Finding Aids to Official Records of the Smithsonian Institution Archives
Record Unit 539
Cooper-Hewitt Museum. Department of Textiles
The textile collection of the Cooper Union Museum rose to preeminence with John Pierpont Morgan's 1902 donation of three significant collections of medieval European cloth designs. Mary S.M. Gibson took charge of the museum collections as Curator in 1904, and was responsible for the general oversight of the textile department until Jean Reed was hired as Assistant Keeper for Textiles in 1935 and Elizabeth Haynes became Keeper of Lace and Embroidery in 1937. In 1941 Reed was replaced by Alvena Vajda Secklar, who was succeeded by Dorothy G. Shepherd in 1942, and by Lili Blumendau in 1944.
Haynes died in June 1948 and three months later Alice Baldwin Beer was hired as Keeper of Needlework. Beer became Keeper of Textiles in 1950, and at the same time Jean E. Mailey replaced Blumendau as Assistant Keeper. Mailey resigned in 1957, and the designation KEEPER was changed to CURATOR in October 1958. Sarah Frantz was Assistant Curator of Textiles from 1958 to 1961, and Christa C. Mayer held the post from 1961 to 1967. Milton F. Sonday of the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C., became Assistant Curator in December 1967.
In 1970 Beer retired and became Consultant for Textiles, and in fiscal year 1977 Sonday was appointed Curator of Textiles. In 1979 Beer was named Curator Emeritus, a position she held until her death in November 1981. Textile Conservator Lucy Commoner began work in FY 1977, and the appointment of Gillian Moss as Textiles Assistant in FY 1984 led to her assignment as Assistant Curator of Textiles in FY 1985.
These records consist of departmental correspondence and office memoranda from 1976 to 1991. Files for 1984 and 1988 are missing. The records were created mostly by Milton Sonday and Gillian Moss, and concern subjects such as exhibition loans, textile scholarship, catalogs and publications, public inquiries, the donation and acquisition of objects, research on collections, activities in other museums, and administrative needs. The records include some files on the exhibition, "Lace," which was shown at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum from August to November 1982.
This collection is indexed under the following access terms. These are links to collections with related topics, persons or places.
- Sonday, Milton
- Moss, Gillian
- Morgan, J. Pierpont (John Pierpont), 1837-1913
- Gibson, Mary S. M.
- Reed, Jean
- Haynes, Elizabeth, d. 1948
- Seckar, Alvena, 1916-
- Shepherd, Dorothy G.
- Blumenau, Lili
- Beer, Alice Baldwin
- Mailey, Jean
- Frantz, Sarah
- Mayer-Thurman, Christa C.
- Commoner, Lucy A.
- Lace (Exhibition) (1982: New York, N.Y.)
Physical Characteristics of Materials in the Collection
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 539, Cooper-Hewitt Museum. Department of Textiles, Correspondence