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April 3, 2013

Lecture on Civil War Era Women’s Fashion, April 18

Mary D. Doering, an heirloom clothing collector, will lecture on "Women’s Clothing during the Civil War Era: Dresses, Foundations and Accessories" at the Library of Congress on April 18.

The event, which will showcase original clothing from the 19th century, will start at noon on Thursday, April 18, in Dining Room A, on the sixth floor of the James Madison Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The lecture, sponsored by the Library’s Humanities and Social Sciences Division, is free and open to the public. Tickets are not needed.

Doering will talk about original garments from the period of 1855 to 1870, with an emphasis on the Northern States. The evolution of the garments’ styles, the accompanying foundations, related technology and media marketing will be addressed.

According to Doering, despite the trauma imposed by the Civil War, the mid-19th century witnessed the development of ready-to-wear garments and the growth of urban department stores, both of which were essential contributions to the modern American fashion industry.

As a collector, lecturer and guest curator, Doering has specialized in costume history for 40 years. Since 2001, she has taught costume and textile history at the Smithsonian Masters Program in the History of the Decorative Arts (an academic partnership with George Mason University). In addition, she has lectured at numerous professional conferences and museums.

Doering earned her master’s degree in art history/museum studies at George Washington University in 1980. She pursued additional study in the history of dress at the Courtauld Institute of Art at the University of London in 1982.

While in high school, Doering was given a small collection of family heirloom clothing dating from the 19th century. In the intervening years, her collection has grown to comprise more than 1,000 items, spanning the period from 1600 to 1975. In March 2008, Arts and Antiques Magazine included the collection among its "Top 250 Collectors."

Selections from her collection of clothing have been loaned to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) Museum, the Fashion Institute of Technology, the Smithsonian Institution and others. Exhibitions at historic sites and regional museums have been a specialty. She has worked as a curator and lender at a variety of locations, including Dumbarton House, James Madison’s Montpelier, the John Marshall House and the Maryland Historical Society.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 155 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.

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PR 13-065
04/03/13
ISSN 0731-3527

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