Cynthia's research at the Washington Library includes recovering the identities of Mount Vernon's enslaved seamstresses, underscoring their lives, labor, and the material products they created. Awaiting final approval, 2021-22 plans include replicating a silk gown owned by Martha Washington that was refashioned by captive labor.

Other new writing includes work on heritage, drawing and expanding upon the following positioning embraced by UMASS Amherst Center for Heritage & Society:

Heritage is the full range of our inherited traditions, monuments, objects, and culture.  Most important, it is the range of contemporary activities, meanings, and behaviors that we draw from them. Heritage includes, but is much more than preserving, excavating, displaying, or restoring a collection of old things. It is both tangible and intangible, in the sense that ideas and memories -- of songs, recipes, language, dances, and many other elements of who we are and how we identify ourselves -- are as important as historical buildings and archaeological sites.


Cynthia's article on U.S. womens' hereditary societies and their exclusionary interpretive strategies of early American period rooms is forthcoming in the themed issue of History: Journal of the Historical Association, Women and History, c.1500-Present (September 2021).


Her other work has 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

Her most recent presentations include talks at the The Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon, Yale University, and the DAR Museum in Washington, D.C.

She looks forward to presenting at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and at the Omohundro Institute's Annual Conference in 2021.* 


*These events, originally scheduled for 2020, were postponed due to COVID-19.

Dress textile fragment

The Mount Vernon Ladies' Association



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