Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Herman Newton Truitt, December 5, 1978. Interview H-0054. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

White mill workers earn enough to hire black help

White mill workers made enough money to hire African American women to clean their homes and cook their meals. This passage indicates not only that at least some southern mill workers lived comfortably, but also that African Americans were so poor that they had to accept a very low wage: according to Truitt, just five or six dollars per week.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Herman Newton Truitt, December 5, 1978. Interview H-0054. 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

When both the husband and wife worked in the cotton mill, quite often they would hire a colored women to come in and probably cook lunch, and clean up the house and cook supper. She probably wouldn't work over five or six hours a day. Maybe sometimes and sometimes longer. They were economically low ebb. And these colored folks would work for five or six dollars a week. Where husband and wife both worked in the mill, they could readily pay that and have a couple of hot meals a day prepared by someone else.
ALLEN TULLOS:
So you say that would be pretty common.
HERMAN NEWTON TRUITT:
Yes, that was quite common.
ALLEN TULLOS:
Which meals would they most likely have prepared?
HERMAN NEWTON TRUITT:
It would be lunch and supper. She might get supper ready and be going home by the time the folks came in, or maybe before.