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Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission
Statewide Historical Preservation Reports
The Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission produced a document in 1981 which is very informative about Providence and Rhode Island.
Provided here are excerpts of the publication as well as links to the complete publications.
The document was originally issued by the Rhode Island Historical Preservation Commission in 1981. For more information, contact: Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission The Old State House 150 Benefit Street Providence, RI 02903 Phone: 401-222-2678 Fax: 401-222-2968 Email:
Company Excerpts
Table of Contents
Alpaca: A kind of llama; a fine yarn spun from alpaca wool; a thin cloth woven with alpaca yarn or a mixture of alpaca and cotton yarns.
Arkwright System: The first successful water-powered machines for spinning cotton; invented in England by Richard Arkwright in 1769 and later improved by Jedediah Strutt.
Astrakhan: A type of Russian lamb's fur; a lustrous woolen cloth with a curled or looped pile to imitate astrakhan fur.
Bobbin: A cylinder on which roving or yarn is wound in machinery for spinning or weaving.
Calender: A textile-finishing machine used in the cotton industry which produced a smooth, glossy finish.
Carding: The process of disentangling wool or cotton fibers.
Carding Machine: A machine consisting of cylinders with intermeshing wire teeth; the cylinders revolved at various speeds and in different directions to disentangle wool or cotton fibers.
Cassimere: A woolen cloth woven into intricate patterns usually on Crompton looms. Cassimeres were made from a moderately priced, medium-fine woolen yarn.
Casting: The process of shaping material in a mold; in making metal objects, the pouring of molten metal into a mold.
Cast Iron: A high-carbon-iron alloy. Cast iron was ideal for making machine parts and was also used for building facades, structural building components, bridges, and stoves as well as countless other products.
Comb: The implement, necessary to the manufacture of worsted yarn, which separates the long wool fiber from the shorter fiber and arranges the fibers in a parallel order. The Lister comb (1851) was the first sophisticated automatic comb. The Noble comb (1853), a more efficient combing machine, superseded the Lister comb by the 1860s and 1870s.
Combine: The result of a combination of several companies of the same type. Conglomerate: A large corporate structure comprised of numerous diversified companies.
Delaine: From the French, Mousseline-de-laine (a muslin made from wool). Although originally an all-wool product, delaine fabrics which were manufactured in England and the United States were a cotton warp with a cheap woolen or worsted weft. Delaine cloth, which was usually dyed or printed, was extremely popular for moderately priced dress material because of its durability, pleasing texture, and bright finish. Delaines were among the earliest, mass-produced, worsted goods.
Dobby: A loom attachment for weaving intricate patterns
Drawing: The process in which cotton or woolen strands or rovings are passed through a series of successively faster rollers which straightens the fibers and attenuates the strand of roving.
Dressing: Refers to the processes of fulling, napping, shearing, and pressing in the manufacture of woolen cloth.
Feeders: Used in both cotton- and woolen-yarn manufacturing. In both cases these machines automatically transferred the fiber from one machine to another. The Bolette Card feeder (1864) was an innovative feeder which automatically transferred loose wool from one carding machine to the next.
Findings: Pin stems, backings, and assorted hardware used in the manufacture of jewelry.
Fly Frame: A type of roving machine used for making fine cotton yarns.
Forging: A metal part formed by pressure, with or without heat.
Foundry: The structure in which iron, bronze, or other metal is melted and poured into a mold.
Fulling: The process which followed the weaving operation in woolen cloth manufacturing. During the fulling operation the woolen cloth was washed, shrunk, and felted (matting the fiber together by means of heat, moisture, friction, and pressure).
Gasometer: A building which housed a gas-storage tank.
Integration: The production of cloth from raw wool or cotton to finished cloth at one factory site.
Jack Frame: This machine accomplished the same purpose as a roving frame, but was used in the production of finer yarns.
Loom: The apparatus used in the weaving process. Merino: The fine wool from merino sheep used both for fine woolen and worsted manufacture.
Milling Machine: A machine with rotary cutters used to shape metal parts.
Molder: A person who makes foundry molds. Napping: The raising of fibers from woolen cloth by means of teasel gigs. This process usually followed the fulling operation.
Picker: A picking machine; a person who runs a picking machine or manually performs the picking process.
Picking: Cotton - the process of cleaning the cotton by beating sand, heavy dirt, and seeds from the fibers. Wool - the process of beating and forcing air through the wool to eliminate dirt and straw from the fibers.
Precipitation: A method of sewage treatment involving the separation of solids, liquids, and gases from the sewage.
Printing: The process of transferring a pattern to cloth by means of engraved copper cylinders (one cylinder for each color in the design) placed in a printing machine through which the cloth passes.
Rayon: A synthetic fiber used to make yarn and cloth similar to silk or cotton. Rayon was one of the earliest synthetic fibers.
Roving: The process of twisting the strand of cotton or wool prior to the spinning process.
Roving Frame: The apparatus on which the drawing and roving operations are carried out.
Scouring: The removal of the wool grease, suint, and dirt from the wool fibers by immersing the wool in troughs filled with a chemical solution; this process usually followed the picking process.
Shearing: The process of evening the fibers of woolen cloth raised by the napping process.
Spinning: The final process in the production of yarn in which the roving is drawn out and twisted into yarn. The spinning machine used in the Arkwright System was a flyer frame (also
called a water frame). This machine produced stronger yarn than the earlier spinning jenny. The flyer frame was replaced by the cap spinning frame (also called a Danforth frame) and by the ring spinning frame which was the most popular type of cotton spinning machine in America by the late nineteenth century. The spinning mule which combined the features of two earlier spinning machines was widely used for spinning fine cotton yarn and for spinning wool by the late nineteenth century.
Stamping: In jewelry manufacturing, brass, copper, or steel is pressed between a die and a mold to produce a small detailed finding which is often the major component of the piece of jewelry.
Studs: A type of button with a shank on the back which was inserted through an eyelet in a garment; studs were used both for fastening and ornament.
Teasel Cross Gig: An innovative machine used in the napping process. Early teasels were the dried, spiny flowers of the teasel plant attached to a frame which were used to raise the nap of woolen cloth. Later teasels were made of metal and were attached to a machine called a gig.
Tenter: A frame with hooks (tenterhooks) along two sides which was used for stretching, evening, and drying woven cloth after it had undergone the dyeing, cleaning, or shrinking processes.
Tenter Room: A room or building in which the cloth is tentered.
Warp: The threads extended lengthwise in the loom harnesses according to the desired design. Warp yarns must have a tighter twist than weft yarns because they are subjected to a greater strain in the weaving operation.
Weft: The yarns carried across the warp with a shuttle; also called filling yarns.
Witch: A loom attachment like a dobby for weaving intricate patterns.
Worsted: Describing a kind of woolen yarn made from parallel strands of long-fibered wool. Cloth woven with worsted yarn usually has a smooth texture and a sheen.Worsted fabrics such as serge are still used for quality men and women's suits and coats. Types of worsted yarn include Saxony, Shetland, and zephyr.
Updated 20 March, 2008

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