Dr Cynthia E. Chin (Cynthia Chin Kirk/Cynthia Riddle Chin) is an art and material culture historian of #VastEarlyAmerica and Britain in the eighteenth century, specializing in dress, textiles, identity, and collecting.
As a PhD researcher at the University of Glasgow, Cynthia examines collections of dress, textiles, and art 1600-1830 to understand how private collections, individual collectors, and museum acquisitions strategies shaped notions of "early America". She currently explores these questions as a 2023-2024 Winterthur Fellow.
As an advocate of replication as a valid research approach, she incorporates embodied methods of knowledge in her academic practice, focusing on early American women's dress in British North America -– and Scottish kilts and kilt-making. She is currently replicating a gown owned by Martha Washington that was mended and cared for by seamstresses enslaved at Mount Vernon.
Formerly on staff at George Washington's Mount Vernon/The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, Cynthia was also a 2020-21 Research Fellow at the Washington Presidential Library. She earned her doctorate in early American material culture from Georgetown University in 2020 and holds an M.A. in poetry from The Johns Hopkins University. Her writing has been published in literary journals. Adding a background of business to her academic and museum experience, Cynthia served industry and public sector clients as a strategy & analytics senior consultant at Deloitte Consulting LLC and independently for PwC.
Header: hand-sewn reproduction by Cynthia based on Etienne Claude Voysard after Claude-Louis Desrais, Gallerie des modes et costumes français, 13e Cahier des Costumes Français, 7e Suite d'Habillemens à la mode. N77. 1778. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The Elizabeth Day McCormick Collection, 44.1345.
Materializing Race //
Cynthia co-founded and leads Materializing Race with Philippe Halbert (PhD, Yale University), a virtual community committed to fostering nuanced interpretations and meaningful dialogue on historical constructions of race and their legacies. Through a series of virtual “un-conferences," scholarship on the intersections of identity and material culture in #VastEarlyAmerica are discussed and shared. Materializing Race has been generously supported by the Society of Winterthur Fellows and the University of Glasgow. Follow Materializing Race on on Instagram: materializingrace, and on Twitter: @material_race.