Saturday, July 9, 2011

Spinning Yarn

It is a commonly held view that women, before World war 2 and the call of war work, were nothing more than wives and mothers. The reality is that work was as much a matter of economic class as it was of sex. Women of the middle classes and above were born to a certain level of gentility, marring and raising children. Women of lower economic classes were born to a life of labor just as men were. The women in this photo were probably short lived. They very likely, as did men, work sixty to seventy hour weeks. They probably died from their labors. Textile workers would have died from exhaustion as well as lung and heart disease brought on by the inhalation of cotton dust.

Printed on the back, "14-(22080) SPINNING COTTON YARN, LAWRENCE, MASS."

When one looks at a view of this sort, he is confused by the great number of machines. His first thought is that cloth making is too difficult for him to understand. But really there are just two main processes to hold in mind. The first of these is spinning of the thread by twisting together a number of fibers. The second is the weaving; that is, lacing together two sets of cross threads.

Our modern cotton mills weave cloth on a large scale. Most of the work is done by the machines that are watched over by careful experts. The first thing done is to examine the cotton in the bale for quality and it's length. It is necessary that the fibers used in a certain grade of cloth be of a certain fineness. The machines, too are set to handle fibers of a certain length. hence the sorting of cotton is a very important item.

The selected bales are then opened, the cotton is cleaned, and carded. The carding machine combs out the fibers, and makes them lie in parallel rows. These strands are put into cans, and is called sliver (long"i"). The sliver is next "drawn"; that is, 6 strands are drawn through 3 sets of machines until they lie straight and close side by side. The threads pass next into roving frames which make them the desired size.

From the roving room the tread is taken into the spinning room. It is this room you see in the view. In these mills more than 330,000 spindles are busy twisting the threads into yarn. It is this yarn that is woven into cloth. The girl watches for broken threads, or empty bobbins.

Locate Lawrence on your map. Why are so many many of our cotton mills in New England? Why are they not in the south where cotton is grown?

Copyright by The Keystone View Company."

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