Business and Labor
Since its beginning, the SHC has acquired records of southern businesses and these records often also document the life and labor of southern workers. Early acquisitions chiefly concern agrarian enterprises, from the management of large southern plantations to the operation of small family farms. There are also records of operations such as general stores, blacksmith shops, drug stores, and feed and lumber suppliers. In the 1970s curators began to focus on twentieth-century business and labor materials, including records of banking, insurance, personal care product manufacture, and hardware and department stores. Records of some labor organizers also have been acquired. The experience of individual workers is reflected in interviews in the Southern Oral History Program Collection.
The SHC seeks records of business enterprises important to the southern economy, preferring documentation that spans several decades or more. The SHC wants to document the establishment, growth, and, in some cases, decline of such industries. The personal papers of founders and other principal figures also may be of interest. The SHC is especially interested in documenting the work lives of southerners who have labored in these industries. In addition to records of workers in the files of companies, the SHC collects personal documentation of workers in forms such as diaries, scrapbooks, correspondence, and memoirs and other personal narratives.