Educators' Guide

Lesson Plans

Children at Work: Exposing Child Labor in the Cotton Mills
Grade 7 Language Arts and Grade 8 Social Studies - In this lesson, students will use oral histories and photographs to write a news article exposing the problems of child labor in the cotton mills.

Cotton Mills Seen Through Differing Perspectives
Grade 11/English III - In this lesson, students will critically analyze 2 primary source documents describing life in the cotton mills, comparing and contrasting them to understand the motivation, historical context, and purpose of each document.

Labor unions in the cotton mills
grades 11- 12 - Students will learn about the labor union movement in the U.S., specifically the union influence on the cotton mills of North and South Carolina.

Take Action: Working to Stop Child Labor Today
Grade 8 or Grade 10 Social Studies - Students will learn about child labor in the cotton mills in the early years of the 20th century, research child labor around the world today, and take an action to stop the use of child labor.

Field Trips

The field trips listed here are ways for your students to more vividly understand what life was like for children in the cotton mill village. For more field trip ideas, visit Discover North Carolina!, a guide to local educational field trips provided by LearnNC.

Gaston County Museum
The museum, located in Dallas, NC (near Gastonia), holds "The Ties that Bind", a Carolina Textiles Exhibit. The exhibit explores the community, economy and technology of the textile industry in North Carolina through artifacts and audio interviews. The museum also offers a special program aimed at 5th grade students called "Textile Suitcase", which compares textiles in the past and present to see how the textile industry has affected the state.

Cooleemee Textile Heritage Center
The Textile Heritage Museum, located in Davie County, NC, holds a collection dedicated to documenting life in a North Carolina mill village. The Mill House Museum shows students what home life was like for mill workers, and volunteers provide a variety of activites for students grades K-5.

Levine Museum of the New South
The Levine Museum is located in Charlotte, NC and is dedicated to studying the post-Civil War South. The museum has a permanent exhibit titled "Cotton Fields to Skyscrapers": the exhibit explores six different "environments", including the cotton mill and mill village.

Oral History Resources

Audio Toolkit for Teachers
Become familiar with the audio format you will use with these oral histories and troubleshoot any potential problems before using audio in your classroom.

Oral History Overview
Gain a broad understanding of how you can use oral histories with your students (no matter what subject you teach), why they are important, and what tools are available to make using oral histories much easier.

Other Resources
A list of other websites that use or explain oral histories.