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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Paul and Pauline Griffith, May 30, 1980. Interview H-0247. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Women weavers in a textile mill

Pauline Griffith explains that when she worked in the Judson Mill there was typically the same number of women weavers as there were men weavers. Although some of the work was seen as challenging for women because it entailed lifting heavy and cumbersome objects, she argues that she and many other women were capable of doing the work and often did all of the required tasks on their own without the help of men.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Paul and Pauline Griffith, May 30, 1980. Interview H-0247. 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:
Would there have been more women than men, when you began?
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
It was pretty equal.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Did that change over the period of time, up until the time you retired, or did it stay about the same?
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
Well, the man, just as soon as they could, they learned to fix looms. They'd make more. Or they would get to be a second-hand, which is an overseer, and they'd make a little more, as they would try. But the men were good weavers. And the ladies, too.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Do you think that the women were better weavers than the men were?
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
I wouldn't say so, because the men turned out good cloth, in general. I think they were pretty good at it. In fact, they could get around good. Some of them were taller, and they could reach over and tie in. Get it in real quick. Now, little short people had a hard time. They'd have to get on their tip-toes, you know, to draw in an end. But I was pretty good average height for that type of work. I've seen some of them have to really climb up on the loom, like, to draw an end in. They had a time of it. They had a time of keeping up production.
ALLEN TULLOS:
It seems to me that back there early in the industry, around the turn of the century, there were a lot more more women weavers than there were men. The men seem to have evened out a bit.
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
The men now are doing handcrafts more, too, than they used to. And I think that had a lot to do with it. Their interest had been different.
ALLEN TULLOS:
When you began weaving, when you finished weaving a roll of cloth, did someone come along to doff the cloth roll, when you first started out? Or did you have to do that as well?
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
Well, back then, we had to mark it, you know, what style and all and the number from which loom it was taken, and we had to put it where it would be taken up. They had a cloth boy.
PAUL GRIFFITH:
You didn't have to take it off.
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
Yeah, at first.
ALLEN TULLOS:
You had to take it off the loom?
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
Yeah, at first. And then the cloth boy would come along. But later. . . .well, I still had to take it off the loom as long as I worked.
PAUL GRIFFITH:
But they soon changed that and then they marked it, and they got a flag on there, where they needed it taken off. They'd put that flag down and this here fella would come around and take that off. You had a roll, and women couldn't take it off. So they changed and put men on there. In fact all they done was go up the alleys and maybe take up quills for their job, too, when they got caught up taking off that cloth. And they got some of them that were just so heavy that lady-folks just couldn't take it off.
ALLEN TULLOS:
But you remember taking a lot of that cloth off yourself?
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
I sure had to, during my working days.
ALLEN TULLOS:
And that was up to '29, 1929 or so that you still had to take it off, before you stopped worked?
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
Something like that.
ALLEN TULLOS:
When you went back to work, did you have to doff any cloth yourself, take the rolls off then?
PAULINE GRIFFITH:
Yes. I took it off as long as I worked.