Title: Oral History Interview with Edna Y. Hargett, July 19, 1979. Interview H-0163.
Identifier: H-0163
Interviewer: Leloudis, Jim
Interviewee: Hargett, Edna Y.
Subjects: Farm life--North Carolina    Women in the textile industry    
Extent: 02:01:38
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.