Event Title

Historic Dress

Speaker Information

Kiki Smith, Smith College

Speaker Bio

Kiki Smith is a professor of Theatre at Smith College in Northampton, MA and costume designer for theatres and choreographers in New England and New York. She is the director/curator of the Smith College Historic Clothing Collection, over 2,000 objects donated by alumnae and friends of the College. Since there is no comprehensive study of American dress, she is eager to help digitize the extensive research of independent scholars of dress, making their sources and knowledge available and creating a forum for the publication of essays and research on dress- a rich source for digital humanities research in women's history.

Event Website

http://HistoricDress.org/omeka

Abstract

Clothing collections speak volumes about the women who made, wore, cleaned, repaired, and saved them. However, the "language" of clothing is complex, requiring knowledge of construction techniques, comportment, technology, history and art, as well as experience looking at and comparing vast numbers of objects. Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive resource to help researchers date individual pieces and identify their significance.

Our project, Historic Dress, responds to this need, seeking to translate and transmit the research archive and methodology of renowned costume historian Nancy Rexford as part of an extensive online research tool for the study of American women's dress. To date, Five College undergraduates working in collaboration have learned both costume history and digital humanities skills as they scanned and cataloged photographs from the collection. In addition to expanding our curricular impacts, we are also laying groundwork for some innovative digital tools, including a decision tree for dating garments and a visual thesaurus. The next phase of the project, which will involve the UMass Center for Educational Software as well as area curators, will focus on the comparative pedagogical value of teaching with physical and virtual objects. Put another way, what difference does digital make?

Visit the Historic Dress database and exhibitions online, or follow the blog at http://historicdress.org/wordpress/

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Mar 23rd, 2:30 PM Mar 23rd, 3:45 PM

Historic Dress

Clothing collections speak volumes about the women who made, wore, cleaned, repaired, and saved them. However, the "language" of clothing is complex, requiring knowledge of construction techniques, comportment, technology, history and art, as well as experience looking at and comparing vast numbers of objects. Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive resource to help researchers date individual pieces and identify their significance.

Our project, Historic Dress, responds to this need, seeking to translate and transmit the research archive and methodology of renowned costume historian Nancy Rexford as part of an extensive online research tool for the study of American women's dress. To date, Five College undergraduates working in collaboration have learned both costume history and digital humanities skills as they scanned and cataloged photographs from the collection. In addition to expanding our curricular impacts, we are also laying groundwork for some innovative digital tools, including a decision tree for dating garments and a visual thesaurus. The next phase of the project, which will involve the UMass Center for Educational Software as well as area curators, will focus on the comparative pedagogical value of teaching with physical and virtual objects. Put another way, what difference does digital make?

Visit the Historic Dress database and exhibitions online, or follow the blog at http://historicdress.org/wordpress/

http://repository.brynmawr.edu/greenfield_conference/papers/saturday/30