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

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About this recording

From oral history interview with Alice P. Evitt, July 18, 1979. Interview H-0162. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).

Date created
July 18, 1979
This recording copyright ©2004. All Rights Reserved
Original audio housed by Documenting the American South / UNC Libraries

See this recording in context

  • Cotton mills from differing perspectives: Critically analyzing primary documents: In this lesson, students will read two primary source documents: a 1909 pamphlet exposing the use of child labor in the cotton mills of North Carolina, and a weekly newsletter published by the mill companies. Students will also listen to oral history excerpts from mill workers to gain a third perspective. In a critical analysis, students will identify the audiences for both documents, speculate on the motivations of their authors, and examine the historical importance of each document.

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Alice P. Evitt was born in 1898 and began working at the cotton mills near Charlotte, North Carolina in 1910 when she was 12 years old. She worked 12 hours a day, every day except Sunday, and earned 25 cents a day for her work. Here, she talks about the management’s treatment of the workers in the Highland Park cotton mill.


Alice Evitt
Back then, the boss man would get on you for nothing. Out to Highland Park, they was awful bad about that. My daddy was about to get in trouble — ’bout to whoop one of them bosses about getting on my sister so much. He’d get on her she’d go to the bathroom. He’d holler and go on at her that way, and he didn’t allow men to do like that. We quit then. I wasn’t workin’. They quit. He was about to get in trouble. He was about to whoop him, or try to whoop him. They’d do all them spinners that way. After I went to work in there, they knowed my daddy, they never did holler at me or nothing like that. But they would then when it was just — they’d be right mad at them, hollerin’ at them. Back then, the bosses, they just thought they could boss you around and make you do as they say do. They would them that would listen to them, but we never did listen to them, ‘cause my daddy told us not to. So, he knowed we wasn’t goin’ to do nothin’ wrong, but he wanted us to do our work right, and do right. They was just mean to people back them days. I never had them be mean to me that way. When I wanted off and couldn’t get off, course that wasn’t bein’ mean, they just needed me.
Jim Leloudis (interviewer)
What type of things would they fuss at you about?
Alice Evitt
I don’t know what they would do. Maybe your work’d be runnin’ bad and you couldn’t keep it up good. You’d be workin’ as hard as you could, and it would get all messed up. Some rollers choked up on it and you couldn’t help yourself. It wasn’t your fault, and they’d just raise cane with you about it. People doin’ all they could do, that’s all they could do. They thought they could do more than they could do. They’d get on ‘em and holler at them. You could hear them all over the plant — much fussin’s that made — you could hear them holler at people. I never had one to holler at me like that. I guess they would of, but I never did. But I sure did hear ‘em holler at t’other people. Of course, they don’t do that now, but they did then.