- 16th century to late 20th century (Creation)
Level of description
Content and Structure
Scope and content
The collection consists of the surviving papers of the Needlework Development Scheme and over 100 examples of needlework. Of these examples, 28 are from Great Britain and 54 are examples of non-British work including examples from Greece, India, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey and Bosnia. Items include ecclesiatical, domestic, costume, clothing and modern embroideries, tea cosies, funeral pall, clothing, lace work, wall hangings, samplers, linen work and cushion covers.
The surviving papers include a complete inventory of 1012 items that were part of the Needlework Development Scheme prior to its dispersal in 1961. This provides information on the original numbering scheme used for the needlework examples and also provides information on the provenance of each item, although this is not necessarily the creator of the item but the person from whom the item was received, as well as a description of the item itself. There is an inventory of the parts of the collection received by the Glasgow School of Art, insurance details concerning the collection and the correspondence of the Needlework Development Scheme, 1931-1941.
This material may contain sensitive information about individuals that is protected by the Data Protection Act. Until this material has been checked for sensitive information, it will not be available for researchers. Once this Data Protection work is complete the collection will be open for access, however any sensitive information will be closed and inaccessible for 75 years from the date of creation.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
System of arrangement
- NDS GB: Examples of British needlework
- NDS F: Examples of foreign needlework
- NDS COR: Correspondence of the NDS
- NDS INV: NDS inventories
- NDS IMG: NDS images
- NDS PUB: NDS publications
- NDS REL: NDS related material
Name of creator
Name of creator
Physical Description and Conditions of Use
Conditions governing access
Conditions governing reproduction
Application for permission to reproduce should be submitted to The Archives and Collections at The Glasgow School of Art.
Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of material.
For further details, please refer to our Reprographic Service Guide @ https://gsaarchives.com/policies
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Collection Historical Note
The Needlework Development in Scotland scheme ran from 1934-1939 and was a collaboration between art and design education with industry, with its funding being received from J & P Coats, thread manufacturers of Paisley, Scotland, with the company's main office being located in Glasgow, Scotland. The aims of the Scheme were to encourage greater interest in needlework and to improve the standard of design, the scheme becoming a forerunner of the Needlework Development Scheme (NDS), 1944-1961, also funded by J & P Coats.
The NDS was led by the vision of Colin Martin, and based on the educational philosophies of the time. The Scheme's aim was to improve the standard of design and technique of embroidery by helping both teachers and students. Encouraging embroidery also meant that J & P Coats were creating a future market for their threads and at the scheme's height in the 1950s J & P Coats spent the current equivalent of £1m printing 15 million bulletins which were mostly issued free to school girls.
The NDS was managed from the Central Agency of J & P Coats in Wellington Street, Glasgow. Loan collections of historical and modern embroideries were developed with examples being purchased by, or donated to, the Scheme with some examples being purchased from the Glasgow School of Art. These collections were then exhibited and loaned to schools in order to help teach and promote embroidery as an art form.
In 1961, Coats Patons Ltd, formerly J & P Coats Ltd, withdrew funding for the Scheme and it ceased to function. The collection of over 3000 textile items was broken up and disseminated between around 14 universities, colleges and museums. In Scotland, NDS collections exist at The Royal Museum of Scotland, Paisley Museum, Dundee University, Edinburgh College of Art, Gray's School of Art at Aberdeen, and the Glasgow School of Art. The Glasgow School of Art was one of the places that received material from the NDS and Kath Whyte, the Head of School of Embroided and Woven Textiles at the time, was able to choose the items from the collection that she felt would be useful for use as teaching aids within her department.
Place access points
People and Organisations
- The Glasgow School of Art (Subject)
Genre access points
Rules and/or conventions used
Level of detail
- Fonds level description compiled by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 11 November 2001. Updated by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 14 May 2002.
- Fonds level description added to CALM by Susannah Waters, GSA Archivist, 09 April 2008.
- Updated by Kimberly Sommerville, volunteer, 03 April 2009.
- Catalogue imported into Archon software and edited by Michelle Kaye, Archon Project Officer, May 2014.
- Catalogue exported from Archon and imported into AtoM during system migration, 2018-2019.