This weekend I was able to get through the end of 1951. The Pacific Mills strike that year finally came to an end after 10 weeks. I found a few articles describing some violence – mostly attacks on mill workers – that might be of interest. Toward the end, the Columbia Record posted an editorial asking for the end of the strike based on its negative effect upon the town. Without 2,300+ people spending money as they normally would, it is not difficult to imagine a dip in the local economy! A few days before the strike was finally resolved, Pacific Mills posted a full-page message in the paper.
After the strike, I got the sense that the Pacific company and community were trying to stay out of the news. One article mentions that Pacific’s low earnings. It was a poor year for Olympia’s sports teams, but I did clip an article that gives a sense of how vicious some inter-Columbia sports matches could be.
As usual, I clipped many articles about issues facing specific S.C. mills or mills in the southeast more generally. One I found particularly interesting discussed the trend of mill workers buying their housing from mills. Another mentions textile industry concerns about a drop in the production of mill machinery.
For now, I plan to stop doing newspaper research. Now that I’m gainfully employed (!) and live farther from downtown, it is more difficult to do it as often as I’d like. I plan to complete a learning module on newspaper research (online and microfilm) by 10/5. I’ve discussed uploading articles to Omeka with Celia, and I plan to start working on that in October. I hope to attend a meeting and see you all soon!
I hope everyone had a great summer and you’re settling into the new semester. After an extended hiatus due to a ton of major life changes all at once, I found the time to stop by RCPL this weekend and get in a bit more newspaper research. We now have through mid-May 1951.
The most exciting event for early 1951 is Pacific Mills’ participation in a major southern textile strike. While there were a number of grievances, Southern workers were most adamant about having their pay raised to the equivalent of Northern textile workers. As of mid-May the strike, which began late March, was still ongoing.
Most of the articles I collected were about the strike, both locally and regionally. There are also several Pacific News social columns, a few sports pieces, and some articles about events at Olympia High School – such as the crowning of Miss Olympia!
I expect to be able to get onto campus to upload scans of articles less frequently than I was able to in the past. If you are interested in a specific article that I have not yet uploaded to the external hard drive, please feel free to email me. I look forward to seeing you all again soon!
I’ve been a bit lazy in terms of posting, but over the past few weeks I’ve made my way to the end of 1950. At the beginning of the year, the textile industry was struggling a bit, but had bounced back by the end in part due to the start of the Korean War.
I had high hopes when I came across articles describing pamphlets celebrating Pacific Mills’ 150th anniversary – but really, articles about Pacific Mills were a bit slim. The two major ones were the celebration of 285 days without lost time, and catching 5 men who had been stealing fabric from the mill. There was no mention of renewing a labor contract.
To this point, there has been no mention of Pacific Mills buying new equipment, unfortunately. I have collected quite a number of articles about other mills doing so – many that are not even in the Columbia area – so I am inclined to think it simply happened later than I had supposed.
The overwhelming majority of the articles discuss developments at individual mills in South Carolina, or the greater Southeastern textile industry. Of particular interest might be: the visit of British textile experts to Columbia Mill, several articles about the textile “recession” during the first half of 1950, and a very long – and eventually violent – strike at Greenville mill that resulted in an occupation by the National Guard.
I’ll leave you with an image that I find fascinating, both in terms of this project, but also as a resident & historic preservationist in Columbia: a map of city population based on specific districts. The Olympia district is so small, but still has a larger population than many of the geographically larger districts around it.
Good afternoon! In my research time, I was able to get through mid-September 1949. The major Pacific Mills news is an extended period of contract negotiations. Pacific workers renegotiate their contracts every year, and things have always gone smoothly in the past – they haven’t gone on strike since before WWII. This time around, they asked for more vacation days, and perhaps a lighter workload. The mill was resistant, and the workers were very close to going on strike. The final terms of the new contract were unclear from the newspaper coverage, unfortunately.
There were a number of articles about other South Carolina mills that I scanned as well. Some are about mechanization, but many are about employment instability. Columbia Mill fired several hundred workers earlier in the year, and then offered to bring some back on a temporary basis, for example. The tension between Northern and Southern mills is an ongoing article, but the issue of foreign competition was also referenced a number of times as well.
I found a number of pieces about goings-on at Olympia high (such as an “womanless” wedding put on as a fundraiser for the senior class). Perhaps most potentially useful though, was the Olympia article in the newspaper’s series on local schools. It includes a brief history/description of Olympia junior high and high school, as well as a complete list of all the students’ names.
Last week was crazy, but I finally managed to squeeze in my research time on Sunday. I’ve updated the spreadsheet, but I’ll wait to upload these files until I stop by the lab with this Friday’s set of research too.
I’ve now gotten to the beginning of April 1949. The Textron saga inspired several more articles concerning the better environment for the textile industry in the South than in New England. I also came across a number of articles regarding issues (technological changes, layoffs, etc.) at other mills.
Articles specific to Pacific were slim. Columbia went through a period of annexation, but it did not appear that the Olympia community was under consideration for annexation (though it was mentioned in an editorial). A full-page piece was published celebrating Granby Mill’s year of record safety that included some excellent images of the buildings, as well as some nurses. The high school and community sports teams had an excellent fall season – including a new league: the midgets and mites. (Elementary kids… aww) For fun, this image was included in a piece about the city’s job rehabilitation and training center. Giving a man glasses makes him a better worker!
Hours (last week): 4
Good afternoon! I’ve now progressed through October 1948.
Pacific workers renewed their contract in July – after a well-timed two week vacation. Only a weeks later, the labor union pushed mills throughout the Southeast to raise wages. Pacific followed suit. Rock Hill, notably, did not – I scanned a number of articles dealing with the strike.
Perhaps one of the most fascinating issues that came up has to deal with the Textron company, which owned mills in New England and South Carolina. (Very similar to Pacific) A huge controversy was stirred up when it was discovered that Textron planned to move all of its operations South to save on costs. South Carolina didn’t mind – New England certainly did. Glancing through this set of articles you’ll find a lot of interesting things – labor, cost of mechanization, materials, and community reactions.
As always, you’ll also find some lighter fare. Pacific Memorial Park hosted a dog show. The Olympia community helped contribute to city-wide efforts to support Columbia’s French sister city. And, of course, Olympia high school continued to excel in football.
We’re now into May 1948. I didn’t come across anything spectacular, but I did find plenty on Olympia High School – including a piece about their gardener. Each of the churches in the Olympia/Pacific community was profiled by the paper as well. In terms of employee benefits/life, I did come across an interesting short piece on TB testing at the mills. Also, a bill mandating air conditioning in textile mills was briefly discussed in the legislature, but appears to have been unsuccessful.
See you all next week!