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Oral History Interview with Barbara Hanks, August 10, 1994. Interview K-0098. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Barbara Hanks followed her father into the furniture industry, taking a job in the mid-1980s in the rub and pack department of the White Furniture Company in Mebane, North Carolina. In this interview, she describes her career there, which saw her earn a position as an inspector, but ended when the company closed. Hanks describes the furniture finishing process, including sanding and oiling pieces to a shine, and recalls the challenges of her role as sole inspector. But more significantly, she describes the atmosphere on the factory floor and the way the factory brought workers together into an environment where they could build relationships with one another. Those relationships, and an older model of work, ended when the factory closed around 1993. At its core, this interview is about the dissolution of the social elements of working and the erosion of one community united by the sound of the factory whistle.
    Excerpts
  • From rubbing and packing, on to inspection
  • Anxiety on the first day of work
  • The rubbing process
  • A sense of camaraderie at White Furniture Company
  • White Furniture Factory as a community institution
  • Remembering work at White Furniture Factory
  • Employers favor younger employees
  • Coworkers bond over snacks
  • Point system for evaluating conduct
  • Cameraderie and joking on the job
  • Effects of a factory closing
  • Little camaraderie at new job
  • Remembering the factory whistle
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Furniture industry and trade--North Carolina
  • Furniture workers--North Carolina
  • White Furniture Company
  • North Carolina--Social conditions
  • Women--Employment--North Carolina--History--20th century
  • Hanks, Barbara, 1960-
  • 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.