Review of Edwards, Laura F., Only the Clothes on Her Back: Clothing and the Hidden History of Power in the Nineteenth-Century
Princeton University Professor Laura F. Edwards is best known for her sterling work on the legal history of the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. Her ability to vividly portray the changes that the Civil War brought to the American legal landscape has earned high praise from prize committees and professional organizations alike. Her latest work melds legal history with the history of material culture. It is a book about textiles—clothing, linens, shoes, and even cloth—the everyday objects that shaped the creation of laws and bolstered the political power of women in the nineteenth-century United States. Only the Clothes on Her Back is a novel and compelling work of legal history, written with clarity and verve, and deserving of a wide readership.