Consider This: Making an Impact Across the Years

In 1918, when the University of Alberta was only a decade old, a new department was formed: The Department of Household Economics in the…

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In 1918, when the University of Alberta was only a decade old, a new department was formed: The Department of Household Economics in the then-Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Almost 100 years later, that department now resides in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences as the Department of Human Ecology. For many of us, it is our academic home and, for all of us who have used its world-class clothing and textiles collection, we have Anne Lambert to thank.

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A 1988 University of Alberta Alumni Association document, History Trails, profiled Anne's career start at the University of Alberta in 1971, including her pivotal role in establishing what would become a world-class collection of clothing and textile-related artifacts.

In the article, Anne noted that the roots of the collection extended back to the very first clothing and textiles courses offered at the university. From the inception of the household economics program, instructors began assembling materials to use as examples in their classes.

When Anne joined the University of Alberta, the entire collection (which was not catalogued) amounted to a "closetful of odds and ends." From these modest beginnings, the Historic Costume and Textile Study Collection emerged in 1972.

During Anne's curatorship, the clothing and textiles collection, as it became known, evolved to have noteworthy holdings in a number of areas. Some of these areas include fashionable Western dress from the past three centuries, Indonesian and West African textiles, Guatemalan textiles and costumes, and Peruvian ethnographic and archaeological textiles and the Rosenberg Quilt Collection, which has met the criteria to qualify as Canadian Cultural Heritage Property.

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At present, the collection houses more than 23,000 artifacts and is the largest and most significant of its kind in Canada held by a university. It is a remarkable resource for the community, and for students and researchers from across disciplines and from around the world.

Anne is retired now, but her influence lives on. In recognition of her invaluable contributions as curator, educator and mentor during her almost forty-year career at the University of Alberta (1971-2008) a renaming of the Clothing and Textiles Collection to the Anne Lambert Clothing and Textiles Collection will be celebrated on Nov. 30.

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The event will also mark the launch of a fundraising campaign to support the creation of an endowed textile conservator position. A textile conservator is integral to protecting Anne's legacy and the future of the collection through the application of international standards of artifact care, storage and exhibition.

In months to come, as home economics and human ecology programming at the University of Alberta celebrates 100 years, there will be events and programs that highlight the work that has been part of this campus over the decades. I am excited about this coming year, and hope you will help us be part of this important celebration for the university.

Deanna Williamson, Chair - Department of Human Ecology, Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences