Silk Library

I’m sure that most of you who are into obscure textiles information, know about the Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving, Lace and Related Topics. Ralph Griswold scans out-of-copyright books, and makes them available for download as PDF’s.

In my silk research adventures, I’ve gotten hold of a lot of fascinating old books. Some of them are decades old, and others stretch back a couple of centuries. Some of them have information on hand-processing silk which has faded from modern knowledge in most of the West.

I’ve started a collaboration with Ralph, sending him my books a couple at a time to scan and render into PDF’s. He’s posting them on the Archive, and I’m also making a Library Page on

Right now, there are only two – more will be posted as the scans are completed. Presently on the virtual shelf, a short book for young readers called “The Story of Silk,” and a fascinating in-depth “Letter from the Secretary of the Treasury” – a remnant of one of the many attempts to establish silk in the US. Currently in the works, an 1830’s translation of Chinese manuscripts, and a Young Learners type book on sericulture.

0 replies
  1. jellybean71
    jellybean71 says:

    Oh my gods … seriously!!!

    *runs over and downloads/prints everything new there*

    You gave me the website a while ago, and I have printed everything there. Now this whole silk passion is expanding outside the SCA and I can’t get enough.

    Thank you so much!

  2. admin
    admin says:

    Hee… I’m glad you’re enjoying it! I know that he’s added a couple of pieces outside of the stuff I’ve been sending him, recently – so definitely worth checking out again.

  3. dark_phoenix54
    dark_phoenix54 says:

    Awesome! I love arcane knowledge, even though I have no practical use for it. I don’t really need to know about the history of silk/weaving/lace to use it, but it’s so much FUN!

  4. admin
    admin says:

    The thing for me is, there’s no Alden Amos Big Book of Silk Reeling – there has not been a good modern English book on how to work with silk by hand published in American or England for over a century. I’ve finally found some sources out of India, and they’ve been very helpful – but for me, a lot of the older books are practical as well as historically interesting.

    And yes, much fun! I’m working on a transcription of an early 1600’s book – they would clean the silkworm’s trays with wine, and cense them with burning gums and herbs. I should get treated so well!

  5. 5h4wn
    5h4wn says:

    The Texas A&M Insect Collection over here has a couple of drawers of different silks made by different moths (most seemed to be roylei x pernyi crosses). Dunno how helpful that would be, and it’s probably nothing spectacular, but if you are driving through the area, it might be worth a look for your project. I can take pictures of the stuff as well if you wish

  6. admin
    admin says:

    actually, I got to visit with Ric Peigler, who donated some of the cases… I would indeed like to visit some time, there are apparently several good items there.

  7. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    You know, there is a large number of people (librarians, publishers, etc.) who are wholly opposed to what Google is doing. It baffles me. In terms of preservation and accessibility, Google is doing a remarkable service.

  8. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Is it wrong of me that I’m looking at the oak and pecan fallen bits and thinking firewood and carving wood?

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