Agency history, 1904-

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  • Commoner, Lucy A
  • Frantz, Sarah
  • Beer, Alice Baldwin
  • Blumenau, Lili
  • Shepherd, Dorothy G
  • Haynes, Elizabeth d. 1948
  • Reed, Jean
  • Gibson, Mary S. M
  • Morgan, J. Pierpont (John Pierpont) 1837-1913
  • Seckar, Alvena 1916-
  • Mailey, Jean
  • Mayer-Thurman, Christa C
  • Moss, Gillian
  • Sonday, Milton
  • McQuaid, Matilda


Agency History


  • This is an agency history. It does not describe actual records. The Smithsonian Institution Archives uses these histories as brief accounts of the origin, development, and functions of an office or administrative unit to set that unit in its historical context. To find information on record holdings, please double-click the highlighted field "Creator/Author", which will open on a brief view of relevant records.
  • Guide to the Smithsonian Archives, 1996
  • Annals of the Smithsonian Institution, 1990-1996
  • Smithsonian Directory, 2000, 2002, 2017
  • "Gillian Moss, 83," Obituary, The Block Island Times, April 18, 2019,, accessed January 13, 2023
  • LinkedIn, Matilda McQuaid,, accessed January 13, 2023
  • LinkedIn, Susan Brown,, accessed January 13, 2023
  • 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 V. Seckar, who was succeeded by Dorothy G. Shepherd in 1942, and by Lili Blumenau, 1944-1950.
  • On Haynes's death in 1948 Alice Baldwin Beer was hired as Keeper of Needlework. Beer became Keeper of Textiles in 1950, and at the same time Jean Mailey became Assistant Keeper, resigning in 1957. "Keeper" was changed to "Curator" in October 1958. Sarah Frantz was Assistant Curator of Textiles from 1958 to 1961, and Christa C. Mayer-Thurman held the post from 1961 to 1967. Milton Sonday became Assistant Curator in December 1967, serving until 1997, after which he became Senior Researcher.
  • In 1970 Beer retired and became Consultant for Textiles, and in 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 A. Commoner began work in 1977, and the appointment of Gillian Moss as Textiles Assistant in 1984 led to her assignment as Assistant Curator of Textiles in 1985 and Curator, 1999-2002. In 2001 Susan Brown began her tenure as Associate Curator and in 2002, Matilda McQuaid, was appointed Curatorial Director and Head Curator of Textiles.
  • For a history of the larger creating unit, refer to "Forms part of" above.

Repository Loc.

Smithsonian Institution Archives, Capital Gallery, Suite 3000, MRC 507; 600 Maryland Avenue, SW; Washington, DC 20024-2520


  • 1904
  • 1904-


  • Art museums
  • Textiles
  • Textile fabrics
  • Art museum curators


Mixed archival materials

Local number

SIA AH00196

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