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Director - Karin J. Bohleke

Since 2007, Karin J. Bohleke has served as the director of the Fashion Archives and Museum of Shippensburg University. She holds a Ph.D. in French language and literature from Yale University, and also serves as an assistant adjunct professor of French at Shippensburg and Penn State-Mont Alto. She formerly worked at Hood College in Frederick, MD, where she taught French, Russian, Classical Mythology, and Humanities for the graduate school.

An avid seamstress, embroiderer, and lace-maker since childhood, she augmented her studies of vintage clothing styles by creating highly accurate reproduction clothing when introduced to vintage social dancing by her future husband. They also teach Civil War and historic social dancing, proctor balls, and lecture and perform. Together they collect vintage clothing, fashion magazines in French and English, cased images, cartes de visite, cabinet cards, and dance-related paper ephemera and use their resources to teach others about American material culture.

Karin resides near Gettysburg, PA, and continues to pursue her interests in historic fashions, needle arts, languages, social dance, and nineteenth-century women’s travel accounts. She is also a member of the Costume Society of America. Karin has been a volunteer at the Adams County Historical Society and the Gettysburg National Military Park Archives and Museum, where she assisted in the identification and dating of nineteenth-century photographs of women and evaluated and dated the costume collections. Her publication of a rare Civil War patriotic apron resulted in an exhibit and now on permanent display at the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Center. She has presented her continuing research at annual symposia of the Costume Society of America as well as published for Dress, American Periodicals, Civil War Historian and The Citizens’ Companion.

Her research interests focus on the nineteenth century and include fashion, early photography, pre-Tutankhamun Egyptomania fashions for women, the dissemination of French fashions in the United States, and women’s travel accounts of journeys to Egypt. Her current research project involves the study of clothing in nineteenth-century photos of African Americans, both enslaved and free.

Select Publications

"The Sterb-Spiegel: A Fashionable Eighteenth-Century Dance of Death." Forthcoming in Costume.

"Identifying Stages of Grief in Nineteenth-Century Images." The Daguerriean Annual (2015): 166-191. Available at

"It Was Not Supposed To Turn Out This Way: Sewing and Fitting Errors as Indicators of Social Class." The Daguerreian Annual (2015): 92-109. Available at

"The Mourning After: Grieving in Style in the Nineteenth Century." MdHS News (Summer 2015): 6-9.

"Put on your Polka; It's Cold Outside." Daguerreian Annual (2014): 238-251. Available at

“Assimilation, Amalgamation and Defiance: The `Admirable Figure of the Negro’ and African American Dress in Daguerreotypes and Early Photographs.”
Daguerreian Annual (2014): 10-33. Available at

“Mummies are Called Upon to Contribute to Fashion: Pre-Tutankhamun Egyptian Revivalism in Dress." 
Dress vol. 40, no. 2 (2014): 95-115.

“My Grandmother’s Brooch.” The Daguerreian Annual (2013): 92-97. Available at

“`Une dame européenne qui voyage en homme:” Ida Saint-Elme and Dress Across Borders,
Cultures and Religion.” Shippensburg Journal of Modern Languages. Issue 2 (Fall 2011): 7-14.

“Nile Style: Nineteenth-Century Women Travelers in Egypt and the Dilemma of Dress, 1815-1875.” 
Dress 36 (2010): 63-86.

“Americanizing French Fashion Plates: Godey’s and Peterson’s Cultural and Socio-Economic
Translation of Les Modes Parisiennes.” American Periodicals 20:2 (2010): 120-155.

“Mary Ellen’s Apron; or, Patriotism to the Fore,” Civil War Historian 1:3 (May/June 2005): 52-62. Available at

Select Lectures and Conferences

"The Sterb-Spiegel: A Fashionable Eighteenth-Century Dance of Death" Presented at The Full Cleveland: Dress as Communication, Self-Expression and Identity symposium sponsored by the Costume Society of America, Cleveland, OH, May 24-29, 2016.

"Clothed and in Their Own Form: African American Women and Fashionable Dress in Early Photographs" Presented at Transnational Perspectives on Immigration/Emigration in Literature, Linguistics, Culture, Education and Sciences: Sixth Biennial Modern Languages Conference at Shippensburg University, Shippensburg, PA, April 30-May 1, 2016.

"Foreign Origins: African-American Women and Contemporary Fashions in Early Photographs" Presented at "Fabricating Truths: African-American Women and Clothing in the Nineteenth Century" panel at Unsettling conference sponsored by C19: The Society for Nineteenth-Century Americanists, State College, PA, March 17-20, 2016. 

"The Mourning After: Grieving in Style in the Victorian Era," Francis Scott Key Lecture Series at the Maryland Historical Society on Thursday, November 5, 2015, at 6:30 p.m. Address: 201 W. Monument St., Baltimore, MD 21201-4674. For information call (410) 685-3750.

"An 1820s Farmer's Coat: A Conservation Challenge and a Tool for Interpretation." Presentation at Doing & Telling: A Living History Toolbox conference sponsored by ALHFAM (The Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums), Colonial Williamsburg, VA, June 19-24, 2015.

“The Crowning Touch: The Interplay of Hair Styles and Head Fashions in the Nineteenth Century.”
Lecture at A Head for Fashion: Hair, Wigs, and Cosmetics, 1600-1900 conference sponsored by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Colonial Williamsburg, VA, November 13-15, 2014.

“The Crowning Touch: Fashioning Hair from Wool Roving.” Care of Collections Workshop at
Reflecting Forward: Forty Years of CSA Costume Society of America National Symposium, Baltimore, MA, May 28, 2014.

“Coat Tales: Nineteenth-Century Menswear Conservation Project.” Co-presenters A. Newbold
Richardson and Colleen Callahan. Juried research exhibit at Reflecting Forward: Forty Years of CSA Costume Society of America National Symposium, Baltimore, MA, May 28-31, 2014.

“Fashion Plates and Fashion Consumerism in the Second Empire,” Guest lecturer in Art 190
“The Modern Eye,” Shippensburg University, March 26, 2013.

“The Quintessential Flapper from Head to Toe,” Featured lecturer at the Dauphin County
Historical Society (Harrisburg, PA), March 10, 2013.

“Women’s Fashion and Social Class, 1880-1920” Guest lecturer in History 430 (U.S. Cultural
History), Shippensburg University, February 26, 2013.

“Displaying our Past.”  Co-taught all-day workshop costume and textile display on a budget and
how to integrate them into exhibit plans in museums and historical societies of all sizes. Professional pre-conference workshop of the Costume Society of America National Symposium, Atlanta, GA, May 30, 2012.

“A Matter of Extreme Awkwardness and Perplexity:” The Mutual Interplay of Dance Fashions and Fashionable Dances in the Nineteenth Century. Juried oral paper at Boston       Uncommon: Revolution and Evolution in Dress Costume Society of America National     Symposium, Boston, MA, June 9-12, 2011.

“`When I was as a Man:’ Ida Saint-Elme’s Egyptian Journey (1829-1830) and the Politics
of Dress.” Juried oral paper at Connecting Threads of History, Cultures and Creativity Costume Society of America Southeastern Region Symposium, Asheville, North Carolina, September 9-12, 2011.

“Mummies are Now Called Upon to Contribute to Fashion: or; Hints Respecting Dress from the
Ancient Egyptians in the Nineteenth Century,” Juried oral paper at Crossing Boundaries, Costume Society of America Annual Symposium, Phoenix, Arizona, May 27-30, 2009.

“Hidden Adams County Costume Treasures.” Adams County Historical Society Monthly
Meeting, October 7, 2008.

“Keeping up Appearances: Fashion and Clothing in Adams County, Pennsylvania.”
Ladies and Gentlemen of the 1860s Annual Conference, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania,
March 1-4, 2007.

“Americans à la mode: How Godey’s and Peterson’s Re-present Les Modes Parisiennes and Le
Journal des Demoiselles.” Adjudicated Research Exhibit at Dress Scholarship Unlimited: From Fig Leaves to Bling-Bling, Costume Society of America Annual Symposium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, May 25-28, 2005.

“Translating French Fashion: From Les Modes Parisiennes to Godey’s and Peterson’s.”  Ladies
and Gentlemen of the 1860s Annual Conference, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, March 6-9, 2004.

“Explorers in Petticoats: Nineteenth-Century Women Travelers in Egypt.” Women of the 1860s
Annual Conference, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, March 7-9, 2003.

“Nile Style: Clothing and the Crisis of Personal, Religious, and Social Identity of Nineteenth-
Century Women Travelers in Egypt.” American Research Center in Egypt—Washington, DC Chapter and the African Studies Program of Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, May 24, 2002.

“Nile Style: Clothing and the Crisis of Personal, Religious, and Social Identity of Nineteenth- Century Women Travelers in Egypt.” Annual Conference of the American Research Center in Egypt, Johns Hopkins University, April 26-28, 2002.

Academic Service

Chair, Small College and University Care Grant, Costume Society of America, 2011-

Peer Reviewer, Dress: The Journal of the Costume Society of America, 2012.

Peer Reviewer, Nineteenth-Century Contexts (University of Notre Dame), 2013.