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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Dora Scott Miller, June 6, 1979. Interview H-0211. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The pressures of pay-by-the-pound work

Hand-stemming (removing the stems from tobacco leaves by hand) was an extremely stressful job, Miller recalls, because hand stemmers were paid by the pound and put enormous pressure on themselves to process a large number of leaves.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Dora Scott Miller, June 6, 1979. Interview H-0211. 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

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.