Follow the Thread

a textile & costume history blog from the Design Center at Thomas Jefferson University

The Collection

Visit our online collections:

Textile & Costume Collection

Among the categories represented in our online collection are:

  • Hats
  • Shoes
  • Fans
  • Bags
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Color forecasting cards
  • Childrenswear
  • Womenwear
  • Menswear
  • Traditional costume (Western and non-Western)
  • Textile tools
  • Coptic textiles
  • African textiles and objects
  • Flat and rolled textiles
  • Stevengraphs
  • Prints


Public access to over 5,000 objects from the collection is available through JSTOR’s Open Community Collections, an initiative that makes content from around the world discoverable alongside relevant books, articles, and primary source materials on JSTOR.


Institutional access to the collection via ARTSTOR is available to Thomas Jefferson University students, staff, and faculty. From the ARTSTOR home page, select “Textile & Costume Collection” from the menu of “PhilaU Collections.”

Learn more about the collection: About Us.

Textile Swatches


Tapestry is an online collection of over 10,000 of our historic fabric swatches, focusing on the Zane Collection, which documents textile design at the turn of the 20th century. Funded with generous support from the Barra Foundation, Tapestry allows users to browse by keywords such as motif (e.g., flower, dots, tree, cat), category (e.g., floral, geometric, abstract, conversational), and color.


The Design Center houses over 300 exquisitely hand-carved textile printing blocks. Research has lead us to believe that the majority of these blocks originated in England and were created at David Evans and Co., a firm that began printing textiles in Crayford (a small town east of London) in 1834. The oldest running textile printer in England, David Evans and Co. finally closed its doors in 2001.

Created by hand from hardwood and metal, these blocks date from the late 19th to early 20th century. They were used to create patterns on cloth either through printing or resist dyeing. Featured motifs range from traditional Indian designs to those created for the Western market.

Jefferson Digital Commons

Public access to our entire woodblock collection is available through Jefferson Digital Commons, an open access repository of Jefferson’s historic collections and scholarly work.


Public access to the woodblocks collection is also available through JSTOR’s Open Community Collections.

Images of objects in our collection are copyrighted by Thomas Jefferson University. For inquiries regarding permissions and use fees, please contact: