So that non-locals know, Virginia Tech is a large university in Blacksburg, Virginia. I suppose besides its football program, it is most famous for the very dreadful shooting that occurred there a few years ago. It is also very well known for its engineering school, which probably explains why this collection is relegated to obscurity.
Anyway, not knowing what to expect, we were all totally awed by what we saw when we walked in the classroom. There was a wide array of clothing and accessories displayed in the front and they all had information cards with them. I think that is what makes this collection unique--it's all about the story. The collection began because of a class that Oris Glisson taught dealing with different time periods and what people wore. So her students would go home on Thanksgiving break or spring break and talk about what they were learning. Well, someone at home would remember that Great Aunt Nellie wore an outfit just like that when she got married and next thing you know, they'd rummage in the attic and bring back to Tech that garment along with its story of who wore it, when and why. Sometimes they even brought pictures of the garment on their great grandmother or whoever. How neat is that?
And, since it's not like anyone needs to keep clothing from 50 or 100 years ago in the attic, the garments would be left at Virginia Tech to be used as samples of clothing from the various time periods. The collection just kept growing and growing until its present size of around 5,000 items. You can read more about it here. The collection itself is in storage but some garments are on display on the lower level of Wallace Hall.
Here are some pictures I took of some of the things we got to see on our field trip:
|An overview of part of the collection we saw. Obviously, we only saw a very small fraction of it!|
|Lots of pintucks! Neat details.|
|Dress made of netting.|
|Back view of dress--it's easier to see the netting and that it's underlined in beige.|
|Okay, there were prettier dresses in the collection, but I liked this one.|
|Suit--it's hard to see the skirt.|
|The dress that can stand on its own! How funny is that? This is when interfacing became a big thing and this dress has some heavy duty interfacing in it!|
|I cannot remember the name for this exactly but it was worn when the bustle was big and the bust needed to protrude too, hence the gathers in front to make that happen.|
|Man's beaver top hat.|
|Lots of men's top hats...and you can see their information cards.|
Now, the sad part. The collection has gotten so big and some of it is deteriorating so Tech will have to decide (eventually) what to do with it--a museum of its own, donating it to a museum....Who knows? But, I think that they should have at least one Threads magazine article about it, don't you? Or something similar--with all the stories surrounding the collection, it might make an interesting book.