1855 ikat dressWomen’s Clothing during the Civil War Era:  Dresses, Foundations, and Accessories from the Collection of Mary D. Doering will showcase original clothing from the nineteenth century. Planned to compliment “The Civil War in America” exhibit currently on display at the Library of Congress, this lecture and presentation will take place on Thursday, April 18, 2013 in Dining Room A, sixth floor of the James Madison Building, at noon.

The April 18 presentation “Women’s Clothing of the Civil War Era” will combine a traditional lecture and a discussion of original garments from the period 1855 to 1870 with an emphasis on the Northern States. The evolution of the garments’ styles, the accompanying foundations, as well as the related technology and marketing media will be discussed. 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.

Mary D. Doering has specialized in costume history for forty years as a collector, lecturer and guest curator.  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.  She earned her M.A. in Art History/Museum Studies at George Washington University in 1980.  She pursued additional study in the History of Dress at the Courtauld Institute (University of London) in 1982. Selections from the collection have been loaned to the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the D.A.R. Museum, the Fashion Institute of Technology and the Smithsonian Institution, to name a few. Exhibitions at historic sites and regional museums have been a particular specialty, and Ms. Doering has worked as guest curator and lender for a variety of locations including Dumbarton House, James Madison’s Montpelier, the John Marshall House, and the Maryland Historical Society.

While still in High School Ms. 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 over a thousand items, which span the period from 1600 to 1975.  In March 2008, Arts and Antiques Magazine included the collection among its “Top 250 Collectors”.

Kathy Woodrell, Reference Specialist, Fine & Decorative Arts, Library of Congress