Participant Info

First Name
Nora Ellen
Last Name
Historic New England
Website URL
US history, material culture, cultural history, dress history, fashion history, design history, First Ladies, Progressive Era, Gilded Age, political history, women and gender, museums, history of collecting, curating, visual culture
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

I’m a scholar of the seemingly frivolous things that everyone tends to ignore. In essence, I study the images and things that we’ve gotten rid of because they “weren’t important” and their stories.

In addition to being a historian and curator, I also work as a graphic/web designer and social media manager for the podcast “This Is Probably A Really Weird Question…” and am an Associate Producer/graphic and web designer for the upcoming material culture and history podcast, “Thing4Things,” launching in fall 2023.

My dissertation, “From Paul Revere to Plains Indians: The Politics of Progressive Era Fashion in America, 1880-1930”  explores how the emergence of a “distinctly” American fashion style both reflected and shaped Progressive Era ideologies such as nativism, nationalism, imperialism, race science, euthenics, and eugenics while ultimately creating the modern American fashion industry.  

I received my Ph.D. in History of American Civilization from the University of Delaware in 2023, an MA in History from the University of Delaware in 2019, and an MA in History of Decorative Arts and Design from the Smithsonian Institution in partnership with George Mason University in 2013 upon completing my thesis titled: Harry Collins and the American Art of Dress: 1884-1980.” 

Recent Publications

Carleson, Nora Ellen, “Harry Collins and the Birth of American Fashion, 1910–1950,” The Journal of Dress History, Volume 2, Issue 2, Summer 2018, The Association of Dress Historians, London, England, pp 2-14.

Carleson, Nora Ellen. “Lottie Barton, Nineteenth-Century Baltimore’s Premier Modiste and Fashion Smuggler” in Maryland Historical Society. Spectrum of Fashion. (Baltimore, MD, Maryland Historical Society, 2019), p. 25-40.

Media Coverage
On The Record. "The Historic Fashions of Maryland." WYPR Baltimore. First broadcast September 4, 2019. Hosted by Sheilah Kast. Produced by Maureen Harvie.
Country Focus
US History
Expertise by Geography
United States
Expertise by Chronology
19th century, 20th century, 21st century
Expertise by Topic
American Presidents, Art & Architectural History, Gender, Material Culture, Museums, Politics, Public History, Women, World War I