Caroline Herritt / 2013 Summer E-tern / Goucher College
As I was transcribing an account from September 27, 1766, I ran across an unfamiliar fabric term. A man named John Gist had bought 1 ½ yards of “Pomerania” for his daughter. After consulting Molly and determining that neither of us knew what type of fabric Pomerania was, I decided to do some research. According to 18th-century wool merchant John Smith, Pomerania (historically between Germany and Poland) had large quantities of “Corn, Cattle, Wool &c,” and that the Dutch imported “vast Quantities of coarse wool”. England in the 18th century had become a major wool importer as most English wools had become too coarse for the woolen clothing industry, due to the crossbreeding of sheep for mutton. Sheep bred for wool are bred specifically to have longer staple fleeces, which will result in yarn with fewer short ends sticking out of it, and will produce a smoother, less itchy fabric. Presumably, the British imported a finer wool from Pomerania through the Dutch.
The term “Pomerania cloth” also shows up in other accounts. Cloth or broad cloth, in the 18th century, referred to a woolen textile of a more expensive material that required considerable processing in its production. Eighteenth-century broadcloth was similar in appearance to the thin wool fabric in modern billiard table covers. Today, the term broadcloth refers to a thin cotton fabric. Eighteenth-century broadcloth was used for livery suits for both white and enslaved male servants in a household. Also, the finer grades of broadcloth were used as expensive suits for gentry men, and winter cloaks for men and women. Considering that John Gist was buying Pomerania cloth in September for his daughter, she may have wanted to make a nice woolen winter cloak for herself or a family member. So, now I know what Pomerania is and what it was used for!
 John Smith, Chronicon Rusticum-commerciale: Or, Memoirs of Wool, (London: T. Osborne, 1747), 93.
 Pat Hudson, The Genesis of Industrial Capital: A Study of West Riding Wool Textile Industry, c. 1750-1850, (London: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 109.
 Linda Baumgarten, What Clothes Reveal: The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America, (Yale: Yale University Press, 2002), 114.
 Kym S. Rice and Martha B. Katz- Hyman, World of a Slave: Encyclopedia of Material Life in the United States, (New York: Greenwood, 2010), 539.