The CHW Releases “Stories of the Mills”

The Community Histories Workshop would like to announce the release of Stories of the Mills, the first round of transcribed oral history interviews relating to Rocky Mount Mills. Many of these interviews were conducted during the Rocky Mount Mills Worker Reunion event on October 29, 2016, and they tell the story of life at the Mills. All six oral histories are hosted on Prospect, a web-based plugin for WordPress. They include not only the interviews themselves but also transcriptions of each interview that correspond to the ongoing conversations. These interviews are a window into the past of Rocky Mount Mills. Lorene Smith was born in the mill village and began working at the Mills before World War II. In her interview, she offers an overview of her forty-year career working in the spinning room. In contrast, Tommy Moss and David Rackley only worked at Rocky Mount Mills during high school, but their interviews still describe growing up in the mill village...
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New Pinboard Visualization Released

The Community Histories Workshop has recently created a new digital exhibit to explore the history of Rocky Mount Mills. Similar to the Digital Archive, this exhibit uses Prospect, a web-based plugin for WordPress. It is based on Prospect’s Pinboard visualization function and allows the user to explore spatial connections between historical sources relating to Rocky Mount Mills and the geography of the mill and surrounding mill village. We began our construction of the Rocky Mount Mills Pinboard Visualization with an aerial shot of the mill taken by Rocky Mount Evening & Sunday Telegram photographer Charles Killebrew. Based on our research, we believe that the images dates from sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s. The photograph provides a detailed perspective on the Tar River in the foreground, the mill, and the streets of the mill village, and downtown Rocky Mount is even visible in the background. We chose this specific image because it displays important culture structures that were town...
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Prospect and the Rocky Mount Mills Digital Archive

This week, we’re launching the first iteration of Digital Rocky Mount Mills. This first project phase--an archive of digitized images--uses a digital humanities platform called Prospect to exhibit these materials. Prospect is a free WordPress plugin, developed by the University of North Carolina’s Digital Innovation Lab (DIL). Dr. Michael Newton, the DIL’s technology lead, created Prospect based on DH Press, the lab’s first digital humanities platform. The DIL’s most recent digital humanities project, Digital Loray, makes similar use of Prospect’s ability to convey data correlations and connections and serves as a model for the Rocky Mount Mills Project. Prospect visualizes many types of data but is particularly well-suited to display images, such as the 300 images related to Rocky Mount Mills. We will continue to expand the Rocky Mount Mills Project to include more images and other types of data pending future image digitization and data creation. This archive, like the “Loray Digital Archive,” will emphasize community provided content, and...
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The Civil War Comes to Rocky Mount Mills

In the predawn hours of July 20, 1863, Union troops under the command of Major Ferris Jacobs of the Third New York Cavalry rode into Rocky Mount, North Carolina, intending to destroy the vital railroad bridge across the Tar River. They successfully burned the bridge, before turning their guns and torches to the rest of Rocky Mount. By the time Jacobs’s forces left town, they’d burned a railroad train and the city depot, the local telegraph office, a smaller county-operated bridge across the river, a four-story tall flour mill, Confederate supplies waiting for shipment, cotton bales, and around thirty wagons. In Jacobs’s own words “the destruction of property was large and complete.”  Among the most important of their targets was Rocky Mount Mills. Union  burned the building to the ground, stalling operations for years and changing the course of the mill’s history. Military raids were common throughout the Civil War, but the situation in eastern North Carolina during 1863 meant that...
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