Vol. 5: Greene, John and Elizabeth McCrum.

Type: Article

Greene, John and Elizabeth McCrum. ‘‘Small clothes’: The evolution of men’s nether garments as evidenced in The Belfast Newsletter Index 1737-1800’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 5 (1990), pp 153-171.

This article gives a general description of The Belfast Newsletter Index to demonstrate the ‘quantity and quality’ of information in the newsletter. The authors then illustrate the value of the index by showing how much information is contained in the paper about the evolution of men’s breeches, or ‘small clothes’. The Belfast Newsletter claims to be the “oldest, continuously published English-language newspaper”. Greene and McCrum discuss the newsletter’s history, size, circulation, and content; then they examine breeches in detail, from their inception as a fashionable garment in 1570 through the evolution of various styles, their relationship to social class, the methods of tailoring and the materials used; they mention also the role of breeches as erotic garments. According to the authors, the study of The Belfast Newsletter and its coverage of ‘small clothes’ serves to show “the local (and universal) complexities involved in the production, acquisition and wearing of any item of clothing”. The article includes figures to give examples of subject headings in the index as well as illustrations of newspaper advertisements and of men’s ‘small clothes’.