It’s one year before the end of the American Revolution. A French soldier, brought to America by General LaFayette, knows that the soldiers fighting in the trenches are in dire need of a small yet very important commodity: buttons. He finds himself in the town of Attleborough, on the southern border of Massachusetts, and establishes a forge there in order to sell gold buttons to the American Continental Army and support the war effort.

By the turn of the 19th century, Attleborough was a pillar of the jewelry industry. The Frenchman, whose name has been lost to time, contributed to the start of a booming industry in the town, which became the City of Attleboro in 1914. By that point, twenty-five jewelry manufacturers had set up shop in the city, and the business had moved from buttons to all sorts of jewelry. Street-facing windows set in the walls of the factories let light in to basement workshops, so a pedestrian walking down the street could hear the noise and feel the heat. Women set up their own button businesses in any spare rooms they could find. For the length of the Industrial Revolution, Attleboro became known as the “Jewelry Capital of the World.”

This program is supported in part by a grants from the Attleboro Cultural Council, the Mansfield Cultural Council, the Sharon Cultural Council, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.