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Catholic Intellectual Tradition Symposium

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In postwar America, Catholic teenage girls found themselves at the center of a debate. Everyone, it seemed, had a different opinion about what kind of clothing they should wear. Two modest fashion movements emerged that aimed to solve this problem. Supply the Demand for the Supply (SDS) was a lay initiative founded by teenage girls in the Midwest that quickly spread into a national Catholic youth movement. Meanwhile, the Marilyke Crusade, orchestrated by parish priest Father Bernard Kunkel and the Purity Crusade of Mary Immaculate, promulgated and sold modest clothing based on a particular brand of fear-mongering, Fatima-centric Marian devotion.

The two movements, however, shared a similar goal of promoting modest dress for Catholic teenage girls. This article examines the history and activities of Catholic modest fashion groups and explores the extent that documentary evidence for these movements exists in archives and special collections.

This presentation reports on conclusions about the underdocumentation of fringe and religious fashion movements and suggests strategies for engaging patrons with these materials.