Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



From Textiles in Trade: Proceedings of the Textile Society of America Biennial Symposium, September 14–16, 1990, Washington, DC


Copyright © 1990 by the author(s).


After The Textile Museum decided to discontinue its Irene Emery Roundtables and die Centre International d'Etude des Textiles Anciens finally admitted it was not interested in an American branch, it became clear that an independent American group of textile enthusiasts should be formed to satisfy the many requests for such an organization. There had been an attempt to form a group which was called WHATS, but it never got off the ground. Peggy Gilfoy at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, one of the original organizers, was left guarding its small fund when it folded.

On April 3, 1987 a small group met in the Textile Department of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. They were: Mattiebelle Gittinger, Dale Gluckman, Louise Mackie, Milton Sonday, Lotus Stack, Christa Thurman, Jean-Michel Tuchscherer and Ann Wardwell. We decided to be the founders of what we agreed should be named the Textile Society of America. The gathering should have included Rita Adrosko, John Vollmer and Peggy Gilfoy and they were immediately phoned and asked to join. We chose officers and board members with no authority, armed only with the conviction that if an organization were to grow, this was the only way to do it.

Peggy Gilfoy was named President and John Vollmer "Vice-President. An administrative structure was established and Lotus Stack volunteered to host the first symposium in Minneapolis in September 1988. John Vollmer agreed to organize the program following the theme "Textiles as Primary Sources." From the very beginning we wanted TSA to represent as broad a range of interests in textiles as possible. Membership was be open to anyone who paid annual dues. Although not specifically stated, costumes and "Eastern" rugs were not to be emphasized and the cutoff date for fabrics to be discussed might be 1950.

The symposium in Minneapolis was a huge success. John Vollmer supervised the publication of papers and with the help of Suzanne Baizerman the publication was sent to participants within four months of the September meeting.

In Minneapolis in 1988 there was an election of officers. Peggy Gilfoy was to be President and Milton Sonday Vice-President. Mary Jane Leland became the Treasurer, Marianne Carlano the Recording Secretary, Suzanne Baizerman the Corresponding Secretary and Beverly Gordon the Membership Chairperson. The original founders were kept on as board members, each given a task as seemed appropriate. Elizabeth Barber, Susan Bean, Clarita Anderson, Arlene Cooper, Mary Landis and Mokhtar El-Homossani were asked to join to broaden the range of professional interests. Clarita and Arlene volunteered to produce the organization's Newsletter.