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Gallery Exhibit: What We Wore: Clothing from 1976-79

Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the College of Human Science and Services

This Exhibit was on display for the fall of 2003

College of Human Science and Services Established at URI in July 1978!

Textile gallery display of 1970s white men's suit with black collared shirt underneath

Prior to 1978, the college of Home Economics at the University of Rhode Island provided "professional and pre-professional education for men and women as well as opportunity for development of the individual as a person, a citizen and for home and family living." But, in the late 1970’s, Home Economics was no longer a politically correct title, and universities all over the country were finding new and unique titles for their colleges. In 1975, the University budget Task Force recommended eliminating the College of Home Economics. Opposition from the college and other interested parties started talks on campus to create a new, meaningful college, to include the old Home Economics coursework, but also to incorporate other related fields. The College of Human Science and Services was chosen as the title in September 1977. In April of 1977, the Curricular Affairs Committee approved the new college, and the Faculty Senate took up the issue. Winifred Brownell, as coordinator of the new college, worked with the faculty to create a structure.

Textile gallery display of 1970s era suits

On July 1, 1978, the new college was officially established. The Department of Education; the new Department of Human Development, Counseling, and Family Studies; the Department of Physical Education, Health and Recreation; the Department of Textiles, Clothing and Related Art; and the Division of Interdisciplinary Studies comprised the college. The new college was "concerned with the human problems of individuals and groups resulting from encounters with changing physical, social, intellectual, and philosophical environments." Its mission was "to identify and create knowledge about these problems and to prepare professionals who are competent to deal with them." Textilte gallery display of band uniform from bicentennial in 1976

On campus in the late 1970s, students paid little attention to the administrative changes that created the new college. Class work, papers, and exams occupied some of their time, but making friends and partying was even more important. The legal drinking age in Rhode Island was 18, so alcohol was prevalent in the dorms, at campus events and fraternity parties. Important national speakers and popular national bands came to campus. Students protested against apartheid and demonstrated for women's rights and the legalization of marijuana. The basketball team won the NCAA title in 1978. Folk dancing lessons were offered, and students could learn macrame and leather working at the crafts cent in the Union. They could shop at the natural foods co-op in the Union or dine in the America's Cup room paying $2.95 for a prime rib dinner. Students complained about parking problems, tuition increases, and grading unfairness. The Blizzard of '78 struck causing classes to be extended by a week in the spring. Black student groups and women’s groups worked to establish campus programs to meet their needs. Flu viruses struck campus, and many students were vaccinated against Swine Flue due to fears of a national epidemic. Sales staff demonstrated Hewlett-Packard calculators at the bookstore, and the Cigar advertised down jackets and hiking boots.

Textile gallery display of 1970 white men't suit and white dress

The nation's bicentennial celebration in 1976 brought new band uniforms to campus and a fever of red, white, and blue to the entire country.  New fibers and fabrics were coming on the market, and the textiles department helped students to understand their properties. American designers turned out new fashions at least twice a year, sometimes incorporating the new fabrics.  Women were moving into the workplace in droves and John Molloy was happy to advise both men and women how to Dress for Success. Movies and music inspired clothing styles – Annie Hall brought the man-tailored look to women’s fashion. The movie, Saturday Night Fever brought the disco trend mainstream and men's and women's fashions reflected this.

Enjoy this look back at the fashions and trends from 1976-1979