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MC 00052 Guide to the William Edward Shinn Papers, 1929 - 1975

The collection is organized into four principal series. Textual (paper) materials are divided into two series. The Personal Materials series consists of three folders and contains records regarding Professor Shinn's employment within the federal government and personal letters. Far larger is the Professional Materials series, which is divided into five subseries, namely Correspondence, Research, Organizational Memberships, Writings and Projects, and Teaching Materials: North Carolina State University. The other two series within the Shinn Collection contain non-textual materials, namely Photographs and Artifacts.
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The Personal Materials series contains three folders. The majority of the documents in this series pertain to Professor Shinn's employment, both military and civilian, in the federal government. While most of these materials are Shinn's personnel records, also included are printed materials from the University of Chicago, where Shinn apparently spent a brief period of time while working for the United States government. Four letters are also included within this series. Three are undated, including a letter from a former student, a satirical writing about President Lyndon B. Johnson, and a Christmas card with attached threads. The fourth letter, dated May 1969, congratulates Professor Shinn on his receipt of an award.
[Box 1, Folder 1] Government employment records, 1930
[Box 1, Folder 2] Military records, 1933 - 1960
[Box 1, Folder 3] Correspondence, circa 1960
This series is divided into five subseries. Most of the Correspondence relates to the artificial artery developed by Professor Shinn, although other research projects are discussed as well. The Research subseries contains Professor Shinn's materials, including printed and manuscript documents as well as newspaper articles about Professor Shinn's research accomplishments. The materials in the Organizational Memberships subseries are general publications of the North Carolina Heart Association and the American Heart Association. None of the documents mention Professor Shinn or his research, but rather include discussions of various organization activities. Writings and Projects are arranged chronologically. The subseries contains drafts of speeches and articles written individually by Professor Shinn as well as progress reports of projects in which he participated. Finally, Teaching Materials subseries includes Professor Shinn's gradebooks, examinations, and outlines. Also included are special projects to which he contributed and promotional literature about the School of Textiles at North Carolina State College. It should be noted that the materials in the Speeches, Short Course: Knitting Technology, and Knitting Committee folders have previously been labeled and grouped in that fashion.
Correspondence, 1954 - 1962
[Box 1, Folder 4] Dr. Paul W. Sanger, 1954 - 1962
[Box 1, Folder 5] Physicians, 1955 - 1962
[Box 1, Folder 6] Suppliers: United Surgical Supply Company, 1958 - 1959
[Box 1, Folder 7] Suppliers: other, 1954 - 1961
[Box 1, Folder 8] Providence Braid Company, 1969
[Box 1, Folder 9] Michigan State University, 1968 - 1969
[Box 1, Folder 10] Requests for information, 1955 - 1961
[Box 1, Folder 11] General, 1931 - 1961 [bulk 1931-1933]
Research Files, 1953 - 1975
[Box 1, Folder 12] Newspaper articles, 1955-1975
[Box 1, Folder 13] Printed materials, circa 1950 - 1975
[Box 1, Folder 14] Notecards and handwritten notes, undated
Organizational Memberships, 1957 - 1962
[Box 1, Folder 15] American Heart Association, 1957
[Box 1, Folder 16] North Carolina Heart Association, 1957 - 1962
Writings and Projects, 1929 - 1968
[Box 1, Folder 17] U. S. Department of Agriculture Project at North Carolina State College - reports, 1937 - 1938
[Box 1, Folder 18] U. S. Department of Agriculture Project at North Carolina State College - photographs, 1937 - 1938
[Box 1, Folder 19] U. S. Department of Agriculture Project at North Carolina State College - cloth, 1937 - 1938
[Box 2, Folder 1] Army cushion-sole sock, 1943 - 1945
[Box 2, Folder 2] Tricot research, 1944 - 1957
[Box 2, Folder 3] Spun rayon warp sizing, 1944
Teaching Materials from North Carolina State College School of Textiles, 1935 - 1969
[Box 3, Folder 1] North Carolina State College personnel records, 1954 - 1956
[Box 3, Folder 2] North Carolina State College School of Textiles - printed materials, 1951 - 1953 and undated
[Box 3, Folder 3] Scholarships, 1952 - 1963
[Box 3, Folder 4] Long range planning, 1957
[Box 3, Folder 5] Short course: knitting technology, 1966 - 1969
[Box 3, Folder 6] Knitting Committee, 1944 - 1945
[Box 3, Folder 7] Knitter's Day, 1944
[Box 3, Folder 8] Course materials, 1960 - 1968
[Box 3, Folder 9] Correspondence course: sweater technology, 1965
[Box 3, Folder 10] Gradebooks, 1935 - 1950
[Box 3, Folder 11] Gradebooks, 1950 - 1968
[Box 2, Folder 4] Mill visit report, 1944
[Box 2, Folder 5] Sylvania warp sizing project preliminary report, 1945
[Box 2, Folder 6] Picatinny Arsenal project at North Carolina State College - reports, 1952 - 1954
[Box 2, Folder 7] Picatinny Arsenal project at North Carolina State College - photographs and cloth, 1952 - 1954
[Box 2, Folder 8] Massachusetts Institute of Technology Summer Program, 1954
[Box 2, Folder 9] Underwear Institute research project at North Carolina State College, 1955 - 1957
[Box 2, Folder 10] Underwear Institute research project at North Carolina State College, 1963 - 1968
[Box 2, Folder 11] Evaluation of stretch cotton yarns research project at North Carolina State College, 1963
[Box 2, Folder 14] Knitter newsletter writings, 1957, 1962
[Box 2, Folder 12] Speeches, circa 1950-1960
[Box 2, Folder 13] General, 1929 - 1967 [includes undated, bulk 1929 - 1935]
There are more than one hundred photographs within this series, the majority of which are photographs of the textile equipment and machinery at North Carolina State College. Professor Shinn is pictured in some of the photographs. Almost all of the materials in this series are undated, but can be roughly dated to circa 1930s-1960s.
[Album 4] North Carolina State College School of Textiles - equipment, undated
[Album 5] North Carolina State College School of Textiles - equipment, undated
[Album 5] Cloth and textile samples, undated
[Album 5] Knitting technology - diagrams, undated
[Album 5] Artificial arteries, undated
There are more than fifty samples within this series. Highlights include examples of the knitted artificial arteries developed by Professor Shinn in collaboration with Dr. Sanger, as well as knitted cloth portraits and Christmas cards. Almost all of the materials in this series are undated, but can be roughly dated to circa 1930s-1960s.
Trade Labels, circa 1925 - circa 1975
[Album 6] Trade labels, circa 1925 - circa 1975
Cloth Samples, [circa 1930 - 1970]
[Album 6] Road samples, ca. 1930 - 1970
[Album 6] Textile swatches and samples, ca. 1930 - 1970
[Album 6] Artificial arteries, circa 1930 - 1970
[Album 7] Textile pictures and portraits, circa 1930 - 1970


Shinn, William E., (William Edward), 1900-1995


4.0 Linear feet 3 archival boxes, 4 photograph albums

General Physical Description note

3 archival boxes, 4 photograph albums


For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Special Collections Research Center Reference Staff external link.



Acquisitions Information

Donated by W. E. Shinn, 23 July 1971 (Accession no. 1971-0012), 22 September 1971 (Accession no. 1971-0013), and 8 March 1976 (Accession no. 1976-0020).


Processed by: Caitlin Donnelly;machine-readable finding aid created by: Caitlin Donnelly

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains materials related to William Edward Shinn, Department Head and Professor within the Department of Knitting Technology, School of Textiles, North Carolina State College, from 1935 until 1969. The collection documents and focuses on Professor Shinn's varied research interests, particularly his work developing the first knitted artificial artery for the human body. Materials within the collection include personnel records, correspondence, organizational publications, printed and manuscript research materials, drafted speeches and articles, project reports, teaching materials, and newspaper articles relating to Professor Shinn and his research. Materials are in the format of written documents, photographs, cloth samples, and trade labels.

Biographical Note

William Edward Shinn was born on June 13, 1900 in Cabaras County, North Carolina, the son of John Calvin and Laura Barringer Shinn. In 1920, he enrolled as a freshman at North Carolina State College, and four years later graduated at the top of his class with a Bachelor of Science degree in Textiles. From 1915 or 1917 until his college graduation in 1924, Shinn worked for the Cannon Mills Company in China Grove and Kannapolis, North Carolina. Later in his life Shinn believed that his employment experiences at Cannon Mills provided the foundation for his success as a textile educator.

After his graduation from North Carolina State, Shinn was briefly employed by Cannon as a management trainee. However, he soon returned to the College as an instructor. In 1924, Shinn organized and taught the first knitting courses offered by North Carolina State. During this same time, Shinn continued working for Cannon Mill Company in China Grove during the summers. He also pursued a Master of Science degree in textiles, which he completed at North Carolina State College in 1929. That same year, Shinn moved to South Carolina in order to begin teaching at Clemson College. In addition to being a professor, he was Head of the Department of Weaving and Designing. In that capacity Shinn greatly expanded the instruction facilities in knitting, one of the constituent branches of his department. In 1930, Professor Shinn took a leave of absence from Clemson and served as a textile technologist in the United States Bureau of Standards. After a brief period working for the federal government, Professor Shinn returned to Clemson. In 1935, he left the South Carolina college permanently and returned to North Carolina State. As a professor of textiles at the College, Shinn courses in textile testing, advanced textile design, and fabric analysis. From 1942 until 1944, Professor Shinn served as a major in the Army's Chemical Warfare Service. He remained employed as a professor by North Carolina State, and in 1942 was named Head of the Department of Knitting Technology at the school. Professor Shinn retired from teaching at North Carolina State in June 1969. At that time, however, he promptly returned to academia. He had a prominent role in organizing a two-year textile management program at Wingate College near Charlotte, North Carolina. The program - intended to train students for middle management positions in the textile industry - began operation during the fall semester of 1971.

During his lengthy academic career, Professor Shinn published seven textbooks and many technical articles that were utilized in the instruction of textile technology for many years after their initial publication. For several years, Professor Shinn was also a consulting editor for the scholarly publication The Knitter and a member of numerous professional organizations. Moreover, despite his many teaching and administrative responsibilities, Professor Shinn directed and participated in several research projects throughout his career, with external organizations such as the Underwear Institute, the Textile Research Institute, Sylvania Industrial Corporation, and agencies of the federal government. Often, the research for these projects transpired at North Carolina State and involved students and other faculty members as well as Professor Shinn.

However, Professor Shinn's most important professional contribution was his development of a knitted artificial aorta - a graft that would replace the principal artery in the human heart. Shinn's invention - which he developed in the mid 1950s in collaboration with Dr. Paul W. Sanger of North Carolina's Charlotte Memorial Hospital - was the first knitted artery for use in the human body. Dr. Sanger had been working on the project for some time, but needed assistance in developing a fabric for the artery that would stretch, not flatten, when curved and that would resist deterioration within the human body. Dr. Sanger contacted Malcolm Campbell, then Dean of the School of Textiles at North Carolina State, in 1954; Campbell then passed the problem on to Professor Shinn. He started from scratch, testing a variety of fibers and production methods. Shinn eventually selected polyester as the best material and produced the artificial arteries on an old machine that knitted neckties. In 1971, private industry began manufacturing the aortas with virtually no changes to the methods he had developed almost twenty years previously. However, between 1955 and 1971, Professor Shinn and others made hundreds of artificial aortas at North Carolina State for distribution all over the world. They were made at the department's expense and a patent was never obtained.

Professor Shinn passed away at the age of ninety-four on February 18, 1995. Survivors included his wife, Virginia W. Shinn; a daughter, Elizabeth S. Greenwood of Winston-Salem; two sons, William E. Shinn Jr. of Decatur, Alabama and Robert W. Shinn of Charlotte; and siblings and grandchildren.

Access to Collection

This collection is open for research; access requires at least 24 hours advance notice.

For more information contact us via mail, phone, fax, or our web form.


Special Collections Research Center
Box 7111
Raleigh, NC, 27695-7111


(919) 515-2273


(919) 513-1787

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], William Edward Shinn Collection, Special Collections Research Center, North Carolina State University Libraries, Raleigh, NC

Access to Collection

The nature of the NCSU Libraries' Special Collections means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The NCSU Libraries claims only physical ownership of most Special Collections materials.

The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to U.S. Copyright law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.

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