One of the very first items accepted into the Clothing & Textiles collection was a black wool blanket with a bright red border. Eking Y. Freehand, first football coach of Texas Technological College, presented it to the Museum in 1937. Also collected were five other items: an apron, bonnet, two pairs of socks and a walking cane. These six items formed the foundation of the items not only in the collection, but also the range of objects collected over the years.
To date, the collection has over 25,000 items, including costumes and accessories, household textiles, and related artifacts dating from approximately the early1800s to the present. Specimens in the collection that relate directly to the theme and research goals of the Museum include men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and accessories representing early Euro-American ranch life to the recent past; military and occupational uniforms, and other articles of clothing illustrative of regional, occupational, and professional endeavors; and household textiles that are indicative of women’s activities since the pioneer days. The majority of these materials were either made and used by people living in this area since the mid-1800s, or brought to the region during early Euro-American settlement of the West. As such, these materials are important resources for studies of the resourcefulness and adaptability of people in this region for 150-plus years.
Being an academic component of Texas Tech University and a major part of the local community, the Museum also collects and preserves clothing and textile materials that have relevance to the community and the University. This category includes objects belonging to university faculty members and prominent individuals in the area. Among them are Texas Tech uniforms from different sports, bands, and cheerleading squads; and articles of clothing from members of the Wade Arctic expedition teams led by Dr. Anthony Wade, a well-known geologist and long-term Tech faculty member. Many prominent political and civic leaders of the State of Texas and the region (including those of a governor of Texas, Representatives to U.S. Congress, State Senators and Representatives, and University Presidents) have also donated their clothing and other personal belongings to the Museum.
As a whole, the collections have historic and socio-cultural significance because nearly all of the items can be traced to specific persons who made, purchased, or used these objects. The majority of these items possess basic provenience information. Less than 1000 items were acquired by the Museum through purchase.