Life in Southern Mill Villages, 1900s

analytical Essay
2654 words
2654 words

Life in Southern Mill Villages, 1900s The Industrial Revolution in America began to develop in the mid-eighteen hundreds after the Civil War. Prior to this industrial growth the work force was mainly based in agriculture, especially in the South (“Industrial Revolution”). The advancement in machinery and manufacturing on a large scale changed the structure of the work force. Families began to leave the farm and relocate to larger settings to work in the ever-growing industries. One area that saw a major change in the work force was textile manufacturing. Towns in the early nineteen hundreds were established around mills, and workers were subjected to strenuous working conditions. It would take decades before these issues were addressed. Until then, people worked and struggled for a life for themselves and their families. While conditions were harsh in the textile industry, it was the sense of community that sustained life in the mill villages. It would be hard to imagine what mill life would have been like if it were not for American photographer, Lewis Hine. Hine was influential in bringing public awareness to many social issues of his time. Born in a rural town in Wisconsin in 1874, Hine dedicated his life to capturing America’s cultural landscape through the people in his photographs. He was there when thousands of immigrants took their first steps on American soil at Ellis Island. In World War One he captured on film the heroic efforts of the Red Cross (“Lewis Wickes Hine”). But most importantly for this paper, are his accounts of people in the mill villages and textile factories in rural America. Through some of his pictures, we will explore life in southern mill villages in the nineteen hundreds. ... ... middle of paper ... ...hristopher B. Daly. Like a Family . Chapel Hill and London: North Carolina, 1987. “Industrial Revolution.” Webster’s New World Encyclopedia . Single volume. 1992. Jones, Lu Ann Ph.D. Personal Interview. March 6, 2002. “Lewis Wickes Hine.” Merriam Webster’s Biographical Dictionary . Springfield: Merriam Webster, 1995. O’Quinlivan, Michael. Rocky Mount North Carolina Centennial Commemorative Book: “A Century of People, Purpose, and Progress .” Ulrich, Pamela Vadman. “Plain Goods”: Textile Production in Georgia, the Carolinas,and Alabama, 1880 to 1920 . Michigan: Bell and Howell Information Company, 1991. Veto, Robert Elliott. Looms and Weavers, Schools and Teachers: Schooling in North Carolina Mill Towns, 1910-1940 . Michigan: Bell and Howell Information Company, 1989. Watt, W. Early Cotton Factories in North Carolina and Alexander County.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that the industrial revolution in america began in the mid-eighteen hundreds after the civil war. the advancement in machinery and manufacturing on a large scale changed the structure of the work force.
  • Explains that lewis hine was influential in bringing public awareness to many social issues of his time.
  • Explains that before the rise of industrialization, wives and mothers made clothing at home. they would spin their own yarn and make their families’ clothing.
  • Explains that after the civil war, the south didn't want to rely on the north for all their textile needs despite the north being the major textile manufacturer. cotton mills were built along rivers for hydropower, usually in rural areas.
  • Explains that mill owners did not rely on slave labor for their work force. the price of purchasing enough slaves to fill the many factory positions was too high.
  • Explains that while the textile industry was growing, the agricultural economy at the time was stagnant. many farmers lost their land and had to find a new means to support themselves and their families.
  • Explains that women were among the first wave of workers into the factory, especially widowed women who found it hard to maintain a large farm. even marriage did not mean escape for women as they often ended up marrying within the mill community.
  • Explains that mill owners, in an attempt to supervise all aspects of their workers lives, constructed towns near the factory specifically for them. rocky mount, north carolina was one of these mill towns.
  • Explains that the avalon mill in madison, n.c., is an example of a mill village. mill owners controlled every aspect of their workers' lives.
  • Explains that mill villages did not have local governments, hospitals, fire, or police departments. the mill superintendent was in charge of managing both the factory and the town.
  • Explains how the mill owners hired local carpenters to construct houses, which were rented to the workers. the owners set the rent at fifty cents to a dollar per room.
  • Explains watt's research on alexander county, n.c., and how working families were a familiar occurrence in mills.
  • Explains that mill owners eagerly used children as workers. they learned new skills quickly and their small hands were good for reaching into the machines to dislodge jammed equipment.
  • Analyzes how children of mill workers attended school for a brief time before taking their place at the machines. mill villages had the best teachers available because mill owners paid them so well.
  • Analyzes how lewis hine's photograph depicts mill workers in bynum, n.c., dressed in baseball outfits with their coach, the mill owner, standing prominently next to them.
  • Analyzes how the mill village community was an important aspect of workers' life. mill owners saw themselves as the patriarch of one large family, helpless without them.
  • Analyzes hine's poignant photograph, "doffers at the bib mill no. 1," which shows a little boy standing barefoot on top of the dangerous machine.
  • Explains that griping poverty caused many problems for families, such as inadequate protein and vitamins, pellagra, and tuberculosis.
  • Analyzes how the mill village's poor housing, sanitation, streets, and educational institutions caused an obvious conflict between workers and management, which could often lead to strikes within the community.
  • Explains that strikes and protests in southern mills were far outnumbered by those in the north. the largest was the general textile strike of 1934.
  • Explains that reformers and activists tried to bring the workers' plight to the middle class public, who might have otherwise been oblivious to it.
  • Analyzes how mill workers resented interference by reformers. they believed their children had to work so the family could afford to eat.
  • Analyzes how the growth of technology changed mill life. after the first world war, the industry began a rigorous "better equipment campaign" aimed at cutting costs and improving equipment.
  • Explains that many old mills stand empty and abandoned, scattered throughout the south. some have been remodeled and turned into quaint shopping centers like the carr mill mall.
  • Cites vera w. avalon's a brief history of a fateful town. elizabeth fee, theodore m. brown ph.d.
  • Cites hall, jacquelyn dowd, james leloudis, robert korsta, mary murphy, lu ann jones, christopher b. daly.
  • Cites ulrich, pamela vadman, veto, robert elliott, looms and weavers, schools and teachers: schooling in north carolina mill towns, 1910-1940.
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