AIC’s 39th Annual Meeting – Textiles Session, June 1, “Uses of the fiber Reference Image Library” by Katherine Jakes

This was a very interesting and informative talk about the development of the Fiber Reference Image Library (FRIL) and web site ( at Ohio State University and some of the ways it is being used. The concept was originally conceived to be an interdisciplinary and internationally developed library of fiber images but lack of funding made a large scale project impossible. Katherine Jakes then utilized the resources of Ohio State University’s Historic Costume Collection to create a scaled down version of the original vision and hopes that it will be used as a model for other institutions to do the same.

The website has photomicrographs of longitudinal fibers in both transmitted and polarized light for natural and synthetic fibers. Also included are photomicrographs of degraded fibers. All the images are linked to information about the object from which the fibers were taken, including photos, and there are links to other objects in the Historic Costume Collection that have the same fiber. In the future Ms. Jakes hopes to add more fibers, including feathers, archaeological material, and enhance the depth of the links.

Ms. Jakes also highlighted some of the outreach that has been done using the resources of the website. The first was a program developed for Middle and High school students that uses garments in the Historic Costume Collection from famous designers as an opening to discuss fiber properties and how that relates to the designers fabric choice. Also discussed is how microscopy is done. The second outreach project that Ms. Jakes talked about was dating fabric found with human remains on an island. The location and other items found on the island has raised the hope that these remains were Amelia Earhart but the fabric was polyester which wasn’t produced until the 1950s therefore too late for it to be her.