Minna Schmidt was an authority on the history of clothing. She owned the largest costume rental business in early 20th century Chicago. She also opened the Chicago Schmidt College of Scientific Costuming for the research and reconstruction of costumes. Schmidt lectured at the University of Chicago in the department of home economics from 1930-1937 and was the author of numerous books such as 400 Outstanding Women of the World & Costumes of Their Time (1933).
Minna Schmidt was an artist who turned an interest in costumes into the largest costume rental business of the early 20th century. Born Minna Moscherosch in Sindelfingen, near Stuttgart Germany in 1866, she immigrated to America at the age of 20. After arriving at Ellis Island, she travelled by rail to Chicago to start a tutor / caretaker job with a Chicago family. Her long time love arrived from Germany several years later and together they started a family in Chicago. As a means to an end, Schmidt taught dance and acting in her spare time, designing and manufacturing the necessary costumes for amateur plays and pageants. The demands of her creative endeavor soon became a full time occupation so Schmidt left her tutor / caretaker job and opened up the countries first shop dedicated to costumes and wigs, quickly growing the business into a thriving enterprise. The success of her company allowed Schmidt to pursue other interests and at the age of 58 she earned her Bachelors Degree from Kent School of Law and went on to earn her Masters in 1929. Schmidt compiled a list of 400 outstanding women in history and produced dolls for each of them for the 1933 World’s Fair, illustrating women in ethnic apparel. The collection was donated to Trinity College in Washington DC and she authored a book on the subject titled 400 Outstanding Women of the World and Costumology of Their Time. Schmidt was considered an early feminist because of her views about women supporting the structure of society. Her dedication to costumology is her tribute to the motherhood and sisterhood of the world.