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George Perkel evaluates the failure of unions in the post-World War II South.
Mary Robertson offers an insider's view of the organized labor movement in western North Carolina.
Jim Pierce first learned about the labor movement while growing up in Oklahoma during the 1930s. By the late 1940s, he had become a leader in his local union at Western Electric in Fort Worth, Texas. During the 1950s and 1960s, he organized unions for the CIO, the IUE, and the IUD. He describes his belief in labor activism but also his growing disillusionment with the movement by the end of the 1960s.
Lawrence Rogin grew up in the Northeast in an immigrant family inclined toward radical politics. In the 1930s, Rogin became actively involved in the labor movement. In this interview, he describes his work in labor education, focusing specifically on the Brookwood Labor College, the Central Labor Union, and his work with the Hosiery Workers Union in the South.
Former mechanic and streetcar foreman Loy Connelly Cloniger recalls the 1919 Charlotte streetcar strike by the Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen. Though five strikers were killed, the strikers soon returned to work without the raise they demanded.
During the mid-1970s, Gemma Ziegler became a nurse in Louisville, Kentucky, and joined the campaign to organize nurses. In this interview, she discusses her experiences as a nurse; her work as an organizer for We're Involved in Nursing (WIN); her role in the founding of the Nurses Professional Organization (NPO); and the NPO's various activities from the late 1980s into the early twenty-first century.
Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA) organizer and regional director Scott Hoyman discusses the Oneita Knitting Mill strike of 1973 in South Carolina. Throughout the interview, he focuses on strategies of the TWUA in organizing textile workers, bargaining and negotiating with textile companies, and tactics for successfully protecting workers' rights.
John Russell describes his work as an international representative and organizer for the Amalgamated Meat Workers Union following its merger with the Fur and Leather Workers Union in 1955. Russell discusses the limitations and opportunities that resulted from this merger, his work organizing poultry workers, and his thoughts on the changing nature of the labor movement.
Cary Joseph Allen Jr. an aluminum worker for Alcoa in Badin, North Carolina, describes the establishment of a local branch of the Aluminum Workers of America in the mid-1930s. Initial efforts at organization were hampered by the strong paternalistic influence Alcoa exerted over the community, yet efforts to unionize succeeded by 1937.
Scott Hoyman worked as an organizer and bargainer for the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA). In the 1950s, he was transferred to the South, where he was primarily based in North Carolina, following the Baldanzi-Rieve split in the TWUA. He describes his work during the 1950s and 1960s, focusing primarily on obstacles the TWUA faced in organizing southern textile mills during these years.
John Russell describes the events leading to the merger of the Fur and Leather Workers Union with the Amalgamated Meat Cutters in 1955. Russell focuses on the progressive political views of the Fur and Leather Workers, their strong regional presence in the South, the role of leaders within their trade union movement, and the aftermath of the merger.
Lifelong textile worker Eula McGill shares her thoughts on the benefits of Alabama textile unions.
Joseph Pedigo was an active participant and leader in the labor movement among textile workers in the South during the 1930s and 1940s. In this interview, he describes his role in the formation of a local union at American Viscose in Roanoke, Virginia, and his work with the Textile Workers Union of America towards organizing textile workers throughout the South.
Southern labor organizer Eula McGill explains her views on leadership in the labor movement and the role of workers' education. After rising through the ranks of the labor movement during the Great Depression, McGill continued to work actively to organize workers from the 1940s to the 1970s. She describes in detail various labor campaigns and strikes in the South, as well as her work with the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union and other labor organizations.
Robert Cole recalls a violent strike in a textile mill located near the Tennessee-North Carolina border.
Kay Tillow discusses her career as a labor activist, describing her early work in social justice movements of the 1960s and with Local 1199 in Pennsylvania during the 1970s and 1980s. In the late 1980s, Tillow returned to her home state of Kentucky, where she worked closely with the Nurses Professional Organization (NPO) as a representative of the Association of Machinists, who sponsored the NPO in their initial effort to organize Louisville nurses. She continued her work with the NPO towards achieving bargaining power into the early twenty-first century.
Sam and Vesta Finley describe their roles in the North Carolina factory strike that led to the "Marion Massacre."
George F. Dugger Sr. describes his family history and experiences as the plant lawyer during the 1929 Elizabethton Rayon Plant Strike.
David Burgess discusses how his religious faith fused into his life work of social activism. In particular, he explains his involvement in labor organizing in the South.
Jefferson Robinette recalls a lifetime of labor in textile mills, furniture factories, and a dairy. He got his first job when he was twelve and worked until he was eighty-three.
Carlee Drye was a founding member of the local union for aluminum workers in Badin, North Carolina, which later merged with the Steel Workers of America. Drye served as president of the local in the 1950s, during which time he worked actively to change policies of racial discrimination in the Alcoa aluminum plant. He retired from the plant and from the union in 1970s. He speculates about relations between the union, the community, and Alcoa following his retirement.
Lacy Wright worked for Cone Mills in Greensboro, North Carolina, for nearly fifty years, from the late 1910s at the age of twelve to the mid-1960s. He describes work in the textile industry, life in the mill villages, and the role of the labor movement in the southern textile industry during a large stretch of the twentieth century.
Eula McGill grew up in Sugar Valley, Georgia, during the early twentieth century. Raised in a working class family, McGill had to leave school because of her family's economic hardships and began to work in a textile mill as a spinner at the age of 14. By the late 1920s, McGill had moved to Alabama, where she became a leader in the labor movement in Selma. Throughout the Great Depression, McGill primarily worked as a labor organizer, first for the Women's Trade Union League and later for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers Union.
Wilbur Hobby describes growing up impoverished in Durham, North Carolina, during the Great Depression and his eventual involvement in the labor movement. Employed by the American Tobacco Company after World War II, he became an active member of the union and eventually became a leader in such organizations as the Voters for Better Government and the Committee on Political Education.
Julius Fry was a textile worker for Mansfield Mill in Lumberton, North Carolina from 1927 to 1943. During the early years of the Great Depression, Fry was increasingly drawn to labor activism, especially after the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the rise of the New Deal. Fry describes what it was like to work at the Mansfield Mill, the organization of a union in Lumberton, and his own role within the labor movement in the South.
Clay East was a founding member of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. In this interview, he describes life in Tyronza, Arkansas, during the 1920s and 1930s; his conversion to socialism; his observation of the problems of tenant farmers and sharecroppers; and his role in the formation of the union during the early 1930s.
Mary Ann Moore was only a high school student when she began participating in civil rights activities in Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1960s. After becoming a laboratory technician at the VA Hospital in Birmingham, Moore followed family tradition by becoming an active member of the union. She discusses her social justice activism in this interview while drawing connections between the civil rights and the labor rights movements of the second half of the twentieth century.
Dora Scott Miller reflects on the changes in tobacco factory work from the perspective of an African American woman.
Socialist and Christian activist Howard Kester describes his work in various organizations committed to social justice in the South during the 1930s and 1940s. In particular, Kester focuses on his work in promoting equality for African Americans and working people in the South, including his efforts to bridge gaps between those two groups.
Lyman Johnson traces his lifelong pursuit of racial equality through his father's rejection of racial hierarchies, his experiences as an educated black Navy solder, his observations of racial violence, and his efforts to get equal pay and union representation for Louisville teachers.
Roy Lee Auton reflects on a string of jobs and a string of wives in this engaging interview.
Activist, leftist, poet, and ordained minister Don West remembers a lifetime of union and civil rights activism.
L. Worth Harris discusses the trucking company he started in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the early 1930s.
This is the last in a nine-part series of interviews with civil liberties lawyer Daniel H. Pollitt. In this interview, Pollitt describes his work with a variety of organizations that shared his vision of protecting civil liberties.
Christine Galliher describes life and work in Elizabethton, Tennessee, during the late 1920s through the 1940s. She also discusses their participation in the 1929 walk-out strike at the Bermberg and Glantzstoff textile mills; Christine's attendance of the Southern Summer School for women workers; life during the Great Depression; and balancing work and family.
Eleanor Copenhaver Anderson remembers her work with the YWCA industrial department over the course of forty years. She describes the impact liberalism and communism had on organizing textile mill labor unions.
Ila Hartsell Dodson talks about working in a South Carolina textile mill.
Gladys Harris grew up in a farming family during the 1910s and 1920s. In 1940, she went to work as an inspector and as a sewer in Gastonia, North Carolina, hosiery mills. Because her husband was unable to work, Harris was the chief earner for her family. She describes her experiences at work over the course of several decades.
Harriet Herring, a sociologist at the University of North Carolina, recalls her efforts to study labor at North Carolina mill towns in the first half of the twentieth century.
George Elmore discusses a life that took him from farm labor to mill management in rural North Carolina.
Alice Grogan Hardin remembers her early years in the rural Greenville County, South Carolina, on the farm and at the mill.
Ernest Seeman offers a critical assessment of life in Durham, North Carolina, during the late nineteenth century. Seeman spent his early career as a printer, first as his father's apprentice and later as sole proprietor of the Seeman Printery, and he discusses interactions between his family and the Duke family. In addition, Seeman explains his increasing radicalization as head of the Duke Press from 1925 to 1934, and briefly discusses his decision to become a writer in later years.
Sociologist Olive Stone describes her work as the dean of Huntingdon College from 1929 to 1934, her doctoral work at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1934 to 1936, and her work in radical politics and for social justice during the 1930s. In addition, Stone speaks at length about her life as a single woman, both professionally and socially.
Clyde Cook describes life and work for African Americans in Badin, North Carolina. Discussing such topics as school segregation, racial hierarchies in the workplace, and the lack of job opportunities, Cook offers insight into social and economic inequalities in a southern working community.
Blanche Scott describes her careers as a tobacco factory worker and beautician in Durham, North Carolina.
Oscar Dearmont Baker spent his childhood and most of his adult life in Conover, North Carolina. In this interview, he describes his experiences working in the furniture and hosiery industries, paying particular attention to his time spent at Conover Furniture. He also describes broader changes within the city of Conover.
James Pharis reflects on his forty years the textile industry, most of which he spent as a supervisor.
Mareda Sigmon Cobb and her sister Carrie Sigmon Yelton both worked long careers in North Carolina textile mills, completing the family journey from farm to factory in the early decades of the twentieth century. Here they describe their family lives both as children and parents, the many implications of the Depression, working conditions in the mills, religion, and other themes central to social and labor history. The economic and material realities of textile employment are explored in detail; each suffered a major injury on the job, neither favored unionization (though their husbands did), and neither received a pension.
Gordon Berkstresser III shares the fruits of his study of the textile industry.
Murphy Yomen Sigmon reflects on a working life, most of which he spent in a cotton mill in Hickory, North Carolina.
Icy Norman recalls her long working life, most of which was spent at a textile mill in Burlington, North Carolina.
Alester G. Furman Jr. describes his family's involvement in the founding of Furman University in the early 1800s, his father's role in the establishment of the textile industry in Greenville, South Carolina, and the evolution of the textile industry over the course of the early twentieth century.
Conrad Odell Pearson grew up in Durham, North Carolina. After obtaining his law degree at Howard School of Law in the early 1930s, Pearson returned to Durham, where he became actively involved in legal struggles against segregation in higher education. In this interview, he describes his participation in various civil rights activities, his perception of African American leaders James Shepard and C. C. Spaulding, and race relations in Durham.
George and Tessie Dyer discuss their jobs in Charlotte cotton mills and their lives outside of work. They describe their childhood and the work their parents and grandparents did. They recall the parties and social events that their friends participated in after work. The interview ends with their observations about local union activity.
Paul Cline remembers mill work as a violent, unhealthy profession.
Ethel Bowman Shockley and her daughter Hazel Shockley Cannon describe life and work in the mill town of Glen Raven, North Carolina. Shockley worked at the Plaid Mill from 1927 to 1964; she describes how working conditions changed through the Depression, World War II, and the postwar years.
Sherwood Smith, chairman of the board of Carolina Power and Light, reflects on the energy business, and business in general, in North Carolina from the 1960s to the late 1990s.
Sisters Mattie Shoemaker and Mildred Shoemaker Edmonds discuss their experiences at a textile mill in Burlington, North Carolina.
Robert Sidney Smith, president and CEO of the National Association of Hosiery Manufacturers, discusses the hosiery industry in North Carolina and the United States.
In this fast-paced 1975 interview, Virginia Foster Durr remembers her growing awareness of social problems in the South, and continues sharing her life stories through 1948. Along with her husband Clifford Durr, Virginia recounts their move to Washington, D.C., particularly her disaffection with social society and her transition to political action.
John Thomas Outlaw, who headed the rate bureau of the North Carolina Motor Carriers Association, discusses the history of the trucking industry in North Carolina.
John W. Snipes grew up in an agricultural family during the early twentieth century and worked on a farm, in a cotton mill, and in the timber industry. He offers a unique perspective on various industries, and he describes in vivid detail various aspects of workers' lives and culture.
Mill owner Caesar Cone reflects on the textile industry and what he views as the pernicious influence of government in business and society.
Anne Queen spent ten years working for the Champion Paper and Fibre Company in North Carolina before continuing her education at Berea College and Yale Divinity School during the 1940s. In this interview, she describes her life as a worker, her advocacy of social justice causes, her experiences in higher education, and her work at University of Georgia, with the Friends Service Committee, and the YWCA-YMCA at University of North Carolina.
Margaret Carter, the "grand dame of liberal Texas politics," reflects on how she and her husband became interested in politics, what she learned through her political experiences, the ways the state's political structure changed from the New Deal era through the late 1950s, and the character of various state politicians.
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and activist Paul Green—most famous for his symphonic drama
The Lost Colony—reflects on social justice and art as he describes his work as a playwright and his efforts as an activist.
Margaret Skinner Parker recalls life in the mill town of Cooleemee, North Carolina, in the first half of the twentieth century, sharing recollections of fun and financial struggle.
A northerner who followed his passion for justice south, David Burgess spent his life living his religious convictions through a devotion to economic and racial justice. Burgess recalls his involvement with some vanguard rights organizations, such as the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen, a group Burgess believes laid the foundation for a civil rights movement motivated by Christian beliefs.
Emma Whitesell recalls a lifetime of work in North Carolina textile mills.
Flake and Nellie Meyers describe what it was like to live and work in and around Conover, North Carolina, during the early to mid-twentieth century. As a worker in various furniture companies and as the foreman at the Southern Desk Company, Flake Meyers describes in vivid detail the various kinds of skills involved in furniture making, the role of machinery in the industry, and workplace relationships. Nellie Meyers similarly describes the kinds of family labor systems and social customs that shaped their lives.
Naomi Sizemore Trammel recalls her life as a textile mill worker in Greer, South Carolina.
Lloyd and Betty Parker Davidson grew up in Danville, Virginia, during the 1910s and 1920s. After establishing themselves as weavers in Danville, they moved to Burlington, North Carolina, in 1932 to work at the Plaid Mill. In this interview, they describe their experiences as weavers, focusing especially on working conditions in the 1930s and 1940s.
Ashley Davis was a member of the Black Student Movement (BSM) at the University of North Carolina during the late 1960s and early 1970s. In this interview, he describes how the BSM supported the striking food workers at UNC in 1969.
A couple recalls living and working in the difficult conditions of North Carolina's cotton mill towns.
Arthur Little describes glove making from his perspective as the owner of a glove mill in Newton, North Carolina.
The Reverend Robert Lee Mangum channels his Christian faith into social action in Robeson County, North Carolina.
Miriam Bonner Camp describes growing up in Washington, North Carolina, in the early twentieth century, focusing specifically on her mother's strong influence, opportunities for women in the community, and race relations. She moved to California in 1909, and received degrees in English education from Berkeley. She describes coeducational life in college, her experiences teaching at North Carolina College for Women in the 1920s, and her involvement in the women worker education programs in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
Investigative reporter John Seigenthaler discusses his early career as a journalist at
The Tennessean of Nashville during the 1950s, his work with Robert F. Kennedy during the 1960s, and his role as the editor of The Tennessean into the mid-1960s. Seigenthaler focuses on the unique nature of southern journalism and the homogenization of southern culture during the 1960s and 1970s.
Jessie Lee Carter remembers life as a mill worker and mother in rural South Carolina.
Veteran activist Stetson Kennedy describes his desire to strike down segregation in the American South and some of the ways he translated this impulse into action.
Ivey C. Jones, who spent sixteen years working at the White Furniture Factory in Mebane, North Carolina, describes the effects of the plant's takeover and closing.
Nelle Morton served as the general secretary of the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen from 1944 to 1950. In this interview, she describes her perception of the leaders of the Fellowship and the organization's aims and strategies in advocating for various social justice causes, including racial integration and labor rights. In addition, she describes her leadership of a male-dominated organization and how her work with the Fellowship raised her awareness of the need for women's liberation as well.
Robert Riley Sr. describes his thirty-one years at the White Furniture plant in Mebane, North Carolina, a tenure that ended with the plant's closing in 1993.
Ralph Waldo Strickland grew up on an Alabama farm before joining the navy and later making a career with the Seaboard Railroad. He offers a range of recollections concerning his childhood in the rural South, his encounters with the Roosevelts following their relocation in 1921 to Hot Springs, Georgia, and life as a railroad worker and union member.
Alice Evitt describes her rural childhood and life as a millworker and mother in North Carolina in the first half of the twentieth century.
Eva Hopkins worked in a cotton mill from the 1930s until 1952 and recalls various aspects of millwork, union activity, social activities, and life in the mill villages.
Terry Sanford was a North Carolina governor and Democratic United States senator. This interview describes his political career since 1960, including his unsuccessful presidential runs and his term as president of Duke University.
Eula Durham and her husband Vernon recall their experiences as mill workers in Bynum, North Carolina.
Johnnie Jones remembers his fifty-year career at the Pomona Terra Cotta Factory in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Annie Mack Barbee describes her life as a worker in the segregated Liggett & Myers tobacco factories, and discusses how gender, class and race affected her life and the choices she made.
Private waste management company owner Lonnie Poole discusses the past and present of his incredibly successful endeavor.
Geddes Dodson worked as a textile mill employee for sixty years. During that time, he progressed through the factory's employment hierarchy, seeing many different aspects of life within the mills. He often focuses on issues involving masculinity and unionism.
Ethel Marshall Faucette describes the working environment and social life of the Glencoe mill town in Burlington, North Carolina. Faucette worked at Glencoe Mill from 1915 to 1954 and she explains the changes to workers' lives over her decades of employment.
Mildred Price Coy discusses the development of her egalitarian ideals, her involvement in various justice movements during the twentieth century, and the societal changes she witnessed.
Virginia Foster Durr discusses her early life and how she became aware of the social justice problems plaguing twentieth-century America. In this first part of a three-interview series, Durr describes her life on the plantation when she was a child; race issues in Birmingham, where she grew up; and how her views began to change when she left Birmingham to attend Wellesley College.
Strom Thurmond discusses his childhood and the people who inspired his long political career. As an attorney, judge, and governor, Thurmond advocated for states' rights and witnessed the desegregation of South Carolina. He recounts how he lived out his values in regard to the United States Constitution and race relations.
This is the final interview in a series of three with Virginia Foster Durr. Since the previous session, Clifford Durr had died, making the interview feel very different from the two in which he had taken part. The interview begins with Durr's growing awareness of racial matters and her activism during their life among the New Dealers in Washington, D.C. Among the topics she touches on are the anti-communism of the 1950s, sexual discrimination on Capitol Hill, and the southern reaction to Roosevelt's New Deal policies.
Beginning with her family background and early childhood, Adamson traces the dynamics that led her to adopt her radical stance later in life. She also responds to the accusations that she had been a Communist spy and explains how the Red Scare affected her life.