By Lauren Paolini
A common problem amongst us fashionistas is what to do with our old clothes after we’ve finished our spring cleaning.
Class of 1961 alumna Joan Murtaugh found herself with some beautifully preserved vintage clothing that belonged to her and her mother, and generously decided to donate the pieces to FSU’s Fashion Department.
The Dayton Ohio native moved to Framingham when her father was transferred here with his military unit. Murtaugh said the family took a trip to Framingham to visit FSU her senior year of high school since they knew they were moving to the area.
“I had my transcripts with me, and [the registrar] took a look at the transcripts and said ‘Oh sure, we can take you,’ … So I was accepted and started in September,” Murtaugh said.
At the time, FSU only had two departments – home economics and education. Murtaugh knew she wanted to teach, so she enrolled in elementary education.
“I used to take the bus from Shoppers World,” she said. “I’d walk to Rte. 9 and take the bus and get off at the foot of State Street.”
Although her involvement at FSU began in the education department, Murtaugh had sewing skills along with most of her relatives on her mother’s side.
“A highlight for my mother and my aunt would be to go into the garment district in New York and look through remnants, and I was tagging along,” she said.
Murtaugh said although she graduated from FSU, she wasn’t involved with the Alumni Association until around her 50th anniversary at the school.
“I was really interested in fashion because I met someone in the alumni relations on a trip into the Hall of Flags and she was talking about the fashion show and I thought, ‘I’ve never been to the fashion show. I think I’d like to go,’ so it evolved from there,” she said.
Thinking about the next generation of fashion designers at FSU, she said, “I often wondered whether the kids would be interested in developing a fashion line for the University … more than scarves and sweatshirts, but current blouses, jackets – that kind of thing.”
Murtaugh’s advice for FSU students is to keep an open mind and continue to learn.
“When I left Framingham, I felt well prepared to teach, so, I’m sure the students who leave today feel prepared,” she said. “From what I have seen of students that I have met and just observed, you really are a very serious group.”
Outside of the fashion realm, Murtaugh had volunteered at the history center and library in Framingham. She also loves traveling and has been everywhere from the South Pacific to the Mediterranean. Murtaugh even had the opportunity to take an oceanography class at the University of Hawaii, and always brought back pictures to her classroom to incorporate into lessons.
Once she graduated, Murtaugh began teaching third grade at Jonathan Maynard, which is now the Danforth Art School. She taught in the town of Framingham for 36 years.
Murtaugh’s donated garments are being showcased in the display case on the second floor of Hemenway Hall.