Hat from the Betty D. Eastin Costume Collection What does it take to be a Symposium Chair? Dr. Kimberly Miller-Spillman served as chair for the 2011 Southeastern Region Annual Meeting and Symposium for the Costume Society of America August 12-14. She accepted this position at last year's symposium in Ashville, NC and the planning began.

Dr. Spillman is an Associate Professor and the Director of Graduate Studies for the Merchandising, Apparel & Textiles Department at UK. Her local contacts combined with her ability to showcase Kentucky's unique beauty resulted in a symposium like no other.

She selected Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Harrodsburg as the destination for the conference. The venue provided the perfect location for the Costume Society to meet since Shaker Village focuses on historic preservation. Susan Hughes, Manager, Museum and Special Programs at Shaker Village, helped coordinate the activities on the grounds and gave the keynote address for the symposium.

Attendees experienced excursions to the Hunt Morgan House and The Kentucky Horse Park. A special evening event was held at Ashland, the Henry Clay Estate. Avery Malone, 2008 MAT graduate and employee of Ashland, assisted with planning this reception for the symposium's opening night. Attendees also had the opportunity to enjoy a River Boat Cruise on the Kentucky River, a tour of Woodford Reserve, and a trip to Waveland Historic Site.

The bulk of the symposium was filled with presentations about everything from Civil War era day dress to tomb effigies. Three presenters hailed from UK. Graduate Sarah Piester spoke about her creation of an online reference system to access the 2,500 items in the Betty D. Eastin Costume Collection at UK. Nicole Huffman, a 2008 graduate, flew from Oregon to present her study on the use of costumed guides and modernly dressed guides and their effect on visitors to historic sites. Chelsea Blackwell, a second year graduate student, literally earned her way to the symposium by receiving the Jim Liles Travel Award of $350. She presented her investigation of wedding dress perceptions held by young and old American married couples. According to Chelsea, she received great feedback. "The feedback helped me to think of new avenues of research.  Some people told me my presentation was a great way to end the conference and one participant even told me she was one of the first women to wear a strapless wedding dress in the early 1990s," Chelsea commented.

Next year, the Southeast Region is hosting the National Costume Society in Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Spillman looks forward to attending as a guest.

Posted 9/1/2011