Texas Tech University

Children's Garments

navy velvet coat
Child's heavy navy velvet coat with large fancy pearl buttons up the front. The tiny velvet collar tops a wide deep pointed collar of heavily corded silk edged with ivory eyelet embroidered lace. The full, leg-of-mutton sleeves of corded silk are finished with velvet cuffs. The coat is lined with quilted royal blue satin.

Every family clothes their children in the most beautiful and sturdy garments they can afford. The formality and fragility of the garments has changed significantly as the role of children in society has changed from being tiny adults in the 19th century to being given free rein to roam and explore in the 1960s. The Museum of Texas Tech University cares for more than 1,000 garments worn by children.

Highlights of the collection include two beautiful late 19th century coats worn by children of cattle barons. Both children were born to men who built a fortune in the cattle business and led cattle drives. Being the garments of children of prominent cattlemen, the history of the fathers is well documented, the children who wore the coats less so. Research into the garments and children has led to many interesting facts which serve to tell the story of these children born to prominent Texas men.

The acquisition of the Pat L. Nickols Research Cotton Sack collection included almost two dozen children's garments made from printed cotton sacks, commonly known as feed sacks. Although these garments were made from "free" fabric they were just as lovingly constructed as the most expensive garments the upper class could afford at the time.

Also among the collection are garments designed for special needs by the Department of Design in the Texas Tech College of Human Sciences. Other beautiful garments in the collection date from the 1960s and later.

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