The complete Vogue archive, from the magazine’s first issue in1892, to present, is available for public use through the Phoenix Art Museum Library.
Every American issue of the magazine is accessible through the library’s computer database with most American issues and some international editions available in hard copy. In almost a year of allowing the public to access the museum’s subscription, the archive has proven to be an excellent resource.
“I always recommend when we’re giving a tour of the library to always check the Vogue archive as well because you’re going to find articles that are accessible… something that was written for the masses,” librarian Lindsey Powers said.
Powers remembers one gentleman who was interested in 1930s automobiles and had much success looking through Vogue. He found advertisements for luxury cars in issues of the magazine, exemplifying that Vogue can be a resource beyond fashion.
“Vogue was very pioneering in featuring not only fashion, but cultural events and interviews with people [and] noted artists,” Dennita Sewell said, curator of Fashion Design.
Through the library’s computers, users can create an account or folder to collect pages of Vogue, email or save them as JPEGs and PDFs. The database also allows for general searches, as well as narrowing down by categories such as document type, company or brand, section editor, fashion item, person pictured, photographer or illustrator, material, designer name and publication date.
Additionally, users can search a topic online, find which issues contain the information they are looking for, and then look for the hard copies of those issues in the library, which saves time and also preserves the hard copies, protecting them from continuous use.
Aside from the Vogue archive, the library has a collection of other fashion material, including original copies of titles such as Fortuny, Inventive Clothes, Fashion as a Tool to Reach Out and The Culture of Wearability. The fashion section was endowed to the library in the 1960s.
It contains a continuous collection of fashion books, which according to Sewell is what makes them valuable, because they capture different periods of time. Within the fashion section, one shelf is dedicated to material relating to the current fashion exhibit on display in the museum. A room for special collections is available to look through by appointment. This room contains original issues of Harper’s Bazaar and Godey’s Lady’s Book, among others.
“When it comes to the library side of it, fashion is kind of a funny thing; it’s split up into two subject areas: into anthropology and history and also into technology,” Powers said, noting that in most libraries these are separate sections, but that in the Art Museum’s library these sections are together.
The Phoenix Art Museum Library is free to the public and located behind the museum. It is open Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month.
Photo courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum