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Oral History Interview with Thomas Henderson, October 28, 1999. Interview K-0228. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Thomas Henderson was born in Brookneal, Virginia, in 1914. His family roots in that area (Henderson's family had a small farm that was worked by tenant farmers) date back to the Civil War. Henderson describes growing up in this small agricultural community. In the early 1930s, Henderson attended Lynchburg College and East Carolina Teachers' College, each for one year. After finishing a year of study at East Carolina as one of the first male students in 1932, Henderson left school out of economic necessity and began working for the tobacco industry. Henderson quickly became a tobacco buyer and remained in that position for the duration of his career, eventually becoming one of the most respected tobacco buyers for tobacco companies such as Liggett & Myers, the Greenville Tobacco Company, and Philip Morris. Henderson focuses primarily on his work for the tobacco industry in the 1930s and 1940s, and life in Greenville, North Carolina, which he explains was a "tobacco town" until World War II. In addition, Henderson explains the establishment of gradation policies for the tobacco industry as a New Deal reform measure, the process of buying and selling tobacco at auction, and changes in tobacco farming.
    Excerpts
  • An African American tenant farmer defies the odds
  • Low ratio of male to female students at Eastern Carolina Teachers' College
  • Family heritage and memories of the Civil War
  • Description of tobacco processing from superintendent's perspective
  • Trying to balance work and family
  • Tobacco regulation during the New Deal
  • Transformations in tobacco farming during the 1930s and 1940s
  • Negative impression of the entrance of female buyers and sellers in the tobacco industry
  • Pride in skilled work of tobacco buying
  • A tobacco town in transition
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Tobacco workers--North Carolina
  • Tobacco--Moral and ethical aspects--United States
  • Tobacco--North Carolina
  • Henderson, Thomas, 1914-
  • East Carolina University
  • Confederate States of America--Social conditions
  • 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.