History Slam Episode 167: Halloween Costumes Through the 20th Century

By Sean Graham

This year, Halloween will look very different in communities across the country. Even though Trick or Treating may not be possible, there are still going to be opportunities to dress up in creative and fun costumes. For as much as getting candy made Halloween an exciting event when I was a kid, I remember the costumes I wore a lot more than any of the sugary sweets that found their way into lunch throughout November. As a kid of the ’90s, a lot of my costumes were reflective of ’90s culture. This was not surprising, if you go back through the 20th century, the most popular costumes in any given year can tell us a lot about the culture at the time. For every fad costume – think of Ken Bone in 2016 – there are many more costumes that stand the test of time.

In this very special Halloween episode of the History Slam, I’m joined by Aaron Boyes as we go through the 20th century to talk about the most popular Halloween costumes in each decade. We discuss some of the challenges of coming up with good costumes, some of the timeless costumes that come up throughout the century, and what we can learn from exploring themes in costumes.

Sean Graham is a historian at Parks Canada, an Adjunct Professor at Carleton University, and a contributing editor with Activehistory.ca

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One thought on “History Slam Episode 167: Halloween Costumes Through the 20th Century

  1. Lisa Dillon

    I was “Oh Mighty Isis” for Halloween back in the 1970s. My mom sewed me the whole costume. Totally dating myself …

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