin Kirby (1876-1957) and is named for his first wife, Myrtle Tyrrell Kirby (1881-1942). In addition to the Myrtle Tyrrell Kirby collection, the digital collection includes 65 fashion plates donated to the Denison Library by Elliot E. Lawrence.
The full-color fashion plates in the Kirby collection were culled from a variety of women’s periodicals and other mass-circulating works published between 1789 and 1914. The images are primarily from France, Britain, America, and Spain, and depict scenes of nineteenth-century middle- and upper-class life with an emphasis on the leisure practices of bourgeois women, men, and children. Many of the fashion-plate images in this collection circulated in nineteenth-century women’s periodicals or in bound collections. Fashion plates from the nineteenth century bear witness to the importance of fashion in our recent past and, as widely circulating precursors to photographic images in modern-day fashion magazines, anticipate fashion’s role in today’s mass-media, image-driven culture.