A Shade Above: An Analysis of Parasols in a University Collection

Maria Vazquez, University of Rhode Island


This is a study of parasols in the University of Rhode Island’s Historic Textile and Costume Collection with a focus on determining the ways to date, and understand the culture behind, the various styles and purposes of parasols. Parasols, a fashion accessory so commonplace in the nineteenth century were rarely even commented upon in the fashion plates which they played prominent roles. They are largely undocumented, except in their origins from more than seven thousand years ago. Maybe the first parasol was just someone balancing a hat on a stick for shade; we will never know, but it is a fact that parasols have been shading kings in friezes and laypersons alike for thousands of years, and there isn’t much except surviving parasols, and the extant artistic renderings of them, to help us date them. ^ The goal of this research was to catalog and accurately date parasols and define their many categories and nuances, using the parasols in the Historic Textile and Costume Collection. Forty-one features of each of the parasols were analyzed in order to develop an understanding of any correlations so that categories could be identified and different characteristics, techniques, and improvements could be analyzed by decade as dating was accomplished. Eighty-six parasols were examined in total and were all able to be dated and organized into five categories.^

Subject Area

Fashion|American history|Textile research

Recommended Citation

Maria Vazquez, "A Shade Above: An Analysis of Parasols in a University Collection" (2018). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI10751719.