Potter College News
Kentucky Museum launches SpiritFunder to support Carrie Burnam Taylor Collection
- Tiffany Isselhardt
- Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
"Did you know Dr. Sallye R. Clark? Our late colleague, mentor, and friend, Dr. Clark was integral to researching the historic costumes held by the Kentucky Museum."
So begins the Kentucky Museum's latest fundraiser, which seeks to support the conservation, research, and display of the Mrs. A. H. Taylor Collection. Originally researched by the late Dr. Sallye R. Clark, a professor of textiles and clothing at WKU, the collection is now a major project for Dr. Carrie Cox (Assistant Professor of Fashion Merchandising) and her students in partnership with the Kentucky Museum's Collections Curator/Registrar, Sandy Staebell.
The collection focuses on 19 garments produced by an incredible female entrepeneur. Born in 1855, Carrie Burnam Taylor dreamed of a dress-making empire, which she realized in founding the Mrs. A. H. Taylor Company. Her custom dress-making company grew from Taylor’s in-home studio to a factory in downtown Bowling Green that employed over 300 women, providing a model of female entrepreneurship and high style at a time when women were expected to remain wives and mothers. Her story is crucial to understanding gender norms, entrepreneurship, and fashion in the late 19th and early 20th century while inspiring future female entrepreneurs.
The garments are complemented by holdings of WKU's Department of Library Special Collections, which contains numerous account books and documents from Taylor's company. Some of these documents, and the Trousseau dress worn by Ibbie Beard, were recently featured in the exhibition Out of the Box, where Cox first interpreted the collection in partnership with Dr. Whitney Peake (Department Chair, Vitale Professor of Entrepreneurship, and Associate Professor of Management in the Gordon Ford College of Business).
In 2021, the Kentucky Museum is expanding this research into an exhibition of garments, documents, and other artifacts from Mrs. A. H. Taylor's life and work. Dr. Cox and her students are researching, documenting, and contextualizing this collection. Students in Dr. Cox's IDFM 332 class this fall are completing presentations on turn-of-the-century etiquette, footwear, accessories, hairstyles and millinery, advertising, social issues, entrepreneurship, education, recreation, economics, designers, and employment that will inform the exhibit. Additionally, in Winter term 2021, Dr. Cox will teach FACS 598, Textile Conservation & Display, that will feature video presentations by consulting conservators Colleen Callahan and Newby Richardson as they conduct an on-site assessment of the Taylor collection. Additional classes have undertaken close studies of the garments, looking at topics such as construction and fiber analysis, and the collection has been featured in student research projects such as Janice Center's 1977 Master's Thesis and Theresa Jureka' 1983 Master's Thesis.
Through the SpiritFunder, the Kentucky Museum and Dr. Cox hope to raise $9,590 to support the exhibition, with additional donations supporting conservation of the collection.
Gifts made be made online here or by check to:
Attn: Tiffany Isselhardt
1906 College Heights Blvd. #1906
Bowling Green, KY 42101
Every gift will be considered a co-adoption of the Taylor Collection, recognized both in the exhibit and in records related to the Taylor Collection alongside other adopters. All funds raised will help purchase high-quality cases, produce labels and graphics, and undertake conservation work on the garments to ensure their display and future study by WKU students.
The campaign runs through November 26, 2020.
About the Kentucky Museum
The Kentucky Museum celebrates all aspects of South-Central Kentucky’s art, history, and culture. “Kentuckians need to know Kentucky” was the museum’s earliest conceptual framework, which took shape in the eyes of WKU’s founding president Henry Hardin Cherry. Today, we are a steadfast educational campus partner helping to inspire innovation, elevate community, and transform the lives of our students and the community.
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