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 costumer, 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 Theater (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 are cataloged in ExLibris. Manuscript collections of research materials include:
- Betty Williams Research Collection
Mss.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, contact Prof. Joy Spanabel Emery by e-mail or by telephone at (401) 874-2713