Lowell, MA – March 7, 2017—The American Textile History Museum (ATHM) has voted to transfer the bulk of the Museum’s Osborne Library to Cornell University Library (CUL), part of the Museum’s process to transfer its entire collection of artifacts to other organizations as it prepares to permanently close its doors.
Due to a significant financial deficit, the ATHM Board of Trustees voted in May of 2016 to seek approval from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office and Supreme Judicial Court to permanently close. As a result, the Museum’s Collections Committee and Board of Trustees have been working diligently to identify committed charitable organizations to serve as faithful, long-term stewards of the Museum’s significant collections.
“As we engage in this painstaking process to transfer our collections, we are seeking organizations of good reputation that can ensure the greatest continuing public access and benefit,” said ATHM Interim Executive Director Todd Smith. “As one of this country’s outstanding university library systems, Cornell University Library fully meets these criteria, and we are confident they will best ensure long-term preservation and continuation of this component of ATHM’s mission.”
The Osborne Library comprises a premier collection of more than 90,000 textile-related books, manuscripts, prints, maps, photographs, cloth labels, trade literature, and serial publications.
The Cornell University Library, located on the Cornell University campus in Ithaca, New York, is a leading academic research library with outstanding collections, service, and instructional programs, and is a leader in digital library applications. The CUL system includes the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation & Archives, the Albert R. Mann Library, and the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, a world-renowned repository of rare books, manuscripts, photographs, and archival materials.
“The American Textile History Museum and Cornell University Library share core collection strengths in fiber science, apparel design, and labor history,” said Curtis Lyons, Harriet Morel Oxman Director of the Hospitality, Labor, and Management Library. “Bringing these collections together will strengthen these areas, while also expanding the Library’s traditional collecting areas to include business history, industry studies, and related topics. The resulting collection will serve diverse researchers in all of these areas, from Cornell University faculty and students to external researchers from across the globe.”
The physical transfer of the Osborne Library collections is scheduled for April.
Additional collections transfers
ATHM continues to engage in the painstaking process to transfer collections to worthy museums, historical societies, and non-profit organizations. All collections are expected to be removed from the Museum by August 2017. Transfers approved by the Museum Collections Committee and Board of Trustees to date include:
- National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
Revere & Son bell and carriage.
- Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York, NY. Associated American Artists and Jack Lenor Larsen textiles (yard goods and samples), various other printed textiles and commemoratives (e.g. bookmarks, handkerchief, samples).
- Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE. Patent models, machine and tool models, textiles and documents related to John Mercer (1791-1866), an English chemist who invented mercerization, a process for treating cotton to strengthen the threads.
- Haverhill Firefighting Museum, Haverhill, MA. Firefighting suits and boots.
- Hearthside House Museum, Lincoln, RI. Coverlets, wooden looms, spinning wheels, and other assorted wooden tools.
- Manchester Historic Association, Manchester, NH. Sample books of cotton prints.
- Marshfield School of Weaving in Marshfield, VT. Wooden looms, spinning wheels, and other assorted wooden tools.
- Foster and Muriel McCarl Coverlet Gallery at Saint Vincent College, Latrobe, PA. Coverlets, including the Hawthorne coverlet collection. Research materials donated by Rita Adrosko.
- Nashua Historical Society, Nashua, NH. W. Maynard frock coat, Eaton & Ayer shuttles.
- North Andover Historical Society, North Andover, MA. Assorted wooden tools and educational programming materials.
- Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. Navajo blankets, Rio Grande blanket.
- Waldoborough Historical Society, Waldoboro, Maine. Waldoboro rugs.
- Westford Museum & Historical Society, Westford, MA. Plaques, yarn packages, yarn hanks related to Westford history.