New England Textiles
New England Mills
An excellent beginning study can be found in Dunwell's The Run of the Mill. Dunwell grew up near the textile
town of Wappinger's Falls, New York. He often passed through Derby, Connecticut while traveling from home
to college. Later he began documenting what he saw around him with photojournalism. His first visit to a
running mill was overwhelming " ... It seemed like a mechanized hell on earth... Who would choose to work in
such a place, and why? ...I was fascinated" His book was designed "to show the disturbing present in
relation to the grand design of the past." His story is a slice of life, written by one who has difficulty accepting
that this was marvelous progress made by those creators of industry. It is a story told over and over again by
twentieth century writers reflecting on nineteenth century living and industry across the board.
Lowell and Lynn, Massachusetts became important textile centers in the 19th century and continued strongly
into the early years of the 20th century before the ageing mills were overcome by new mills that opened the
South. In Lowell and Lynn, MA, the woolen industry got a foothold. French-Canadians knowledgeable of the
French worsted system established the industry in these locations. Many of these Canadian workers
migrated south to woolen mills in Woonsocket, Rhode Island and over into Connecticut. Many more settled in
New Bedford and Falls River, Massachusetts and worked in cotton mills. Other workers in these cities were
descended from fishermen and whalers who came from Portugal and the Azores and later sought new
opportunities as the whaling industry slowed.
A far-reaching textile strike developed in 1928 that involved mills from these cities and was well documented
by Georgianna and Aaronson. In addition to the mills listed there were these: New Bedford, Bennett Mfg;
Columbia Spinning; New England Yarn; and Fairhaven Mills. In Fall River: American Thread, Wampanoag,
Kerr Mills, and King Philip Mill.
Dunwell, Steve, The Run of the Mill. Boston: David R. Godine – Publisher, 1978.
Georgianna, Daniel and Roberta Aaronson, The Strike of '28, Spinner Publications, Inc., New Bedford, MA.
Ricard, Leander, Personal communication, March 2008
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Other mills in Willimantic, Connecticut: Thanks to Peter Metzke
The Windham Mfg. Co., No.3 Mill
The Morrison Machine Company factory which was adjoined to the
Natchaug Silk Company, the machine company working hand in hand with
the new development of machinery.
The Holland Silk Mills
The Smithville Cotton Mfg Company's Cotton Mill
Turners Silk Mill. - a little below from Posselt's Journal of 1909.
Page Copyright Gary N. Mock 2008-2012