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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Geddes Elam Dodson, May 26, 1980. Interview H-0240. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Women negotiated raising their children and contributing to the family income

Women's labor remained an integral part of mill operations, and in this segment, Dodson explains how his mother and the company negotiated her work to accommodate childbearing and the other domestic responsibilities she carried by allowing her to work at home. While this was not standard practice for companies, this example does demonstrate some of the flexibility workers could find if their labor was needed. He further describes this balance later in the interview.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Geddes Elam Dodson, May 26, 1980. Interview H-0240. 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

ALLEN TULLOS:
Did your mother work regularly in the mill all this time, while she was having this many children?
GEDDES ELAM DODSON:
She worked between times. Oh, yes, over there at Woodside, after we left Vance Street and moved on Fifth Street, after my daddy sold that house, they put her a couple of draw-in racks down at the house. And just put her a full warp on there, and she'd put the drop wires and the harness and the reed on there and draw the drop wires first and then draw the harness and then put the reed up there and draw the reed. She could draw a reed just like that, in ten minutes. And I remember I used to have two racks-and I was that little then, of course-but I could draw the harness. She would draw the drop wires, and I'd set down there at that rack and draw the harness, the ends in the harness, eyes in the harness. And then she'd take and put the reed on it and then tie it up on the front so they could. . . . And then cut the pattern off long enough behind so they could take it up there and tie it on a machine full of warp. And every time she'd change, she'd just pull that warp over and get her ends up there and draw another pattern and cut it off. And they'd tie it on one of them big old automatic machines. And my sister was crippled, and she'd help her draw in some.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Which sister?
GEDDES ELAM DODSON:
Emma. She was older than me.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did you know of anybody else that ever got to do this work at home like this?
GEDDES ELAM DODSON:
Yes, there was several women drawed in at home.