I had the opportunity recently as part of Boston's "Design Week" to enjoy a historic house tour where the focus was on the installed wallpapers at the property rather than the actual house history.
The tour which was entitled "Wild Wallpapers" allowed visitors to see a sampling of historic wallpapers, a display of wallpaper industry ephemera as well as a tour of the house with a talk about each paper and it's history/significance to the owners. The tour took place at the Otis House in Boston, a beautifully restored Federal period home.
Otis House is run and maintained by Historic New England which also service 36 other homes in the New England area. Historic New England keeps an extensive collection of wallpapers in their archives which ranges from very early imported items to William Morris design to vinyl wallpaper from the mid 1960's. The staff as part of a restoration project, have worked on a recent digitization project where over 6000 items have been cataloged.
The results of this digitization process is a huge online catalog which individuals can sort, filter based on style, manufacturing process, manufacturer, motif/theme of the paper as well as by historic date. It's a great source of inspiration for any surface pattern designer.
Historic New England serves the public by preserving New England heritage and is a museum of cultural history that collects and preserves buildings, landscapes, and objects dating from the seventeenth century to the present. There is something for everyone: access to thirty-six historic sites spanning four centuries and five states, award-winning publications, landscapes ranging from formal gardens to farmland, and programs that explore the real stories of New England.
To learn more please visit http://www.historicnewengland.org/