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Learn About The Fiber Society

The Fiber Society is incorporated as a not-for-profit professional and scientific association, dedicated to the advancement of knowledge pertaining to fibers, fiber-based products, and fibrous materials. The Society comprises individuals who are chemists, physicists, engineers and designers with interests in the field of fiber science engineering and technology.

The Society came about in the early 1940s, as chronicled in our archives. Having developed a relationship with a small group of physicists engaged in textile research, Dr. K. L. Hertel, head of the Department of Physics, University of Tennessee, acted upon the idea that “… a great deal of common benefit might accrue through a separate and informal get-together of these physicists having interests and problems in common.” On a Wednesday morning in late May 1941, seven like-minded men joined Hertel for the first meeting of the soon-to-be-named Industrial Fiber Society, the organization that later came to be known as The Fiber Society.

In a discussion that was later characterized as “thoroughly scientific,” Dr. S. L. Gerhard (U. S. Rubber); Dr. W. J. Lyons (Southern Regional Laboratory); Dr. F. P. Morningstar (West Point Manufacturing Company); Dr. F. B. Breazeale (Enka Rayon Corporation); Dr. R. R. Sullivan (Physics Department, University of Tennessee); Mr. J. P. Elting (Kendall Mills); and Mr. J. J. Such (Kendall Mills) joined Dr. Hertel for the “worthwhile objective of … getting together for the discussion of scientific aspects of textile problems … .” True to Hertel’s vision, the small group of men spent all of that first day discussing in considerable detail a wide range of issues and problems related to fibers and yarns, instrumentation, manufacturers’ needs with regard to fiber properties, and other related subjects.

The second day followed in the same vein, with presentations and discussions on contemporary issues. At the end of the 2-day meeting, those attending remarked that “in their joint opinion, … the meeting was most successful and well worth the time expended,” and it was agreed to meet again later that same year. So concluded the first “Meeting of Textile Physicists,” as J. P. Elting and J. J. Such entitled their account of that initial gathering in May 1941. Twice-yearly technical conferences are to the present time a mainstay to the Society’s mission. Since that beginning, the Fiber Society has continued to embrace those founding concepts, striving to lead the way in an industry that is continually evolving. Once a year, the Society presents its Founder’s Award, which acknowledges a member whose outstanding contributions to the science and technology of fibers, fibrous materials, and fiber-based products reflect the vision of our founders. The awardee chooses to accept the award in the name of one of the founders.

The Society sponsors a popular Lectureship program at selected U. S. colleges and universities. The goal is to acquaint faculty and students with the scientific challenges and opportunities in fiber science and to provide insights into current research.

With its Graduate Student Paper Competition, the Fiber Society encourages student participation in the Society and continued study and research in the field.

Ours is a truly international membership; Society members represent numerous and wide-ranging academic and industrial settings. Many are graduate students, just beginning their careers in a fast-changing discipline and industry.

Membership in The Fiber Society means different things to different people. But everyone benefits, thanks to the broad and encompassing range of interests and research our members bring to the Society. Our goal is to expand, extend, and share the knowledge — to hold firm to Dr. Hertel’s vision.

 January 2015

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