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Oral History Interview with Frank Durham, September 10 and 17, 1979. Interview H-0067. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Frank Durham discusses how his family first came to work in the mills and describes other people they got to know there. Over the course of Durham's life, he followed his father's path, working his way up through the mill's supervisory ladder to become superintendent. His broad experience enables him to describe the inner workings of the mill, the ways management negotiated labor complaints with the employees, the social structure of the mill village, and the commonalities of mill town life. He also discusses many moments in employee life, including the ways they hazed new hires. As a part of community entertainment, many of the locals put together bands. Durham and some of his friends were in the Chatham Rabbits, and he proudly recalls how popular they were across the region. He describes how his parents disciplined them. Several of his relatives struggled with alcoholism and other addictions, and he discusses why such problems were common in mill towns. He ends the interview by talking about all the changes that have taken place since he started as a mill worker early in the century.
    Excerpts
  • Mill family life
  • Jobs various family members held
  • The hierarchy of mill employees
  • Child labor, education, and family labor system
  • Paternalism toward mill managers
  • Informal medical practitioners
  • Layout of the mill and necessary working skills
  • The hierarchy of mill employees
  • Working culture inside the textile mill
  • Practical jokes, hazing, and race in the mill
  • Entertainment in the working community
  • Playing guitar for the Chatham Rabbits
  • Playing guitar for the Chatham Rabbits
  • Effect of the credit system on southern workers
  • Segregation of the mills and its eventual end
  • Jobs various family members held
  • The Civil War and regional identity
  • Mill families and discipline of children
  • Sexual harrassment in the mills
  • Alcohol use and abuse in the mill village
  • Mill workers move for greater opportunities
  • Adding electricity to the mill
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Children--Employment--North Carolina
  • Textile workers--North Carolina--Social conditions
  • Bynum (N.C.)--Social life and customs
  • 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.