Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design


Historic Costume and Textiles, Textile Conservation, and Cultural Analysis


Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design

First Advisor

Linda Welters


Parasols are a largely undocumented genre of fashion history, yet many museums have them in their collections. This thesis investigated the parasols in the University of Rhode Island’s Historic Textile and Costume Collection. My purpose was to identify, 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 in which they played prominent roles. Scholars speculate their origins date to more than five thousand years ago. It is a fact that parasols have been shading kings in friezes and laypersons alike for thousands of years, and there is not 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 artifacts 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 grouped by decade as dating was accomplished. Eighty-six parasols were examined in total and all were able to be dated and organized into categories. This research is potentially helpful to other museums with collections of parasols and umbrellas.



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