Learning Exercise

Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World

In the 1920s the American textile industry moved south to avoid unions demanding higher wages, shorter hours, and better working conditions. This site contains images and interviews detailing life on the land, in the mill village and factory, and the origins of work protest.
Course: United States History

This site covers the making and unmaking of the mill village system for textile manufacturing in the Piedmont region of... see more


The web site begins with an overview of the project. The content of the web site is divided into Overview, Life on the Land, Mill Village and Factory, and Work and Protest. Each section contains important photographic images and interviews to hear.

Instructions: Read the following sections under Life on the Land: Changes in Agriculture, Survival, From Farm to Factory, Images, and Interviews; Mill Village and Factory: How Textile Mills Work, The Experiences of Mill Workers, Life in the Mill Village, Images, and Interviews; and Work and Protest: The 1920s Stretch Out, Strikes in 1929-30, The General Strike of 1934, Images, and Interviews. Read and Listen to all parts. Write a paper of 5-7 pages answering the following questions: 1) Was farming profitable in the South?, 2)Why did Southerners choose to move from farm work to factory work?, 3)What were the textile factory working conditions like?, 4) How did the textile mills work?, 5) What was life like in the mill villages, 6) Why did southern factory workers organize and strike?, 7) Were the strikes successful?, and 8) What was the future of a southern factory worker? Be sure to include information from the Images and Interviews for each section.


United States History
Labor History
Local and Regional History
Social History

Learning Objectives

To acquaint students with the industrialization of the South.
To acquaint students with the working and living conditions of American textile workers.
To acquaint students with the beginnings of union organization in the South.