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Oral History Interview with Zelma Montgomery Murray, March 4, 1976. Interview H-0034. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Two consecutive interviews are combined here, one each of Zelma Montgomery Murray and her husband Charles Murray. The couple speaks about their life in North Carolina mill towns and their jobs in the mills. They discuss the lack of control that workers had over their own lives: factories provided the housing and turned off the lights at prescribed bedtimes, company stores provided the only places to shop, and workers lived in relative isolation. The Murrays also recall how joining a union was not really a practical option given the level of control asserted by mill owners and the vulnerability of the workers. However, neither of the Murrays exhibits any self-pity or regret for the lives they've led.
    Excerpts
  • Child Labor Law restricts work hours for those under 16
  • Spinner loses her job because of a fickle boss
  • Working conditions fluctuate with market conditions
  • No interest in joining a union
  • Poor conditions of mill-owned worker houses
  • Weaving job paid one dollar per day
  • Paying in credit at the company store
  • Employers stretch out and intimidate workers to get more production
  • Workers have little autonomy
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Textile workers--North Carolina
  • Textile industry--Technological innovations
  • 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.