Collections in the Commercial Pattern Archives

The commercial Pattern Archives in Special Collections, University of Rhode Island, encompasses an extensive commercial clothing paper pattern collection. Begun with the core collection of theatrical costumers, Betty Williams (1931-1996) holdings of over 40,000 patterns from the mid 19th century to present time are housed and preserved at the University of Rhode Island and are described through a subscription database that includes over 50,000 images of clothing and pattern schematics. Williams pioneered research on commercial patterns in the early 1980s and through her research she amassed a major collection and encouraged others to actively collect and preserve patterns. The Williams Collection, donated by her estate in 1997, has since been combined with the pattern collection donated to the University by CoPA Curator, Prof. Joy Spanabel Emery, URI Theatre (Emerita) and is augmented with continued additions of early and contemporary patterns.

Additionally, CoPA maintains a collection of books, pamphlets, journals, both scholarly and popular, and ephemera on the subjects related to tailoring, textiles, and fashions and the commercial pattern industry. A great majority is cataloged in ExLibris Manuscript collections of research materials include:

Betty Williams Research Collection
Msss.Gr.213; 1796-1995; 29.5 linear feet

Butterick Research Collection
Mss.Gr.217; 1860s-2004; 7.5 linear feet With the exception of the subscription database, all collections in CoPA are available for research. These materials do not circulate. For an appointment or for information about using CoPA collections, see the contacts page.