HERstory of the Amana Woolen Mill

March is Women's History Month and the history of the mill has been stitched together by outstanding women over the decades.

helene rind holding amana blankets

Going back to the communal living period in Amana, the Woolen Mill was the only place outside of gardens and the kitchens in which women could work. This provided a new outlet for talented women in the community to get involved in an Amana business.

Helene Rind is one of the women that didn't enjoy working in the communal kitchens. During a visit to the mill, she made a comment to the manager that she would love to work in an office like the one they had. Fast forward a couple years and the manager, Mr. Zimmerman, remembered Rind's request and hired her on as his assistant. When Zimmerman passed away suddenly of a heart attack in 1933, The Amana Society General Manager worked alongside Rind to keep the Woolen Mill operating while they found a replacement for Zimmerman. At the time, Rind was only in her early 20's and still proved instrumental to keeping everything running smoothly during a transition.

helen leichsenringSome women made the mill their lifetime career like Helen Leichsenring. She began working at the mill shortly after 1932 when the mill went through a reorganization and she would work there for the next 67 years! For a majority of her time, she worked on the industrial sewing machine and surged the bindings to the edge of Amana blankets. Working for the mill became a family matter when her daughter, Ramona, began working alongside her mother during the latter years of her time at the mill.

Fast-forward to today, the Woolen Mill is under the fantastic leadership of manager Julia Wolter Kokesh. She is joined by an excellent staff, a majority of which are women that have years of experience in textile production. Their quality work continues the groundwork that previous generations laid during their time amongst the looms, creel, and sewing machines of the mill!