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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Eula McGill, February 3, 1976. Interview G-0040-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Working conditions for women in a southern textile mill

In this excerpt, McGill explains how bosses in the Dwight textile mills often used harsh and vulgar language when addressing female workers. When she worked at the textile mill in Gadsen, Alabama, in the 1920s, McGill explains that she did not have to deal with this very much because the boss, Osko Cochrane, had known her as a child. As a result, she believes he was more polite to her than he was to the other women, who had no choice but to take this verbal abuse. Although McGill does not explicitly address the gendered connotations of this, her comments imply that women who worked in the textile mills were not accorded the kind of respect that these men in positions of power would have given to women outside of the mill.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Eula McGill, February 3, 1976. Interview G-0040-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACQUELYN HALL:
What about your boss, I guess it'd be your straw boss that was right over you? How did they treat you? What were they like?
EULA MCGILL:
I never had any trouble with them because, like say Osko Cochrane, he knew me as a kid. And while they didn't make it no easier on me they didn't ever. . . . I've heard them curse women in there and talk to them like dogs, but they never did me that way. I heard language that I'd never heard in my life when I went in that mill; I'd never heard no such terms and profanity and vulgarity and just downright what people'd call gutter talk-things I'd never heard that I heard.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was this the bosses talking to the women?
EULA MCGILL:
Bosses and the people too; they'd talk in front of you and everybody.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did the women talk back to the bosses?
EULA MCGILL:
No, no, very few ever talked back. But they'd just curse you; and I mean, they'd just curse you, when they got mad at you about the job. But, as I say, I never had no trouble; Osko knew me as a child, and he didn't talk to me that way if he had to get on me. I know he has had to get on me a time or two about something, because I wasn't too good at my job. But still he didn't talk to me like that. In fact, I never heard Osko talk to nobody like that, but I did hear some section bosses, what's called section bosses.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How would the women respond to being talked to like that?
EULA MCGILL:
Well, they just had to take it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did they complain to each other, or did you hear them talk?
EULA MCGILL:
I guess they just took it as a matter of course, that that was life. Well, not at that time I didn't hear anything.