In addition to its four historic properties, the Plymouth Antiquarian Society maintains a significant collection of textiles, American furnishings, decorative arts, and domestic artifacts, dating from about 1700 to the mid-20th century. Society archives include papers, books, journals, and photographs from families who lived in Plymouth and the surrounding area. The Society started acquiring historic artifacts in 1919 and the collection reflects an ongoing organizational interest in the history of women.
Rose T. Briggs Clothing & Textile Collection
Under the guidance of the Society’s original curator, Rose T. Briggs, the Antiquarian Society developed an important collection representing New England’s textile history, which today holds an estimated 5,000 items. Included are clothing and dress accessories dating from the mid 18th century to the mid 20th century. The collection includes 18th and 19th century dresses, Quaker materials, early military uniforms, and a rare 1780s Harvard graduation suit. There are over 100 pairs of shoes and boots, including a 1750 silk brocaded pump belonging to Mercy Otis Warren. Headwear includes superb examples of 19th-century silk, cloth, and straw bonnets and an 18th-century judicial wig. Related artifacts include fans, umbrellas, parasols, canes, hair ornaments, and purses.
Of local significance are Pilgrim costumes worn at Plymouth’s Tercentenary events in the 1920s, and a collection of 19th-century men’s neckwear by local manufacturer Benjamin Hathaway, including stocks in several stages of construction from his original workshop.
The collection also includes textile furnishings, printed textiles, coverlets, quilts, blankets, and a needlework collection with approximately 125 pieces of embroidery, including 32 samplers, and over 100 textile-working tools.
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Collections Research & Tours
The collection has served for many years as the basis for exhibitions, educational programs, and scholarly research. The collection is open by appointment for research purposes. Themed tours and programs may be available by advance arrangement. For more information, contact Executive Director Anne Mason (email@example.com).
Online Exhibit of Spooner Family Letters
Read a collection of ten 19th-century letters from the Society’s Spooner Collection and learn more about the family who lived at 27 North Street.
Gifts to the Collection
The Antiquarian Society has instituted a one-year moratorium on accepting donations to the Society’s historic collections, through February 2022. This temporary moratorium gives us time to concentrate on developing a collecting plan for the future and addressing the limited space and resources we have for collections care. The moratorium does not apply to items that have a direct connection to the families who lived in our houses or to the Antiquarian Society itself. If you have a family treasure or something you think might be of interest to our Society, we encourage you to contact Executive Director Anne Mason at firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-746-0012.