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 actual examples to students for 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 items and began to encourage her students to research the history of items 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 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 items within the collection. Ms. Roath's thesis recorded the history and provided a visual record of Dr. Julia Rindlaub Wooledge's donation.
Joy Erickson, whose combined skills in theater costume design, mathematics and computer science, inspired her to create a computerized organizational system for the costume collection. Although the software used for collection inventory has changed, the organizational structure provided by Ms. Erickson's efforts is still in use today.
Dr. Friend initiated the annual luncheon that the costume collection hosts each year. This event has become the time that we showcase items from the collection and honor those who have donated in the past year. Dr. Friend directed the Emily Reynolds Costume Collection until her retirement in 1995.
Since 1995, Ann Braaten has been the curator of the costume collection. The collection has over 4000 items currently in its inventory. Its holdings include 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.