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Oral History Interview with Betty and Lloyd Davidson, February 2 and 15, 1979. Interview H-0019. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Lloyd and Betty Parker Davidson both grew up in Danville, Virginia, during the 1910s and 1920s before settling in Burlington, North Carolina, in 1932. The interview begins with a focus on Betty's family experiences while growing up. She describes how her parents shared a loom at the Dan River Cotton Mill, which her mother operated during the summer months while her father farmed. Like many other young people of her generation, Betty left school at the age of sixteen out of economic necessity in order to go work in the mills. While working as a weaver at the Dan City Silk Mill, Betty met Lloyd Davidson. In 1932, they moved to Burlington, North Carolina, to seek employment at the Plaid Mill. By that time, Jim Copland had moved from Danville to become superintendent of the Plaid Mill, and the Davidsons were able to get a job because of Betty's father's friendship with Copland. Betty and Lloyd were married shortly thereafter. They describe some of the leisure activities they enjoyed as a young married couple of limited economic means. Both worked as weavers at the Plaid Mill throughout the Depression years. At the time of the interview in 1979, Betty had worked as a weaver for nearly five decades; Lloyd, meanwhile, left the profession in 1956 to work for Melville Dairy. The Davidsons devote considerable attention to discussing their work as weavers, focusing primarily on the 1930s and 1940s, when technological advances drastically increased the number of looms individual weavers operated. In addition, they describe their day-to-day workplace experiences, explaining how working "on production" differed from working for hourly wages; the difficulty of working long hours with few breaks; their interactions with other workers and with their employers; the role of the Copland family in the Burlington textile industry; and their perception of labor unrest in the North Carolina Piedmont during the Depression years.
  • Family labor system and blending farm work with mill work for self-sufficiency
  • Learning how to be a weaver
  • Courtship and leisure activities for young people in a working community
  • Impact of modernization in weaving
  • Jim Copland and management of textile mills in the Piedmont
  • Leisure activities of working people
  • Boarding houses for textile workers
  • Experiences as weavers at the Plaid Mill
  • Brief participation in a mid-1930s strike at the Plaid Mill
  • Workplace hazards of weaving
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  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • 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.