Weavers made cloth from yarn in Albany for most of its formative years. Cloth was used locally and also as a barter item in the fur trade. Weavers provided a basic and essential part of the pre-industrial city's production economy.

Spinning and weaving in a colonial homeThis craft lent itself to family-based enterprise as a number of essential tasks could be performed by women, children, and the elderly.

By the 1720s, a small enclave of weavers had set up their looms on Albany's Southside. Chief among them were Isaac and Elizabeth Fryer.

In 1756, the census of households identifed eight weavers living in the city. At that time, Johannes Van Zandt, his son Johannes Van Zandt, Jr., alderman Johannes Ten Broeck, Andries Van Woert, and others lived in close proximity on Albany's Southside.

In an urbanizing America, the individual weaver was superceded by the mill early in the Industrial Revolution.

As late as 1815, the city directory identified four Albany residents as weavers.

You might follow this link to more information on Albany weavers on this website!



The purpose of this exposition is to describe an essential part of the early Albany production economy. However, it is more concerned with the practitioners than the actual practice or products of weaving.

This senario copied from a woodcut printed in The Little Book of Early American Crafts and Trades (first published in 1807) illustrates the family economy at work in the home! The man is weaving at his loom. The woman is spinning yarn. One boy appears to be stripping wood from a log. The other is making a basket from the stripped wood. If those activities produced cloth or baskets for sale, that work would be part of the community's production economy.

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first posted: 11/10/03