Date of Award

December 2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Member

H Roger Grant

Committee Member

Pamela E Mack

Committee Member

C Alan Grubb


The rise of the textile industry in the 20th century was a significant contributor to the economy of South carolina. In order to attract and retain critically needed labor, mill owners provided affordable housing by building villages in which workers and their families could live and from which workers could easily reach the mills. The physical conditions of these villages is well documented; however, there has been little or no documentation of the daily lives of the people who inhabited those villages. Since most of the residents are reaching advanced age, this gap must be filled promptly.

This research involved a series of eighteen interviews with individuals who had lived in the villages associated with four Anderson County, South Carolina, mills. Ten were mill employees, and eight were children or other relatives of mill workers. Interviews were based on a set of standard questions to promote consistency. Participants described their recollections of family life, food, clothing, religion, health care, education, discipline, and other topics.

The research found that, despite physically demanding work, hardships conditions, and material scarcity, the village residents were happy. Several said that it had been the happiest time of their lives. They expressed gratitude that they had lived there at that time. The research also found that, while there were observable physical differences between the two rural-area mills and the two town-based mills, location had little impact on the experience of the survey participants as far as contentment, family life, food, clothing, and other factors. In the mill villages they made more than fabrics---they made a strong, mutually supportive, emotionally rewarding community.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.