The 50,000 objects in the textile collections fall into two main categories: raw fibers, yarns, and fabrics, and machines, tools, and other textile technology. Shawls, coverlets, samplers, laces, linens, synthetics, and other fabrics are part of the first group, along with the 400 quilts in the National Quilt Collection. Some of the Museum's most popular artifacts, such as the Star-Spangled Banner and the gowns of the first ladies, have an obvious textile connection.
The machinery and tools include spinning wheels, sewing machines, thimbles, needlework tools, looms, and an invention that changed the course of American agriculture and society. A model of Eli Whitney's cotton gin, made by the inventor in the early 1800s, shows the workings of a machine that helped make cotton plantations profitable in the South and encouraged the spread of slavery.
"Textiles - Overview" showing 2 items.
- At the turn of the twentieth century, the American textile industry was the most technologically advanced in the world. However, it was still dependent on Europe, especially France, for art and design. World War I cut off communication with the industry in Europe, and American manufacturers were forced to turn to American artists for design. The industry held contests, and sent designers and art students into museums to study paintings and objects for inspiration.
- Students at the Chicago School of Art designed these fabrics in 1915. They were produced and sold by Marshall Field & Co. of Chicago and exhibited by the National Museum in 1916. The school (first known as the Chicago School of Applied and Normal Art) was founded by Emma Marion Church in 1908, the same year she published her book, The New Basis of Art Education. Ms. Church was a graduate of Pratt Institute, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and served a term as president of the Western Drawing and Manual Training Association from 1912 to 1913. A member of the Board of Trustees of the Chicago Art Institue, she was the first woman member of the Chicago Chamber of Commerce. She died in Woodstock, Vermont in 1952.
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- ca 1915
- Marshall Field and Company
- student's designed
- Chicago School of Art
- Marshall Field & Co.
- Chicago School of Art
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center