'""American Silk, 1830-1930"" is the story of struggle, innovation,
and the success and failure of three silk companies. Despite
developing innovative technology and marketing strategies to meet
the demand for silk from a growing middle class, the early industry
was plagued by problems obtaining raw materials; later the
development of artificial silk made it hard to compete. This is an
important addition to textile, business, and industrial history' -
Adrienne Hood, author of ""The Weavers Craft"". 'Silk conjures the
exotic, the precious, and the labor of handwork. With this
groundbreaking study the little known story of silk joins those of
cotton and wool as an important aspect of Americas rich textile
heritage. In this masterful work Field, Senechal, and Shaw show us
how American entrepreneurial ingenuity made possible large-scale
silk production and the creation of a once-thriving industry' -
Dennis Fiori, Director, Massachusetts Historical Society. At one
time Americas silk industry was the largest in the world. Silk was
late to be industrialized, well after cotton and wool. Nonetheless,
nineteenth-century American entrepreneurs rapidly built a silk
industry with levels of production once unimaginable. ""American
Silk, 1830-1930"" traces the evolution of the American silk
industry through three compelling and very different case studies:
the Nonotuck Silk Company of Northampton, Massachusetts; the
Haskell Silk Company of Westbrook, Maine; and the Mallinson Silk
Company of New York and Pennsylvania. The mills specialized in
different products, from sewing-machine twist and embroidery
threads to mass-produced plain silks and high fashion fabrics. The
case studies span the development of the U.S. silk industry from
its beginnings in the 1830s to its decline in the 1930s. Starting
in the 1920s with the growth of rayon, the first of the synthetic
imitators, the market share for silk shrank, and silk gradually
returned to being a luxury at the top of the hierarchy of fabrics.
But, for a time, American technological innovations and
entrepreneurs succeeded in bringing the pleasure and aesthetic of
silk within the reach of more people than ever before. Jacqueline
Field is a former costume curator and professor of textiles and
design at Westbrook College. Her recent published articles on dress
and textiles include ""Dyes, Chemistry, and Clothing; The Influence
of World War One on Fabrics, Fashions, and Silk"". A professor of
mathematics and history of science and technology at Smith College,
Marjorie Senechal is the author of several books, most recently
""Silk Unraveled!"". Madelyn Shaw curates the Costume and Textile
collection at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum. Her most
recent publication is ""Silk in Georgia, 1732-1840: From
Sericulture to Status Symbol"".
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