Silk manufacturing was one of the most important industries to emerge out of the Connecticut River Valley in the 19th century. William Skinner was, perhaps, the most influential of the textile magnates. He lived the American Dream: a poor immigrant, he used grit and skill to build an industrial behemoth– and then lost everything in a catastrophic flood. But he rose like a phoenix, rebuilding his mill on the mighty Connecticut River and thereby putting Holyoke, Massachusetts on the world map.
Francesca Rheannon talks with his great granddaughter, Sarah S. Kilborne, about her book, American Phoenix, The Remarkable Story of William Skinner, a Man Who Turned Disaster Into Destiny, to learn more about the forces that shaped his life and the economy of the Connecticut River Valley.
Writers Voice continues its special series, The River Runs Through Us, exploring the literature, spirit and meaning of the Connecticut River in Massachusetts.
This week: industrial development. Historian Kerry Buckley gives an historical overview, Sarah Skinner Kilborne discusses her biography of silk magnate William Skinner, and labor scholar and folk musician Tom Juravich talks about de-industrialization and the potential for a new green industry.
The River Runs Through Us is funded by a generous grant from Mass Humanities. And right now we need your help to continue the project. We need to raise $600 to fulfill the conditions of our grant and to cover our costs. It’s not a lot –and it’s the first time we’ve ever asked you for money. But now we really need you. Please head on over to this link to donate on Kickstarter. Any contribution is greatly appreciated. Thanks so much for your support!
James W. Douglass talks his new book GANDHI AND T HE UNSPEAKABLE: His Final Experiment with Truth. It’s about Gandhi’s advocacy of peace and reconciliation and the forces, both in the Indian government and among extremist groups, that murdered him. Then WV airs an excerpt from our 2009 interview with Douglass about his book, JFK and The Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters.