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About the Costar Archive

19th and 20th Century Clothing Collection

Welcome to Costar, a collection of vintage clothing mainly from the 19th and 20th centuries. The study collection is housed in the Department of Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

It began in 2002 and was developed by Professor Judy Adamson (now retired) with help from Bobbi Owen (curatorial assistance) and Gordon Ferguson (software development). Conserving and photographing garments eliminates unnecessary handling and preserves them for careful review by interested students and scholars.

Undergraduate and graduate students contribute to and benefit from the archive. Students enrolled in the MFA program in costume production choose a fully boned bodice or dress from the archive and research it carefully during their third year of graduate study. They write text for supplemental pages published on the site, create a scale pattern of the original garment, and make a reproduction that fits a modern body. As of May 2021, more than 50 garments had been documented.