Tobacco Bag Stringing
Annie Livesey

LIVESEY, MRS. ANNIE, 68 years of age; widow; no children; resides at 518 N. 24th Street, Richmond, Virginia.

INCOME: Owns an old home in the negro section of Richmond, from which she received $12.00 per month rent. From this rent the taxes and repairs must be paid. She formerly lived in this home and only vacated it when the section became occupied by negroes.

HOME CONDITIONS: She lives by herself in one room, for which she pays $5.00 per month. She has no stove nor icebox. It is heated by a small fireplace, the room was very cold when inspected. She spends about $1.00 a week on groceries, eating only cold canned food. The only hot food she ever gets is an occasional cup of coffee or tea which the people who live downstairs send her. There is no running water in her room nor toilet facilities; she obtains her water from downstairs and keeps it in a pitcher. Her room furnishings consist of a broken-down bed, two delapidated [sic] chairs, a medicine chest and a table. The room was very dirty. She has one thin quilt as cover on the bed. She is apparently in very bad health, being afflicted with heart trouble and a bad case of rheumatism but states that she has not enough money to buy medicine even if a doctor prescribed. Her clothes were very thin and ragged; she cannot afford to buy clothes and makes such as she wears from what pieces of material which are sent to her by neighbors. She does not use the one electric light in her room except when she is required to sew at night. She spends $2.00 a month on insurance. All people in her circumstances seem to have a horror of not leaving enough to bury them in event of death. She has been stringing bags for thirty years. At her present age and in her condition she is only able of stringing bags at odd moments. For this service she earns between $4.00 and $5.00 a month, enough to pay the rent. She would be capable of earning more than this but recently she has not been able to obtain bags. She states that "she did not know what she would do without this money, and her doctor told her that bag stringing was advisable, since it kept her mind occupied." She has to stay in her room practically all the time because she cannot walk much, and stated that "she really enjoys sitting by the window stringing bags."

[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.]