Teaching Textiles in 1917: The Cushman Swatch Books

  • Linda Welters (University of Rhode Island)


Two fabric swatch books begun in 1917 are in the University of Rhode Island's Historic Textile and Costume Collection. The donors used them in classes at Technical High School in Providence, Rhode Island. At the time, the city of Providence was home to many textile factories, including print works. The swatch books, which mostly consisted of homespuns and printed calicos, were compared to recommended course content published in the Journal of Home Economics in 1911. Courses were far from standardized. One unit recommended was a survey of the industrial revolution and the transfer of production from home to factory. This unit might have been the one for which the swatch books were assembled. The textiles in the swatch books also provide clues to the story of one of the donors, Franklin Cushman, whose ancestors lived in both Providence, Rhode Island, and Charleston, South Carolina during the antebellum period. Some of the swatches were used in quilt tops in the mosaic pattern, also in URI's Historic Textile and Costume Collection. One swatch is labeled "probably for slave gowns."

Keywords: textiles, history, teaching, swatch

How to Cite:

Welters, L., (2019) “Teaching Textiles in 1917: The Cushman Swatch Books”, International Textile and Apparel Association Annual Conference Proceedings 76(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/itaa.8315

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Published on
15 Dec 2019