The 50,000 objects in the textile collections fall into two main categories: raw fibers, yarns, and fabrics, and machines, tools, and other textile technology. Shawls, coverlets, samplers, laces, linens, synthetics, and other fabrics are part of the first group, along with the 400 quilts in the National Quilt Collection. Some of the Museum's most popular artifacts, such as the Star-Spangled Banner and the gowns of the first ladies, have an obvious textile connection.
The machinery and tools include spinning wheels, sewing machines, thimbles, needlework tools, looms, and an invention that changed the course of American agriculture and society. A model of Eli Whitney's cotton gin, made by the inventor in the early 1800s, shows the workings of a machine that helped make cotton plantations profitable in the South and encouraged the spread of slavery.
"Textiles - Overview" showing 1 items.
- Spinning is the simple act of drawing out a few fibers and twisting them together to form a yarn. The process predates written history, and was first done by hand and with sticks. Spinning wheels are believed to have originated in India between 500 and 1000 A.D. By the 13th century, they were seen in Europe and were a standard piece of equipment for those making fiber into yarn. By the 17th century, they were commonly found in homes in the colonies of North America, where the production of fabric was a cottage industry. Spinning was generally seen as a woman's job. Women spun yarn at home, as well as with friends at "spinning bees," where food was served and prizes might be given to the person who produced the most or best yarn. The Industrial Revolution brought mechanization to the textile industry, and eventually spinning was done on large machines in textile mills.
- This vertical flax wheel was made in France by George Beck, in 1694. Mr. Beck gave it to Adeline Beck, who passed it onto Margaret Beck in Paris, France in 1807. In 1822 she brought it to the United States and she used it in Cincinnati and Muskingum, Ohio, for spinnng fiber into yarn. It was given to the Museum by one of her descendents in 1886.
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- date made
- 1694 ?
- Beck, George
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- accession number
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- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center