Amelia Bloomer

Amelia Bloomer Biography

Fashion Designer, Journalist, Publisher, Fashion Designer, Activist, Women's Rights Activist (1818–1894)
Amelia Bloomer was a women's rights activist. She advocated for changes in women's fashion that would be less restrictive. "Bloomers" are named after her.


Amelia Bloomer was born on May 27, 1818, in Homer, New York. She worked for women's rights and belonged to the suffrage and temperance movements. She is best known for advocating a dress reform that included looser tops and short skirts with a pair of pants underneath. The outfit was called “bloomers” after her. She died in 1894.

Early Life and Activism

Born Amelia Jenks on May 27, 1818, in Homer, New York, Amelia Bloomer is best known for advocating a certain style of dress reform, as well as for working on behalf of women's rights and in the temperance movement. Bloomer attended a local public school, receiving a limited education. In her late teens, she became a teacher for a short time, and then became a live-in tutor to a nearby family.

While working as a governess, she met Dexter Bloomer, who was editor and co-owner of a local newspaper, the Seneca Falls County Courier, at the time. In 1840, she married Bloomer and moved to Seneca Falls. There, she emerged herself in social life, becoming an active member of her church and community organizations. Amelia Bloomer was deeply committed to the temperance movement. With her husband's encouragement, she began to write about social issues for his newspaper.

Social Reformer

In 1848, Amelia Bloomer went to the First Women's Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls. Bloomer was there largely as an observer, but the following year, she moved into action, creating The Lily, a temperance newspaper. She explained her mission by stating, "It is woman that speaks through The Lily. It is upon an important subject, too, that she comes before the public to be heard. Intemperance is the great foe to her peace and happiness," according to the Women's Rights National Historical Park's website.

With encouragement from fellow Seneca Falls resident and women's right activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the publication also tackled the pressing women's issues of the day. Stanton contributed editorials and other articles to the newspaper. Along with championing women's suffrage, Bloomer also advocated women's dress reform. At the time, women typically wore confining corsets as well as several petticoats under their dresses. Bloomer suggested that women adopt a new style of wearing looser tops and skirts that stopped at the knee, with a pair of pants underneath. Although others had worn this style before, it was Bloomer who made it widely known; the outfit was called "bloomers" after her.

Bloomer later stated, "As soon as it became known that I was wearing the new dress, letters came pouring in upon me by the hundreds from women all over the country making inquiries about the dress and asking for patterns—showing how ready and anxious women were to throw off the burden of long, heavy skirts."

Later Years

With her husband, Amelia Bloomer moved to Ohio in 1853. The pair relocated to Council Bluffs, Iowa, two years later. While she had stopped publishing The Lily that same year, in 1855, Bloomer continued writing on social and political topics. She also worked on behalf of women's rights, becoming involved in the women suffrage movement in her new home state. She is credited with helping to get women the right to vote in Ohio in 1873.

Amelia Bloomer died on December 30, 1894, in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Remembered mostly for a style of women's fashion, she was also an important contributor to the women's rights movement. Her efforts have been remembered in numerous ways, including becoming the namesake of an annual feminist booklist: The Amelia Bloomer Project honors the top feminist books for young readers.

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