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Title: Oral History Interview with Dora Scott Miller, June 6, 1979. Interview H-0211. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Miller, Dora Scott, interviewee
Interview conducted by Jones, Beverly
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 188 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-05-15, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Dora Scott Miller, June 6, 1979. Interview H-0211. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series A. Southern Politics. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-0211)
Author: Beverly Jones
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Dora Scott Miller, June 6, 1979. Interview H-0211. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series A. Southern Politics. Southern Oral History Program Collection (H-0211)
Author: Dora Scott Miller
Description: 141 Mb
Description: 44 p.
Note: Interview conducted on June 6, 1979, by Beverly Jones; recorded in Durham, North Carolina.
Note: Transcribed by Sharon King.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series A. Southern Politics, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Editorial practices
An audio file with the interview complements this electronic edition.
The text has been entered using double-keying and verified against the original.
The text has been encoded using the recommendations for Level 4 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines.
Original grammar and spelling have been preserved.
All quotation marks, em dashes and ampersand have been transcribed as entity references.
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Interview with Dora Scott Miller, June 6, 1979.
Interview H-0211. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Miller, Dora Scott, interviewee


Interview Participants

    DORA SCOTT MILLER, interviewee
    BEVERLY JONES, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
BEVERLY JONES:
Miss Miller, what is your complete name?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Dora Scott Miller.
BEVERLY JONES:
Where and when were you born?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I was born in Wake County, Apex, North Carolina, January 27, 1906.
BEVERLY JONES:
Can you recall the name of your mother and father?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
She was Myrtle Long before she got married, and my daddy was Vernon Scott.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did they live in Apex also?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, they was born there and reared there.
BEVERLY JONES:
What type of work did your parents do?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Farm.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you own…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
We owned our own farm.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you know if your mother's parents was involved in farming? Do you know anything about your…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, my mother's parents wasn't involved in farming. Her daddy was a building contractor. Her mother didn't work, but my daddy's father was a big farmer. He owned two big plantations.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did they all come from the same area?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah, all of them came from Wake County—all of them born in Wake County.
BEVERLY JONES:
How long did your grandfather on your mother's side live? Can you recall how long he lived?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
He was about seventy-three, something like that when he died, and she was older because she was older than he was. She lived a few years after he died. She must have been about seventy-eight or-nine when she died.

Page 2
BEVERLY JONES:
That's interesting because many of us don't know far back in regard to grand-parents and great-grand-parents. That's very interesting. Your mother's name was Myrtle. Do you know when she was born?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I don't have a record of that now.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you know when she died?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
She died 1927. She was thirty-eight when she died.
BEVERLY JONES:
How old were you then? Do you recall?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
When my mother died? I was twenty years old. She died in October, and I would have been twenty-one in January.
BEVERLY JONES:
So you have some impression about your mother?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah.
BEVERLY JONES:
What type of person was she?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
My mother was a very lovable person, very lovable person.
BEVERLY JONES:
In regard to the family, since you lived on a farm, who was really the backbone of the family when you were growing up?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
My father.
BEVERLY JONES:
Your father was. How many brothers and sisters did you have?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Didn't have no brothers, just five girls.
BEVERLY JONES:
A house full of girls. Were you the youngest or the oldest?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I'm the oldest.
BEVERLY JONES:
What was your responsibility being the oldest girl? You said you were about twenty when your mother died, therefore…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I was married when my mother died.
BEVERLY JONES:
What age did you marry?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Nineteen.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were you living with your…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, I was living here. I came here when I got married.
BEVERLY JONES:
Let's go back to the farm that you were living on.

Page 3
What type of responsibility did you have as a child—I'm quite sure the family was involved in farming—What did you do in an ordinary day? What was your chores like on the farm?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
As we got old enough, we went out to help on the farm. Our chores was to help like choppin' cotton and tobacco—we had cotton and tobacco. We grew both on our farm. Then we helped pick cotton and then we worked in the tobacco in the housin' time to curin' and all that.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did your father acquire the farm from his father?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, he worked it out himself. My daddy went to New York and worked for $1.00 a day, and they raised him to a $1.25 a day—not a hour, but a day! And saved money—I think he said he gettin' about $1.50 then in the later years—he stayed up there three or four years. The people didn't come back like they do now. And stayed up there all that time, and when he came back, he bought a farm and married my mother.
BEVERLY JONES:
When was this? When did your father buy the farm?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I was born in 1906; he married my mother in 1904. He bought this farm about, must have been 1902 or 1903.
BEVERLY JONES:
Who did he buy it from? Do you know?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, the man was named Mr. Johnson.
BEVERLY JONES:
Was he a white…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Light man, he was a Mr. Johnson.
BEVERLY JONES:
How many acres was this that your father owned?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Seventy-four and five-tenths.
BEVERLY JONES:
That's very good. Is it still in control of the family?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, we sold it.
BEVERLY JONES:
You were brought up on a farm, your father was the backbone of the family… In reference to your family, since there were

Page 4
girls, was it a religious family?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, my family was very religious.
BEVERLY JONES:
What did you do on Sundays?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Went to church and Sunday School—that's about all there was to do at that time.
BEVERLY JONES:
What type of religious affiliation were you brought up under?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
My daddy, all of us children was Baptist; my mother was Christian. She belonged to the Christian church. They allowed us to join where we preferred.
BEVERLY JONES:
When you were growing up in Apex, do you recall any kind of racial strife in the time period in which you were growing up?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, we didn't have any strife or that. My people was known as "free Negroes" on both sides. We would have some problems with the opposite Negroes. Goin' to school at times, the "free Negroes" would have problems with the Negroes that wasn't called "free Negroes." All our parents was supposed to have been never under slavery. They was called "free Negroes."
BEVERLY JONES:
Your father's name was Scott, and they were free Blacks.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
My mother, her daddy had a white mother and a Black father, which they was married. They didn't marry a-force. His mother raised him up till he got to a big boy, and then his father took him and raised him.
BEVERLY JONES:
All this was taking place in Apex?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Un-huh. He was born in Chatham County, but he was reared in Wake County. He was born in Chatham County, my mama's father was, but he was reared in Wake County.
BEVERLY JONES:
Your parents related this to you as you grew up?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes.

Page 5
BEVERLY JONES:
Were Blacks living close or farther apart?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Well, we lived close. It was a very close settlement. We were surrounded by white people, and they were very nice neighbors. We had a neighbor which was Seagroves. We worked with them. We helped them house tobacco and they'd help us. He had his farm; we lived right next farm to him. We was housed in by white people—the Wilsons on one side, the Rhodes on another, and the Seagroves on another, and we was sittin' in between.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you ever play with white children?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Played with the white children. Yeah, we played with them, and one of the boys is real sick now. He's from November to January older than I am, and he lives out in Apex now; he runs the fillin' station there. He's a Seagroves—Walter Glenn Seagroves. His oldest sister, she lost her husband a few weeks back. Her name was Esther. One of the sisters, they live in Apex still, but then the baby boy, he lives on the farm right on. He built him a new house 'fore his mother and daddy died. His name John —he just retired from the post office in Apex back here last year. The younger girl, she lives in Southern Pines. She married and went to Southern Pines.
BEVERLY JONES:
So you still keep in contact with your…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah, we stay in contact. When the mother died, we went—my sister and I—we went down there that night when they had the wake. They came back from the funeral home, we went to the house to see them all.
BEVERLY JONES:
What time did you get up on the farm?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Well, at times we got up, like they housin' tobacco or somethin' like that, we had to get up very early in the mornin', maybe around 4:30 or 5:00 when we'd be housin' tobacco.

Page 6
BEVERLY JONES:
Was that a very rough job? Was it hard for a woman?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
It was hard then, much harder than it is now. Yeah, it was hard.
BEVERLY JONES:
And there were all girls?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah. My daddy kept a hired hand. He had two horses, kept a hired boy by the month. Paid him thirty dollars a month—that sounds like a whole lot of money—thirty dollars a month and board. He's a preacher now, and he lives in Raleigh.
BEVERLY JONES:
What about education, since you had to work in tobacco…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
We were at school. We had to go to school—that was a must.
BEVERLY JONES:
Was it a type of school that stayed open throughout the year?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, it didn't stand open the whole year. When I first went to school, we didn't have about five months school, and went from that to six months; it eventually got to seven. I didn't never go for seven months in my whole life.
BEVERLY JONES:
How far did you go?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I finished high school.
BEVERLY JONES:
Throughout your educational experience, what would you say was a factor that tended to motivate you to get an education? Was it a teacher, or was it your parents?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
It was really my parents and one teacher I had. She was a girl that worked her way through school, and I can't never forget her. She would always encourage me to tell me, "Be sure to get a education," cause she had worked her way through school. Her name was Maude Lambert. She died with cancer about two years ago in Raleigh hospital. She was gettin' up some years, because she was older than I was. She died in Raleigh hospital with cancer about two years ago, and she had married by then. She was named Maude Lambert. She would tell me about what a

Page 7
hard time she'd had in school. She said, "You do have privilege of goin'. You don't have to worry about your clothes, don't have to worry about this and that." She said, "Try to get an education and accept it." That was one of the main things she would say, "Accept it."
BEVERLY JONES:
What was the name of the school? Do you recall the school that you attended?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, Apex Elementary School. The Methodists had a high school at that time which was a boardin' school—
BEVERLY JONES:
You mentioned earlier that you came to Durham when you were about twenty.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, I got married at nineteen and came to Durham.
BEVERLY JONES:
What year was that? Do you recall?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I got married October 24, 1925.
BEVERLY JONES:
You immediately came to Durham with your husband.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Um-huh.
BEVERLY JONES:
What is your husband's name?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Garland Jones was my first husband.
BEVERLY JONES:
How did you meet him?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I met him through friends with my sister. My sister introduced me to him.
BEVERLY JONES:
What about his background? Was his parents involved in farming?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Tenant farmers. They came out of Granville County.
BEVERLY JONES:
So your first husband was also a farmer?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, he was reared on a farm.
BEVERLY JONES:
What did he do for a livelihood?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
After he came here?
BEVERLY JONES:
Right.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Worked for American Tobacco Company.

Page 8
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you have any children from your first marriage?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did your husband die?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, we're divorced.
BEVERLY JONES:
When did you marry your…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Married him June 5, 1960.
BEVERLY JONES:
Your first husband, Mr. Jones, both of you were working in the factory. When did you start working in the factory?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I went to work in the factory, January 19, 1925.
BEVERLY JONES:
What type of job…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I worked some on the buttin' machine.
BEVERLY JONES:
A buttin' machine?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
A buttin' machine'd cut the butts off of the tobacco.
BEVERLY JONES:
How much were you paid?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Twenty cent a hour.
BEVERLY JONES:
You worked from what…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Worked from 7:00 to—we made nine hours a day—went to work at 7:00, nine hours a day, twenty cent a hour.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you have any breaks like lunch?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, we had lunch period.
BEVERLY JONES:
How long was that?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Thirty minutes.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you have any other breaks in the time?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, we had to go to the rest room.
BEVERLY JONES:
You could just go on your own if you wanted.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, we didn't go on our own. We had somebody to relieve us to go.

Page 9
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you have to ask a foreman?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, they'd come around and ask you permission when you got ready to go.
BEVERLY JONES:
Who's they?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They have a extra lady to do that.
BEVERLY JONES:
In the area that you worked the butting machine, were they all women working?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
On the buttin' machine it was, but men put the work up for us—they put the tobacco up for us. We had to feed it on this machine, and a woman cut the butts off of it. We put it on a conveyor.
BEVERLY JONES:
So you worked for nine hours.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Twenty cent a hour.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you recall what other jobs women were doing in the factory?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, they had machines. They had stemmin' machines—I worked on the fourth floor. They had stemmin' machines on the third floor, and they had another department on the second floor. Women worked on all them floors. They had hand stemmers, they had all that.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did black and white women work together?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, no white. They had white men as foremans.
BEVERLY JONES:
So what were the white women doing?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
White women worked in the cigarette department. You didn't have but a very few white women at that time; they worked across the street in the cigarette department.
BEVERLY JONES:
You said only a very few. Is that because they didn't need…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, they just didn't have but a few white ones workin' at that time. Now, most of it is white.
BEVERLY JONES:
In reference to the job you had to do, did you stand up?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
You had to stand up all them hours.

Page 10
BEVERLY JONES:
Stand up at the machine?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
All them hours, except when you went to have that little break to go to the rest room and thirty minutes for lunch, you had to stand up.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you ever get tired?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yep, we got tired. But it was just as if you hadn't gotten tired. You had to work right on.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you recall any women that might have worked around you, or maybe you, that probably had fatigue, fainted…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They didn't faint. Sometimes, we worked this burly tobacco which comes out of Kentucky which is very strong. Like times, you can go by the factory now and smell some real strong tobacco. At times, some of them'd get sick on that; they'd get sick on that and have to go to the dispensary. But other than that, they didn't; they didn't [unknown] They didn't know people got tired. You didn't hear nobody complain. People were so much stronger than they are now.
BEVERLY JONES:
That is a good point. Did you have to wear a certain uniform?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, not when I first went there; you wore just what you had. Some few years later, they came in with uniforms and the company gave you three uniforms.
BEVERLY JONES:
The women who worked in the cigarette side, I think you said were white women. Did they make more than you did?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes! Dollars and dollars more than we made.
BEVERLY JONES:
Why was this?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
At that time, we didn't have a union. I worked with the union when it first started. When they started the first union, that was in '34. They started the first union—I helped write up.

Page 11
Some of the first people, me and Miss Daisy Jones—Miss Daisy Jones and myself wrote up the first ones that was wrote up for the union. Miss Daisy was secretary, and a Mr. Atwaters was the first president for 194, then blacks was in a union to themselves. The whites was in Local 208.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you ever get a raise?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I didn't get no raise from '25 till '33 when Roosevelt came in.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you ever ask for one.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Well, at that time, you didn't ask. You didn't have nobody to go to face the man for you. You didn't ask like that like you would now for a raise. But when the union came about, that's when they begin the raise. The department I was in, they raised us from twenty cent to twenty-five, and the girls that fed the stemmin' machines, they got thirty cents which was a ten cent raise. We got a five cent raise in the department I was in.
BEVERLY JONES:
You're saying that women that were on the stemmery machine was making twenty cents an hour?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They was making twenty cents to start with—twenty cents an hour. The hand stemmers weren't making but about six or eight cent a pound for stemmin'.
BEVERLY JONES:
When you started working in 1925, machines were already here?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah, they were already there. They moved in that plant in '24. When I went to work, they was all—Liggett and Meyers and the American Tobacco Company years ago used to be in the same company—they split up. That was before I went to work there. In '24, they moved into that building, and I went to work there in '25, and that's when they put them stemmin' machines and things in. But they was in

Page 12
there about a year before I went there.
BEVERLY JONES:
Can you tell me about the relationship between you and the foreman? Did black women have a nice or cordial relationship between…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Well, we had one of the toughest was the boss. He was a one-eyed fella named George Hill. He was tight! He was out of South Carolina, and he was tight. I mean tight! He'd get on top of them machines—they had a machine that altered the tobacco—he'd get on top of that machine and watch you see if you was workin' all right and holler down and curse.
BEVERLY JONES:
He would curse in your presence?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Curse and we workin'. That's what we had to undergo. Holler down and say, "D … go to work!" "GD … go to work there; you all ain't doin' nothin'"
BEVERLY JONES:
And you said nothing?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Nothing. No, you didn't say anything. You said anything, you went out.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you recall any problems black women might have had in regard to any women who might have gotten fired?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Oh yes, quite a few of them got fired. Then he had some pets. A girl right over here on Roxborough Street was one of his pets. She livin' there now.
BEVERLY JONES:
What you mean by "picks?"
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
His "pets"—had some pets.
BEVERLY JONES:
What did they receive?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Give them a break, didn't work them hard like he did the rest of them.
BEVERLY JONES:
Why did some of the women get fired?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
He just didn't like them and said they weren't doin'

Page 13
anything and fire them. If they didn't like you, they'd fire you in a minute. Some of them'd go over board to—I don't know what else they did—but anyway, he had pets on the job—quite a few pets.
BEVERLY JONES:
For no reason, he would just say, "You got to go."
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah, he just tell them they had to go and that was it. Sometimes he send you home for two or three days, and then sometimes he'd fire you. Weren't nobody to take up for you, but when the union came about, you had shop stewards. They'd take your case to the foreman and discuss it. That's what I did; I was a shop steward.
BEVERLY JONES:
While working in the factory in the 20's and 30's, were you ever given any type of benefits?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Nothing. Nothing but just a little insurance and that was—when you pay, that's when you passed. We didn't have no hospital insurance. Hospital insurance didn't come about till some years later. No benefits, nothing but just a little insurance when you was deceased. I think got around three or four hundred dollars to start with. It's now up in the thousands.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you recall pregnant women working in the factory?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, pregnant women worked in the factory. This child what singing, right now her mother got crooked feet—Shirley—her mother used to work up there pregnant. She carried Shirley workin' right up there in that factory.
BEVERLY JONES:
Shirley Ceasar's mother worked up there.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Mother—with them crooked feet. Yeah, they worked up there, but they wouldn't let them work long. Soon as they found out you was pregnant, you had to quit.
BEVERLY JONES:
So that means a pregnant woman, unless she kept it disguised…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Kept it disguised, she couldn't work; they put you out.

Page 14
BEVERLY JONES:
Now would she be able to be re-hired back?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, they'd take them back if they felt like it. If they didn't, they didn't take them back. If they liked them, they'd take them back; if they didn't like them, they didn't take them back.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you ever receive any type of vacation time?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, no vacation was even mentioned. The foremans all had vacation; nobody else got no vacation. It was years—way over in the 30's—before they begin havin' vacation. When they first started, they closed down for a week. Then after that, they would let you have a vacation. You'd put in for your vacation and get so many days later. Everybody wouldn't go at the same time, 'cause they didn't close the plant down.
BEVERLY JONES:
In the 20's and 30's, you began working on the butt machine. Did you ever work on anything else?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes I did. I worked on stemmin' machines too later.
BEVERLY JONES:
Which is the hardest type of work?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
The stemmin' machine's the hard part.
BEVERLY JONES:
What do you do on the stemming machine?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
You had to feed tobacco—untie it and feed it—and it goes up and pulls them stems out of it, the machine pulls the stems out of it. You had to do it so fast. You push it up under there.
BEVERLY JONES:
Was the tobacco heavy? I'm sure it was dusty and nasty to work with or was it cleaned before you start working with it?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, it used to be dusty. In the early years, it was dustier, but in the later years, science come along and there'd be different ideas. They got it so it weren't so dusty, but it was dusty early years.

Page 15
BEVERLY JONES:
What would be the hardest thing about being a woman tobacco worker in the 20's and 30's? The physical work of it or was it the emotional strain of working? What was the condition like being a black woman?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
The emotional strain was on them hand stemmers, 'cause they was just like this, they shut their body—emotional. That was the hand stemmers; they went just like this here all day long. They had to do so much 'cause they got paid by the pound. Emotional strain was on the hand stemmers; they weren't gettin' about eight cent a pound. They had to get so many pounds, then the man would fire you.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you recall how many pounds you ever…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I never hand stemmed.
BEVERLY JONES:
You worked with the machines?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Un-huh.
BEVERLY JONES:
Why were some women given certain jobs and some women were given other jobs?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Well, at the time, they didn't have a employment office as they have now. They just started that after World War II. The first man they put in there was Mr. Perry. He was a foreman—I was workin' under him at the time when he went into service in World War II—he came back, they opened up the employment office and a personnel department. They didn't have all that. That was after World War II. At the time when I was hired, somebody would take you up there and recommend you to the foreman, and that's how I got on that particular floor. My cousin—her name Beatrice Harrington. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania now. She's younger than I am, but she was workin' in the factory—she'd take me to the factory and recommend me to the foreman. She was sweepin', and I was makin' more money

Page 16
than she was makin' and she was a sweeper.
BEVERLY JONES:
Was it because of the physical built of a woman that you got a certain job?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, that's where they'd place you at. If you went to a certain floor, you went and stood up side the wall, man come there and pick you out.
BEVERLY JONES:
What was basically the age of women that worked in the factory?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Some earlier years, some children used to come in—that was before I went there, earlier—some of them used to go in and help their mothers stem, but that didn't happen after I was there, 'cause you had to be past sixteen.
BEVERLY JONES:
So there was a rule about age?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
A rule, yeah. Early years, the children used to go in after school and help their mothers stem, but at the time when I went there, you had to be past sixteen.
BEVERLY JONES:
Women like to talk together. Did women ever get together and talk about certain things that might have have happened on the job?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, we'd do that.
BEVERLY JONES:
Can you recall some of the conversations?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, we'd talk about the job. We know we weren't treated right, but there was nothing we could do about it—weren't a thing in the world we could do about it, 'cause there weren't no go-between.
BEVERLY JONES:
In reference to Durham in the 20's and 30's, was working as a tobacco worker maybe one of the best jobs?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, it was a good paying job.
BEVERLY JONES:
Where did you live in Durham?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I lived over in what's known as East Durham.
BEVERLY JONES:
Within that community that you lived, were any of the women

Page 17
employed in tobacco?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, quite a few was employed in tobacco. Course people working out, maids didn't make nothing much. Some of them didn't even get—not but one made six dollars a week out there. A maid, she was making some money.
BEVERLY JONES:
How long did you work for Liggett and Meyers?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I went to work Liggett and Meyers in '25. I came out the same day Kennedy got shot; that was '63 wasn't it—October '63.
BEVERLY JONES:
If somebody asked you, "Describe conditions in the tobacco factory in the 20's and 30's," what would you say?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
It was bad, but it was the best you could do, and the most money you could make.
BEVERLY JONES:
If you had children, and they were in the age range of sixteen or older, would you let them work in tobacco?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Now, so much is different. Now, we get so many college graduates around in the factory now with good jobs. We have so many black foremans and black people just got them higher up jobs. Black girl sitting in the office, black girls sitting everywhere around there now.
BEVERLY JONES:
In the 20's and 30's, did you have facilities for eating?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, we had facilities for eating.
BEVERLY JONES:
You had a cafeteria?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
We had a cafeteria.
BEVERLY JONES:
What about for an injury on the job?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, we had a dispensary.
BEVERLY JONES:
Was it staffed?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah, we had a lady in there.
BEVERLY JONES:
Was she black or white?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Black.

Page 18
BEVERLY JONES:
Did they have separate facilities?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, they had separate. Over there on the other side, the white ones had a RN, and we had a LPN.
BEVERLY JONES:
They had a separate cafeteria?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Um-hm, they had a separate one. Now they all eat together.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you ever recall not working on a particular day or staying out of work, and was the reason ever related to working at the factory? Did you ever stay out of work?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, I've stayed out some, but not no injury or nothing from work.
BEVERLY JONES:
You were just tired?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Un-huh. Sometimes I'd stay out tired.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you ever work on weekends?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, we worked on Saturdays till noon.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you get overtime?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No overtime. No overtime didn't come till Roosevelt's day. No overtime. Still made that twenty cent a hour.
BEVERLY JONES:
Working in the factory among women, did you develop a type of close relationship among women working with you?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, as it is in any place. It was little groups like too, cause everybody had their own friends. You're not friendly to everybody, 'cause there was a time when some people was bad in the factories, and you'd almost be afraid of them.
BEVERLY JONES:
What do you mean?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They used to fight.
BEVERLY JONES:
Fight in the factory?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Un-huh.
BEVERLY JONES:
Women or men?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They fight each other. Women and men would fight.

Page 19
BEVERLY JONES:
For what reason?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Just get in arguments and fight.
BEVERLY JONES:
Right in front of everybody and just fight?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Un-huh, then they got fired. You had to kind of study your people to keep away from those people. Some of them you'd be afraid to say anything to or around them because they'd snap you up or something.
BEVERLY JONES:
I know you mentioned that the supervisors and the foremen were white. Do you know of any other incidents other than supervisors making very nasty remarks to women—other incidents that you felt was not…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, it happened several times. Those things happen.
BEVERLY JONES:
How did you feel?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Well, you couldn't feel good over it. You couldn't feel good whatsoever.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you ever talk about your experiences with your husband when you came home? Did he ever give you a reaction?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Sometimes I would and sometimes I wouldn't, because we never discussed our jobs too much to each other. I'll tell you, when you discuss your job, sometimes it make you tired when you get home. When I leave my job, I like to leave the job. I've never been a person to bring my job home.
BEVERLY JONES:
You say you went to work at what time?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Seven o'clock in the morning.
BEVERLY JONES:
And you'd get off about what?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
We made nine hours.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did working in the factory affect your social life?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, it didn't affect mine. You had to press hard. You had to press very hard. Cause a lot of people would classify people that worked in the factory, and you had to press hard to keep your character up by working in the factory at that particular time. But

Page 20
as the years passed on, people were glad to get in the factories.
BEVERLY JONES:
What you mean somebody would classify you?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They said that nobody worked in the factory but bad people.
BEVERLY JONES:
Was this due to certain…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Certain people was bad, and that would leave a mark on the good ones.
BEVERLY JONES:
Wasn't a majority of black people working in the factory?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Everything was black practically.
BEVERLY JONES:
Let me go back to working along with black women in the factory. When there were problems of death in the family or sickness, did black women that you worked along with, did they show any type of support?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Oh, yes, they did. We always did that. We'd always visit each other, and we had a very close communication with each other like that. Then we'd always solicit money for floral designs for funerals and all that. They always did that and still do.
BEVERLY JONES:
What church did you attend in Durham?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Union Baptist.
BEVERLY JONES:
Within that church that you attended, were there a lot of black women that worked in the factory also?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, there was quite a few. Numbers and numbers of them.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were these women active in the church also?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, very active. I was 'cause I was a usher at that time.
BEVERLY JONES:
So you retired from the factory in '63.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, I didn't retire from there. I retired—they terminated the plant what I was in. They terminated that plant, and I went to work in a dry cleaning plant doing seamstress work.
BEVERLY JONES:
When they terminate you, you did get benefits?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, just a small amount I get every month.

Page 21
BEVERLY JONES:
You mentioned you were a union leader in the factory. You mentioned that the union began in 1934. Why was the union started?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Well, we had different speakers come from different places come to speak to us. They'd invite people to come in—groups of people—so that they'd discuss the union to them. We met in the old Wonderland Theatre building, down where they had they had the first meetings at. Later, a few years, they had a union hall. They bought this nice place down on Roxboro Street. That was a year. They'd scramble around everywhere upstairs in them holes and everywhere till they got and built this nice place. Of course, the urban renewal got that. Then, the last few years, the two unions a-merged. One-ninety-four went in with 208, black and white together, but formerly, 194 was black and 208 was white.
BEVERLY JONES:
How active were black women in the union to begin with?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Just a few black women. Two black women that was there was the shop stewards—myself and Mrs. Marie Macmillan.
BEVERLY JONES:
How many floors did black women work on at the factory? You only had two shops in it.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
We had three floors, but women worked on them, and on one floor weren't nothing worked on it but men.
BEVERLY JONES:
So the leadership of the union in '34 was dominated by the males?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Un-huh. The women didn't come in till later. They worked in the union, but wasn't no women shop stewards till later. Marie Macmillan, she was one of the first ones, then I was the second one.
BEVERLY JONES:
What is the role of the shop steward again?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
When you have problems. You have a problem on your job, you feel like you haven't been treated right or something. Sometimes the foreman'll say, "You're not doing a good job." He'll go to the shop steward. Then you have to go talk to this person and find out

Page 22
what the problem is and get to the bottom of it and see what the real problem is.
BEVERLY JONES:
What was the reaction of management toward the whole idea of the union?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They didn't care for it, but they eventually accepted it. At first, they didn't want to accept it. In Roosevelt's time, he advocated unions, and we finally got it through. We got our union and got it organized and everything, and they had to accept it.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were there any strikes that you can recall?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
The cigarette factory strike and truck drivers. They struck in '38.
BEVERLY JONES:
What were the grievances? Why were they striking?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I can't recall exactly, because I didn't work in that department. They struck—that was 208—the truck drivers, they was in a union, but it's different one from 208.
BEVERLY JONES:
The truck drivers and cigarette workers in '34. The cigarette workers were white and black?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Just a few blacks. Weren't but a very few blacks worked over there in that time. Everything over there was white.
BEVERLY JONES:
The majority of the cigarette workers were white?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah.
BEVERLY JONES:
How about the truck drivers?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They were white. They just got some black truck drivers recently.
BEVERLY JONES:
So whites were striking?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah, whites struck.
BEVERLY JONES:
What was the feeling of blacks?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
We had to come out too, 'cause the truck drivers didn't

Page 23
run, we couldn't work. We had to come out—had to stay out and suffer with then. Weren't out too long, but we had to come out. We didn't have to march. We didn't have to walk on the picket line, but at that time when they struck, they had a few blacks over there. My sister was working over there at the time, and she had to walk the picket line. They had just a very few blacks over there at that time—black women—over on the cigarette department when they had the strike. My sister was working over there; she retired from there.
BEVERLY JONES:
It's unusual where the strike began. The conditions you were working under were very hard and paying less. The cigarette workers were making more and many of them were white.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They made much more.
BEVERLY JONES:
The truck drivers were white, and they decided to strike.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They struck, and we had to come out too—truck drivers were in the teamsters union.
BEVERLY JONES:
Why didn't the whole idea of a strike begin among blacks?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Our union wasn't strong enough at that particular time to strike.
BEVERLY JONES:
The benefits that occurred as a result of this strike also filtered…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
We got some benefit from it.
BEVERLY JONES:
What benefits did you get?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
We got a few pennies in our raises. At that time, our union wasn't strong enough. Being a black union, it took it a little longer to get the strength that the white one did have.
BEVERLY JONES:
What about the leadership of the union? What type of person was chosen as President?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
We had some very, very good leaders. After the union

Page 24
really got strong, we had some leaders even go into the international. Willa Mae Stewart's father, he worked for the international and retired from there—making some big money.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were the individuals you picked as leaders, were they younger, were they older?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Well, they wasn't young. I would say middle age. The majority of them was good Christian leaders—church people—were supposed to have been trustworthy.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were they outstanding in the community?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Outstanding in the community, yes.
BEVERLY JONES:
All the individuals who held offices in the union were males?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah, except we two women. We were the only two women. They had some secretaries, but not no shop stewards.
BEVERLY JONES:
Why do you think you were chosen as a shop steward?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They had a vote. The girl died ain't been too long ago—Amanda Wallace—she was the one that offered me for her committee for the shop steward.
BEVERLY JONES:
That meant that everybody in the union voted for the shop steward?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Voted for me. Whoever got the highest number of votes, that's the one won.
BEVERLY JONES:
What type of relationship did you as a shop steward have with the management?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I had good relationship with them. They respected me highly, very highly. I always tried to carry myself in a way before I became shop steward that I would be respected then. Even after I became shop steward, then I still had my respect with them. They respected me high as I could expect.

Page 25
BEVERLY JONES:
Tell me about some of the grievances that black workers would bring to you since you were a shop steward. What were some of the complaints?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Sometimes they feel like they hadn't been honestly dealt with; they was overworked at times and put too much on them. Maybe one person would be out, and they have to do two people's job or something like that. Sometimes they'd come to you with something that wasn't any good.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you recall what complaint that you'd probably work at for a long time and you did go to the management and you did receive some type of … you were quite successful in trying to remedy some of the complaints?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I didn't never have any complaints that bad that it took me a long time to straighten them out.
BEVERLY JONES:
How did you deal with a complaint?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I would talk to the person, then I would go to the foreman and talk with him. Then we'd get together and go to the office. I would talk to each individual, and then we'd take it to the office—the floor office, not the main office—and we would talk individually, two or three, whichever was involved. Whoever was in the office, they had to go out 'cause everybody didn't sit there and listen to what you had to talk about. So whoever was the timekeeper, whoever was in the office sit there and listen to what you had to say. So whoever was involved was the one what did the talking. Whatever your case was, you didn't talk it over with nobody else. If you had a problem, I didn't go back and tell the other person what it was. If I worked that problem out, me and this individual, I'd tell them to keep your mouth shut, since I worked it out. One thing I had, I saved a boy once. I thought I was going to lose him. You

Page 26
to smoke the company's brand. Whatever cigarette they sell, you supposed to smoke one of them; they give you a pack of cigarettes a day. They found a "Camel"—at that time, "Camel" was kind of popular—they found a "Camel" cigarette. He was working and had a breakdown with the machine. Out fell a pack of "Camel" cigarettes, and that was one of the hardest cases I had.
BEVERLY JONES:
You could be fired because of that?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah, you could be fired—even now! They'll fire you now. They give you a pack a day. You're not to be caught with no other brand. Better not let them catch you in the store buying no other brand. They catch you in the store, report it and everything.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you recall a complaint that you dealt with and it didn't turn out the way you wanted it to turn out.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, I've had some problems with things that didn't turn out exactly like I wanted it to. But, it wasn't no bad cases. I never had anything that was too bad. We had some men shop stewards too that worked with me. Sometimes I'd get a case that be kind of tight, and I would call on a man to help me, to go in with me. The chairman of the shop stewards, I'd call him in with me when something's real tight. I had just one foreman; he worked on the first floor. He just couldn't stand women; no women worked down there. I had to go down there on my job at that particular time; I was carrying papers all over the building. Every hour I had to carry papers to him. He couldn't stand a woman to do nothing for him.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were you allowed this freedom to roam around and talk with individuals while you were supposed to be working?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, you didn't walk around and talk with them like that unless something happen. No, that was my job. I had to carry papers each hour and tell how much tobacco, how many thousands pounds you run.

Page 27
Each foreman had to check on every floor, and I had to go to every foreman. Four foremans on a floor, and I had to go all them foremen. He had to check what time I was there, and everybody had to put their initials on that piece of paper. Then I had to carry it back to my foreman.
BEVERLY JONES:
What was that job called?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Really, I can't say what that job was called. I don't know what if they even named it.
BEVERLY JONES:
So you got that job later?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Later, un-huh.
BEVERLY JONES:
What other types of jobs would you work in? You said but, you were on the stemming machine, you were taking papers around.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
That's about all I did. I checked lines, and all that. I learned to do quite a lot. I helped them do the figuring, me and another girl—Marion Stewart what died, her mother—myself, we kind of used to run around with papers. We'd run all around outdoors and everywhere to different places carrying papers.
BEVERLY JONES:
What were the union dues?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
It was twenty-five cents when you first started.
BEVERLY JONES:
A week?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Twenty five cent a month.
BEVERLY JONES:
How many of the workers became members of the union?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
We had about 94 percent. At one time, we probably had a little more than that, but some people gets kind of weak. We had a little more than 94 percent one time. I would say we had around 94 percent.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were there any other strikes? I think you mentioned that there was one in '34.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, that's the only one.

Page 28
BEVERLY JONES:
That was the only strike that you can recall?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
That's the only one.
BEVERLY JONES:
And blacks never got together for any type of changes?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
The strike didn't affect us. The only thing was, we had to be out because the trucks didn't run. We didn't strike, but if the trucks didn't run to bring the tobacco into us, we couldn't work.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were the conditions better working in the factory in '34?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, the conditions were better.
BEVERLY JONES:
They were better now?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah.
BEVERLY JONES:
Why? Because the union was there?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Well, the union was established and also when Roosevelt came in. We got President Roosevelt in, everything brightened up. The conditions began to get better then.
BEVERLY JONES:
So you sensed some of the results of the strike? They did take place…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
We had some effect from it, I mean some benefits. Those white girls drew so much more than we did. We'd go down to Belk's store to cash checks. They had a place in the basement, and we'd go down there and cash checks. You'd see they check, and it'd make your heart stop beating almost.
BEVERLY JONES:
Wouldn't that be a reason to strike, if you weren't making anything?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Well, you weren't strong enough to get up there, just weren't strong enough. It takes strength. It takes some strength to get up. That didn't come about—I tell you we worked for a long time—that didn't come about till integration. It didn't change until integration. When the integration came about, then the black women

Page 29
with high seniority—my sister was the first black woman they put on one of them high paying jobs. They tried to blackmail her every way they could. They worked her just like a dog. She had all them white people under her, and she had to supervise over them. They just couldn't hardly stand for a black woman being over them. She was working in the cigarette department. She retired out of there.
BEVERLY JONES:
You mentioned that the black union did not strike because you weren't strong enough. What does it take for a union to be strong?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Our people didn't stick close enough together. One thing, they would pay the money, then we just didn't have the strength. You have to have a whole lot of strength to get up there to strike.
BEVERLY JONES:
You mean you've got to have people that are willing?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Willing, yeah, to go out. They got to vote to go out. You have to vote to go out on strike. That's what's strength. You have to vote to go out. So many of them, some few had started to buying homes. "I'm buying a home. I can't strike. I ain't going to strike. I ain't going to do this." That's where it takes strength. You have to sacrifice anything you get or do.
BEVERLY JONES:
Blacks at that time weren't really…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They weren't strong enough.
BEVERLY JONES:
In regard to the black women that were working there, would you say that many of them have large families?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, some of them had quite large families.
BEVERLY JONES:
So therefore, the job was a necessity.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
It was a very necessity for them.
BEVERLY JONES:
As a union leader, I'm quite sure you became a very respectable and outstanding black woman.

Page 30
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Well, I was. I went everywhere. I went to conventions everywhere. I went to Rochester to the international convention, went to Louisville, Kentucky to the international convention, went to all the state conventions in Petersburg, Virginia, Richmond, Virginia. One time we went to Petersburg, Virginia to a convention, and we was supposed to meet at a union hall—white and black was going to meet together—and they wouldn't let us meet together—said the blacks couldn't meet there; that's what the police said. They got to put us out, and snow was on the ground.
BEVERLY JONES:
About what year was this?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
That was about '41 or '42. We had to leave there and went to the "Y", and they let us meet there. Virginia was very segregated, much worse than it was here, and we couldn't meet together. They'd come here and all of us'd meet together. But we go there, we had to meet at a certain place; they wouldn't let us meet in the union hall. Went to the "Y" and met there.
BEVERLY JONES:
At some of the union meetings, what did you discuss at your meetings?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
We had these union meetings, and the first thing, of course, would be on the agenda just like roll-call and collections, and then what problems had come up. The shop stewards had to report the problems they had. [interruption] At these union meetings, we would have roll-call just like you do at any other ordinary meeting. Then we'd have the financial secretary make her report. She'd come in with any other letters, she'd read out all the communications, what all we had. Then the committees would make their reports. If they had success on the different cases they had, they would report them in the union meetings. We'd always try to number the people we had from the different departments there to see how many people we had from certain departments of the plants.

Page 31
BEVERLY JONES:
Were there any pressing problems? You were affiliated with the union from '34 till the time that you were let off. Were there any pressing problems that the union had to deal with?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, we had some few problems. Not in the department what I was in. We had some men was laid off. I know a man belonged to your church, and they fired him. He stayed out, I forget how many months—Mr. Jones that live out on Alston Avenue—they fired him. He was unjustly fired. He went on out and find him a job somewhere else. They got that man back, and Liggett and Myers had to pay him for all them months he was out, and put him back to work. I recall some more jobs like that.
BEVERLY JONES:
How did you all do that?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
That was the union. He was unjustly fired.
BEVERLY JONES:
So the union went to the management…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They went to the management and fight it down until they got him back.
BEVERLY JONES:
This was what union? Had the union now merged?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They hadn't merged at that time.
BEVERLY JONES:
This was the black union?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
The black union.
BEVERLY JONES:
They went to the management.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They carried that to the management. They didn't stop at the office in the building, they had to take that to the main office which is over on the main street there.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did black women have any special complaints that might have dealt with they being women? Any complaints that really affected them as a woman?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, they didn't complain about it. People didn't complain because, as I told you before, a job was a job, and people didn't complain

Page 32
as much as they would now because they got so many more privileges now.
BEVERLY JONES:
You say things got better after '34. Those that worked at the factory, were you working night hours still?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
We went to eight hours a day.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you have to stand?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I stood till the last day I left there.
BEVERLY JONES:
So you were still standing.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Still standing.
BEVERLY JONES:
And you got some penny raises?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
We got some raises along.
BEVERLY JONES:
But things got better?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They got better, much better.
BEVERLY JONES:
In what way other than getting penny raises?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
The working conditions was better. They changed the machinery, and the work wasn't as hard. It was differently done, and it made it easy to do. They changed the machinery as the years passed, made it easier to do. Tobacco wasn't as dirty as it once was.
BEVERLY JONES:
When was it when they got the first black foreman?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They had black foremans when I went there in '25. Mr. Claude Farrington.
BEVERLY JONES:
What was he a foreman of…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
He was under this white man I'm talking about—Mr.
BEVERLY JONES:
So there were black foremen?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They had some black foremans then. Mr. Morris—you know lawyer Morris—his grandfather, he was foreman.
BEVERLY JONES:
That was in the twenties.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
When I went there, they were foremans.
BEVERLY JONES:
Now did black women ever have black foremen?

Page 33
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah, but the white man was over him. He had to do what the white man said.
BEVERLY JONES:
So that means there was a foreman, then a supervisor?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Supervisor, yeah.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were there ever any black supervisors?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They never had any women supervisors.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did they have any black men supervisors?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They had those two up there where I worked at—Mr. and Mr. Claude Farrington. You know Montrose Scott, her mother's daddy—Gertrude's daddy—he was the foreman, Mr. Claude Farrington. Montrose said she didn't know it till she was in a meeting here this year. Her granddaddy was a foreman way back there then. She was in a meeting and somebody told her; her mama had never told her. People should tell their children these things. Her mother never told her; she didn't know it. I was sitting here telling her about it, she said, "You the second person told me that. Mama ain't never told me." Mr. Morris, he was foreman on the first floor. That's lawyer Morris' grandfather—Mr. Ike Morris, he was Ellis' brother, and he was Mr. Andrew Morris, Mr. Ike Morris' two brothers—they were foremans.
BEVERLY JONES:
How did a black foreman treat you?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Mr. Farrington was kind of nasty, but some of them was nice. We had another one, Mr. Emmet Brady—Miss Helen Brady used to live around Roxboro Street till he died—her husband, he was a foreman for the stemmers. They had some foremans. People think they just recently put black foremans, but they had them back there then.
BEVERLY JONES:
In the twenties, was there a hosiery mill in Durham?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah, right up here on—what's the name of the street? They had several hosiery mills here at that time.

Page 34
BEVERLY JONES:
Did black women work at the hosiery mills?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah, black women worked at the hosiery mill. Right up here where Shirley's friend lives, that was a hosiery mill.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you know if there were any more or less than tobacco workers?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I never worked there, but I don't know. They worked by the piece. You had to do a certain amount to make your salary. They did different things; some of them topped, and some of them knitted and did different things. I never worked in the hosiery mill.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you know of any black women that worked in tobacco that decided to work in hosiery?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No. I know some left the hosiery mill and went to working in tobacco.
BEVERLY JONES:
They went the other way.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
So they must have made more. I know some of them left there.
BEVERLY JONES:
What was Durham like in the 20's and 30's?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
It was better than it is today in one sense, because the only thing, the theatres were segregated. They used to have good floor shows here. They had a good floor show right down in front of the old court house there—was called a offering.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
The Carolina Theatre, the blacks had to go way to that top floor up there, all them stairs they had to walk up to get in the theatre. They had good shows though, and nice shopping downtown.
BEVERLY JONES:
You worked on the fourth floor at Liggett and Myers. Did you have to take the stairs to get up there?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
You had to take the stairs early years, but later years, they allowed you to ride the elevator. But early years, you wasn't allowed to put your feet on the elevator unless you fell out and

Page 35
fainted.
BEVERLY JONES:
Describe the bathroom facilities you had in between the floors?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
The bathrooms was fair, as well as you could expect at that time.
BEVERLY JONES:
I was talking with Margaret Turner, and she was telling me—this was at another tobacco, American—she was hired as a cleaner woman to clean up the bathrooms. Did you have a cleaning woman in the factory?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah, we always had a cleaning woman.
BEVERLY JONES:
Was she black or white?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Black. No white women worked over there.
BEVERLY JONES:
That was her responsibility?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
That was her responsibility, to clean the bathrooms.
BEVERLY JONES:
In working in the factory in the 20's and 30's, were there any type of central air conditioning?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, no. You didn't perspire, you sweated.
BEVERLY JONES:
Describe the room that you worked in?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Just great big huge rooms. When I first went down on the fourth floor, we didn't have sky lights, but they later put sky lights. It opened them up because they was quite a lot of steam was on that floor. That where they ordered tobacco at was on that floor. It was quite a lot of steam, and the later years, they put some sky lights which let that steam out through the roof. On the third floor, I seen women come out there at lunch time and have to pull off their clothes and change clothes, they'd be so wet. That's why they deserved more money, cause that was a hard job, feeding them stemming machines. Be wet to the bottom of their dress.
BEVERLY JONES:
Would that be considered a hard job?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
That was the hardest job, it was - very hard job.

Page 36
BEVERLY JONES:
Compared with the other jobs that black women were doing, were those who worked on the stemming machine making more?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah, they made more after they started the raises in '34. They got more; they got a ten cent raise on the first raise. From then on, they still got more money. They always got more money.
BEVERLY JONES:
Someone was telling me that there was located on the floor a type of salt dispenser?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah, they had a salt dispenser.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you recall ever using it?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I never perspired that bad until I got old.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you recall women using it?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, quite a few people used it. I have used it, but just occasionally.
BEVERLY JONES:
What about water fountains? Did you have water fountains for women?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, we had water fountains. Had black and white to begin with. When segregation came about, now everybody drank anywhere.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were those fountains on the immediate floor?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
On the immediate floor, yeah. When I first went there, they didn't even have no sinks in the bathroom. They had a great long sink out on the floor. Everybody had to come out there and wash their hands. Didn't furnish no towels or nothing. But the later years, they put sinks in the bathroom and had paper towels and roller towels also for you to wash your hands with soap.
BEVERLY JONES:
What about women that did have children? Do you know how those children were taken care of while they were working?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They left them with people. That's the best way they could to get to work. There weren't no day care centers.

Page 37
BEVERLY JONES:
How far did you live from the factory?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I lived over in North Durham; I walked - it wasn't far.
BEVERLY JONES:
What about those days when it was snowing and raining?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
It didn't rain or snow, we waded right on. Weren't no bus to ride. People walked from right down in here; it was called Pearson Town. They walked from down here to Liggett and Myers.
BEVERLY JONES:
Someone was telling me also that if you were not there on time, they would turn you around.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Turn you around and send you back home. That's true.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did that ever happen to you?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, I've never been a person to be sent back because I'm a person who always got up. If I know I had to go to work, I got up, and if I know what snow was on the ground, I got up earlier in order to get there. I turned myself around one time, and that was 1927. We had a big, deep snow in '27 in April. I went out and the snow came up so far on me till the line came up to here on me. That snow was so deep, I dropped my lunch, and I turned around and went back in the house. My husband working at the American Tobacco Company, he kept going to work, and I went back in the house.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were there different shifts?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, there weren't no different shifts. Didn't have but one shift originally.
BEVERLY JONES:
So everybody worked that shift?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Later years, they come on with extra shifts in emergencies; they didn't run them regular, but during the war time, they run double shifts for quite a while. It wasn't no regular thing for them to have two shifts.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you ever have occasion to see the owners?

Page 38
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, they come through. I wouldn't say the owner, but the head manager. They would come through.
BEVERLY JONES:
What type impression did you have of the head manager?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
You wasn't even allowed hardly to look up when they come through.
BEVERLY JONES:
You were supposed to be busy at work.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Busy at work when they come through; you had to see them and not see them. They didn't talk to you when they come through. They just come through and look. You had to clean up everything, get every speck and everything off the floor when they'd be looking for them. They called, let them know when they was coming, and they'd had them floors just a-shining when they got in there. Everybody'd stay in their place, don't be walking up and down the aisles while they in there.
BEVERLY JONES:
Later, did the work become monotonous?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, I made it fine. I never had no problems whatsoever.
BEVERLY JONES:
When did women begin to wear uniforms in the factory?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They started wearing uniforms in 1928.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you pay for each of them?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
To begin with, they gave you three uniforms. Later years, you had to buy them.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were you required to make sure they were cleaned every day?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
You had to have clean aprons and things on.
BEVERLY JONES:
The type of work that some of you were doing, that meant that by that time, you would probably have to wash when you got home.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
That's right.
BEVERLY JONES:
What would you do when you got from the factory and came home. What were your responsibilities there?

Page 39
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I'd get home in the afternoons, if my husband hadn't cooked—most of the time, he got home early. Later years, he went to work earlier; we didn't go to work at the same time. He would go to work early, and sometimes he'd be home and cooked by the time I got home—so I maybe had to wash. Didn't have on a scrubboard, no washer machine and no washerette to go to. I went on that scrubboard and wash my clothes, hang them out. If I went to church or to a meeting—I always worked in church, always did that.
BEVERLY JONES:
So that meant that when you got home, you still had another job.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Another job, yeah.
BEVERLY JONES:
What time would you usually go to bed to get ready to go to work?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I've never been a person went to bed too early. I never went to bed no earlier than 10:00 unless I was sure enough tired. Ten o'clock or maybe 11:00.
BEVERLY JONES:
You said you had been sort of sickly. What was your problem?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Phlebitis.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you think that had any connection with…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Well, it could have been from standing. With the poor circulation, it could have come from standing all those years. It could have came from standing because it come from poor circulation and not moving around. Standing there that many hours and that long, it could have come from that.
BEVERLY JONES:
What were the advantages of working at Liggett and Myers. Looking back now at almost forty some years that you gave to Liggett and Myers. What was the effect of working at Liggett and Myers in regard to how it affected your life?

Page 40
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
You had to make a living somewhere. It was a decent, honest job, and as I forestated, you made more there than you'd make anywhere else. They didn't have no benefits up until the later years. That came about with the hospital insurance. When the hospital insurance first came around, nobody got it but the teachers. Teachers used to have hospital insurance, and they'd get out of school. They'd go to the hospital and lay out and rest. They don't allow you to lay up now sick, but they used to have quite a break. We couldn't get it for years—insurance. When they got it in the factories, they paid for that. They paid hospital insurance, and you didn't have to pay for your life insurance.
BEVERLY JONES:
You mentioned that you were a high school graduate. Being a high school graduate, would that have given you an advantage in the 40's and 50's with certain jobs in the factory?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah, because like I said about carrying those papers and running, you had to know what you were doing to keep up with those records and things. It give you some advantage.
BEVERLY JONES:
Were you able to buy a home as a result of working?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, my husband and I didn't never buy a home—my first husband. We didn't never buy a home.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you make enough?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
We made enough to do it, but he was pressed and couldn't sense it.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you make enough to make it through a week?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Oh yes, I made enough to make it. I've never been on the poverty level where I couldn't eat from week to week and buy the necessity things I needed.
BEVERLY JONES:
Was Liggett and Myers for black people a source of financial stability in the 20's and 30's.

Page 41
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yes, it really was.
BEVERLY JONES:
What about the Depression?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
During the Depression, they just cut down and cut down and cut off and cut off. There won't be a few people working, but when Roosevelt was elected our President, they hired back; they'd hire them back by the hundreds. Hired them back by the hundreds when Roosevelt had taken his seat. There were so many people in the street during the Depression.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did it affect your life?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, I never was affected—I thank God for that—by the Depression, never was affected.
BEVERLY JONES:
You were not one of the ones that…
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, I wasn't affected whatsoever. My husband either; he worked at American Tobacco Company.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did you ever do any seasonal work?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
The last few years we were there, we did seasonal work. That's what we did in the last few years. Worked every year, but it would be seasonal—the last few years we were there.
BEVERLY JONES:
What would you say that you disliked most about working at Liggett and Myers?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Disliked? I don't know if I could really pick out anything really.
BEVERLY JONES:
What did you like about working for Liggett and Myers?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
As I forestated, it was a decent job.
BEVERLY JONES:
You just about could do anything to make money?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Yeah.
BEVERLY JONES:
Is there any comments that you would like to make as a black

Page 42
worker and tobacco worker, working from 1925 to 1963? Anything you would like to state or comment?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
I can comment some. Through all those years working at the factory, when they terminated this plant and moved it to Rocky Mount, I was fortunate to be able to reach out and get another job. I sewed—I do seamstress work, and I been able to still do something. I was able to get out and do something else, because I never believed in just pinning yourself down. Any job I'm on, I'm going to learn it all if I can learn it, learn everything I can learn about that job. What I learn on the job today, I carry home. The supervisor don't carry it home at night, but what I learn, he can't take it away from me. I learned that years ago when I was quite young. Learn everything you can on that job, then nobody can't take it away from you, and learn something else besides that job. When they terminated that plant and moved it to Rocky Mount because the labor was much cheaper there than it was here, they terminated the plant here and moved it to Rocky Mount. White women worked over there where we was working now. White women working over there now. If I hadn't known anything else to done, I wouldn't been able to work none. I went right on a seamstress job back to work and still do seamstress work.
BEVERLY JONES:
What plant did they terminate?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
They terminated the stemmery.
BEVERLY JONES:
That's where the majority of black women worked?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Where the majority of the blacks worked.
BEVERLY JONES:
They let everybody go.
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
All that worked in that particular building. Some of them had more seniority than I had. They still kept them, but they moved them in another small place over there known as the blending

Page 43
department. They had been there years before I went there. That was some years. They stayed there until they retired, andwhich their retirements is very good. My sister was fortunate to retire from Liggett and Myers, and her retirement was very, very good.
BEVERLY JONES:
I know you mentioned that you did have a sister that worked in Liggett and Myers. What is your sister's name?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Alma H. Harris.
BEVERLY JONES:
She retired from Liggett and Myers. You have five sisters?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Just three of them. There was once originally five, two passed.
BEVERLY JONES:
What's your other sister's name?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Minnie Walker. She lives in Bronx, New York.
BEVERLY JONES:
And your other sister?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
The other two are deceased. Her name was Willie Johnson. She lived in Fuquay Varina, North Carolina.
BEVERLY JONES:
The other name?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
Dorothy Ingram. She lives here; that's the baby.
BEVERLY JONES:
Did she work in tobacco?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, she never did. She did domestic work.
BEVERLY JONES:
How many brothers and sisters did your husband, Mr. Jones have?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
It was seven boys and two girls.
BEVERLY JONES:
Do you know if any of them ever worked in tobacco, or did they just remain in Apex?
DORA SCOTT MILLER:
No, his home is in Granville County. Beside him, one of them did work there a little short time. He's dead now. One of his brothers worked American Tobacco for a short time. He worked for American Tobacco Company.
BEVERLY JONES:
I want to thank you for this interview. It will be very

Page 44
helpful. You've not only given us insight into women tobacco workers, but you've given us some very good detailed information about the labor aspect of the tobacco industry.
END OF INTERVIEW