Tobacco Bag Stringing

Report on Tobacco Bag Stringing Operations in North Carolina and Virginia, 1939


East Bend, North Carolina.

April 7, 1939.

Mr. Sherlock Bronson,
Richmond, Virginia.

Dear Sir:

In compliance with your request of March 28th, I am glad to give you an idea of my experience in working with tobacco bags. My mother and father, as far back as I can remember, have worked with tobacco bags. The work has been a great help to us and it has been a wonderful help to the people living in the county in which we live. I know personally the families that do this work and know of mothers that have to solely depend upon the work for the spending money for their children. This county does not provide any industry in which the women can make any money. It has two small basket factories and saw mills that give work to a few men. Most of the people that string these bags own small homes or rent farming land from other farmers and the only money crop we have is tobacco. This, you see, limits the income of the renters as thy can only have small acreage. I do not know how some of the people could meet their demands without the bags to help them. There are years when the tobacco crop is a failure and then the bags help the farmers to supply necessary groceries and quite often they have told me that in bad crop years they have saved their bag money to pay the tax on their property. The women in the families use the bag money for their own money and to buy necessary things for the children they could not have without this extra money. They are not complaining about the price of the work as they do it at times when the farm and other work does not require their help. They are only begging for more of the work to do. When we do not have work for all the stringers to do we have to quite often give it to those that we feel need it the most and quite often a customer will say to me, "I can make without any bags this time but please let my neighbor have them for they have had so much sickness lately. Doctor bills to be paid, you you. [sic]"

I would be sorry to lose this work but it would be terrible, I think, to take it from people who need it so badly.

Very truly yours,

Rosebud Morse Garriott, Agent

[Source: "Tobacco Bag Stringing Operations in North Carolina and Virginia." Richmond, Va.: 1939. North Carolina Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.]