Historic Dress
A Five College Digital Humanities Project

Historic dress scholars, students, and enthusiasts will have a new home: a digital nexus for accessing historic dress collections across the United States and a learning community for sharing research among a diversity of voices. The project focuses on women’s clothing and accessories worn in America from 1770 to 1930.  The topic resonates in diverse fields of study including: gender studies, material culture, theater, art, social history, and economics to name a few. This will be the first participatory digital library on the subject open to a wide range of contributing institutions.  The virtual Center will be accessed under the domain, Historicdress.org.

The project has secured two Five Colleges start-up grants from the Mellon Foundation. Grant supported activities include:

  • Residencies for the working group composed of faculty, researchers, digital humanities specialists, and librarians.
  • Summer workshop residencies for Five Colleges students. Workshop curriculum included: clothing and design scholarship, metadata standards, taxonomies, and digitization methods.
  • Creation of a showcase web site (using OMEKA) and blog to launch the project and garner community.  The site includes a select group of clothing items, primary/secondary resources, and exhibitions realized as images, video, text, timelines, and geographic points. The site will be used to make the case for a future major grant that supports a sustainable infrastructure. Ultimately Historicdress.org will need a combination of robust technologies, such as content management and social media tools, in order to achieve the goals of the project.

Five College Digital Humanities            Smith College            UMass Amherst




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