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.

The Heartbreak that is Weighted Silk

We have a number of fantastic volunteers at CHS for the summer, and I am lucky enough to have a few working with me up in the costume collection.  One of our volunteers, Jessi, is helping me with something I have wanted to do since I started here….catalogue and photograph all of our costumes that are currently housed in drawers as they are too fragile to hang.  I cannot take credit for the cataloguing as Jessi is taking care of that part, but removing and replacing the items in the drawers plus photography are all two-person endeavors.  Well, because of this…

Dress. 1907-1914.  CHS Collection. 1996.175.0.

Dress. 1907-1914. CHS Collection. 1996.175.0.

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A Change of Plans

I was quite literally in the middle of writing up today’s blog post, all nerdily excited to teach you a thing or two about weighted silk, when I was interrupted by some young researchers.  So, instead, I’m going to tell you about one of the reasons I love my job (don’t worry, you’ll hear about silk later!).

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Map of Europe, 1830.

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The Connecticut Landscape…in our entrance hall

As some of you may already know, this year we are teaming up with FoxCT and the Hartford Courant to celebrate the Courant’s 250th anniversary.  Part of that partnership is a segment on FoxCT every first Thursday of the month called From the Vault where we bring a few items out of storage and give you all a peek.

View of Norwich. About 1840. 1945.2.0.

View of Norwich. About 1840. 1945.2.0.

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The Mystery Shoes

The Connecticut Historical Society has been collecting costume and textile items since the 1840s.  With all of those wonderful objects floating around it is hard to solve all of their mysteries.  One particular mystery has intrigued me since I started here, and I thought I would share it with all of you….

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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!

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How YOU can use our collections!

I often marvel at the variety of ways the public uses our collections.  I thought it would be fun to give a run-down of some of the ways individuals have used, or could use, our vast collections here at CHS. 

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Dress. About 1910. CHS Collection, 1987.267.0.

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Illustrating Life

Last week Rich Malley posted about the Billings and Spencer Company complex in Hartford. He illustrated his post with an amazing watercolor done in 1898 by Hiram P. Arms, a Hartford-based illustrator.  When I first saw the painting, which is quite large, I was intrigued by all of the little vignettes Arms included, as Rich pointed out, to suggest the residential nature of the neighborhood in which the complex stood.  I thought it would be fun to explore a few of those small scenes this week.

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Trying New Things

I had an idea of something to blog about today…but then I changed my mind.  Instead, I thought I would share something with you all (y’all if I was writing this from back in Illinois!).  So many times professionals, regardless of their field, give off an air of confidence, knowledge, and authority.  As they should.  But, that doesn’t mean that we don’t get a little nervous when we have to step out of our comfort zones and try something new…

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Dress. 1770-1795. CHS Collection. 1956.45.62.

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Hepburn Comes Home

The anticipation has been building for weeks.  All of us here at CHS have been excited to bring Katharine Hepburn home to Hartford in the form of an exhibition on loan from the Kent State University Museum called “Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen.”  Well…on Thursday of last week she finally arrived and the better part of three days has been spent unpacking, dressing, hanging, and generally preparing the exhibit to open to the public tomorrow.

getting ready to unbox all the Katharine Hepburn items at the Connectictut Histocial Society Continue reading

Underneath It All

Even if you are not a fashion historian, you have likely seen images of the clothing people wore in the past.  Whether you saw them online, or in your own family photos, the outer garments of individuals are fairly visible.  But what about what lies underneath?  What does that look like???

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Dress. About 1836-1840. Gift of Annetta Eddy Brigham. 2001.49.9.

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