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Costume and Textiles Department Records


Held at: Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives [Contact Us]Philadelphia Museum of Art, PO Box 7646, Philadelphia, PA 19101-7646

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Nancy Andrews Reath was a Cataloguer and Acting Registrar from 1921 to 1925. In 1926 she was appointed the Assistant in charge of Textiles. In 1927 she became the Assistant Curator of Textiles. She became the Curator in 1933 and served until her death in 1936, when Marianna Merritt became Assistant in Textiles. In 1940 Marianna Merritt Hornor became the Assistant Curator of Textiles and continued thus until 1943 at which time she went on leave of absence until 1946.

From 1942 to 1946 Joan Prentice, an Assistant in Decorative Arts, handled the correspondence concerning textiles. At Mrs. Hornor's return her title was changed to Curator of Costume. In 1954 she became the Curator of Costume and Textiles until 1956 when she was the Advisor to the department.

Elsie Siratz McGarvey was appointed Curator of Costumes and Textiles in 1956 and continued thus until she retired in 1979. During 1979, Christine Atwater Jackson was acting Department head for part of the time. Adolph Cavallo succeeded Mrs. McGarvey in December 1979, but he left in February 1982. Susan Anderson then became Acting Assistant Curator. Dilys Blum, the current Curator, assumed the position in 1987. Two years later, Christina Haugland joined the department as Assistant Curator

The records comprising series 1 through 5 consist of correspondence, booklets, yearbooks, and research notes for catalogs or proposed catalogs by the various Curators. The "unprocessed" series consists of more than 11.5 linear feet of records produced during the same time period as the other series, with some additional material dating from the early 1980s. These records are primarily departmental files, comprised of correspondence and subject files, and date from the 1960s to approximately1982. Another set of unprocessed records pertain to the annual Crystall Ball galas that were held from 1959 to 1976, including the bicentennial affair.

Inventories are available in the Archives.

These materials were arranged and described by Alice Lefton in 1988. Revised 2007. Funded by a grant from The Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation.

Philadelphia Museum of Art Archives
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Alice Lefton (3/1/88). Revised 2007.
Finding Aid Date
Funded by a grant from The Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research. Access to institutional records less than 10 years old is at the discretion of the Archivist.

Use Restrictions

The Costume and Textiles Department Records are the physical property of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Archives. The Museum holds literary rights only for material created by Museum personnel or given to the Museum with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication and for other purposes where stated.

Collection Inventory

Pre-departmental files, 1920-1926. 3 inches.
Scope and Content Note

Personal papers of Nancy Reath, including photographs (c.1920) of Kelmscott and May Morris (the daughter of William Morris who died in 1938) given to Mrs. Reath by E. Hamilton Bell (Acting Director of Museum from 1918 to 1919), and correspondence, taken from the main file, make up this series.

Physical Description

3 inches

Reath correspondence and research notes, 1927-1937. 2 linear feet.
Scope and Content Note

Included here is correspondence, in two to four year sections, A-Z, as well as research notes on tapestries and carpets, including: Stotesbury tapestries, lace and carpets, 1932; early Egyptian and Chinese textiles, and Greco-Roman hunting scenes, 1933 to 1935; and Spanish and Oriental carpets, c.1933.

Physical Description

2 linear feet

Hornor and Prentice correspondence, 1937-1946. 0.5 linear feet.
Scope and Content Note

A Hornor-Vanderbilt (Paul Vanderbilt was the Museum Librarian from 1928 to 1942) classified catalog on textile books, 1937, and Hornor correspondence A-Z from 1938 to 1941 in two alphabets, as well as Prentice correspondence from 1942 to 1946 in two alphabets, make up this series.

Physical Description

0.5 linear feet

McGarvery correspondence, 1956-1979. 3 linear feet.
Scope and Content Note

Included here is correspondence from 1956 to 1975 A-Z and yearbooks from 1973 through 1979 with appointments noted, outgoing correspondence from August 1977 through 1979 in two month segments and incoming correspondence from July 1977 to November 1979. One unit contains correspondence concerning Grace Kelly (Princess Grace of Monaco) and the gift of her wedding gown to the Museum.

Physical Description

3 linear feet

Cavallo correspondence, 1979-1980. 3 inches.
Scope and Content Note

Outgoing correspondence from December 1979 to February 1980 and incoming correspondence from December 1979 to February 1980 are here.

Physical Description

3 inches

Unprocessed material.

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