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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Nell Putnam Sigmon, December 13, 1979. Interview H-0143. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Impact of the New Deal on workers; working with other women

Shortly after Sigmon began working in the glove company, various pieces of workers' rights legislation began changing her work environment. She especially remembers the institution of the eight-hour day. She also talks about how much she enjoyed working with the other women who sewed and describes how gender determined what job an employee would have.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Nell Putnam Sigmon, December 13, 1979. Interview H-0143. 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

NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
NRA. That's when that come along, and people was only allowed so many hours' work.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Do you remember when they started the eight-hour day?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Yes. I had just started when they passed that bill.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did the company managers come in and tell you that they were going to start doing that, or how did you learn about it?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
It was just all textile plants. They had to abide by their rules. The President passed that law, and everybody had to go along with it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you think it was a good thing?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Yes. Because I think sitting and sewing so many hours is enough. You don't have to get out in the open and things like that.
JACQUELYN HALL:
When you started working, did you miss being out in the open?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
No, not too much, because you're with your friends and you have a good time at work, and when you go home you enjoy being at home.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What kind of good times would you have at work?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
We'd just talk and laugh [laughter] with the friends. We were all dumb, learning. [laughter] You know how it is. You'd make mistakes and…
JACQUELYN HALL:
So you could talk while you were sewing?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Yes. See, we were sitting close together, one on each side, a row up this way and a row up just opposite you. You was about that far apart, across from your neighbor.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you sit next to girls that you already knew before you went to work?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
No. We just had to learn from the beginning. Some were older, and some maybe was a little younger. But I enjoyed it. It was something different, and I knew I was growing up and I'd like to get out and make me some money.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What did you do with your money?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
You know, helped the others some, the rest of the family, Mother and… I don't know. You just find places.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was there anything that you didn't like about that work?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
No. Mother sewed a lot. We'd get material, and she'd make us clothes. We didn't go to the store and buy everything that we wore like they do now. You don't find people that sew like they used to.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Were there all women sewers?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why was that?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Men don't sew.
JACQUELYN HALL:
In the glove mill, men don't sew?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
No. They turned and steamed the gloves to get them ready to ship.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How long did you work at Conover Glove?
NELL PUTNAM SIGMON:
Several year.