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In the 1930s, faculty in the Home Economics department and School of Drama began collecting costumes and textiles, and in 1958, the Costume and Textile Study Center, the first study center of its kind, was established. Elizabeth Bayley Willis, with help from Virginia and Prentice Bloedel, provided the first major donation – a gift of more than 1,800 textiles and costumes from India— to the Center.
In 1982, the Costume and Textile Study Center and the School of Drama’s historic costume collection were formally transferred to the Henry. Now numbering more than over 18,000 objects – ranging in date from 1000 BCE to the present from countries around the world – these works are an important regional resource for the study of fashion, clothing, and design.
Among the Theatre and Performance collections there are over 3,500 stage costumes and accessories - ranging from complete outfits to individual headdresses. All are a tribute to the creativity and skills of designers and costume makers from the mid 18th century to today, in every kind of live performance - drama, opera, dance, musicals, pantomime, rock and pop, music hall, cabaret, circus.
The Museum’s permanent collection now encompasses some 50,000 garments and accessories from the 18th century to the present.
The Costume Designers Guild (CDG) is Local 892 of the International Alliance of Theatrical and Stage Employees (I.A.T.S.E.). The Guild represents Costume Designers, Assistant Costume Designers and Costume Illustrators working at the highest levels of skill and expertise in motion pictures, television and commercials. The CDG promotes and protects the economic status of its members while improving working conditions and raising standards for our craft.
Texts and images from the collections of the Costume Institute and the Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Please note that access to some material in this collection is restricted to computers within The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The Costume Institute's collection of more than thirty-three thousand costumes and accessories represents five continents and seven centuries of fashionable dress and accessories for men, women, and children, from the fifteenth century to the present.
A wiki that offers extensive historical, geographical breakdown of costume history as well as accessories, uniforms, costume shops, dyeing, etc.
This open access database contains scans of all issues published between November 1867 – December 1900, with very few gaps.
The Historic Costume & Textiles Collection is a scholarly and artistic resource of apparel and textile material culture. The 11,500+ holdings encompass a range of three dimensional objects such as textiles and articles of clothing and accessories for men, women, and children, including national dress costume, from the mid-18th century to contemporary 21st century designers. The Collection also houses a number of period fashion magazines, fashion plates, swatch books and commercial patterns. Particular strengths of the Collection are objects pertaining to central Ohio and the U.S. fashion industr
Available through June 30, 2023
The British theatrical costume company B. J. Simmons & Co. created stage costumes for hundreds of theater and film productions from 1857-1964, many have now been digitized.
The Daphne Dare Collection at Ohio State University's provides over 1000 digitized images of British designer Daphne Dare's work for theatre, film, and television in the UK and the United States.
The Motley Collection of Theatre and Costume Design consists of over 5000 pieces including costume and set designs. The collection documents 150 productions of Shakespeare and modern classics dating from 1932 to 1976, staged in England and the United States. It can be searched by play title, theater name, actor and director names, as well as medium.
Harvard holds a collection of Russian stage and costume studies which comprises approximately 650 theatrical works. Most of these are associated with productions of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.
"The repository brings together works of sixty-two scene and costume designers such as, Percy Anderson (1815-1928), Jenny Carré (1902-1945), Toyohara Kunichika (1835-1900), and Boris Bilinsky (1900-1948). Productions represented include William Shakespeare's As You Like It (1907), Alexandre Volkoff's Casanova (1927), and Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus (1974)."
You can find books on costume and fashion under the following call numbers:
• GT 500 - GT 2346 – Fashion; social aspects of clothing
• PN 2067 - PN 2068 & PN 2085 - PN 2091 – Costumes for performance, stage design & lighting
• TT 490 - TT 820 – Dressmaking; tailoring; technical considerations, needlework
Useful subject headings:
• Clothing and dress
• Costume design
• Fashion -- History
• Fashion design
Specific items of clothing
• Hair -- see Hair styles or Hair dressing
• Stockings -- see Hoisery
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