Blanche Payne Regional Costume Photograph and Drawing Collection
The Blanche Payne Regional Costume and Drawing Collection contains photographic prints, pattern drawings, watercolor paintings, and postcards that former UW faculty-member Blanche Payne collected or created on her research trips to the former Yugoslavia and various other countries during 1930 and 1936-1937.
During the early part of the 20th century, it was considered unusual for a woman to travel alone, but Payne visited many locations to document disappearing folk costume. Payne was truly a pioneer in the field of costume and apparel design, as she produced a seminal text on fashion history, "History of Costume" as well as an unpublished manuscript on folk costume from the former Yugoslavia. After Payne's death, her collected costume materials eventually came to be stored in the collection of the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington, while the archival materials traveled to the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections Division.
Blanche Payne's travel photographs capture a time between World War I and II where regional folk costume was being replaced by Western fashions for everyday wear and became relegated to use in festivals and dances. Through studying Yugoslav museum collections, travelling to remote villages, markets, and festivals, and studying and collecting regional costume, Payne was able to record the distinct differences in costume that arose from both regional differences and cultural symbolism. Her pattern drawings are a resource to anyone who wants to study and recreate these regional costumes, while her collected postcards and paintings allow the viewer to view these costumes in vibrant color. Some of the photographs depict Blanche Payne’s costume design students modeling the costumes she brought back from her trips. These materials are truly unique because they provide contextual information about the costume materials held at the Henry Art Gallery and also depict people from the former Yugoslavia and surrounding countries wearing regional costume and going about their daily lives – farming, visiting the market, dancing, and completing myriad other tasks.
This database enhances the materials held at both Special Collections and the Henry Art Gallery by providing a virtual and intellectual connection between the visual materials and costumes that Blanche Payne collected. The photographs, pattern sheets, postcards, and watercolors were linked, where possible, to associated costumes held in the collection of the Henry Art Gallery, in order to provide a richer context for understanding the materials of both collections. Links to specific Henry costume pieces in the Henry’s collection records can be found in the metadata of the objects included in this database.
About the Database
This digital collection was created with the CONTENTdm software's innovative new program, JPEG 2000, which enables finely detailed materials, such as illustrations, to be displayed in a higher quality, more usable online format. It allows viewers to see image details that would be difficult or impossible to see at the lower resolutions used in the normal software. This new software includes pan and zoom capabilities which allow a user to move in and out of an image and to move across the image to display the fine details which researchers need to be able to see clearly. The paper samples presented in this digital collection were scanned from original artifacts as TIFF files, manipulated in Adobe Photoshop to achieve the best and clearest possible digital image and loaded into the CONTENTdm JPEG2000 software and linked with descriptive metadata. Arrangement, preservation, research and selection for the Blanche Payne Regional Drawing and Costume Collection were completed by Erin Whitney as part of her thesis project work in the Museology Graduate Program in 2009 and descriptive metadata was completed in 2010-2013 by Erin Whitney and Jack Falk. The materials in this database are a selection of around 1,200 photographs, postcards, pattern sheets, and watercolor paintings from the collection, which is held by the UW Libraries Special Collections Division.