Ruth Ketterer Harris (1910-1990) (BS 1931; MS 1932 Home Economics Education) was appointed the first curator of the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection in 1968. Ruth was a friend and colleague of Professor Helen Louise Allen and together they made various research trips in search of textiles for Helen’s teaching collection. Their collaboration also helped to establish the Madison Weaver’s Guild and the Wisconsin Designer Craftsmen Society. During her long association with Professor Allen, Ruth amassed a significant collection of books that reflected her passion for weaving and scholarly interests in textiles.
In 1990, following Ruth’s death, her husband, Wilfred J. Harris (1910-1998), donated her personal research library to the School of Human Ecology along with numerous textiles from her personal collection. The volumes which, from 1990 to 2017, comprised the Ruth Ketterer Harris Library, co-located with the Helen Louise Allen Textile Collection, were catalogued in UW-Madison’s electronic library system but designated as non-circulating reference books. To make these important volumes more accessible to students, faculty and scholars, a majority are now available for circulation through the Kohler Art Library. More fragile and rare items are preserved in UW-Madison’s Department of Special Collections and available on an appointment basis.