The idea for a historic costume collection was conceived by Adaline Snellman Hsia, former Head of the Department of Textiles and Clothing, who envisioned a collection to be used primarily by students in historic costume and apparel design at South Dakota State University. The collection began in 1963, when Mrs. Joe Foss donated a gown worn at her husband's inauguration as governor of South Dakota in 1954. Other inaugural gowns include those worn by Mrs. Hubert Humphrey and Mrs. George McGovern at the Inaugural Ball for President John F. Kennedy in 1961.
The collection's earliest items include an 1840s hand-woven towel, a wedding dress worn in 1857, several Civil War era bonnets, and numerous mid-19th century children's clothes; including an 1865 boy's dress, an 1870s day dress, and many late-19th century petticoats, drawers, and nightgowns. There are also several outstanding late-19th century capes and outerwear pieces.
Some of the most unique items in the collections include an 1896 original gown by French designer Charles Frederick Worth, an 1898 Spanish-American War Uniform, a 1908 brown plissé maternity gown worn by Mrs. Charles Pugsley when her husband was President of South Dakota State College, numerous 1920s mesh-and-beaded bags, 1950s designer suits, and 1960s paper dresses.
Specialized textiles include an 1822 hand woven coverlet, an 1850 pieced quilt, several 1860-1880s paisley shawls, crazy quilts from the 1890s, and many 1890s-1900s crocheted, tatted, and hand-embroidered table linens.
Housed in the Department of Consumer Sciences at South Dakota State University, the Snellman Hsia Collection is designed to fulfill the South Dakota Board of Regents mission, which is to "collect, preserve, display and make available artistic, artifactual, documentary, and intellectual materials important to understanding our couture" (BOR, Vision 2000, 1991). In this case, "materials" is understood to mean clothing, accessories, household textiles, and textile equipment. Our Collections are valuable tools used in teaching, research, publicity and display activities within the Department of Consumer Sciences, on campus, and throughout the state of South Dakota.
Faculty and staff within the Department of Consumer Sciences express sincere appreciation to all the generous contributors to the collections. We are proud to be the conservators of the Snellman Hsia Collection.