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USU has recently acquired a collection of documents from the inventor of the pop-up tent in the hopes that outdoor product design students and others will benefit.

The Merrill-Cazier Library’s Special Collections and Archives is now home to the Moss Tent Collection — a combination of patents, business records, photographs, artwork and more, displaying detailed products from designer Bill Moss. Moss’s work is credited by many for revolutionizing camping and has been the basis for products from outdoor industry giants including REI and MSR.

Special Collections has been hard at work in recent years building an archive of materials related to outdoor recreation and gear design in collaboration with USU’s outdoor product design and development program.

Clint Pumphrey, manuscript curator and interim head of Special Collections, hoped that acquiring a collection like this could provide the students in the OPDD with inspiration and give them a “better sense of history” with outdoor clothing and gear design.

“This collection continues to help strengthen our efforts in documenting the history of the outdoor industry and recreation. A collection like this is really helpful to students looking for inspiration in their own designs and who want to have a better understanding of the history and heritage of the industry they want to start a career in,” Pumphrey said.

Special Collections and Archives began its collaboration with OPDD by collecting business catalogues. They currently have over 3,500 pieces from 700 companies, dating all the way back to 1900.

“Through our existing archival project I had become aware of Marilyn Moss and her contributions to the industry. I wanted to interview her for our History of Gear Series to document her and her late husband’s story,” said Chase Anderson, industry relations manager for OPDD. “She then connected us with her son who had the materials in his possession. From the beginning they were both very flattered by the opportunity to have these materials preserved and protected. We are honored to have them here at Utah State.”

Bill Moss, frustrated with how difficult camping gear was to use, designed the patented “pop-up tent” in 1955. Moss and his wife Marilyn created Moss Tents in 1975, where they would go on to introduce camping tents, backyard and beach products and architectural canopies. The tents division was sold to REI in 1994 and acquired by MSR in 2000 which relaunched the tent line using Moss’s original designs.

“This really enriches USU’s Special Collections and gives us an area that we’re becoming known nationally for,” Pumphrey said. “It’s a really beneficial project and we hope to continue growing it.”

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