Industrial Rayon Corporation: Celebrating a Special Workplace

Industrial Rayon Corporation in Cleveland manufactured rayon yarn, the world’s first synthetic fiber, which found use in items ranging from undergarments to tires. Rayon production using an innovative continuous spinning process at the West Boulevard plant and the Painesville plant reached high levels during WWII. The company weathered the Depression, labor strikes and environmental complaints, but in post-war years demand for rayon fell. The company became a division of Midland-Ross named IRC Fibers.
Read more about the company

This collection of photographs and other materials was inspired by the many employees of "the Rayon" who smiled as they recounted memories of their employment at the Painesville plant. It was spurred on by the donation of four scrapbooks compiled by Rayon hourly employee Ed Rabbitt to Painesville's Morley Library.


  • Photographs: Nearly 100 photographs from The Cleveland Press and other Cleveland State Special Collections show the plant, its products, and its employees.
  • Newspaper Articles: from The Cleveland Press and the Painesville Telegraph.
  • Further Reading:
    • Continuous Process and its Contribution to Textile Progress © March 1943 Industrial Rayon Corporation - A 28 page rayon-bound volume placing the industry-revolutionizing rayon viscose Continuous Spinning and Processing in the timeline of the textile industry improvement from hand combing of natural fibers to the present mechanized production of chemical fibers. It is heavily illustrated with woodcut-like drawings.
    • Rayon Mile by Mile: Perfect Inch by Inch [1947] - a 28 page pictorial tour through the rayon manufacturing process.
      "One of rayon's basic advantages is the greater uniformity that is an inherent result of chemically controlled production. With the introduction of Continuous Spinning and Processing by Industrial Rayon, that uniformity reached a degree of perfection long unattainable in any textile fiber. This revolutionary development has made it possible to produce rayon mile by mile…perfect inch by inch."


The inspiration to include Industrial Rayon Corporation photos and information in the Cleveland Memory project came from the many employees of “the Rayon” who smiled when they recounted memories of their employment at the Painesville plant. It was spurred on by the donation to Morley Library, Painesville, of four scrapbooks compiled by Rayon hourly employee Ed Rabbitt.

The opportunity to celebrate this special workplace was provided by Sally Malone, of the Morley Library, as her practicum project in the Kent State University School of Library and Information Science program during the Spring of 2004, supervised by William C. Barrow, Special Collections Librarian at the Cleveland State University Library.

The technical assistance was provided by Joanne Cornelius and staff in the Digital Productions Unit at Cleveland State University Library, along with others there who helped level many little barriers encountered along the way.

Carl Thomas Engel, at the Morley Library, is recognized for his interest in Painesville history and the loan of the postcards and literature resources.