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 and provide a community perspective into what it was like for the mill to close. Both Pearl Whitehurst and Lillian Harrison worked at the Mills for many years, but their stories shed light on different periods in the place’s history. Pearl first got a job as a sixteen-year-old in 1943, while Lillian began working in 1979. Lillian worked at the Mills until it closed in 1996, and her story sheds light on the impact that the closure had on long-time employees. As James Hargrove’s oral history shows, however, some mill employees remained tied to Rocky Mount Mills even after its closure. James worked at the Mills for a decade before it shuttered in 1996, but he is now employed by Capital Broadcasting and helps in the refurbishment of the Mills and mill village.

We’ll soon be posting more of the twenty oral histories that we’ve conducted, so watch this space.

We’d still like to talk to former workers about their memories of working at Rocky Mount Mills. If you’re interested in participating, you can sign up here. If you have questions or comments, email Elijah Gaddis: elijah.gaddis@auburn.edu.

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