The Virtual Textile Project

American Textile History Museum

Represented by Curator Karen Herbaugh. The richness of this resource is best summarized by the museum’s website: Mill samples constitute one of the largest and most extraordinary parts of the Museum's textile collection. The samples were kept originally either as a record of production or were developed as a selling tool for the mill or its selling agent. The samples, which number in the millions, include cotton, woolen, worsted, silk, and synthetic fabrics produced by hundreds of American manufacturers. These small swatches of fabric are invaluable because they were never used, and so retain the original colors and finishes of the fabric so often lost through years of exposure to light, air, wear, and cleaning processes. No other institution has such a breadth or depth of American mass-produced textiles. The sample books provide comprehensive data indicating the mill of origin, date, year, and season of production, fabric type, and fiber contents. Some samples include dye formulas.