Kicking Back in Baltimore

The Connecticut Historical Society has always been the type of institution to encourage employees to attend conferences, lectures, etc. that help them continue to gain knowledge and skills that will help in their jobs.  Last week I had the opportunity to attend one of my favorite conferences in Baltimore, Maryland.  It was three full days of nothing but costume history!


You see, I am a member of the Costume Society of America and have been for many years.  The organization pulls together those who are interested in costumes from a variety of disciplines: fashion historians, theatrical costumers, fashion designers, and more.  The annual conference is a great time to get together and talk about the new scholarship happening in the field of costume history, and Baltimore was no different. 

As the Regional President of the Northeastern Region (I), it is always a pleasure to meet so many like-minded, amazing individuals from our area of the country.  Not to mention getting to discuss the great costume collections held around North America.  I had the chance to not only promote our Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen exhibition, but also to point out some of the great items in our collection that could be of use to various scholars already diving into topics concerning the history of dress.

ImageI had the opportunity to learn about some amazing things happening with costume collections going up online and how institutions are providing access to their collections.  I also learned about new display techniques for costumes…perhaps you will see some of them in future exhibitions…

As my sister would say, I spent three very long, very full days “geeking out.”  I met many individuals who are doing amazing things in the field of costume and textiles and even met some authors of books I have loved for years (and practically worn out from referencing so much!).  Some of the topics presented during the symposium included: Oxford Bags (wide-leg men’s pants popular in the 1920s and 1930s), the history of nursing uniforms in Canada, maternity clothing in the 1910s, and even more modern topics such as YouTube Haul videos and the debate about laws to protect fashion designs. 

Now I realize that to many of you this may not sound like the place you want to spend 12 hours a day for 3 straight days…but to me, it was heaven.


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About Karen

Karen DePauw is a Research and Collections Associate at The Connecticut Historical Society. Along with aiding patrons who visit the museum in their research efforts, Karen works behind the scenes with the costume and textile collection. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History, double minoring in Theatre and Theology, from Quincy University. Karen obtained her Master of Science degree at the University of Rhode Island in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising, and Design, with a specialization in Historic Costumes and Textiles.

2 thoughts on “Kicking Back in Baltimore

    • I completely agree Rachel. The idea of spending a day wrapped in gorgeous fabric is appealing…but only if after a few hours I can change into jeans and a t-shirt! 🙂

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