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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Burlington in Alamance County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
 

Women in the Mill Village

 
 
Women in the Mill Village Marker image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
1. Women in the Mill Village Marker
Inscription. The first waves of migration off the farms were primarily single women and widows. Since these women had limited access to land, they were eager to take the steady work and housing the textile mills provided. An example of this was Bynum, North Carolina in 1880, where widows headed nine of the fourteen households in the mill village.

Economically, women mill workers were a valuable asset to mill owners. Earning 60% of a man’s wage, owners saw women as cheap, unskilled labor, and therefore sought them out for employment. Once inside the mill, the labor force was often separated by sex. Women worked as spinners and weavers, while men performed more of the skilled work, heavier jobs, and supervisory tasks.

Women played a vital role in the farm family, from cooking, cleaning, and rearing children to gardening and fieldwork. When families moved to the mill villages, married women with children often faced the dual responsibilities of managing the household and working in the mill. Mill village women moved in and out of millwork as babies were born and the family’s domestic situation changed. The numbers of married women and mothers entering the mill grew as child labor laws kept young children from working, and economic necessity forced both parents to seek paid employment.

It was a job. I’d get up at five
Women in the Mill Village Marker image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
2. Women in the Mill Village Marker
o’clock in the mornings, because you had to be at work at six. I got up in the morning and I’d make the dough and have biscuits for my children, so whenever they got up they’d put it in the oil stove oven and cook them. Then we’d come home and do a washing, and you had to wash on a board outdoors and boil your clothes and make your own lye soap. It was just a day of drudgery, but with God’s help, I got it done.
Edna Hargett, weaver in Chadwick-Hoskins Mill, Charlotte, North Carolina


Sexual harassment affected women mill workers more often than men. Without laws to protect female employees from workplace discrimination, women often had to fend for themselves. Some men tried to intimidate women by shouting and using profanity. Single women often felt dating pressure from their supervisors.

Though excluded from nearly all jobs in the mills, black women filled a vital need in the mill village. Mill families sometimes employed black women as domestic workers to clean homes and keep children while parents worked in the mill. Wages were extremely low, and taking care of mill workers’ children kept black women away from their own homes and families.

In the mill village, women served as the fabric that kept the community strong. With closely positioned houses, women developed a social culture of visiting and gossiping with neighbors.
Women in the Mill Village Marker image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
3. Women in the Mill Village Marker
Because homes had no air conditioning, this visiting usually took place on front porches. From there, women learned the news of the town, and fostered a close community where everyone knew each other’s troubles, hardships, triumphs, and joys.
 
Location. 36° 8.292′ N, 79° 25.65′ W. Marker is near Burlington, North Carolina, in Alamance County. Marker is on Glencoe Street, on the left when traveling west. Touch for map. Glencoe Village is 3 miles north of Burlington, NC from NC Highway 62. Marker is in this post office area: Burlington NC 27215, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. African Americans in the Mill Village (here, next to this marker); Calling the Mill Village 'Home' (here, next to this marker); Men in the Mill Village (a few steps from this marker); Working the Shift (a few steps from this marker); Children in the Mill Village (a few steps from this marker); After the Whistle Blows (a few steps from this marker); A Legacy of Community (within shouting distance of this marker); Cotton Dust and Poverty (within shouting distance of this marker). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Burlington.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. To better understand the relationship, study each marker in the order
Woman at beam warper, November, 1908. image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
4. Woman at beam warper, November, 1908.
Cherryville, North Carolina
shown.
 
Also see . . .
1. Glencoe Textile Heritage Museum. (Submitted on July 8, 2010, by Patrick G. Jordan of Burlington, North Carolina.)
2. Glencoe Research Forum. This website provides information on historic Glencoe Mill and the restored mill village. (Submitted on July 8, 2010, by Patrick G. Jordan of Burlington, North Carolina.) 
 
Additional keywords. Alamance Cotton Mill, Glencoe, Fabric, Textiles, Company Shops, Holt,
 
Categories. 20th CenturyIndustry & CommerceNotable Places
 
Mary, Daisy, Clara and Annie Philips image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
5. Mary, Daisy, Clara and Annie Philips
Workers in Whitnel Cotton Mills, December, 1908. Whitnel, North Carolina.
Rhythm of the Factory Series of Markers image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
6. Rhythm of the Factory Series of Markers
Life and Labor in North Carolina's Textile Mill Communities
Rhythm of the Factory Series of Markers - on the Glencoe Mill Building image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
7. Rhythm of the Factory Series of Markers - on the Glencoe Mill Building
Glencoe Mill image. Click for full size.
By Patrick G. Jordan, June 27, 2010
8. Glencoe Mill
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 8, 2010, by Patrick G. Jordan of Burlington, North Carolina. This page has been viewed 726 times since then and 18 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 8, 2010, by Patrick G. Jordan of Burlington, North Carolina.   5. submitted on July 11, 2010, by Patrick G. Jordan of Burlington, North Carolina.   6, 7, 8. submitted on July 8, 2010, by Patrick G. Jordan of Burlington, North Carolina. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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