Winterthur Museum & Archives


Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library is located in Winterthur, Delaware. When I worked as a conservator at Philadelphia University's historic textile and costume collection, The Design Center, we often collaborated with Winterthur's conservation department. Winterthur and the University of Delaware also offer a three-year course leading to a Master of Science in Art Conservation. 

Although The Design Center had often worked with the staff and students at Winterthur, I had never actually visited the museum and gardens (it's a beautiful place and worth a special visit). After hearing that the Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera at the Winterthur Library acquired a donation of weaving books from the American Textile History Museum, I made a research trip down to Delaware to spend a day in the archives. 

It was an honor to have access to such an inspiring and invaluable weaving resource, and I spent a good part of the day flipping through weaving draft books and exploring historical textile research and ephemera. Since sharing my visit, many people have asked me how they too can access the archives. The librarian of the Downs Collection (it's open to the public!) has provided me with visitor information, which you'll find at the bottom of this page.

Weaver's draft book from 1867. 

Weaver's draft book from 1867. 


Weaver's draft book created by Cristof Kustner in 1776. Contains approximately 120 draw-downs and 8 threading and tie-up diagrams for weaving coverlets. Notes in German. Col. 50, accession 2017x85.38.

Hand painted from 1776.

Hand painted from 1776.


Draft book created by Charles Noska between 1860-1890. Charles Noska was a resident of Manayunk, Philadelphia*. He was born in Austria around 1840 and died in 1898. Census records and city directories misted various jobs for him: working in a cotton mill, loom boss, fixer. In the 1887 directory, he was listed as a partner in Leech & Noska, a company dealing in or making cotton goods in Manayunk. Col. 50, accession 2017x85.44.



* this is where I lived when I was in Philadelphia for graduate school.


Information for accessing the archives: 

The library is open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and second Saturdays, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Researchers do need to complete a registration form with a government-issued photo I.D. at the security desk before entering the library.  Lockers are by the desk for personal belongings; you can bring in a laptop, pencils, paper, and a camera/phone to take non-flash digital images for study purposes only. 

Most items from American Textile History Museum have been added into our swatch book collection (Col. 50) and the online finding aid is here. The American Textile History Museum material has been given accession numbers beginning with “2017x85”, and these are towards the end of the aid. You can also search for other weaving draft volumes in our collection in WinterCat, the online catalog. 

Appointments aren’t necessary (except for Saturdays), but it does help the librarian to know when people are coming. If you have any questions you may email

WeavingRachel Snack