RHODE ISLAND HANDLOOM WEAVERS AND THE EFFECTS OF TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE 1780-1840 (MECHANIZATION, POWERLOOM, SPINNING)
The narrative probes the affect changing textile technology had on handloom weavers and weaving in Rhode Island 1780-1840. Research emphasized how the introduction of power spinning and weaving modified the work performed by textile craftsmen and altered the composition of the weaving population. Technological descriptions focus on the work of Rhode Island mechanics and experimentation in Taunton and Whitinsville. Humanistic considerations designed to answer questions relating to craft structure, social and economic standing, age, sex, ethnicity, kinship, marital status, religion, residence, length of employment and geographical mobility delineate shifts in craft definition from the traditional model.The weaving accounts of A. and W. Sprague, Almy and Brown. Blackstone Manufacturing Company, Lippitt Manufacturing Company, White and Robinson, George Thurston and Company, Rowse Babcock and Russell Wheeler determined the base population for study. Newspaper advertisements, tax lists, land records, vital statistics, diaries and census data buttressed the information uncovered in the business documents. A computer analysis of the 1248 member sample aided in sorting material by index type and determining duration of time webs remained in weavers' hands.Initially innovations served to expand the market for handloom weaving. The opportunities available to the craftsmen led to the breakdown of the craft by eliminating the importance of traditional stratification. Fabrics produced by factories limited the need for skilled weavers as the firms manufactured simple utilitarian goods. By reducing the need for formerly apprenticed workmen, mill manufacture satisfied the great demand for weavers and encouraged semi-skilled part time artisans to join the labor force. As the introduction and improvement of the powerloom eroded the market for handloom weavers, part time employees sought alternate occupations. Some found employment weaving other fibers, or fancier patterns. Others farmed, worked as mill agents, picked, carded or developed skills in other trades. Weavers did not suffer bankruptcy as a result of mechanization since the majority of the workforce used weaving to supplement their income. Powerloom improvements usurped the demand for skilled weavers gradually which allowed the workers time to adjust to changes in the demand for their labor.
|Year of publication:||
|Authors:||FOWLER, GAIL BARBARA|
|Type of publication:||Other|
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