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Oral History Interview with Eula McGill, February 3, 1976. Interview G-0040-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    This is the first interview in a series of two with union activist Eula McGill. McGill describes what it was like to grow up in various mill towns in Georgia and Alabama during the early twentieth century. Born in Resaca, Georgia, in 1911, McGill grew up in Sugar Valley, Georgia, where her father worked in the Gulf State steel mill. McGill describes her childhood and early education in this mill town, focusing on her early awareness of union activism in the town. At the age of 14, McGill had to leave school because of her family's economic hardships; she found work in a textile mill as a spinner in the Dwight textile mills. During her teen years, McGill continued to work in textile mills, during which time she briefly married and gave birth to a son. Because she had to work, McGill's parents became the primary caregivers for her child. In the late 1920s, McGill moved to Birmingham, Alabama, where she briefly worked at the candy counter at Kress's department store. Shortly thereafter, McGill migrated to Selma, Alabama, where she returned to the textiles industry as a spinner at Selma Manufacturing. McGill describes working during the early years of the Depression, when it became increasingly difficult to make ends meet. During the early 1930s, McGill became involved in labor activism and helped to organize a local union and general strike in 1934. Following that, she moved up in the ranks of the labor movement as a labor organizer. She emphasizes her work with the Women's Trade Union League and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union. In addition, she explains some of the obstacles that the labor movement faced in the South and what it was like to be a single woman who worked as a labor organizer.
    Excerpts
  • Description of school in a rural mill town
  • A labor activist's first experience with unionization and labor politics
  • Description of first job in a southern textile mill at the age of fourteen
  • Individual decision to walk off the job when faced with a pay cut
  • Working conditions in a southern textile mill
  • Working conditions for women in a southern textile mill
  • Decision to join the labor movement during the Great Depression
  • The Great Depression and the New Deal as motivating forces for unionization
  • General strike of 1934 comes to an end in Birmingham, Alabama
  • Special challenge of organizing domestic workers
  • Southern labor activist loses job for participation in WTUL convention in D.C.
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Women in trade-unions--Southern States
  • Trade-unions--Officials and employees--Southern States--Education
  • Women in the textile industry
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.