2014 – Cotton Mill Culture

The Textile Mill Culture

October 3-4, 2014
Gardner-Webb University

In our attempt to explore the many facets of the whole of Southern Appalachian culture our mission is to educate in ways that lead to greater understanding of Southern Appalachia, this year the cotton mill culture. As much as from any ethnic culture the kinds of responses to life that developed in the mill villages have contributed to Southern Appalachia and to areas in widening circles around the country. You can find more information about Southern Appalachia at essaydb.net.

The “New South” that emerged after the Civil War was partly characterized by the rise of southern industrialists who worked to diversify the southern economy away from an overdependence on agriculture.  The main thrust of this movement was to take the cotton grown in the South and produce textile products here instead of exporting the cotton to the North and then purchasing northern textile products.  In the late nineteenth century, the “Cotton Mill Campaign” spread all over the southern Piedmont and people flocked to the new mill villages for employment.  People brought their rural ways to the mill villages and a new type of working class developed.  Not only did farmers from the Piedmont come to the mills for employment and the hope of a better way of life, but mountain folk also moved to the mill villages.  Mountain or hillbilly music was soon heard in the villages and the music style became popular among mill workers.

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