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Abstract

Artifacts of historic clothing are found in museums, archives, and even libraries all over the world, along with fashion illustrations, photographs, and other related materials. Where collection managers follow existing standards, they often interpret them in different ways, and need specific guidelines for greater cross-collection consistency. To better represent significant aspects of historic clothing, catalogers must collect additional metadata. Defining and populating granular fields will allow records to be sorted and filtered in ways specific to the needs of costume history researchers and can even enable the use of visual search tools. Experiments along these lines have led to the development of Costume Core: an application profile to provide guidance for using existing metadata schemas and controlled vocabularies to fill in the gaps with added metadata elements and vocabulary terms. Costume Core can be used not only in the development of new digital collections, but also to remediate existing datasets. This project initially grew out of work to develop a digital collection of the artifacts in the Vassar College Costume Collection. An inter-institutional project called Historic Dress, at HistoricDress.org, has fostered further testing. To make this project’s workflow more convenient and efficient across a wider range of institutions with holdings of historic clothing, a visual cataloging tool and thesaurus are being developed at DressDiscover.org.

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