The acquisition of items forming the ULITA textile collections began in the late nineteenth century. John and Roberts Beaumont, the first Professors in the Department of Textile Industries of the Yorkshire College, later to become the University of Leeds, began to collect fabric samples, pattern books and folios to use as teaching resources for students of woven textile design. In 1892 the items contained in the collection had increased in size and importance so much that a donation by the Clothworkers’ Company allowed for the provision of a Museum, which in 1895 gained its first curator in Miss Clara Benton.
Local textiles firms gave samples and working models to the early museum, whilst the Beaumonts and other professors, most notably Professor Aldred Barker, as well as students and associates, continued to collect items on their travels. The museum was claimed to be the only museum of its kind in the country with the exception of that in South Kensington.