Eleanor Hargrove, a Shippensburg University alumna and former Fashion Archives and Museum intern, is applying her historical clothing expertise at Colonial Williamsburg. 

During her time at Ship, Hargrove double-majored in history and interdisciplinary arts, and through her junior year leading into her senior year, she felt inspired to work at the Fashion Archives because it perfectly complimented her majors. During this time, she was deeply involved in cataloging, patterning, restoring and mounting historical garments. One of her most notable projects included creating a base for a gown with Napoleonic origins on loan from the Maryland Historical Society.

Hargove’s work at the Fashion Archives allowed her to tap into her interest in historical clothing, and learn more about the relationship between 18th and 19th century garments. “I’d always been interested in transitional styles of fashion and I think there’s a strong argument to be made that especially like the last quarter of the 18th century, it’s nothing but transitional styles”.

Now, Hargove is an apprentice milliner and mantuamaker in the Department of Historic Trades at Colonial Williamsburg. She specializes in handcrafting garments and accessories using 18th-century style methods. “Everything I wear at work, I’ve made by hand, fitted to my body and just as it would have been in the 18th century.”

Another huge part of her role is studying original pieces and historical sources to ensure that they are accurately represented


Hargrove commended Colonial Williamsburg’s small, hardworking team, recognizing her mentor, mistress of the trade Janine Whitacre, and journeywoman Rebecca Starkins-Godzik. She paid homage to Dr. Karin J Bohleke, the director of the Fashion Archives, for helping her tap into her passion for historical clothing. 

As for Hargrove’s plans for the future, she plans to continue contributing to Colonial Williamsburg and learn, research and share knowledge. Her journey from Ship to Williamsburg represents her commitment and passion for preserving colonial fashion.

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