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Early male tightlacing, corsetting, and cross-dressing collection

Identifier: 10034

Content Description

This collection contains approximately 4 linear feet of scrapbooks and albums documenting six decades of corseting, tightlacing, and cross-dressing, among related topics and subcultures from 1880 through the end of the 1930s. The eight scrapbooks and two binders contain photographs, portraits, clippings, notes, drawings and a written manuscript by the anonymous creator. One of the binders also contains four copies of Das 3. Geschlecht (das Transvestiten), among other German-language ephemera from the Weimar era.

This collection also includes material featuring the Indigenous peoples of Papua New Guinea, traditional Indian piercings and dance, among other cultures, in an attempt to include as many "tightlacing" and "crossdressing" trends as possible. Researchers should note that these cultural practices are described using a Western-European cultural perspective and may be offensive or culturally sensitive to members of their originating communities.


  • Creation: Majority of material found within circa 1880-1939

Language of Materials

English , German .

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies of original materials may be made available for research purposes at the discretion of the Eberly Family Special Collections Library. Photocopies or reproductions of original materials may be subject to fees as outlined by the Pennsylvania State University Libraries reproduction policies.

Copyright is retained by the creators of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. Patrons seeking advice on the availability of unpublished materials for publication should consult relevant copyright law and laws of libel.


4.33 Linear Feet (The collection housed in four 13" drop front boxes.)

10 Items : This collection consists of eight scrapbooks and two albums.


This collection spans several decades of the "golden age" of tightlacing. Contents include main-stream media coverage of corseting issues, cross-dressing, and other associated subcultures; black-and-white photographs of corsetiers (presenting as masculine and/or feminine); illustrations and advertisements; a manuscript on the history of corsets; German publications on gender, including Das 3. Geschlecht (das Transvestiten) from the Weimar era; and a range of other ephemera. The creator took great pains to keep themselves anonymous but was likely a member of the tightlacing movement in some form.

Physical Location

For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Penn State University Libraries catalog via the link above. Archival collections may be housed in offsite storage. For materials stored offsite, please allow 2-3 business days for retrieval.

Custodial History

These materials were collected and compiled by an unknown individual or individuals. The compete custodial history of this collection is unknown.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These scrapbooks were purchased from Lux Mentis, Booksellers on 2020 March 21 using funds from the Malkin, Mann, and Espenshade fund lines.


This scrapbook collection adds context and content to our LGBTIA+ collecting area, and also adds additional background on the Women's History and Experience area. While it documents male corset-wearers and high-heel aficionados, as well as female impersonators, it also contains content about female tightlacers and corsetieres as well. This may be some of our earliest material that relates to the experiences of trans and gender diverse people, which is worth noting. It is also worth noting that the scrapbooks appear to have been kept by someone who was actively involved in corset-wearing and tightlacing communities.

Related Materials

Ethel Granger Archive of Photographs and Ephemera, #7772, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

Postcards of German female impersonators, #7636, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.

Nell Houston Brown Papers, 1883-1946, Tennessee State Library and Archives.

Carroll Revue collection, MS 1983, Manuscripts and Archives Repository, Yale University Library.

Transgender collection, MS 1848, Manuscripts and Archives Repository, Yale University Library.

Condition Description

Loose leaves within the scrapbooks are brittle, as are the pamphlets enclosed in the larger binders.


This record was shared by the Eberly Family Special Collections Library, Pennsylvania State University as a part of the ArchivesSpace Inclusive Examples project. For more information, reach out to the institution.

Processing Information

Gideon Goodrich minimally processed and described this material at the collection level by rehousing the scrapbooks in 13" dropfront boxes (the materials arrived loose) and creating an inventory of the order they imposed on the collection. Gideon conducted additional research in order to describe two of the publications represented in this collection - Facts and Fancies, a small, subscription only publication, and Recollections of a Corsetiere, a section of London Life - in order to provide the most accurate dates and publication information possible.

Guide to the Early male tightlacing, corsetting, and cross-dressing collection 10034
Compiled by Gideon Goodrich
2021 March 4
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in: English, Latin script.

Repository Details

Part of the Jane Smith Special Collections and Archives Repository