The Historical and Archaeological Textile Research Laboratory in the Department of Textiles, Apparel Design and Merchandising is a center for research focusing on the historical and socio-cultural significance of textiles and apparel. Researchers include Dr. Jenna Tedrick Kuttruff, a textile and costume historian and director of the laboratory, and Dr. Carl Kuttruff, an archaeologist and Adjunct Professor in TAM. Additional researchers include other TAM faculty and current graduate and undergraduate students working in the area.
The lab provides research and consulting services to other departments, universities, museums and private sector with special emphasis on the analysis, interpretation, and conservation of prehistoric and historic archaeological textile remains.
The LSU Textile and Costume Museum houses numerous specimens of research interest. Examples of research include the following:
1. Nineteenth Century Burial Dress. Textiles and garments recovered from an 1850's cast iron coffin burial of an African American female from Queens, New York are currently being analyzed. Three coffins from South Louisiana contain amazingly well preserved garments from 1850s male and female burials and provide an unprecedented research opportunity. Textile remains from the other burials have been more fragmentary.
2. Analysis, interpretation, and conservation of prehistoric and historic archaeological textile remains. To date researchers have studied archaeological textiles recovered from the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia, as well as those from China, The Marshall Islands, Egypt, Mexico, and Peru. Researchers in the laboratory are recognized nationally and internationally for their research. Requests are frequently received from archaeologists and museum curators to analyze specimens in their collections.
3. Continuity and Change in Prehistoric Footwear and Bags in the Midsouth. The goal of the research is to provide explanations and answer questions regarding when, in what ways, and why continuity and change in textile technology have taken place in the Eastern Woodlands of the United States. Experimental archaeology includes the replication of research specimens as a means of gaining insights into their production and use.
4. Use of Eryngium Yuccifolium Michaux in Prehistoric Textiles. Research explores differences in distinct morphological plant types and their selected use in textiles by prehistoric peoples. A study of prehistoric textiles from Missouri and Arkansas indicates that rattlesnake master was an important textile plant and its use has been documented for a span of nearly 7000 years. Studies of the leaf anatomy in artifacts indicates that leaves had been selected for specific end uses on the basis of plant maturity.
5. Nineteenth Century Acadian Textile Production in South Louisiana. Ongoing research documents handwoven textiles produced by the Acadians and the handmade tools used by them in textile production. These textiles were used to make clothing for the family and as household textiles. Louisiana Acadians were known for their handwoven clothing in the nineteenth century and continued to weave bedding such as quilts, blankets, sheets and coverlets into the twentieth century.
6. Late 19th and Early 20th Century Dress in the Philippine Islands. One project focuses on the relationship of American imperialistic policies during this period and the dress of Filipinos at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Missouri. Researchers have conducted archival and museum research in Washington D.C., St. Louis, and the Philippine Islands.
7. Use of Commodity Bag Fabrics for Family Clothing and Household Textiles in South Louisiana. Researchers are documenting characteristics of different types of textile commodity bags and their relationships to consumer end uses and are comparing extant women’s dresses made from commodity bags to fashionable dresses depicted in period journals.