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Oral History Interview with Edna Y. Hargett, July 19, 1979. Interview H-0163. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Edna Yandell Hargett grew up in a working class family. Originally from Camden, South Carolina, Hargett's family lived for a time in Rock Hill and Burlington, North Carolina, as well as Charleston, South Carolina. By the early 1920s, they had settled in Charlotte, North Carolina, where they lived in the mill village, North Charlotte. Most children of mill workers, Hargett explains, left school in order to start working in the mills when they were sixteen. Hargett dropped out of school around the age of fourteen; still too young to work in the mills, she was sent by her father to work in a local dime store. At that point, the family was living in Charleston, and Hargett took advantage of an opportunity to attend Hughes Business College, where she studied stenography. Her studies were halted when the family moved to North Charlotte, however, and she went to work in the textile mills. According to Hargett, because of mill traditions, parents would train their children, and she describes how her father taught her how to weave. Once she was trained, the mill hired her, and she worked in various Charlotte mills for the next several decades. Shortly after she became a skilled weaver and smash hand in the textile mills, Hargett married. Because she was only seventeen, she and her husband-to-be traveled to South Carolina, with her father as an escort, where they were married. Within a year, she had given birth to the first of her three sons. Hargett describes the effort of caring for her family while continuing to work at the mill. Like most of the other mill families, Hargett had the help of an African American nursemaid, which was particularly important following her divorce. She also received help from the close-knit mill community. Because they worked together and lived together, the inhabitants of the North Charlotte mill village were like "one big family," one she discusses throughout the interview.
  • Portrait of life in mill villages
  • Class distinctions and expectations in Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Courtship and marriage
  • Working community's customs regarding childbearing and childrearing
  • Love offerings and visiting in working communities
  • Various community activities in mill villages
  • The work of a weaver
  • Strategies for and purposes of hastening the pace of work
  • Pranks and workplace congeniality
  • Surviving during the Great Depression
  • Decision to divorce
  • Gathering in homes to listen to the radio or to play music and dance
  • Reflection on life history
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Farm life--North Carolina
  • Women in the textile industry
  • 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.