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A Georgia mill worker, 1941
A Georgia mill worker in 1941, making fabric from cotton

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The First American Cotton Mill Began Operation
December 20, 1790

Do you ever look at your clothes and wonder how they were made? How does a cotton T-shirt go from a fluffy little ball of cotton full of seeds to the shirt on your back? A large part of the process happens in a cotton mill. The first American cotton mill began operation on December 20, 1790. The mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, had water-powered machinery for carding and spinning cotton. A machine cards cotton by combing and untangling fibers while removing short undesirable fibers. In the spinning process, the fibers are drawn out, twisted and wound to create thread or yarn. That thread can then be dyed and woven into fabrics in the next phase of the process. Can you imagine that all this used to be done by hand before there were machines?
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