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Classic Halloween costumes from 1865 to today

  • Classic Halloween costumes from 1865 to today

    Halloween 2020 will likely look different than in past years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends avoiding coming into direct contact with trick-or-treaters, suggests giving candy outside rather than from your front door, and of course, wearing a mask. Though the CDC also specifies that a Halloween mask is not a suitable substitute for a protective mask, and warns against wearing a costume mask on top of a cloth mask because it could make breathing challenging.

    With COVID-19 rates still a concern, some may avoid trick-or-treating, parties, and parades altogether. But without a doubt, costumes will still be worn, whether to be shown off on social media or to be admired by socially-distant passerbys.

    To celebrate the tradition of dressing up for Halloween, Stacker scoured the archives to find 50 photos of Halloween costumes from 1865 to today. The usual suspects pop up throughout the centuries—cats, witches, ghosts, and ghouls—but pop culture references also make an appearance, from Darth Vader to Ronald Reagan.

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  • Halloween pumpkin mask

    A figure wearing a white cape and a Halloween pumpkin mask takes a person by surprise in their kitchen, circa 1865.

  • Ghost

    A person wearing a ghost costume behind a table with Halloween decorations in a rural schoolhouse, circa 1905.

  • Early 20th-century group photo

    Young men in costumes pose for a group photo at the beginning of the 20th century.

  • A coven of witches

    A group of women costumed as a coven of witches pose for a Halloween photo, circa 1910, in the United States.

  • Criminals

    Three young men are dressed up as a jail prisoner, Annie Oakley, and spade playing card.

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  • Halloween elf

    A young woman dressed as an elf for Halloween on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

  • Little Bo Peep

    A young woman dressed as Little Bo Peep poses for a Halloween photo on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

  • A mixed bag

    A group of children wear costumes ranging from a skeleton ghost to an angry pirate in an undated photo.

  • Ghosts

    A trio of kids dressed up as ghosts are ready for trick-or-treating, circa 1925.

  • Witch

    A young woman dressed as a witch holds a broom on Halloween in the late 1920s or early 1930s.

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