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Library of Congress. Print and Photograph Collection.

In the 1850s, the term “bloomers” referred to a knee-length tunic worn loose or belted over Turkish pants, which could hang straight or be gathered at the ankle. This was a marked contrast to many layers of petticoats and tight corsets that restricted movement and caused serious health problems.

Iowa newspapers in Dubuque, Muscatine, Ottumwa, and Farmington printed stories about the first appearances of the new apparel in their communities.

Iowan Amelia Bloomer did not invent bloomers, but the costume was associated with her name because she wrote about it frequently in her publication, The Lily, and because she wore the reform dress longer than most suffragists.

Amelia Jenks Bloomer (1818-1894)

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History of Woman Suffrage, ed. Anthony, Stanton & Gage.