Brighton Historical Society Costume Collection

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Back in late 2012 a friend, knowing of my interest in costume and social history mentioned to me that he understood that Brighton Historical Society held a significant Costume Collection that was in need of some love and attention. I am so glad he did.

From that time I began my relationship with not only some of the loveliest people but a collection of clothing that I consider to be rather special. For me, this collection is significant as it represents a community from as early as 1820 until the present day. Local people continue to offer us their treasures, and it is this continuum that is rather unique. The collection holds a diverse range of approximately 500 – 700 garments and personal effects with provenance as well as a significant collection of local, supportive items. At the bottom of this page you can view a sample of some of my favourite items and learn a little about what it is that makes them worth valuing.

The Society is a not for profit organization staffed by dedicated volunteers, researching and conserving, the local social history. This social history is relevant beyond the bounds of Brighton as it provides a snapshot of a particular part of Melbourne, and a particular part of Australia.

Victorian Collections Screenshot.

Victorian Collections screenshot

If you would like to check out our progress, click this image to be taken to The Brighton Historical Society on Victorian Collections.There is much to be done for the collection. From organizing exhibitions, to processing new donations, and improving upon storage conditions where possible.

There is much to be done for the collection, from organizing exhibitions, improving upon storage and processing new donations. For my part, with restricted time available for Pro Bono work, I have focused my efforts on the cataloging of the costumes with provenance. It was decided that an initial effort would be made to use the Victorian Collections register, an initiative developed by Museum Victoria in partnership with Museums Australia (Victoria).

In the future it is hoped that we will extend this to The Powerhouse Museum’s Dress Registry as well as the records of the society itself. Our intention is to capture, make available and promote the clothing and its social history for students, researchers and the public. Due to restrictions in funds and volunteer hours the records for each item provide a taster of the information available, with further research and more fully detailed records produced upon demand.

I have been fortunate to have the pleasure of the support of Di Reidie, president of The Brighton Historical Society and her team, and worked alongside Boe Lin Bastian, who has taken the majority of the photographs you see on the register.

This is a work in progress that fluctuates in its speed as it fits in and around other projects and responsibilities.

Here is a selection of pieces from the collection to demonstrate its scope and merit.

1790's Agricultural Smock collage1790's Calash collage1860's Patchwork Dressing Gown collage1860's slippers collage1920's evening cloak collage1920's flapper dress collage1930's day dress collage1930's wedding gown collage1930's wedding gown 2 collage1960's water rat coat collage

If you would like to become involved with the costume collection at Brighton Historical Society please email Annabel (me) at

If you would like to contribute to The Brighton Historical Society in general either as a member or as a volunteer please contact Di or Liz on 9553 8650, at or visit the website.

P.S. Occasionally I blog about activities that go on at the BHS.

Click here to read about The BHS at The Glen Eira Festival of Story Telling – Celebrating Style – 1950’s in Melbourne.