Old-time fashion meets future
Towson University’s Department of Theatre Arts has sewn together the digital age and 1800s.
Since the 1970s, the department has collected clothing, including maternity and wedding dresses, evening gowns and suit jackets, dating from the 1830s.
They have amassed 1,000 garments, 100 of which are now available for online viewing on the Albert. S Cook Library archives website.
Assistant professor of costume design Julie Heneghan said that retired professor Georgia Baker started the project with former shop manager Cheryl Partridge.
“They received a lot of donations from people in the Towson [and] Baltimore area. There were fewer places for people to donate their old clothes and so there was sort of this influx of stuff they got in the 1970s,” Heneghan said.
Freshman Katie Hamrick said she thinks the project is interesting.
“It’s cool to see the history that is here,” she said. “Especially for people who are coming from different areas and different hometowns, it’s helpful for people to know the history behind where they are.”
The department is no longer accepting donations, and is currently assessing the items in the collection, Heneghan said.
Last year, the project received a grant from the Provost office to work on appraising each individual piece.
The grant also allowed the department to begin a partnership with the Towson University Special Collections and Archives to make the garments available for online viewing.
The project is still in its preliminary stages, Heneghan said.
“It would be great if we could use it for any number of ways, in teaching costume history, or in doing exhibits, but that’s why we kind of formed a committee to see where can we go from here and how much money will we need for the next steps of the project,” Heneghan said.
She said that the committee’s mission is to catalogue as much of Baltimore’s history as it can and that she thinks the collection is something Towson can be proud of.
“We’re going to try to hone in on what are the most valuable pieces of the collection, which ones are the best for any multitude of reasons, but what has the most value to our students or to people in the community,” she said.