Oregon State UniversitySpecial Collections & Archives Research Center

Oregon Fiber Flax Collection, 1940-1969

Historical Note:

Dating to the middle of 19th century, flax cultivation in Oregon grew steadily until World War II when the industry boomed due to blocked supplies from European growers. Concerns over the prospect of competing sources of flax from Europe after the war lead to efforts by Jesse Harmond and Joan Patterson at Oregon State College to promote the production and use of flax in separate projects from 1945 until 1953.

Sent by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Oregon State College in 1945 to develop machinery that could quicken the processing of flax, agricultural engineer Jesse Harmond formed the company Oregon Custom Weavers to market linen fabrics made from flax.

Joan Patterson, a Professor of Clothing and Textile Design in the College of Home Economics, developed linen fabrics from flax as a part of a cooperative project between the Agriculural Experiment Station, the College of Home Economics, and the Oregon Flax and Linen Board. Patterson's work also involved the weaving of new patterns and exhibit of them to decorators and the media.

Nancy Hoskins, a weaving instructor and writer on textile topics, assembled these materials in conducting her own research and writing on Oregon flax.

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