CSU Archives

Mill Worker Oral History Collection (MC 109)

Historical Information Permission to Publish
Scope and Content Box and Folder List

Historical Information

Columbus developed as an important textile manufacturing center in the South because of its strategic location on the Chattahoochee River. The mills developed early, but were destroyed during the Civil War. The mills were able to rebuild and prosper, and by 1880, Muscogee County led the South in textile production. Many mills have been located in Columbus.

The Eagle and Phenix Mill was established in 1851 as the Eagle Factory and it became the largest single textile mill in the antebellum south. After completely rebuilding following the Civil War, it was renamed the Eagle and Phenix Mill. It remained in local ownership until 1948. Muscogee Manufacturing Company was established in 1867 and expanded periodically before being merged with Fieldcrest Mills, Inc. in 1963. Swift Manufacturing Company has continued operations since 1882.

The oral histories of the collection include information about a wide variety of mills during the 1930s-1980s. Significant trends recorded in the histories that are common to most of the mills during this time are the incorporation of air conditioning, improvement in air quality, growing use of mechanical equipment, and desegregation. (Information gathered from City of Progress: A History of Columbus, Georgia, 1828-1978, by Margaret Laney Whitehead and Barbara Bogart, Columbus, GA: Columbus Office Supply Co., 1978.)

Scope and Content

The Mill Worker Oral History Collection consists of 41 audio tapes, 29 of which are transcribed, of interviews with employees of textile mills in the Columbus area. Most interviews have typed transcripts, though some are handwritten. The interviews were conducted as part of a class at Columbus State University in 1988. The subjects were employees of the Bibb Manufacturing Company, Swift Textiles, Inc. (Swift Manufacturing Company), Muscogee Manufacturing, Eagle and Phenix Mill, Meritas Mill, and many others. Most were employed at the mills between c. 1935 and the interview date in 1988.

The oral histories include memories about a variety of subjects: the Depression; moving from farm and rural life to the city; segregation; WWII; women in the mills; technical information about the machines and products being manufactured; relations between supervisors, bosses, and others; life in a mill town; disability and retirement compensation; relations between mill workers and other residents of Columbus; race relations; and viewpoints of children of the mill workers.

Permission to Publish

Permission to publish material from the Mill Workers Oral Histories Collection must be obtained from the Columbus State University Archives. Use of the following credit line for publication or exhibit is required:

Mill Workers Oral Histories Collection (MC 109)
Columbus State University Archives
Columbus, Georgia

Box and Folder List

Box 1
Folder 1 Adkins, Josephine 26 Feb 1988 Audio tape, 21 page typed transcript, release form
Folder 2 Autrey, Willie P. 7 Mar 1988 Audio tape, 20 page typed transcript, release form
Folder 3 Bailey, Celia 18 Feb 1988 Audio tape, 16 page typed transcript, release form
Folder 4 Baker, Vera 12 Feb 1988 2 audio tapes, release form
Folder 5 Biggs, Aphonso Speech 21 Feb 1988 Audio tape of speech at Rosehill Baptist Church, 1 typed explanation, 1 newspaper article
Folder 6 Brumbelow, Wesley 13 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, 2 13 page typed transcripts, 1 written transcript, several photographs, release form
Folder 7 Butler, Lester 3 Mar 1988 1 audio tape, 1 5 1/4" computer disk, 1 16 page typed transcript, release form
Folder 8 Cooper, Julia 29 Jan 1988 1 audio tape, release form
Folder 9 Cox, Evelyn 11 Jun 1988 1 auido tape, release on tape
Folder 10 Cox, Raymon 18 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, 1 14 page typed transcript, 1 written transcript, release form
Folder 11 Dorse, Dorothy 10 Mar 1988 1 audio tape, 1 21 page typed transcript, 1 written transcript, release form
Folder 12 Garrett, W. O. 9 Mar 1988 1 audio tape, release form
Folder 13 Hall, Travis 11 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, 2 18 page typed transcripts, release form
Folder 14 Harden, Harry 16 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, 1 5 1/4" computer disk, 1 written transcript, release form
Folder 15 Harden, Harry, Bob Herring, Frank Kelly, Mr. Dunaway 17 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, release form for Harry Harden
Folder 16 Harrison, John 14 Mar 1988 1 audio tape, release form
Folder 17 Hubbard, Eric G. 17 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, release form
Folder 18 Johnson, Jessie 15 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, 1 15 page typed transcript, release form
Box 2
Folder 1 Lamb, Georgia 6 Mar 1988 1 audio tape, 1 18 page typed transcript, release form
Folder 2 Lankford,Iva 19 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, 2 typed 17 page transcripts, 1 written transcript, release form
Folder 3 McGhee, Richard 21 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, 1 typed 17 page transcript, release form
Folder 4 Mollet, Brenda and Maria Meltzer 8 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, 1 typed 24 page transcript, release form
Folder 5 Morris, Luther 10 Mar 1988 1 audio tape, release form
Folder 6 Passmore, Robert 6 Mar 1988 1 written 25 page transcript, release form
Folder 7 Patterson, Beulah and Robert Passmore 6 Mar 1988 1 written 23 page transcript
Folder 8 Perry, Ophelia 23 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, 4 typed 13 page transcripts, release form
Folder 9 Pippin, Eulis 16 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, 3 typed 15 page transcripts, 1 written transcript, release form
Folder 10 Pope, Brady 8 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, release form
Folder 11 Purks, W. W. 22 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, release form
Folder 12 Schofe, Kathy 27 Mar 1988 1 audio tape, release form
Folder 13 Shavers, James E. 16 Feb 1988 2 typed 24 page transcripts, release form
Folder 14 Smith, Reuben 1 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, 4 typed 7 page transcripts, 1 written transcript, release form
Folder 15 Stephens, Martha 26 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, 1 typed 11 page transcript, release form
Folder 16 Tucker, I. V. 10 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, 4 typed 12 page transcripts, 1 written transcript, release form
Folder 17 Watson, Dora L. 4 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, 2 typed 34 page transcripts, release form
Folder 18 Wilks, Betty 12 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, 2 typed 17 page transcripts, release form
Folder 19 Wilks, Melvin 12 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, 2 typed 19 page transcripts, release form
Folder 20 Wright, Henry G. 23 Feb 1988 1 audio tape, 1 newspaper article (18 August, 1985, Ledger), release form
Folder 21 Unknown 3 unknown audio tapes