AIC’s 39th Annual Meeting- Texiles Session, June 1, “On-line Access to and Preservation of a Multi-Component Sketch Collection” by Marjorie Jonas

This talk discussed the re-housing and development of a database for a collection of design sketches by Bonnie Cashin within the FIT Archives and Special Collections (SC) at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).  Bonnie Cashin was a 20th Century fashion designer that designed clothing and accessories with this collection of sketches representing her work for the Phillip Sills Company.   More than 4000 sketches with accompanying fabric swatches and ephemera had been pasted into a spiral bound sketchbooks originally, but various sketchbooks had been unbound with the pages loose in boxes and other books remained intact.   The collection had only minimal catalog information and this along with its various housings made its use difficult and required unnecessary handling.  For this project, the sketch books were unbound because many of the plastic bindings were failing and pages were sticking to each other.  All sketch book pages were re-housed, first into 3 ml polyethylene bags and then archival boxes.

The main point of the talk was describing a finding aid that was developed to improve access to the collection and reduce the amount of handling the sketch pages encounter.  This finding aid is an online database with 10 categories that includes catalog and biographic information, with hyperlinks to images of the pages and associated materials.  For this finding aid each sketchbook page was given a unique number based on the ISAD(G) archive numbering standard.  The database is keyword searchable through the FIT library site.   This project has improved access to this collection while reducing handling and the searchable database concept is being used for other archive collections at FIT.