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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
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Spinning frame from Slater Mill, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, 1790
Spinning frame from Slater Mill, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, 1790

This spinning frame, designed by Samuel Slater using an English model, was installed in Slater's Pawtucket mill, the first successful industrial mechanized textile mill in America. Preserved by the Rhode Island Society for the Encouragement of Domestic Industry, it was donated to the Smithsonian in 1883. "This relic," read the accompanying letter, "is most valuable—the first spinning frame ever started in America (1790)—the rude beginning of all that vast New England industry—cotton spinning and weaving." Although the society hesitated to let the spinning frame leave the state, it believed that the Smithsonian was the place "where the citizens of our Common Country may view it and learn of its history. No place offers a superior claim to your Department for the preservation of this valuable historical relic."

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