By: Laurel Horton
In the late nineteenth century tens of thousands of southern families moved into textile mill villages, making the transition from farming economy to wage labor. Mill village life encouraged the continuation of some rural activities and adaptations of others. Mill women continued to make quilts but adapted them to the demands of mill work and to the availability of mill cloth. Research for this paper is based on interview and photographic material gathered by the South Carolina Quilt History Project between 1983-1985; with additional information from the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. This paper describes the southern agricultural economy of the late nineteenth century, the migration of families from farms to mills, and the erratic twentieth century textile industry economy, through quilts and the words of quiltmakers and textile mill workers.