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The Rita J. Adrosko Papers: 1965-1993

Rita J. Adrosko is the Curator Emerita of the Textile Collection at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, D.C. Her interest in the Jacquard mechanism began in the late 1960s while planning a new textile exhibit for the National Museum of History and Technology, as the National Museum of American History was then called. She was responsible for refurbishing the Museum’s 19th century French Jacquard-equipped loom for exhibit and for demonstrating weaving on the loom after the exhibit opened. Knowing little about the history or operation of the Jacquard loom and finding little fully-documented work about Jacquard’s life or his invention, she began to do extensive research on both the inventor and the mechanism. Her research led her to spend six weeks in Lyon and Paris in 1971 and 1972, visiting libraries, archives, and museums. She researched 19th century weaving and 18th and 19th century weaving industries in Lyon, Paris and other French weaving centers, as well as in London. She also visited places such as Jacquard’s burial place and sought photographs and documents showing examples of Jacquard weaving. What Can I Find? The collection contains Adrosko’s research files on Joseph-Marie Jacquard and the Jacquard loom. Significant items include copies of material gathered by Adrosko in the course of visits to the library of the Musée Historique de Tissus, the Archives Nationales Françaises, the Bibliothèque Nationale, the museum of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, and other libraries and archives in Paris, Lyon and London. The collection includes numerous notes and information written by Adrosko herself in the course of her work. It contains sections on drawlooms and other pre-Jacquard devices; Jacquard’s life and work; the Jacquard mechanism in France, Britain, Germany, and America; applications and products; and the silk industry in general in France and Britain. It also contains copies of British patents, 1818-1868, for Jacquard and related looms, as well as copies of numerous articles about the silk industry in general and Jacquard in particular. Many files contain photographs