Library Journal Review
Byerly, herself the daughter of a mill worker, has compiled a fascinating series of oral histories of ``cotton mill girls.'' Spanning much of the 20th century and dealing with both blacks and whites, these accounts reveal above all the ambivalence of these women toward the mills. While hard work, low wages, racial discrimination, and anti-union sentiments among managers marked the lives of female mill workers, the mills did provide both a step up economically from tenant farm labor and a sense of camaraderie among the working women. Byerly's obvious leftist bias may bother some, and she has included blacks who never worked in the mills. Nonetheless, this powerful and important work is highly recommended for most libraries.Anthony O. Edmonds, History Dept., Ball State Univ., Muncie, Ind. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
Byerly, who once worked in a cotton mill, has interviewed 20 women in various cotton-mill towns of North Carolina, including Crystal Lee Sutton, the union organizer on whose life the movie Norma Rae was based. In rich and fascinating detail, these women discuss their struggles raising families in poverty, their grueling work in the mills under hazardous conditions, and their frustration at receiving low payfar lower than that of their male colleagues. The womenboth black and whitetell of the uneasy state of race relations in the workplace, especially after black workers broke the color barrier in the mills in the early 1960s. Many of the women also recount their fight to improve working conditions and wages, and to gain compensation for brown-lung disease and injuries sustained on the job. This book provides both scholars and general readers with an educational, intimate and powerful record of the experiences ofthese working-class women. Photos.(January) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Booklist Review
Long hours, big families, low wages these were the defining circumstances of life for the women, black and white, who worked in North Carolina textile mills 30 years ago. The conditions have hardly changed for women doing the same labor today. This volume is a fascinating collection of 20 oral histories by and about such women, past and present. The selections reveal the enormous difficulties of matching the all-consuming mill work with the burden of raising a family. (``I had gotten down to seventy-seven pounds,'' Ailene Walker notes in recalling a routine that allowed her only two or three hours of sleep a night.) Compiler Byerly has done a beautiful job of editing these interiews for sense and clarity without sacrificing an impression of natural speech. The book concludes with the words of Crystal Lee Sutton, upon whose life the movie Norma Rae was based: ``There is still a real need for union education in the schools. That's why the struggle is so hard. In my life I haven't seen no difference in the lives of textile workers.'' To be indexed. PM. 331.4'1296 Women textile workers U.S. / Textile industry U.S.