Army Blanket Record, Thomas Kay Woolen Mill, 1943. WHC Collections M3 1966-001-0001 box 58, Folder 3.
During World War II, the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill in Salem, Oregon made army blankets. The record above shows one day’s output at the mill (July 23, 1943), which could produce about 300 Army blankets a day. The blankets manufactured here were 85″ long and about 67″ wide. Blankets aren’t made individually. Usually a long piece of fabric is woven (called a piece) and then cut up into pieces to make the individual blankets. This record shows the piece numbers (Pc. No.) and the number of “perfect” blankets that were made out of that cut of cloth. As the record shows anywhere from 18-20 blankets could be made from each piece. The U.S. Army had strict regulations about the weight and quality of the blankets. Not all blankets were accepted – hence the listing of perfects and rejects.
Wool changes weight with the ambient humidity in the air. There are several stories we have heard from past employees stating that if a blanket wasn’t quite the right weight, they might wait and pass it through the inspectors in a different season and the same blanket that was rejected would pass through just fine.