(c) 2020 Cynthia E. Chin. All Rights Reserved.

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    Historian of Material Culture


    Dr. Cynthia E. Chin is a material culture historian focusing on the dress textiles of early America & eighteenth-century Europe and the intersections of race, global exchange, emotion, memory, replicated experience, the body/wearing, and human dignity.


    Her doctoral dissertation (Georgetown University, 2019) examined one of  Martha Washington's  surviving extant gowns as a primary source document crucial to understanding her biography and choices, the permeability of the textile market in British North America, the underrepresented and potentially enslaved makers, and the broader global social, political, and economic ecosystems of the eighteenth-century Atlantic world.

    She is a 2020-21 Research Fellow at the Washington Library in Mount Vernon, Virginia.

    Publications & Presentations

    Cynthia's exhibition reviews and research have been featured in Textile History, The Junto, Washington's Quill (The Washington Papers Project/The University of Virginia), Mount Vernon Magazine, What Weekly Magazine, The Saranac Review, Ellipsis: Literature and Art, The Slush Pile Magazine, The Baltimore Review, and on MountVernon.org.

    Her most recent lectures and presentations include The Washington Library, Yale University, and the DAR Museum in Washington, D.C.

    Now postponed due to COVID-19, she looks forward to presenting at the University of Glasgow and at the Omohundro Institute's Annual Conference in 2021.

    Current Projects

    Cynthia is currently preparing a book manuscript based on her doctoral dissertation.

    She is also working on two articles; one, on eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century stay busks, and the other on nineteenth-century American women as feminist collectors and genealogists of British colonial North America.

    In an effort to learn more about the mechanics and construction of mid eighteenth-century gowns, she is actively constructing a silk gown based on extant examples, 1750-1759, using period techniques.


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