Printed sacks were integral to the lives of people living in West Texas, New Mexico and almost all rural areas of the United States during the first part of the 20th century. Plain sacks were used for clothing, aprons, and curtains. Printed sacks aided the creativity of the area's residents who made them into clothing and quilts. Because printed sacks were widely used, they were not saved in a systematic way. Several printed sack examples came to the Museum prior to and around the acquisition of the Pat L. Nickols Printed Cotton Sack Research Collection. The acquisition of the Nickols Collection expanded this area of research tremendously bringing in beautiful examples of both printed cotton sacks and the white sacks with printed logos.
The Museum's collection includes almost 550 printed cotton sacks, 72 of these printed feed sacks retain their original paper label. Additionally, the holdings include over 4,250 swatches of printed feed sack fabrics. There are 120 household items such as tablecloths, pot holders, dresser scarfs, window valances, dish towels, a laundry bag, garment cover and clothespin bag. The museum cares for almost 50 garments made of printed cotton sacks.
Of particular interest is a 1917 flour sack embroidered by the women of Belgium as a thank you for U.S. flour donated after World War I and an extensive collection of printed booklets with ideas and patterns for using the "free" fabric that was available through feed sacks.
Outstanding local objects include three original printed cotton sacks from The Standard Milling Company of Lubbock, Texas, which were printed to hold Stanton's Stock and Poultry Feeds. Some of the sacks, such as the one above right, were pulled in their pristine condition before filling to be given to Robert and Nancy Fehleison as a wedding gift so that she could make curtains for their new home from the fabric.