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Historic Textile and Costume Collection

The URI Historic Textile and Costume Collection, located in Quinn Hall, contains almost 20,000 objects. The mission of the Collection is threefold:

  • Teaching textile, costume design, historic costume, and historic textiles classes in the TMD department as well as other departments on campus
  • Research by students, faculty, and visiting scholars
  • Exhibition in the Textile Gallery and loans for exhibitions in other museums

Objects in the Collection include both costumes and textiles from all over the world. Besides a few pre-Columbian Peruvian textiles and early Egyptian cloths, the earliest holdings are late eighteenth century. Several collections of handwoven textiles and clothing from Rhode Island families date from this period. Early everyday wear is one of the strengths of the Collection.

Nineteenth-century clothing and accessories for American women, men, and children are well represented in the Collection. The Accessions Committee is judiciously adding twentieth-century objects, particularly designer garments. The ethnographic textiles and costumes come from many cultures that have a strong textile heritage. Recent additions to the Latin American and African collections have begun an effort to increase the holdings from those areas.

Researchers, quilters, private collectors, and others interested in historic costumes and textiles are encouraged to use the Collection. Appointments can be arranged by calling the Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design office at 401-874-4574 or Collection Director Margaret Ordoñez at 401-874-5481 or emailing her at

Images and descriptions of selected artifacts from the Collection are featured in our On-line catalog. These descriptions are based on student research papers.

We now house the Bainbridge Lace Collection

The special collections department of URI's Library houses the related Commercial Pattern Archive of more than 40,000 paper patterns from the mid 19th century to the present time, and 50,000 images, curated by Dr. Joy Spanabel Emery.


1890s photograph and a suit worn by Fred S. Crosby, ca. 1893 published in Historic Fashions of Women & Children: A Costume Calendar for 1999. Arlington, VA: Sally Queen & Associates, 1998.






200 years apart:

1768 wedding shoes

and 1970s Italian-designed

Raphael slippers






Early 19th century Kashmir shawl, hand woven of cashmere fibers in twill tapestry weave. The fat, short-necked buta motif is typical of early Kashmir shawls.