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VIRTUAL EVENT: Curator's Choice: Crompton’s Loom and New England’s Textile Boom

Monday, December 14, 2020 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Registration is requested
Members and VESP holders: Free | Visitors: $5

Curator's Choice: Crompton’s Loom and New England’s Textile Boom

with Ginny Badgett

Throughout the nineteenth century, New England textile manufacturing led the United States in innovation and industrialization. One of the key technological breakthroughs was made by William Crompton, who patented his fancy power loom in 1837. Crompton’s loom mechanized the process of weaving intricate or “fancy” patterns and dramatically sped up production. WIlliam’s son George and grandson continued the family business of manufacturing looms in Worcester, MA until merging with their competitor, Knowles Loom Works, in 1897. Crompton’s invention was so successful that a U.S. government report boasted in 1878: “upon the Crompton loom or looms based on it, are woven every yard of fancy cloth in the world.” Join Assistant Curator Ginny Badgett as she examines J.H. Bufford’s colorful chromolithograph advertisement for Crompton’s loom and discusses the loom’s important influence on New England.

Virginia “Ginny” Reynolds Badgett joined the Boston Athenæum as Assistant Curator of Special Collections in January. She is an interdisciplinary scholar of American art, history, and material culture of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Badgett will receive her PhD in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2020, where her research has been supported by the University of California’s Graduate Division. Prior to joining the BA, she was the Provenance Research Fellow at the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama and previously held curatorial positions at Winterthur’s Boston Furniture Archive, the Detroit Institute of Arts, James Madison’s Montpelier, and the British Museum.


This event is part of ​our three-part series, "Curator's Choice." Join an Athenæum curator for a casual conversation about their current projects and the special collections items that inspire them, spark their curiousity, and generate discussion.

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Auto-generated captions are available for most virtual programs. To request live captioning or other accommodations, please contact Hannah Weisman at or 617-720-7617 at least four business days prior to the event.