Elizabeth Sage, the first professor of clothing and textiles at Indiana University, began her Indiana University career in 1913. As author of one of the first costume history textbooks, she established historic costume as a topic of serious study. During her summer breaks from teaching, Miss Sage traveled extensively and collected exquisite costumes and textiles to use as teaching samples in the classroom. After teaching for twenty-four years, she retired in 1937. At that time, she donated her collection of samples to Indiana University and the Elizabeth Sage Historic Costume Collection was born.
Today, the collection is composed of two parts: a museum-quality collection intended for exhibition and research, and a study collection used in classrooms and studios for hands-on examination of historical, contemporary, and couture fashions and techniques.