AATCC has been serving the textile industry for 100 years. Learn more about the Association’s history and accomplishments through the timeline below. What began as a small group of US dye manufacturers is now a global association of professionals from across the textile and related industries.

The need for American textile test methods became apparent during the First World War, when the blockade in the Atlantic prevented European dyes from coming to America, and the fledgling American dye manufacturers struggled with providing consistent products.

Louis A. Olney was a professor at the Lowell Textile School and is considered the Founder of AATCC. Olney was a founding member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, a member of the American Chemical Society, involved in higher management at several New England mills, and was editor of the Technical Section of American Dyestuff Reporter.

To watch Jack Daniel’s 100-year history speech ‘AATCC No Longer your Grandfather’s Association’, click here


I Remember When

Beginning in 1991, AATCC published a regular column in its monthly journal called “I Remember When.” These memories of makeshift dye recipes and serendipitous discoveries are even more interesting now that technology and computers have replaced many of the older practices. Read on for a few of these stories.

During World War II, at least one manufacturer of tallow-type finished would drop a silver dollar in each 55-gallon drum of the mixture before it solidified. There is no telling how much of that compound went down the sewer as some workers jockeyed to get the dollar within reach on their shift.
– Herbert T. Pratt (February 1991)

During the pre-World War II years, and possibly many years earlier when dyehouses had no labs and no instrumentation, the entire operation was in the hands of the shift dyer and the shift superintendent. To assure job security, the “super” carried the entire technical file and shade formulae in a little black book which he kept in his vest pocket. To keep his methods cloaked in a veil of secrecy, he would often sample a dyeing, make an assessment, check his black book, then reach in his other vest pocket to retrieve a pill, which was thrown into the dyebath in full view of everyone present. The next sampling always resulted in approval of the shade. The pill was an aspirin tablet- a simple placebo for the dyebath. These dyers were known in the dyeing trade as “aspirin dyers,” “vest-pocket dyers,” or “spoon dyers” (some would administer the placebo in the form of a teaspoon of powdered material). Their methods died with them. Thus began the transition from dye craftsman to textile chemist.

– Leander Ricard (December 1992)

In 1959, when I was a master’s student working for C. L. Bird in the color chemistry department of the University of Leeds in the UK, I visited the southwest of Ireland on vacation. I stayed in a small inn on the Kerry Peninsula and on learning of my interest in dyes, my innkeeper suggested I talk to an old lady who was a national indigo dyer. I never saw her actually dye anything since the visit was made during the daylight hours. She told me that no indigo dyer worth his or her salt would ever dye indigo under any other conditions than under the darkling moon. This leads me to speculate that she had decided, discovered, or inherited useful, practical information about the influence of photo-accelerated oxidation on indigo dyeing—but “sure and begorra” she had never had a lesson in chemistry in her life.
– J. R. Aspland (December 1993)

In the early days of the marketing of surface active agents, a number of nontextile uses were found. I remember one in particular, a sulfonated butyl oleate wetting agent used in fire-fighting equipment water tanks, Its purpose was to make the water “wetter,” thus enabling the stream of water to penetrate difficult fires such as paper, waste bales, cotton bales, etc. Its use was short-lived, however, when it was found that the residual wetting agent caused the all-cotton fire hoses to rot. With today’s polyester, hose-rotting would not be a problem.
– Leander Ricard (February 1996)

Do you have your own memories about the textile industry or AATCC? We’d love to hear them!

Email your stories to AATCC News today!

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