Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



From Creating Textiles: Makers, Methods, Markets. Proceedings of the Sixth Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Inc. New York, NY, September 23–26, 1998 (Earleville, MD: Textile Society of America, Inc., 1999).


Copyright © 1998 by the author(s)


The Haskell Silk Company of Westbrook, Maine, operated from 1874-1930. At its peak it was above average in size and counted among major U.S. silk manufacturers. The most northerly situated silk mill, Haskell began as one of New England's numerous post-bellum machine thread makers, but within eight years shifted to weaving broadsilks. During this period many New England thread producers made a similar change and at the same time opted to relocate with new plants in the vicinity of New York and northern New Jersey, where a variety of social and economic factors provided an attractive business climate. The Haskell Company however, expanded its existing premises to accommodate looms and remained in situ on Bridge Street, Westbrook.

Extant company documents are limited, but throw light on the mill start up, and years preceding and following the switch from thread making to weaving. Examination of these documents helps construct insights into silk output and marketing illustrative of both Haskell and general industry practices during this seminal period of silk industry development: late 1870s to early 188Os. On another level this examination aidsthe effort to extract a picture of the industrial artifact--U.S. silk products--elements rarely included in silk industry studies.