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Special Collections & College Archives: Home

Special Collections is a highly-specialized repository of primary source research materials related to the fields of fashion and design.

About Special Collections & College Archives

Special Collections is a highly-specialized repository of primary source research materials related to the fields of fashion and design.

 The more than 7,000 rare books housed in Special Collections have been vetted for their rarity or importance in the fields of fashion, textile, costume and interior design.  The collection includes 3,500 linear feet of books, periodicals, oral histories and designer scrapbooks as well as over 350 unique manuscript collections that contain more 500,000 works on paper, many of which are original designer sketches. The manuscript collections are especially strong in their documentation of American fashion design from the late nineteenth century through the 1990s, Broadway and Hollywood costume design and the history of New York City’s own Seventh Avenue garment district.

We maintain a closed stacks reading room for access to Special Collections and FIT Institutional Archives materials.  All materials are paged prior to your visit: this means books and other materials are retrieved for researchers to view in the reading room and that all material is non-circulating.  When scheduling an appointment you will be asked for specific titles and call numbers, use StyleCat Online Catalog to find this information.  Please consult Research Help for further assistance.
The wide range of primary research sources housed in Special Collections are often rare, fragile and valuable.  To protect these collections the following prohibitions are enforced during researcher visits:

  • No pens or markers: we are happy to provide pencils.
  • No food, beverages (including water), gum.
  • Photography is permitted but requires a completed Permission to Reproduce form.
  • Only laptops and digital cameras are allowed for use in the Readiing Room your other belongings will be sequestered during your visit in our onsite lockers.
  • Please bring a valid photo ID.
  • Please silence your cell phones.

Below are some don'ts of Special Collections a la Mr. Bean. Enjoy! 

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Oral History Spotlight

The Oral History Project of the Fashion Industries contains over 300 interviews by prominent 20th-century fashion industry insiders.  In-depth interviews with individuals in every segment of the fashion business create a broad historical record that is drawn directly from the knowledgeable, informal, and often, colorful verbalization of its practitioners.  The Oral History Project is a unique record of facts, ways and means, points of view, practice and personality that could be preserved in no other way.  

The Oral History Project of the Fashion Industries began informally in 1977 and was officially funded by a grant from the Educational Foundation for the Fashion Industries beginning in 1981.  The project was guided by an industry advisory committee chaired by Mrs. William Randolph Hearst, Jr.

Featured Oral Histories 

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Browse our collections on FITDIL (FIT Digital Image Library)

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Material Mode Blog

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Special Collections & College Archives (SPARC)

Phone: 212.217.4385


4th floor of the library, Room E427

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