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Accident to young mill worker. Giles Edmund Newsom (Photo October 23rd, 1912) while working in Sanders Spinning Mille [i.e., Mill], Bessemer City, N.C., August 21st, 1912, a piece of the machine fell on to his foot mashing his toe. This caused him to fall on to a spinning machine and his hand went into unprotected gearing, crushing and tearing out two fingers. He told the Attorney he was 11 years old when it happened. His parents are now trying to make him 13 years old. The school census taken at the time of the accident makes him12 years old (parents' statement) and school records say the same. His school teacher thinks he is 12. His brother (see photo 3071) is not yet 11 years old. Both of the boys worked in the mill several months before the accident. His father, (R.L. Newsom) tried to compromise with the Company when he found the boy would receive the money and not the parents. The mother tried to blame the boys for getting jobs on their own hook, but she let them work several months. The aunt said "Now he's jes got to where he could be of some help to his ma an' then this happens and he can't never work no more like he oughter."  Location: Bessemer City, North Carolina.

Accident to young mill worker. Giles Edmund Newsom (Photo October 23rd, 1912) while working in Sanders Spinning Mille [i.e., Mill], Bessemer City, N.C., August 21st, 1912, a piece of the machine fell on to his foot mashing his toe. This caused him to fall on to a spinning machine and his hand went into unprotected gearing, crushing and tearing out two fingers. He told the Attorney he was 11 years old when it happened. His parents are now trying to make him 13 years old. The school census taken at the time of the accident makes him12 years old (parents' statement) and school records say the same. His school teacher thinks he is 12. His brother (see photo 3071) is not yet 11 years old. Both of the boys worked in the mill several months before the accident. His father, (R.L. Newsom) tried to compromise with the Company when he found the boy would receive the money and not the parents. The mother tried to blame the boys for getting jobs on their own hook, but she let them work several months. The aunt said "Now he's jes got to where he could be of some help to his ma an' then this happens and he can't never work no more like he oughter." Location: Bessemer City, North Carolina.

 
 
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Summary

Dear Father, I received your letter on Thursday the 14th with much pleasure. I am well, which is one comfort. My life and health are spared while others are cut off. Last Thursday one girl fell down and broke her neck, which caused instant death. She was going in or coming out of the mill and slipped down, it being very icy. The same day a man was killed by the [railroad] cars. Another had nearly all of his ribs broken. Another was nearly killed by falling down and having a bale of cotton fall on him. Last Tuesday we were paid. In all I had six dollars and sixty cents paid $4.68 for board. With the rest I got me a pair of rubbers and a pair of 50 cent shoes. Next payment I am to have a dollar a week beside my board... I think that the factory is the best place for me and if any girl wants employment, I advise them to come to Lowell. Excerpt from a Letter from Mary Paul, Lowell mill girl, December 21, 1845. Knoxville, Tennessee, January 20, 1937 Dear President: I am addressing this letter to you, because I believe you will send it to the proper department for right consideration. The labor conditions at the Appalachian Cotton Mills here are worse than miserable—they are no less than slavery. The mill has only two shifts, day and night shifts, and each of them 10 hours long. The scale of wages is very low, and the mill is a veritable sweatshop. None of the women workers know what they are making, until they draw their pay check at each weekend, and their wages is not sufficient for them to live on. The mill should have 3 eight hour shifts, or two 8 hour shifts with a considerable increase in their wages. The women and men too, draw from $4.00 to $12.00 per week. Mr. Roosevelt, men can not live on such wages as this, and feed even a small family. Such conditions as these are worse than coercion, it will force men and women to steal, and it surely is not good Americanism. Am I to think that this great big civilization is going to stand for such intolerable conditions as these I have mentioned above. I believe sir, that they are worse than criminal. Such conditions bring sufferings to the unfortunate poor, that have to reek out a miserable existence without even a slaves opportunity to attend worship on the Lord’s day. It will take sharp detection to get the facts from this mill, but someone should see to it, that the long hours and short wages be put to an end. If the workers were to rebel against these unfair, and unamerican conditions, then the authorities would pronounce them Reds, or communists. The women have asked me to write this letter to you, because they believe you would remedy the conditions, and lighten their burdens. Now that I have wrote it I have used the fifth chapter of St. James in the N.T. [New Testament] as a base for the letter, which is literally fulfilling every minute. Let us hope for the best. R. H. O. Burlington, North Carolina, March 4, 1937

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Date

01/01/1912
person

Contributors

Hine, Lewis Wickes, 1874-1940, photographer
place

Location

Bessemer City (N.C.)35.28472, -81.28389
Google Map of 35.28472222222222, -81.28388888888888
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Source

Library of Congress
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Copyright info

No known restrictions on publication.

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