Title: Oral History Interview with James Pharis, July 24, 1977. Interview H-0038.
Interviewer: Kuhn, Cliff
Interviewee: Pharis, James
Abstract: James Pharis began his work life in the late 1880s at twelve or thirteen years of age. He always wanted to be a supervisor, and eventually got his wish, holding supervisory positions in Rhode Island and North Carolina, and managing a weaving room in South America. He rose to a leadership position in his union as well, taking over leadership of his chapter of the United Textile Workers in the 1920s. In this interview, Pharis describes his work life, moving from mill to mill and climbing the ranks of textile mill employment over the course of his forty-year career. He recalls the tumultuous union activity of the 1930s, when efforts to organize his mill dissolved despite workers' openness to the idea; the training courses that helped him develop an enlightened management style; and some of the changes that took place in the textile industry over his forty years in it. He looks back fondly on his career, and just as he improved his position, climbing from a teenage spinner to supervisor, he thinks the industry has steadily improved as well. This interview offers researchers the unique perspective of a middle manager in the textile industry.