City of Fiberly Love
Textiles in Philadelphia is the Story of America
As the Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers, not only are we participants in the culture of fiber and all that fiber represents, we are the gate keepers and creators of fiber history.
Fabric is an omnipresent element of our lives. It is everywhere, essential for living, often unremarked, unnoticed and taken for granted. Textiles clothe us, warm us, cool us, cushion us, shelter us, adorn us, protect us, signal our identity and block prying eyes from consuming the intimate details of our persons and our lives.
Given all that it does for us, you’d think that the manufacture of textiles would be important, taught as important history in our evolution.
Even if we don’t often pay it much attention, Philadelphia’s textile industry goes back before the founding of the United States and was one of the largest industries in the city. Although New England was considered the early textile center of the country, some of the largest mills in the US were headquartered in Philadelphia.
Fiber production is a microcosm of the story of America. Early colonists speculated on fiber production ventures. Skilled and unskilled workers moved from Europe and the South for jobs in the Northeast’s textile industry. The growth of this industry was the Industrial Revolution and its decline is the shift from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge based economy. An economy that cannot include everyone.
The Philadelphia Guild of Handweavers has been accumulating the historical significance of the fiber industry in the United States. We invite you to bookmark this page as our local historian(s) take us on a journey of fiber history and how that history affects all of our lives, every day.