Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
During the late twentieth century, roughly between the 1970s and the 1990s, South Carolina’s textile industry experienced a crisis triggered by growing imports and modernization. This crisis led to mass layoffs and plant closures on a scale previously unheard-of within the Piedmont South and led to the death and decline of many textile-dominated towns across the state. This thesis explores this crisis and examines the reactions to the textile crisis by textile workers, industry leaders, and local leaders within these towns. It examines the actions taken by federal and state government officials to counter the causes and effects of the textile crisis. Utilizing correspondence from textile workers, government officials, and industry leaders, speeches from state leaders, and newspaper articles, this thesis argues that the reaction and action from the parties at play in South Carolina’s textile crisis underwent three separate stages between 1975 and 1990 – from denial to intense activism to disillusionment and silence. This thesis aims to place the experience of textile mills and textile-dominated towns into conversation with other works of deindustrialization in the United States and refute historiographical claims that textile workers were not politically active in the period after the Second World War.
Bedenbaugh, Cal Preston, ""Like a Death in the Family:" The Textile Crisis in South Carolina, 1965-1990" (2021). All Theses. 3558.