Old, sepia toned photograph depicts large group of adults and children in distressed clothing outside of a run down building

Textiles: A History of Innovation and Community

Learn about the history of the textile industry in South Carolina with this traveling exhibition.

Sponsored by the Self Family Foundation of Greenwood, this exhibition was designed and fabricated by the South Carolina State Museum. Twenty-one illustrated exhibit panels tell the history of the textile industry in our state. The story begins with a case of industrial espionage! England did not allow textile workers to immigrate to other countries, but Samuel Slater, an English mill worker, told authorities he was a farmer and immigrated to New York in 1789. His memory of mill technology and the skills of mechanic David Wilkinson led to the first successful water powered textile mill in America. The exhibition details mill operations and also describes life in a mill town. The self contained mill communities provided for all worker needs from health care to education to recreation and religious services.