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The tradition of collecting contemporary practical works relating to the business and industry of a particular field, as well as to its design and aesthetics, began with the Astor Library, one of NYPL's founding institutions. The works grouped in this presentation were routine contemporary acquisitions of their day, welcomed into the collections not only in anticipation of their immediate utility, but also in expectation of their future historical role as source documents for future historians and designers. Among the special items featured here are manufacturers' catalogs containing real fabric swatches along with sketches showing how the new prints and weaves could be fashioned into seasonably stylish garments.
The history of apparel manufacturing parallels the invention of factory sewing machines and the rise of a middle class to appreciate and acquire multiple articles of ever updated clothing. Coming from two complementary library divisions, the catalogs and histories in this digital presentation, which will grow over time, provide a window into the daily practices and design resources of one of the few manufacturing industries that still thrive in New York City. Recognizing the significance of the 9,000 volumes in SIBL's textile industries collection, the National Endowment for the Humanities recently funded a two-year project to film the entire, predominantly black-and-white, holding .