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Oral History Interview with Eva Hopkins, March 5, 1980. Interview H-0167. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Eva Hopkins is a third-generation cotton mill worker who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. This interview includes her observations on what the Charlotte mill communities were like and why so many families worked together in the mill. She traces the tasks required in millwork through her experiences and those of her mother, then describes social activities like church, parties, movies, and swimming. Her earliest work experiences happened during the Depression, so financial need kept her on the job until federal policy forced her to leave for a year. She remembers occasional union activity though she did not join the local union. She also recalls some health hazards presented by the cotton lint in the mill and conditions in mill housing.
    Excerpts
  • Leaving school for mill work at fourteen
  • Two generations of Hopkins children work in the cotton mill
  • Relatives move around the country looking for better wages
  • School and play kept Hopkins and her sister busy
  • People in the mill villages of Charlotte knew and visited each other freely
  • Hopkins' father barred from mill work
  • Church was the only social activity for many mill workers
  • Hopkins quit mill work during the Depression to care for her children
  • Hopkins was overwhelmed by the stench and dirt of cotton mills at first
  • Coworkers find entertainment around Charlotte to forget the trials of mill life
  • Hopkins is glad her children do not work in mills
  • Courtship between Hopkins and her husband
  • Health hazards in the mill village
  • Two cases of serious injury at the mill
  • Mill work improves over the years
  • Hard-working, Christian mill employees defy the common derogatory stereotype
  • Hopkins did not join other mill employees in unionizing and striking in the 1930s
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Children--Employment--North Carolina
  • Charlotte (N.C.)--Politics and government
  • Women in the textile industry
  • Textile workers--North Carolina--Health and hygiene
  • 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.