In the 19th century, knitters from the Midlands of England, made poor by the increasing flow of work into factories, brought their craft to America. Many of them settled in Highlandville, a village ofNeedham. Working out of their homes, they knitted socks, mittens,
gloves, underwear, and jackets, using hand- and foot-operated frame machines they brought from England. The more enterprising of them, like William Carter, John Moseley, and Joseph Thorpe, built large mills using steam-powered machinery. The knitters carried the quiet farming town of Needham into the industrial age, attracting hundreds of immigrants to work in their mills. With a strong sense of civic responsibility, the knitters helped build schools, churches, town libraries, parks, and even a cricket field. Early in the 20th century, faced with stiff competition from abroad, the knitters of Needham followed the general trend of the textile industry by consolidating and moving production to the South.
About the Author
Chaim M. Rosenberg has long studied the Massachusetts industrial age and is the author of The Great Workshop: Boston's Victorian Age and several other works. The images in Knitters of Needham come from the author's private collection as well as from the archives of the Needham Historical Society.
Table of Contents
1 The Knitting Industry Comes to America 9
2 Old Needham 17
3 Highlandville 41
4 Knitters and Their Mills 55
5 The William Carter Company 81
6 1911 105
7 End of the Needham Knitters 121