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LGM Podcast: Only the Clothes on Her Back

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For our latest podcast, we were greatly honored to speak to Laura Edwards, a legal historian at Princeton, about her latest book Only the Clothes on Her Back: Clothing and the Hidden History of Power in the Nineteenth-Century United States. This is a pretty mindblowing study about how early American courts recognized clothing as women’s property in a world where women had effectively no other property rights. This led to all sorts of unexpected results. Courts would even sometimes recognize slave women as having a legal right to this property. Women would invest in clothing because it was the one form of property the courts would recognize and because it had staying power as an investment. The book closes by showing how this began to fade after the Civil War and uses the sad story of Mary Todd Lincoln attempting to sell her clothes to raise money as a window into those changes.

The only conversation was super interesting and you will want to listen to this and then buy the book.

Transcript available here.

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