Welcome to the URI historic textile and apparel wiki

This wiki project developed from my desire to expand the visibility of and engagement with the Historic Textile and Costume Collection (HTCC) in the Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design at the University of Rhode Island. The HTCC is a teaching collection; therefore, it has traditionally been used to support faculty teaching and research and student research. The goal of this site is to disseminate the research, exhibitions, and projects that students produce that draw upon this fabulous collection. In the past, much of the work to be highlighted here was only collected internally because it was produced for classes.

The first rendition of this wiki project was conducted in the Spring of 2013 in the Honors version of TMD 224: Culture, Dress and Appearance taught by me, Dr. Blaire Gagnon. With a class of 20 students, I created a hybrid version of the regular TMD 224 class that combined traditional lecture/discussions with object-based research using the HTCC collections and the development of a wiki. I had never created a wiki before but was inspired by Dr. Jay Folgeman's use of a wiki in his classroom and as a public engagement tool, particularly his URIteacherknowledge wiki. The students in the TMD 224H class were instrumental in working out a plan for how a wiki collection might work. The TMD224H course wiki is a private wiki because it is important for students to have a safe place to work on their writing. At the end of each spring semester, I transfer the student research/wiki pages from the internal course wiki to this public wiki. Thus, this wiki will be an expanding window into the objects in the collection and the projects students are working on. Moreover, this project is designed to be economical in terms of funds and time. Wikispaces.com provides wikis for free, and students are conducting research and writing-up that research already. The difference in this project is the student writing is produced as a wiki page; thus, they also learn about wiki construction and engaging audiences outside of the classroom. In addition, the collection and department ends up with a repository of information that we can share with others without having to incur additional expenses and/or increase, well not substantially, faculty (my) workload. Hopefully, this project will inspire other similar projects.

Because this is a course and faculty developed project designed to engage current trends in the democratization of knowledge, I have also included on this site the initial syllabus, the current course syllabus, and some examples of the anonymous course reviews I collected at the end of the first two course offerings.

Now for a disclaimer: The wiki pages that are currently included in this site are developed by undergraduates, primarily freshman and sophomores, who are taking the TMD 224Honors course as a General Education course. Only a few students are majors. Generally, this is their first experience at object-based research, textile research and wiki writing. This means the level of production will vary, but that, in my humble opinion, is not a negative nor counter to my goal of making this site accessible. Each page will list the author(s)/researchers, the courses in which the research was conducted, if applicable, and any other information needed for visitors to assess the information presented.

Currently, the collection has over 20, 000 pieces, and it is growing and changing. The most important resources for our collection are the Rhode Island and URI communities that support us through donations, both in terms of physical objects, information, and monies. I dedicate this project to all of those past, present, and future who help us preserve and present the past through textiles and apparel. Feel free to contact me regarding this experiment at 401-874-5858external image call_skype_logo.png401-874-5858 or bgagnon@uri.edu.

Project Presentations/Papers/Collaborations:

This project was presented at the Textile Society of America’s (TSA) Biennial Symposium in Los Angeles, California, September 10-14, 2014. The paper associated with this presentation is available through the TSA Symposium Proceedings hosted on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Digital Commons. Click HERE to access the paper: Wikispaces: Technology, Textiles, and Public Engagement. My presentation at the 2014 TSA symposium also connected me to two wonderful researchers, Dr. Lynne Anderson and Dr. Susanne Lervad, and the digital archives they are working to develop. Dr. Lynne Anderson is the Project Director for the Sampler Archive Project and Dr. Susanne Lervad is part of a team developing the terminology wiki, TEXTILnet.

Dr. Lynne Anderson and I are currently collaborating on the Rhode Island Sampler Initiative. The Rhode Island Sampler Initiative is a collaborative project between the Sampler Archive Project and the faculty, staff, and students of the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design Department, and local museums including the Babcock-Smith House Museum in Westerly, Rhode Island and the South County Museum located in Narragansett, Rhode Island. In support of this initiative, we conducted a statewide survey to identify historic schoolgirl samplers located in Rhode Island cultural institutions and private collections. This survey was supported by a grant from the URI Center for the Humanities ; the grant funded survey was completed in October 2015 but we are still working to contact sites.

I am also working on a new collaborative wiki project: The Reverand Andrew C. Strachan Crazy Quilt, that documents a crazy quilt made in April 1900 to commemorate Rev. Strachan's graduation from seminary school. This project was presented at the Small Museum Association meeting in Maryland, February 16, 2015. This wiki is now public and the quilt was donated to South County Museum in November 2015. The goal is to provide a historic and cultural context for the quilt to be used by the family, the South County Museum where it will be housed, and the San Anselmo Historical Museum, which has contributed a significant amount of information to the wiki regarding the quilters and the community from which the quilt came. The Strachan Crazy Quilt is scheduled to be exhibit at the South County Museum's 31st Annual Folk Art Quilt Show in September 2016. If you are in South County Rhode Island, we invite you to come visit.

Blaire Gagnon, PhD
Assistant Professor
Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design
University of Rhode Island