• Do you need historical or genealogical research done, but don’t have the time or have more than you can handle?

• Do you have unidentified photographs that need to be dated?

• Do you have clothing or textile collections that need to be identified and sorted?

We can help you with many of your historical research needs.

Click the icons below for more details and pricing on each service.

Our Services

Historical Research
We specialize in Midwest United States history, but can do research in any area of American history. --- $50 per hour (minimum of 2 hours) Will consider traveling at client's expense.
Genealogical Research
We specialize in Wisconsin and Illinois genealogy, but can do any American genealogy. --- $45 per hour (minimum of 2 hours) Will consider traveling at client's expense
Scanning & Transcribing Historical Documents
If you need archival documents at the Wisconsin Historical Society scanned, we can help you with that. We will also travel to archives in Wisconsin and Illinois at the client's expense. --- $45 per hour. We also transcribe newspaper and magazine articles, handwritten documents (18th century and later), or other archival material at $40 per hour.
Dating Photographs
We can date photographs based on the clothing worn by those portrayed, usually a 2-5 year range for women and a 5-10 year range for men and children. --- $25 per session plus $4.00 per image
Antique Clothing & Textile Assesment
We can date and identify antique clothing and textile pieces. Services include inventorying collections, identifying significant items, and suggesting pieces to be deaccessioned (for museums or historical societies) or discarded. We do NOT do financial appraisals. --- $50 per hour (minimum of two hours)
Presentations and Talks
See our list of presentations and talks! --- Profit organizations: $500; Historical societies, genealogical societies, or museums: $200; Other non-profits: $250: Mileage at 50 cents per mile outside of Dane County, Wisconsin.


Below is a list of past presentations by Leslie Bellais. They can be rescheduled for your audience, or we can create one for your specific topic at an additional cost. Contact us for details.

Dr. Leslie Bellais presents an entertaining and educational power point on women’s clothing from 1835 to 1900 with an emphasis on the hoop and bustle eras of the mid and late 19th century. She ties the changing styles to changes in women’s roles. 

Dr. Leslie Bellais will share the secret behind Victorians' tiny waists and will explore how women's undergarments reflected societal values. The presentation includes a slightly risqué PowerPoint presentation.

Before the late 18th century parents dressed their children as miniature adults, but with the dawning of a new century mothers embraced a new concept, “children’s clothing.” While now dressed differently from adults, parents decided not to differentiate their young children by gender. Dr. Leslie Bellais will look at how and why this phenomenon occurred. 

Are you a genealogist with unidentified photographs of your ancestors? Dr. Leslie Bellais will provide you ways to date those photographs, and possibly figure out which ancestor is being portrayed, by illustrating ways to date the clothing in the images. She will cover men’s and women’s clothing as portrayed in photographs from the 1840s to the first decade of the 20th century. Feel free to bring photographs for her to date.

Flappers, those young women of the 1920s who scoffed at conventional standards of behavior, threw aside the corsets and burdensome clothes of their mothers for shockingly short, sleeveless, androgynous dresses. Dr. Leslie Bellais will put the flapper in context of fashion history and illustrate how the flapper style dramatically changed women’s clothing from everyday clothes to wedding dresses to underwear.

When safety bicycles first became available in the 1890s, women happily participated in the resulting cycling craze. Finding something appropriate to wear that was functional, modest, and fashionable, however, proved difficult. Dr. Leslie Bellais will show the obstacles women had to overcome and a variety of possible solutions offered in the early days of lady cyclists.

Since the mass production of dolls began around 1850, these toys have reflected society’s attitudes towards gender roles, child rearing, materialism, and social status. In the time period under discussion dolls changed from delicate porcelain and bisque beauties that emphasized fashion and social rituals to more rugged and realistic composition dolls that children played with and nurtured. Dr. Leslie Bellais will explain and illustrate this evolution of doll forms.

Dr. Leslie Bellais tells the powerful stories of small objects saved by Wisconsinites as mementos of the Civil War.

A bride in a chaste white wedding dress, her face hidden behind a veil, bridesmaids in matching dresses, piles of wedding gifts, all of these have become such entrenched traditions of the wedding ceremony they seem eternal, yet these rituals have existed for less than 200 years.  Dr. Leslie Bellais will explore how these traditions emerged and why they have fossilized into the wedding rituals we experience today.  Ms. Bellais will also compare wedding practices to the rituals of courtship, which in contrast have changed and evolved over time.

Why did quilting become so popular in America when it languished in Europe? Why were there overwhelming national quilting trends rather than a myriad of regional ones in the history of American quilting? These are questions Dr. Leslie Bellais, retired Curator of Costume & Textiles at the Wisconsin Historical Society, will attempt to answer in her presentation on the history of American quilting from the colonial era to the Bicentennial.


These  presentations are on the calendar


Leslie Bellais, Ph.D. has an extensive background as a curator and historian. Her primary expertise is in pre-1940 American textiles and clothing, but she also has experience with historical and genealogical research.

She worked as the Curator of Collections at the Hershey Museum of American Life in Hershey, PA for 4 years and as Curator of Costume & Textiles (later renamed Curator of Social History) at the Wisconsin Historical Society for 29 years.

She has a Bachelor’s Degree in historic preservation from the University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, VA and Master’s Degrees in United States history from the College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, VA and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI. Her Ph.D. from University of Wisconsin is in United States history and material culture. Her theses focused on textile sales in pre-Revolutionary War Virginia and the history and significance of late 19th century bustles! Her dissertation concerns loyalty issues experienced by Wisconsinites during World War I Wisconsin. As a student she interned at the Chancellorsville Battlefield and Colonial Williamsburg.

Check out her publications:

Magazine Articles:
No Idle Hands: A Milwaukee WPA Handicraft Project
Cool Breezes: Handheld Fans in Fashion, Art & Advertising
The Rise and Fall of the Long White Baby Dress
Every Boy a Champion: Madison’s Soap Box Derby Heyday in Photos and Artifacts
Civil War Memories and Mementos
Wisconsin Women of Style
Broken Stars & Silk Dreams: Treasured Quilts of Wisconsin

Book Chapter:
“Lest We Forget”: Remembering World War I in Wisconsin, 1919-1945″ in Home Front in the American Heartland: Local Experiences and Legacies of WWI

From Our Clients


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