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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Arthur Little, December 14, 1979. Interview H-0132. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Gender traditions conscribe women's work

After briefly noting some of the relatively minor injuries at his glove-making factory, Little remembers that despite the traditional belief that women belong in the home, women did most of the glove production. So-called tradition did interfere with his wife's career, however, when she was forced out of her teaching job after getting married.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Arthur Little, December 14, 1979. Interview H-0132. 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

JACQUELYN HALL:
What about accidents? Is it dangerous, the cutting and
ARTHUR LITTLE:
Well, no. We've had some boys… Now this fellow that said he'd worked for us fourteen years got his hand mangled up in a press out here.
JACQUELYN HALL:
In a cutting press?
ARTHUR LITTLE:
Yes, he wasn't watching hisself and joking and going on. But that's the only bad injury we've had in the thirty-four years we've been in business.
JACQUELYN HALL:
It looked like you could easily get a needle in your finger on the sewing machine.
ARTHUR LITTLE:
Well, they do run the needles into their finger, but we've got guards on there. It's pretty hard to get them through there. We have had people to run a needle in their finger, but that don't amount to nothing. It scares them to death. It would me, too, .
JACQUELYN HALL:
Back, not in the forties when you started this mill, but when you were just watching the industry in the earlier years in the thirties, was there any feeling about it not being right for women to work? It always has been mostly women that were sewing the gloves.
ARTHUR LITTLE:
Oh, no.
JACQUELYN HALL:
There wasn't any feeling among people that women shouldn't …
ARTHUR LITTLE:
No. We've had people to say that a woman's place is in the home, but all the gloves that have been made in this country have been made by women. Oh, yes. Of course, they didn't have no labor laws back when I was a young boy, but I had a lot of girlfriends that I went to school with and all. They went to work at fourteen and fifteen years old. And some of them walked two and three miles to the factory, too. And they worked ten hours a day, some of them did, especially in the wintertime. No, there's never been no hard feelings.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did your wife quit teaching school after she got married?
ARTHUR LITTLE:
No. Well, she had to.
JACQUELYN HALL:
They wouldn't let married women teach?
ARTHUR LITTLE:
They wouldn't let married women teach. Then they come back on their knees begging her to teach. So she went back to teach the first year we started the glove factory. And she taught a total of thirty years, and she's retired now.