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Textile Heritage of Gaston County, North Carolina

Basic Industry Information and Background

The Workers and Mill Town Life

  • 051 N. The Faces of Five Decades: Selections from Fifty Years of the New Republic, 1914-1964. "Loom Dance" by Sherwood Anderson. p.176.
    This article from April 1930, describes an incident in a southern mill when an efficiency expert was brought in to analyze and improve workflow with a stopwatch.
  • 261 P NC. Millhands & Preachers by Liston Pope.
    This study, published in 1942, examined the relationship of the churches in Gaston County to the mill owners and millhands, especially in regard to the 1929 strike.
  • 261.8 E NC. Spindles and Spires: A Re-study of Religion and Social Change in Gastonia by John R. Earle, et. al.
    A re-examination of the relationship of labor and the churches published 30 years after Pope's book.
  • 305.9677 AND NC. Social Consequences of Economic Restructuring in the Textile Industry: Change in a Southern Mill Village by Cynthia D. Anderson.
    A sociological study, published in 2000, of how life is changing in the mill towns today, focusing on Kannapolis in Cabarrus County.
  • 305.9677 L NC. Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World by Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, et. al.
    Go to the accompanying web site here:
  • 309.175 B NC. Linthead: growing up in a Carolina cotton mill village, by Wilt Browning. This memoir is a look at mill hill life from the 1940s through the early '50s in Easley, South Carolina.
  • 309.175 H NCC. Passing of the mill village: revolution in a Southern institution.
  • 309.175 P NCC. Cotton mill people of the Piedmont; a study in social change, by Marjorie A. Potwin.
  • 331.76 M NCC. Mill family: the labor system in the Southern cotton textile industry, 1880-1915 by Cathy L. McHugh. Examines the employment of family workers and schooling in the mill villages using archival material from the Alamance Mill, a cotton textile mill in North Carolina.
  • 331.767 SIM NCC. Southern textile communities by William Hays Simpson, includes cotton mill communities in Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama.
  • 331.7677 R NCC. Some Southern Cotton Mill Workers and Their Villages by Jennings J. Rhyne.
    This description of Gaston County was published in 1930, but the research had been completed before the 1929 strike.
  • 331.88 BYR NCC. Tangled : organizing the southern textile industry, 1930-1934 by Travis Sutton Byrd. Exploration of the North Carolina textile industry, probing more broadly the 1929 labor strikes and connects them with the events of 1934 and a larger, economically depressed North Carolina over a five year period.
  • 920 B NC. Hard Times Cotton Mill Girls: Personal Histories of Womanhood and Poverty in the South by Victoria Byerly.
    Interviews with women, both white and black, about the grim realities of life as a textile worker. Most worked in Kannapolis, Thomasville or Greensboro.
  • Child Labor in the Cotton Mills by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill includes oral history, photographs and writing about child labor in the mills.
    Go to:
  • Standing on a Box : Lewis Hine's National Child Labor Committee Photographs, 1908 North Carolina Humanities Council. “Standing on a Box,” directed by Carol Reinhardt of the Gaston County Public Library, used photographs taken in 1908 by Lewis Hine, a sociologist, reformer, and National Child Labor Committee photojournalist, to explore child labor conditions in textile mills at the turn of the nineteenth century.
    Go to:
  • National Child Labor Committee Collection [Library of Congress] includes child labor photographs taken from 1908 to 1924.
    Go to:
  • Child Labor in America 1908 – 1912 is a collection of Lewis Hine's photos of child workers.
    Go to:

Bibliographies and Aids to Further Research

  • R016.8108 RAN. Women and Children of the Mills: An Annotated Guide to Nineteenth-Century American Textile Factory Literature by Judith A. Ranta.
    Covers the mill industry before it came to the South.
  • The Cotton Industry in North Carolina includes several bibliographies on the North Carolina cotton industry done by staff of the Joyner Library's North Carolina Collection at East Carolina University.
    Go to:
  • The Southern Textile Association is a nonprofit organization for individuals in the textile and related industries. It is located in Gastonia, NC.
    Go to:


Magazines relating to the textile industry.

  • Textile Industries
  • Textile World
  • R070 T. Textiles Review (1946 - 1978)
  • R070 TIC. Ti-Caro Views (1979 - 1987)


  • A & E News and Views (Mount Holly, N.C.) (September 1, 1966 – December 1, 1968). Titles used: A & E news and views: for and by the employees of American and Efird Mills, Inc.
    Go to:
  • The Fieldcrest Mill Whistle (Spray, N.C.) (July 20, 1942 – June 19, 1978). Includes the Mount Holly Spinning Mill (Mount Holly, N.C.), purchased by Fieldcrest in 1963.
    Go to:
  • Firestone News (Gastonia, N.C.) (May 5, 1952 – May 1, 1993).
    Go to:

Textile Directories

Davison's Textile Blue Book (The Blue Book Textile Directory) is an annual directory of mills, dyers, finishers, converters and jobbers in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Central America. It also includes a Buyers Guide containing various suppliers to the textile industry including machinery, chemicals, supplies and services. Various editions of Davison's Textile Blue Book are available online.


Author: Gaston County Public Library
Title: Textile Heritage of Gaston County, NC
Revised: 18 November 2021

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