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

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LEARN NC is no longer supported by the UNC School of Education and has been permanently archived. On February 1st, 2018, you will only be able to access these resources through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. We recommend that you print or download resources you may need before February 1st, 2018, after which, you will have to follow these instructions in order to access those resources.

Child labor in North Carolina's textile mills
The photographs of Lewis Hine show the lives and work of children in North Carolina's textile mill villages in the first decades of the twentieth century.
Format: slideshow (multiple pages)
Railroads and tobacco mills in North Carolina, 1896
Railroads and tobacco mills in North Carolina, 1896
Format: image/map
Letter of April 7, 1939
In Tobacco bag stringing: Life and labor in the Depression, page 1.5
MORSE BAG COMPANY East Bend, North Carolina. April 7, 1939. Mr. Sherlock Bronson, Richmond, Virginia. Dear Sir: In compliance with your request of March 28th, I am glad to give you an idea of my experience in working with tobacco bags. My mother and father,...
Industrialization in North Carolina
In North Carolina in the New South, page 2.3
In North Carolina History: A Sampler, page 2.7
Industrialization needed five things -- capital, labor, raw materials, markets, and transportation -- and in the 1870s, North Carolina had all of them. This article explains the process of industrialization in North Carolina, with maps of factory and railroad growth.
Format: article
By David Walbert.
Tobacco mills in North Carolina, 1896
Tobacco mills in North Carolina, 1896
Map shows locations of tobacco factories in North Carolina, 1896. Present-day county boundaries are provided for reference.
Format: image/map
Workers' pay and the cost of living
In North Carolina in the New South, page 3.8
In this activity, students examine census records of North Carolina tobacco mills and retail prices of food to determine how much money factory workers made in "real dollars."
Format: activity
By David Walbert.
Tobacco bag stringing: Life and labor in the Depression
In The Great Depression and World War II, page 2.5
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, families throughout the tobacco-growing regions of North Carolina and Virginia earned much-needed income by sewing drawstrings into cotton tobacco bags. New Deal legislation intended to protect workers threatened to disrupt the livelihood of home workers, whose activities were largely unregulated. This article introduces a collection of primary sources about women who worked as tobacco bag stringers in the 1930s.
Format: article
Life on the land: The Piedmont before industrialization
In North Carolina in the New South, page 1.1
In the decades after the Civil War, commercial agriculture and industry made their way into the North Carolina Piedmont, requiring subsistence farmers to adapt their farms and their ways of life to new economic realities.
Format: article
By James Leloudis and Kathryn Walbert.
The textile industry and Winston-Salem
In North Carolina in the New South, page 2.9
Textiles were one of two industries that changed Winston-Salem and Forsyth County in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Format: article
The Bonsack machine and labor unrest
In North Carolina in the New South, page 3.7
When the Duke tobacco company adopted the Bonsack machine for rolling cigarettes, workers who had rolled cigarettes by hand were thrown out of work, and their replacements made less money.
Format: article
How the twenties roared in North Carolina
In North Carolina in the early 20th century, page 6.2
Brief history of North Carolina during the 1920s, when growth in cities, industry, and commerce changed people's lives -- though not always for the better.
Format: article
By Elizabeth Gillespie McRae.
The Great Depression and World War II
Primary sources and readings explore the history of North Carolina and the United States during the Great Depression and World War II (1929–1945).
Format: book (multiple pages)
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.
Format: (multiple pages)
"The mill don't need him tonight"
In The Great Depression and World War II, page 3.3
In North Carolina History: A Sampler, page 5.4
WPA interview with a Durham, North Carolina, girl about her family's experiences during the Great Depression. Includes historical commentary.
Format: interview/primary source
Commentary and sidebar notes by L. Maren Wood.
Eli Whitney and the cotton gin
In North Carolina in the New Nation, page 2.4
In 1794, inventor Eli Whitney patented his cotton gin, a machine for removing seeds from cotton. The invention made cotton production -- and with it, slave labor -- far more profitable, and it helped to cement the South's status as an agricultural region and a slave society.
Format: article
Expanding to the west: Settlement of the Piedmont region, 1730 to 1775
In Colonial North Carolina, page 5.1
The population of North Carolina's Piedmont region more than doubled in the decade from 1765 to 1775. Most of the settlers who arrived during that time were European Americans traveling from the North via the Great Indian Trading Path and the Great Wagon Road.
Format: article
By Christopher E. Hendricks and J. Edwin Hendricks.
Congress considers an inquiry into textile strikes
In North Carolina in the early 20th century, page 8.6
Newspaper article about a congressional debate about southern textile strikes, 1929. Includes historical background and commentary.
Format: newspaper/primary source
Commentary and sidebar notes by L. Maren Wood.
Small-town businesses, 1903
In North Carolina in the New South, page 2.10
In North Carolina History: A Sampler, page 9.5
Excerpts from The North Carolina Year Book and Business Directory, 1903, for the towns of Jefferson and Washington. Includes historical commentary.
Format: book/primary source
Commentary and sidebar notes by L. Maren Wood.
Growth and transformation: The United States in the Gilded Age
In North Carolina in the New South, page 2.1
Between the Civil War and the First World War, industry and cities grew at a tremendous pace in the United States.
Format: article
WBT Charlotte in the golden age of radio
In North Carolina in the early 20th century, page 1.12
Article about the history and development of North Carolina's first radio station, WBT Charlotte, which played an important role in the history of country music.
Format: article
By Emily Jack.