Rudolph Harold Wyner was born on April 28, 1895 in Malmesbury, South Africa, the third of five children. The Wyner family immigrated to the United States in 1899, first settling briefly in New York before moving permanently to the Greater Boston area. Rudolph attended the Roxbury Latin School in West Roxbury, Massachusetts, later graduating cum laude from Harvard College in 1915. After his college graduation, Rudolph first went into the real estate business but in 1916, with the purchase of the French and Ward Mills manufacturing plant in Stoughton, Massachusetts, he began his career in the textile industry.
Shawmut Woolen Mills, Stoughton, Massachusetts was first located at the former French and Ward Company which was the oldest knitting mill in the United States, dating back to 1795.
In the early 1920s, Shawmut acquired an apparel manufacturer and a yarn mill and by the 1940s, the company was manufacturing and distributing not only its own line of branded fabric but also knitted children’s apparel and synthetic yarns. During World War II, the company supplied the military with such items as knitted blankets, field jackets and bomb parachutes. After the war and until the late 1950s, Shawmut continued to manufacture and sell yarns, knitted fabrics and finished apparel.
In 1958 the company became one of the first to license a newly developed European process known as flame laminating to use with its jersey cloth. The process became so successful that the company would soon divest itself of all other operations to concentrate entirely on bonding and laminating.
Photographs circa 1940s.
Originally known as Shawmut Woolen Mills, the building was expanded over the years until the 1984 move to West Bridgewater. Known today as Shawmut Corporation, the company is a major source for automotive materials and a major supplier of materials for the medical field and the shoe industry.
The complete collection of the Wyner Family Papers (P-803) is available at the American Jewish Historical Society- New England Collections. Please contact us for more information.
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