K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

About this recording

Eula McGill interviewed by Jacquelyn Hall, Atlanta, Georgia, February 1976. Interviews #G-39 and G-40 in the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Southern Oral History Program
Date created
This recording copyright ©2004. All Rights Reserved
Original audio housed by UNC Libraries / Documenting the American South

See this recording in context

  • North Carolina in the New South: Primary sources and readings explore North Carolina in the decades after the Civil War (1870–1900). Topics include changes in agriculture, the growth of cities and industry, the experiences of farmers and mill workers, education, cultural changes, politics and political activism, and the Wilmington Race Riot. (Page 3.5)
  • North Carolina History: A Sampler: A sample of the more than 800 pages of our digital textbook for North Carolina history, including background readings, various kinds of primary sources, and multimedia. Also includes an overview of the textbook and how to use it. (Page 5.2)

In the classroom

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Eula McGill talks about her dislike of work and how show would get through her day.


Jacquelyn Hall
What did you do? I mean, what did you think about while you were standing? How did your mind work in order to get yourself to stay in there?
Eula McGill
You didn’t have no time to think; you were watching those ends, and if they’d break down you had to be there to put them back up.
Jacquelyn Hall
You had to really concentrate on your job?
Eula McGill
You had to concentrate on that job.
Jacquelyn Hall
It never got to be just automatic? You had to really concentrate?
Eula McGill
Oh no, no, you had to watch it. You had to set in your roving, you had to clean those machines; you had to clean all your cleaning, pick rollers. You had to pick out lint, take the clapboards, they called them, (boards that you put on the top of the rollers), take them off, you had to clean those things twice a day. You had to wipe and clean all under that roving and keep those machines clean—plus you had to run the machines. And I guarantee that it was tough.
Jacquelyn Hall
What would happen if you got behind?
Eula McGill
We used to call it getting “stuck up.” There were so many ends coming down; the machines would run on. An end would break—maybe a slub would come through and break the end. It would break off coming through the . . . sometimes the roving wouldn’t be right. It would be too weak and it would break before it even got in to the roller. Well, when that broke down it didn’t bother you, because it just meant you’d have a less spool to pick up. But cotton didn’t just come out and ball up. But you had rollers under there that caught the cotton when an end would break, and the roving would keep coming through. Well, if you didn’t get there pretty quick so much would get around there that it would fall out and tear all those others down, and then you’d call yourself getting “stuck up.”
Jacquelyn Hall
And what would happen? What would you do? Would that hold up other people?
Eula McGill
Well, you could not catch up unless you had help. Well, I had a couple of good people that were good spinners near me, and they helped me a lot. I couldn’t have made it if they hadn’t helped me, because I just absolutely was no good at the job. I didn’t like it, plus I just was not cut out to be a spinner. I was awkward at it.