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POSTPONED: American Silk: From Sericulture to Status Symbol

Wednesday, April 29 @ 5:45 pm - 7:00 pm |

This event is postponed.

The CHS, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is excited to host a presentation by Madelyn Shaw, Curator of Textiles at the National Museum of American History, about the rise and fall of America’s silk industry.

The memory and physical remnants of the once important American silk industry are few and far between – even in Connecticut, once one of its leading lights. This talk traces the use and manufacture of silk in America from efforts in colonial times to provide raw silk for the looms of Britain’s Spitalfields silk district, to the transformation of the American silk industry as the largest in the world in 1920, and its collapse during the Great Depression.

Doors open at 5:00 pm. Before the talk, be sure to visit our exhibition, Pieces of American History: Connecticut Quilts, which includes several examples of silk quilts.

The event is FREE and open to the public. Let us know you’re coming at rsvp@chs.org or by calling 860-236-5621 ext. 238.

Questions? Contact Adult Programs Manager Natalie Belanger at natalie_belanger@chs.org or call 860-236-5621 ext. 289.

About the Speaker

Madelyn Shaw is currently the Curator of Textiles at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. She specializes in the exploration of American culture and history, and their global connections, through textiles and dress. Her recent exhibition Everyday Luxury: Silk Quilts from the National Collection (NMAH), connected those quilts to the growth of the American industry. Her work on this topic also includes the case study “H. R. Mallinson & Company” in American Silk: Entrepreneurs & Artifacts, 1830-1930. Her current focus is a partnership project, Fabric of War: The Hidden History of the Global Wool Trade, with Trish FitzSimons, social historian and documentary filmmaker, of the Griffith Film School, Brisbane, Australia.

Image: CHS 1976.19.0, Silk Pieced Quilt, after 1894, made by Anna McConnell Shuldice



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To support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Connecticut Historical Society is closed to the public through July 31. All on-site programs and events are canceled during this time. Our Annual Meeting has been postponed until September 14. Click here for CHS's digital programs.