You are invited to attend these two free talks on textile production, specifically the silk trade. Please register by clicking REGISTER below left.
A Celebration of Silk: Industry and Design
In the 1920s, the rise of consumer culture and the increasing presence of technology in daily life fostered optimism that machines were the way of progress. Patterned dress silks like those included in our exhibition Silk for an Industrial Age allowed women to playfully reference this important cultural phenomena in their clothing. Madelyn Shaw, a curator at the National Museum of American History, will present on the influence of the American silk industry on the development of American design in the twentieth century.
Silk in the Lehigh Valley
When talking about past prominent industries in the Lehigh Valley, most people bring up the steel industry. What is less known is the region's rich silk-making history. The Lehigh Valley was once the world's second-largest producer of silk, with the industry becoming Allentown's largest employer in the late 1920s. The silk-mill jobs helped to make up for the loss of jobs from closing iron mills. Area business leaders sought out silk producers, promoting the region's cheap, abundant, nonunionized labor, its good railroads, and its availability of coal power. At one time there were twenty-three silk establishments in the Lehigh Valley, making Pennsylvania second only to New Jersey in silk production. Martha Capwell Fox, the archives and museum coordinator of the National Canal Museum, will deliver a presentation on the history of silk production in the Lehigh Valley, including the details of the last producing silk mill in Allentown.
Both presenters will be available for questions following the presentation.