Tobacco bag stringing
This article introduces the concept of tobacco bag stringing and discusses its importance as a source of income for women in North Carolina and Virginia during the Great Depression. Adapted for elementary students.
Adapted from Tobacco Bag Stringing: Life and Labor in the Depression.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, tobacco was an important crop. It was grown in many sections of North Carolina and Virginia. Many workers also worked in tobacco factories. Some of the tobacco was made into cigarettes and some was left loose so that the people who smoked could make their own cigarettes. The loose tobacco was kept in small cloth bags – tobacco bags. Tobacco companies hired people to put strings in the top of the bags so that they could be pulled shut. These tobacco bag stringers could work in their homes.
The tobacco bag stringers made money by finishing the bags. For example, a woman who put the strings in the bags could make about 50 cents for each one thousand bags she finished.
In the 1930s, the United States was in a time called the Great Depression. During these years many people did not have jobs and they did not have much money.
For some families, the money they made from putting the strings in the tobacco bags was very important. It helped the families buy food or pay for their homes.