ECW Weekender: Fashion Archives & Museum of Shippensburg University

Located about 10 miles north of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Shippensburg University boasts a Fashion Archive and Museum with a fine collection of historical garments. The collection contains approximately 15,000 items worn or used by men, women, and children and ranging from the 18th to 20th centuries, including pieces by top name designers. A small museum space allows students and curators to display pieces from the collection in meaningful and educational displays which change throughout the year.

It’s a historic museum that’s been on my “to-visit” bucket list for a while, and earlier this week, I added it to my trip! The current exhibit is titled Celebrating Creative Hands–Yesterday and Today and will be displayed through November 22, 2022. Beautiful examples of historic and modern handiwork are displayed, including weaving, knitting, spinning, quilting, tapestry, embroidery, and more.

Check out these 19th Century garments with ties by date or even location to the American Civil War:

Different forms of cotton used in textiles

This black dress (right) belonged to a woman who lived in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania. The dress is post-war era, but during the Gettysburg Campaign, the woman who wore it hid her silver and jewelry under her hoopskirt so the Confederates wouldn’t find the valuables.

Quilted petticoats from the 1850s and 1860s. See, not all women wore hoop-skirts or cages. These would have been helpful for keeping warm in the winter!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen something like this before… Quilted silk bonnets from the antebellum era! They would be warm and fashionable in the winter.

This wrapper (like a housecoat or robe) was one of my favorite pieces on display! I’ve actually sewn a wrapper that is somewhat similar in design, but this one has gorgeous tailoring lines, and I love the two different fabrics. 

For more information about visiting or details about upcoming exhibits, check out the museum’s website: https://fashionarchives.org/

Fashion Archives and Museum of Shippensburg University

501 N Earl St, Shippensburg, PA 17257

About Sarah Kay Bierle

I’m Sarah Kay Bierle, author, speaker, and researcher. Past and present, everyone has a story. What will we discover and discuss?
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