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Baltimore Pride: Highlighting Our LGBTQ+ Collections

June 22nd 2022

By Vivien Barnett, Curatorial & Collections Assistant, and Sandra Glascock, Special Collections Archivist Post published June 22, 2022 On Saturday, […]


Together Again: Reuniting the Silver Tureens of Judge George Washington Dobbin

December 17th 2021

By Harrison S. Van Waes, Director of CollectionsPost published December 17, 2021 and Updated April 14, 2022 When an individual […]


A Tribute to Annie

May 9th 2021

Museum Volunteer Barbara Meger writes about how she was inspired by the expert craftsmanship of quilter Annie G. Dunton (1833-1893).


From Slave to "Self-Taught Genius": Joshua Johnson at the Maryland Center for History and Culture

April 21st 2021

Often considered the first professional African American artist, Joshua Johnson was a freed slave who achieved a remarkable degree of success as a portraitist in his lifetime by painting affluent patrons in his native Baltimore.


Losing Winter: New Participatory Exhibition Opening in July 2021

March 11th 2021

Lynn Cazabon, a Baltimore-based artist and professor, is the artist behind Losing Winter, an upcoming exhibition. Learn more about the participatory art project and sharing memories of winter.


Spinning the Fabric of a Nation: A Nineteenth-Century Spinning Wheel and Early Linen Production in Maryland

November 20th 2020

From getting dressed in the morning to curling up under a cozy blanket, we interact with fabrics every day. But how well do we really understand how those fabrics were made...


Buttons and Badges: Rediscovering the Museum's Political Ephemera Collection

November 5th 2020

In case you have not heard, we just held an election in the United States. Buttons, badges, hats, T-shirts, and […]


Quilt Blocks, Drunk Raccoons, and Political Campaigns

July 17th 2020

Baltimore album quilts, a popular quilting style between 1845 and 1855, inherently hold a trove of historical documentation. These quilts […]


Hutzler’s Art Deco Medallion

July 9th 2020

Marylanders over the age of forty smile brightly and recall fond memories whenever the name “Hutzler’s” is mentioned. Hutzler Brothers […]


Truth is Stranger than Fictional Characters: Dolly Varden in the 1870s

August 30th 2019

During the mid-nineteenth century, people fell in love with Dolly Varden. She became so popular that suddenly anything and everything was named after her, including various types of music, a fish (the Dolly Varden Trout, specifically), a hat, and a style of dress. 


If Clothes Could Talk: The Social History of the Tea Gown

August 18th 2019

The tea gown has had many influences and inspirations. While the tea gown is very much a Victorian-era creation and a response to late nineteenth century culture, the tea gown also largely influenced fashion well into the twentieth century.


Exhibiting Costume at the Maryland Historical Society, 1970 and Now

August 17th 2019

In the 1970s, the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) began a practice of showcasing costume from its Fashion Archives using common exhibition practices for the period. The Fashion Archives  includes over 14,000 garments and accessories dating from 1724 to the present. Curatorial staff preserved the legacies of these exhibitions through meticulous…


Forgotten Furs: Collections Care Strategies for Fur Garments in the Maryland Historical Society's Fashion Archives

August 16th 2019

Fur fashions seem to transcend time and space. They have appeared in numerous cultures across the world throughout the last few thousand years for both functional and aesthetic reasons. While the 1980s and 1990s saw a decline in the desire for fur coats that required the inhumane treatment of animals…


Archiving Accessories: How to Mount a Fan for Storage

August 8th 2019

The Maryland Historical Society’s Fashion Archives holds more than dresses and garments. It also contains a multitude of fashionable accessories from hats to shoes, parasols to gloves, fans to stockings, and everything else in between. Fans were often both functional and decorative. Women in the 19th century kept cool on…


Making a Mend: Historic Repair Techniques for Costume

August 2nd 2019

What do you do when your favorite jeans wear out? Or you lose a button on your favorite blouse? Today’s fast fashion practices encourage consumers to replace garments that are torn, faded, or out of style, but in many costumes in the Fashion Archives at MdHS, evidence of repair means…


A Brief History of the Fashion Plate

July 26th 2019

Emily McCort, 2019 Summer Fashion Archives Intern In the last couple of years, I personally began collecting fashion plates. As someone who has an interest in fashion history and a background in the arts, the combination of fashion and art fascinated me. Earlier fashion plates give the most up to date…


Dating 101: The Pagoda Sleeve of the Mid-19th Century

July 19th 2019

This summer, I and the other Fashion Archives interns have been charged with the rediscovery, processing, and rehousing of costumes from the Maryland Historical Society’s Fashion Archives. Many of the costumes lack accompanying information about the original wearer, or even the time period, so it is necessary for us to…


Bold Prints, Ikat and Chiné Silk

July 12th 2019

When peeking into the boxes of the Fashion Archives at MdHS, one aspect of costume that always strikes me is the complexity of prints and patterns. Sometimes between layers of tissue, my first impression of a dress is only a glimpse of a spectacular floral motif or stripe. This was…


Repurposing Fashion: A 19th Century Woman's Guide to Thrift

July 5th 2019

Before the advent of the ready to wear market, clothing was very costly, not so much for the labor and time that went into creating a garment, but for the quality of the textiles used. Silk of the finest quality could cost the “equivalent to what a laborer might earn…


An 1890s Ermine Tail Cape

June 28th 2019

Around the year 1891, a family member of Trisler S. Pentz wore this cape to his christening. His cousins, Matilda and Charles Simmons, later gifted the cape to Pentz, who then gave it to family members Mr. and Mrs. Darison D. White. They donated the garment to the Maryland Historical…


Meet Our 2019 Fashion Archives Interns!

June 21st 2019

Our 2019 Fashion Archives interns have officially begun working at the Maryland Historical Society! Along with continuing the rehousing project for our costume collection, our three interns will also assist in the installation of the Spectrum of Fashion exhibit, opening October 5. Look forward to their weekly blog posts! 


2019 Fashion Archives Internship Announcement

January 11th 2019

 The Maryland Historical Society is pleased to offer summer positions to successful pre-program applicants for its annual Fashion Archives Internship Program! This year’s program will focus on conservation, mounting, and exhibition preparation of costume and accessories for the upcoming exhibition The Spectrum of Fashion: Highlights from the Fashion Archives at…


2018 Dress of the Year

December 28th 2018

The Maryland Historical Society Fashion Archives has announced its Dress of the Year 2018! With its stunning metallic gold and silver embroidery, lace trims, and its sequin-adorned net overlay, this early 1900s Doucet gown continues to take our breath away!


A Shield Against the Cold: an 1820s Winter Bonnet

December 21st 2018

Today, December 21st, officially marks the beginning of winter and, consequently, the ushering in of cold, frigid weather. When you woke up this morning, you likely consulted the day’s forecast and planned an outfit best suited for the chilly weather. One accessory often worn during this season is a hat…


Collecting Cauet

December 7th 2018

During the Belle Époque, a period conventionally dated from 1900 to 1914, various Parisian couturiers established influential design houses that continue to elicit exclamations of awe when one views their dresses' intricate embroidery, beading, and construction details.


Coat for a Coachman

November 17th 2018

I knew the symbol in an instant: a stag's head. I had seen it before on gilt curtain tiebacks and  china, on stained glass windows above the impressive double doors to the Great Hall, and on the enormous pier mirrors that reflect endlessly on each other in the red furnished…


Lottie Barton: Dressmaker, Importer, Smuggler

November 5th 2018

To this date, little research has been completed on late-19th  and early-20th century Baltimore dressmakers. Of course, there has been significant study on the many prominent department stores in the city, such as Hutzler's, The Hecht Company, and Stewart & Co. However, from the 1870s to the 1920s, Baltimore hosted…


Stitching the Past into the Present: A 1970s Designer Maxi Dress

October 27th 2018

A reoccurring phenomenon we consistently witness here in the Maryland Historical Society’s costume collection is the cyclical nature of fashion. Designers, whether deliberately or not, often incorporate past techniques, silhouettes, and trends into their own fashion creations and breathe new life into them. While a quite common practice, it is…


Juniors, Misses, Petites... Oh My!

October 22nd 2018

Shopping can often be a nightmare, no matter your size, shape, height, or weight. There is a severe lack of standardization in women's clothing from store to store, and even within the same brand due to differing fashion lines.


Jacques Doucet: The Collector in the Collections

October 13th 2018

The Fashion Archives at the Maryland Historical Society boasts an outstanding collection of French haute couture worn by Marylanders. Among these beautiful, historical garments is an evening gown from the French haute couture house Doucet from around 1905.


Miss Dorsey's Duster

October 5th 2018

One of the strengths of the Fashion Archives at the Maryland Historical Society is that you can find almost anything there. There are hats and fans, tailcoats and wedding dresses of every era, ball gowns and uniforms. Whatever kind of clothing you might want to study can be found in…


Put Your Functional Fashion Foot Forward

September 28th 2018

The emergence of female designers in ready-to-wear, off-the-rack fashion helped set the tone for the latter half of the 20th century: functionality informed the form. As girdles and garters were shed, they were replaced with breathable and movable fabrics, designed for a true human to wear, not the ideological feminine…


Am I Blue?

September 14th 2018

A Civil War Era Dress Is Readied For Display. This lovely sapphire silk striped dress was selected to go on display in our "Divided Voices: Maryland in the Civil War" exhibition.


Jeanne Lanvin’s Robe de Style: An alternative to “All that Jazz” fashions of the 1920’s

September 10th 2018

The zeitgeist of 1920’s fashions for most is the short, black, sparkly, beaded flapper dress. Thanks to popular culture powerhouses like Chicago and The Great Gatsby among others, this image of women’s fashion during this time has been cemented into the minds of the masses.


Devil in the Details: Woodbourne Ave

September 7th 2018

When looking at a photo with a wide view and distant subjects, it's easy to dismiss the image as boring and pass it by without a second glance. But you should always take a closer look because sometimes you'll find a real gem.


The Ongoing Evolution of the Pocket

September 3rd 2018

One of the most universally debated topics in fashion is the Woman’s Pocket, or current lack thereof. Over the last three centuries, we have seen women’s pockets evolve dramatically and rapidly. While recently deinstalling a mid 19th century piece from the current exhibit "Divided Voices: Maryland in the Civil War"…


What to Wear to the City-Poly Game: Football That Goes Way Back

August 27th 2018

 by Norah Worthington, Fashion Archives Intern, Summer 2018. One of the most time honored traditions in Baltimore is the annual Baltimore City College versus Baltimore Polytechnic Institute football game. Sometimes played on Thanksgiving Day, and often played in Memorial, or later M & T Bank Stadium, the game is one…


But Is It Art?: This could be your next album cover

August 24th 2018

We don’t know how the Red House Painters or Dinosaur Jr. resisted the urge to use this beauty of a Bodine for an album cover. We suppose there’s still time, but while they snooze away get in touch if you think this should be your next album cover.


Finding First Lady Frances at the MdHS Fashion Archives

August 12th 2018

Prior to coming to the Maryland Historical Society’s Fashion Archives I had ever only heard of one Baltimore Dressmaker. That dressmaker was Lottie Barton and I only knew of her because of my time studying the clothes of the nation’s First Ladies at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.…



August 3rd 2018

The Little Black Dress (LBD)- a classic staple found in most women's closets. But where did it come from, and how did it survive? While processing numerous garments at the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) Fashion Archives, I've been surprised by the amount of black I have seen spanning decades, even…


Call for entries: Maryland on Film V

August 3rd 2018

Call for short films:


Inside Mr. Darcy's Drawers

July 30th 2018

Jane Austen fans are a devoted group of historical dress artisans. The women's clothing certainly gets a lot of attention, but the men of that period can be just as elegant and interesting.  In fact, some of our modern assumptions about a classic men's look come from the early 1800's…


Career Day: Working Women of the 1940s

July 27th 2018

In honor of the recent loss of Mary Ellis, one of the last remaining female pilots of World War II, we wanted to feature some photos exhibiting other ways women kept the world moving forward in wartime.


Art Nouveau Fashion: Giving Dress a Place Among Decorative Arts

July 23rd 2018

What do you think of when you hear “Art Nouveau”? Sinuous lines of French furniture and interiors? Stunning jewelry made of glass and gemstones worn by elite actresses like Sarah Bernhardt? Poster art? World’s Fairs and the Moulin Rouge? Tiffany glass?


Made and Remade for a Quaker Wedding

July 9th 2018

A tan silk Quaker wedding gown posed some puzzles for a summer day. Although we think of wedding dresses as white or ivory, at some periods in time, a bride simply wore her best dress. The soft brown color of this silk gown was common among Quakers, but exactly what…


Reading Between the Seams

July 9th 2018

As we continue processing the extensive collection housed inside The Maryland Historical Society, I’m developing a better understanding of what can be revealed from each individual garment through their unique elements. To glean any form of valuable information, we must put ourselves in the shoes, and clothes, of whoever wore…


They Live By Night: Happy 4th of July!

July 2nd 2018

Fireworks from 104 years ago...


A FAN-tastical Find in the Fashion Archives

July 2nd 2018

While we think of all the fantastic examples of historic clothing that the Fashion Archives possess, the Archives also hold exquisite examples of men’s, women’s, and children’s accessories. This includes, among other things, hundreds of fans from the 18th-20th centuries.


Why Do We Have Such Colorful Civil War Dresses?

July 2nd 2018

When we think about wartime fashions, often we think of fabric rations, women in coveralls, uniforms, and drab beige, khaki, or olive clothing. While these textiles and styles were common during World War I and World War II, we often forget that during the Civil War bright patterned wool and…


Donor Paul Edel

June 25th 2018

As a professional costumer, it is a bit of a detour to go into the world of museum collections. Working on theater productions, I certainly have spent many hours researching a period, or recreating antique garments for a show. I’ve even found myself using pieces that are “vintage” in a…


Mr. Dubas Neighborhood part 1

June 22nd 2018

Here's a new series for your enjoyment... "Mr. Dubas' Neighborhood"


La Belle Epoque and Liberty & Co.’s Opulent Fashions

June 18th 2018

Women's fashions during La Belle Epoque, a time between the end of the Franco-Prussian War and the start of World War I (1871-1914), were just one of a series of art forms that flourished during that period, considered a golden age of art and design.


Career Day: The Catonsville Nine

May 17th 2018

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Catonsville Nine. While we don't like to single out one member of the group above any other, it's important to remember that the priesthood is a vocation. Hence, A. Aubrey Bodine's photograph of Fr. Philip Berrigan taken in 1967. This shot was taken…


Age of the Auto: Firetrucks

March 30th 2018

Fires have been a hazard to society since society formed. People learned early on there needed to be a system to put out fires before they destroyed everything around them. This week we focus on a couple iterations of fire trucks, including a truck from the Kent Island Volunteer Fire…


Photo by Richard Childress

March 23rd 2018

In honor of Women's History Month... Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer photographed in Baltimore by Sun photographer Dick Childress.


They Live By Night: Familiar Places (Baltimore)

March 16th 2018

Today we revisit our series of night photography to appreciate some familiar locations, at least for our Baltimore-based viewers. But even if you've never been to these places, you'll find that each of these photos exudes a different type of beauty and atmosphere.


Career Day: Photo by Henderson

February 23rd 2018

In this week's addition to Career Day, we get a glimpse into the office life of Morgan State College, where we see everyday men and women at work. This film negative from the Paul Henderson Collection has suffered some damage due to past storage or development issues, but when dealing…


Career Day: Photos by Henderson

February 16th 2018

You may remember having Career Day in school growing up, a day where adults come into your classroom and talk about their line of work. There are countless types of jobs from manufacturing to paper pushing to directing traffic from a barrel on the side of the road (just wait…


Photo by Paul Henderson

February 9th 2018

HEN.03.03-063 Group portrait. Photograph by Paul Henderson, c.1951. Paul Henderson Photograph Collection, MdHS.As we continue our work in digitizing the approximately 7,000 negatives and prints by the late AFRO American newspaper photographer Paul Henderson, we often find images that stop us dead in our tracks. Here's one with subjects in…


A Dress, A story, and Mary Todd Lincoln

February 8th 2018

In 1957, a dress was given to the Maryland Historical Society with an interesting story attached.