Episode 72: Wearing the Past: A Modern Woman’s Fascination with Period Dress

Our family photos reveal our ancestor’s fashion choices and those clues can help date a picture. The collars, cuffs, hats, and shoes worn by our grandmothers teach us about the period in which they lived, but those details also tell us a bit of the story of their lives. Historical costume is on display in movies and television, but you can also find costumed historians at historic living history events.  That’s where I spotted today’s guest. She was a guest at a local historic house party. She was draped in layers of fabric I couldn’t imagine wearing in July. Listen as we talk about her fascination with period dress, how she makes her attire, and how family historians can learn more about our ancestors through clothing. 

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About My Guest:

About My Guest: Quinn M. Burgess is a costume maker, costume historian, and educator with a passion for researching, patterning, and making historical clothing. To bring history to life, Quinn combines backgrounds in social, costume, and material history with the study, creation, and wearing of historical clothing.

Quinn’s historical work uses meticulous historical construction methods and modern shortcuts, where appropriate, to create historical clothing for museums, institutions, and individuals, including Plimoth Plantation, Historic Northampton, and the U.S. National Park Service. In addition, she creates and consults on historical costumes for documentaries and short films. Quinn also shares her passion for historical clothing through presentations at historical institutions including, the Newport Historical Society and Rhode Island Historical Society. Her work has also been featured on WBUR, Boston’s largest National Public Radio station.

Her attention to detail is demonstrated in the exceptional workmanship regularly showcased on her historical sewing blog: The Quintessential Clothes Pen.

Quinn’s theatrical and educational work includes her role as the Costume Shop Manager at Boston College. Quinn has also produced costumes for a range of educational and professional theatre and film companies including, Tufts University Children’s Theatre, The Huntington Theatre Company, Opera Boston, and 20th Century Fox.

Quinn holds a MFA in Costume Production from Boston University and a BA from Mount Holyoke College in History and Theatre Arts.

About Maureen Taylor:

Maureen is a frequent keynote speaker on photo identification, photograph preservation, and family history at historical and genealogical societies, museums, conferences, libraries, and other organizations across the U.S., London and Canada.  She’s the author of several books and hundreds of articles and her television appearances include The View and The Today Show (where she researched and presented a complete family tree for host Meredith Vieira).  She’s been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, The Boston Globe, Martha Stewart Living, Germany’s top newspaper Der Spiegel, American Spirit, and The New York Times. Maureen was recently a spokesperson and photograph expert for MyHeritage.com, an internationally known family history website and also writes guidebooks, scholarly articles and online columns for such media as Smithsonian.com. Learn more at Maureentaylor.com

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