The Story: The Mill Village

The keynote in the welfare work in the Dunean Mills in Greenville, S. C., is the BABIES...they are looked after at the expense of the mill, from the time they are born, when a trained nurse is always present, up to the time when they are school children.

- Mill News: The Great Southern Weekly for Textile Workers, 1920

'Babies' Bed Room in Day Nursery' - Buffalo, SC
"Babies' Bed Room in Day Nursery" - Buffalo, SC
Mill News, 1920

The majority of children who lived in the mill village went to the mill’s schools, until they began working in the mills themselves. These mill schools were not connected to town and county school districts, and generally only covered the first seven grades of school. After seventh grade, parents were required to pay tuition. Education was made mandatory for all children under the age of 12 in the 1910’s, but many children still worked in the mill during school vacations.

Interview with Icy Norman
- Burlington, NC

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Some mill villages instituted “welfare work” – a variety of social programs to help mill workers and their families. Sociologist Harriet Herring worked as a “community worker” in mills in Greensboro and Eden, NC in the 1910’s. She started programs such as boys’ and girls’ clubs and did “anything from visit the sick to have a club of mothers with a county nurse come in and tell them about the importance of weighing the baby and so on. I put on a community fair each fall the two falls I was there.” This “welfare work” was often instituted as an incentive for workers to stay in the mill village with their families instead of moving to other mills in search of better wages.