The Historic Costume Collection grew out of the efforts of Emily P. Reynolds, a member of the textiles and clothing faculty from 1948 to 1981, and department chair from 1966 to 1981. Its original purpose was to provide historic clothing examples for students studying historic dress. The first items were gifts from long-time residents of Fargo and from Miss Reynolds' students and their families.
By the 1970's, Miss Reynolds had acquired a fine collection of objects and began to encourage her students to research their history to provide a permanent record. Dr. Betty Minshall and her students added to this effort in the early 1980s by organizing and customizing storage for flat items, including scarves & laces.
In 1984, the collection became a priority of Department Chair Dr. Shirley Friend. She worked with a consultant from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., to create a cataloging system, archival storage methods and to provide more visibility for the collection. That year the collection received its name, The Emily P. Reynolds Historic Costume Collection, in honor of its founder who died in June of 1981. The collection was moved to Room 414 in the Katherine Kilbourne Burgum Family Life Center.
Dr. Friend and Patricia L. Roath, an apparel and textiles graduate student, and many volunteers worked to inventory and organize the entire collection. Additional work was done to research objects within the collection. Ms. Roath's thesis recorded the history and provided a visual record of Dr. Julia Rindlaub Wooledge's donation. Dr. Friend directed the Emily Reynolds Historic Costume Collection until her retirement in 1995.
Joy Erickson, inspired by her combined skills in theater costume design, mathematics and computer science, created a computerized organizational system for the collection. Although the software used for managing the collection has changed, the organizational structure provided by Ms. Erickson's efforts is still in use today.
Since 1995, Ann Braaten has been the curator of the Emily Reynolds Historic Costume Collection. The collection contains over 5000 objects. The collection also houses the Textile & Clothing Collection of the NDSU Libraries' "Germans from Russia Heritage Collection". The collection still provides examples of historic clothing for our students to study and it has broadened its mission to preserve the cultural heritage of the state and region through textiles, clothing and related items.