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Planting The Seeds of Knowledge


Cotton is a plant, it grows wild in many places on the earth, but it has been known about, cultivated and put to use by people of many lands for centuries.

Scientists and historians have found shreds of cloth or written reference to cotton dating back at least seven-thousand years.  The oldest discovery was made in a Mexican cave, where scientists unearthed bits and pieces of cotton bolls and cloth.  Archaeologists have also found cloth fragments in the Indus Valley of India (Pakistan) dating about 3000 B.C.  In 1500 B.C.,

  Cotton Trivia
“White Gold” is a historical and appropriate term for cotton, the natural fiber which continues to play an important role in the United States economy.

cotton was referred to in a Hindu Rig-Veda hymn mentioning "threads in the loom."  It is generally believed that the first cultivation of cotton was in India, though it grew wild in several locations around the world.  People living in Egypt's Nile Valley and across the world in Peru were also familiar with cotton.

Cotton was grown by American Indians in the early 1500's, documented from sightings by the Coronado expedition 1540-42.  The Spaniards raised a cotton crop in Florida in 1556.

In England, in the early 1700's, during the height of the British Empire, it was against the law, to either import or manufacture cloth from cotton.  These laws were enacted to protect the powerful English sheep and wool industry of that time.  These restrictions also kept the cotton industry from expanding to the American Colonies.  However, by the early 1600's, cotton had been introduced to North America and in 1607 the first seed was planted by colonists along the James River in Virginia. 

The colonists had the ability to produce much cotton but were restricted by the mechanical know-how.  It was Samuel Slater, an English mill worker, who changed this by migrating to America in 1790 and building the first American cotton mill from memory.  With the development of the cotton mill, Eli Whitney saw the need for a faster means of removing the lint (cotton fibers) from the seed.  In 1793, he patented a machine known as the cotton gin.  This invention revolutionized the way lint was separated from the seed.  Up to that time, for centuries, the separation process had all been done by hand.  With Whitney's gin, short for the word engine, lint volume was increased for each worker from 1 lb. To 50 lbs. per day.

Harvesting the cotton by hand was another limitation of productivity.  An experienced laborer could pick approximately 450 pounds of seed cotton (cotton removed from the plant with seeds intact) by hand per day.  A picking device was first patented in 1850 and a stripper (a machine that strips both open and unopened bolls and trash from the plant) in 1871.  In the early 1930's, after years of development and change, the Rust Brothers of Mississippi used a one row mechanical cotton picker (a machine that used revolving spindles or barbed points to grab and pull the cotton from the open boll) of their design to pick approximately 8,000 pounds of seed cotton in one day.  This was quite an improvement in cotton harvest efficiency.

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California Cotton Growers and Ginners Association

California Cotton Ginners & Growers Association salutes educators working hard to plant the seeds of cotton knowledge.

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Cotton's Journey-A Field Trip In a Box KIT, CD-ROM VERSION

This comprehensive kit is designed to give inquisitive minds a whole unit experience through the provided teaching guide and classroom resources. The curriculum puts into practice the inquiry-based approach and meets many National Education Standards for English/Language Arts, Math, Science, and.....

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This book offers a unique blend of fact and folklore about cotton ginning, the process that takes cotton from the field, separates fibers from seed, and packages the lint into a bale for shipment to market. It traces the development of the industry, the equipment and the techniques, of this integral.....

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Shirley Johnson explains to her children how she makes her intricate quilts, and how her great-grandmother did it all by hand. * 36 full-color pages features 19 exquisite quilts made exclusively for this book. * Explains how quilts are made and compares today’s methods with those used.....

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