In 1907, John A. Hill founded the Wool Laboratory at the University of Wyoming (UW) with the goal of improving the quality of western fleeces. The UW Wool Laboratory grew from a small pilot plant for scouring wool into a semi-commercial operation that operated out of its own building beginning in 1952. In addition to providing scouring and research services, the UW Wool Laboratory became a hub of research and information collection.
Today, the collection is believed to be one of the most unique and complete collections of wool and sheep research in the world; however, it is currently being dismantled.
Efforts are being made to save both the equipment and the associated library collection. The Emmett D. Chisum Special Collections Library at UW has acquired the collection and is working to preserve the books, papers, wool samples and other associated materials. The collection includes more than 1,000 individual titles relating to sheep breeding, feeding, shearing and general agricultural studies. Additionally the library has holdings of several periodical titles, data notebooks, correspondence and equipment manuals collected by the staff and faculty of the wool lab over a period of more than 100 years. All of these materials were carefully catalogued by the Wool Lab staff using a system that shows an in-depth understanding of the wool and sheep industry. The library is especially proud to have a collection of 872 jars of wool which were collected and carefully preserved in sealed mason jars, the oldest of which is a Saxony Merino clip from 1837.
As the library works to prepare this collection for public use, they are seeking input as to the importance of this collection and how to best preserve it and make it accessible to researchers. For more information on the collection or to provide input, contact Carly-Ann Anderson, library assistant, at 307-766-2027 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.