We’ve Won an Artstor Digital Humanities Award!

We’re very proud to announce that Historic Dress has won an award from Artstor! We’re one of three Digital Humanities projects provided with a five year subscription to their Shared Shelf digital media management system. You can read more about these awards at https://artstor.wordpress.com/2015/02/11/announcing-the-artstor-digital-humanities-awards-winners/.

Shared Shelf will provide us with a platform for collaboration, growing our project to include  additional contributors. Earlier phases of this project were based at Smith College and UMass Amherst, funded by a series of grants from the Mellon Foundation to support Digital Humanities initiatives at the Five Colleges in Massachusetts. We explored ways of building upon existing standards to create a robust online environment specific to the study of historic clothing. Digitizing materials from the personal research archive of costume historian Nancy Rexford and from the collection of historic clothing at Smith College, we identified the special needs for metadata creation and web development that would support our goals. We began to develop CostumeCore, which builds upon the VRACore metadata schema to add elements specific to the study of historic clothing. Shared Shelf’s specialized tools for developing customized metadata elements and controlled vocabularies will help us greatly to continue to develop CostumeCore and to test it with contributors from other institutions. We will continue to develop our Omeka site, integrated with Shared Shelf through the plugin they have developed.

Close up of a shawl from Historic Northampton. Photograph by Nancy Rexford; digitized in the first phase of the HistoricDress project.

The initial working group for HistoricDress includes Kiki Smith, Elisa Lanzi, Marla Miller, Nancy Rexford, Arden Kirkland, Tom Scheinfeldt, and Jon Berndt-Olsen. We are now joined by Kathi Martin from Drexel University and Gayle Strege from The Ohio State University. Throughout this project we have received additional support from librarians, archivists, curators, faculty, technologists, and researchers from Smith, UMass Amherst, Mount Holyoke, Amherst, Hampshire, Vassar, Drexel, Ohio State, UConn, Historic Deerfield, and Historic Northampton. We continue to seek participation from an ever-growing group.

Artifacts from the collections of Smith and Vassar Colleges, Drexel University, and The Ohio State University will initially be included, with the potential to add more participants. Artifacts from numerous collections across the country will also be represented via the documentation of costume historian Nancy Rexford. Her personal research archive serves as an impressive finding aid to original objects in small “hidden” collections not otherwise accessible online. We are very pleased to share this content with the Artstor community. Also, Artstor will help move our content upstream to the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).

The media that will come together in Shared Shelf will include images of garments from multiple angles with close-ups and interior views to show construction, microscopic images of fibers, objectVRs, analytical videos, and oral history audio files and transcripts. Rexford’s research archive also adds numerous annotated fashion illustrations from historic periodicals, sorted by object type and chronology, with original source citations. This interplay of diverse media from multiple institutions will provide a unique opportunity to scholars and students.

We’re very excited to get started on our next phase, and very grateful to Artstor for providing this award!

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