Wisconsin Historical Society

Leslie Bellais

Speakers Bureau

Leslie Bellais | Wisconsin Historical Society
EnlargeLeslie Bellais

Leslie Bellais



  • Hoops & Bustles: A Look at Victorian Women's Fashion - Women’s clothing from 1835 to 1900 with an emphasis on the hoop and bustle eras of the mid and late 19th century. She ties the changing styles to changes in women’s roles. One or two audience members will be asked to model reproductions of an 1857 hoop dress and an 1876 bustle gown.
  • Trends in American Quilting - Why did quilting become so popular in America when it languished in Europe?  Why were there overwhelming national quilting trends rather a myriad of regional ones in the history of American quilting?
  • Victorians' Secrets: The Revealing History of Women's Underwear - The secret behind Victorians' tiny waists and will explore how women's undergarments reflected societal values.  The presentation includes a slightly risqué PowerPoint presentation and possibly a chance to see examples of Victorian underwear from the Society's collection.
  • Boys in Dresses, Girls in Pants: Dressing Children in the 19th Century - Before the late 18th century parents dressed their children as miniature adults, but with the dawning of a new century mothers embraced a new concept, “children’s clothing.”  While now dressed differently from adults, parents decided not to differentiate their young children by gender.
  • Clues in the Dress: Dating Photographs from Clothing - Ways to date those photographs, and possibly figure out which ancestor is being portrayed, by illustrating ways to date the clothing in the images.  She will cover men’s and women’s clothing as portrayed in photographs from the 1840s to the first decade of the 20th century.  Feel free to bring photographs for her to date.
  • Doll Play, 1850-1930 - Since the mass production of dolls began around 1850, these toys have reflected society’s attitudes towards gender roles, child rearing, materialism, and social status.  In the time period under discussion dolls changed from delicate porcelain and bisque beauties that emphasized fashion and social rituals to more rugged and realistic composition dolls that children played with and nurtured.
  • Dressing the Lady Cyclist - When safety bicycles first became available in the 1890s, women happily participated in the resulting cycling craze.  Finding something appropriate to wear that was functional, modest, and fashionable, however, proved difficult.
  • Rituals of Romance: A History of Courtship and Weddings, 1830-1990
  • Flapper Fashion
  • Civil War Memories & Mementos
  • The Rise and Fall of the Long White Baby Dress (1790-1920)
  • Skating for Gold: Wisconsin's Olympic Speed Skaters, 1976-2002
  • Toy Stories: America's Favorite Post-World War ll Toys
  • Zoom! Whiz! Wow! A Hi-Speed History of Madison's Soap Box Derby

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