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Oral History Interview with Thomas Burt, February 6, 1979. Interview H-0194-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Thomas Burt's wide array of jobs in and around Durham, North Carolina, ranged from working on a streetcar line to farming. Although he worked for only eighteen months in a tobacco factory, most of this interview is devoted to his experiences there. His descriptions of the factory contain many interesting and valuable details, from the lunchboxes full of irregularly cut cigarettes he and his fellow workers brought home after their shifts, to the swirling clouds of tobacco dust that would settle under feet and eventually become snuff, to the spirituals and blues songs the workers sang to pass the time. This interview provides a rich look at the tobacco industry in Durham in the first half of the twentieth century, as well as a portrait of a colorful character.
  • A string of jobs
  • Jubilation in Durham, North Carolina, on news of victory in WWI
  • Nostalgia for an era of low prices
  • Finding work and witnessing workplace accidents
  • Free rum and befouled snuff at a tobacco factory
  • A look inside a tobacco factory
  • Singing to pass the time at a tobacco factory
  • Leisure time at a tobacco factory: singing on the job or dozing on break
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • African American tobacco workers--North Carolina
  • 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.