The documentary The Uprising of ’34, released in 1995, tells the story of the General Textile Strike of 1934. The strike, one of the largest in American history, was a defining moment in the South’s relationship to organized labor. The 88-minute documentary was distilled from over 200 hours of interviews with workers who participated in the strikes, their families, mill owners, and labor organizers. All 200-plus hours of interviews will soon be freely available online.
The National Historical Publications and Records Commission has awarded Georgia State
University Library a grant in the amount of $121,418 to digitize and transcribe the recorded interviews. The interviews will be presented online alongside their transcripts using the Oral History Metadata Synchronizer (OHMS), an open-source software application developed at the University of Kentucky’s Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History. The interview tapes are held by the Library’s Southern Labor Archives. The project, which will begin August 1, is expected to take 18 months.
In 1934, textile workers at cotton mills in multiple states across the South and up the Eastern seaboard attempted to unionize in an effort to improve their working conditions. Unionization efforts in the South were deeply divisive, and anti-union sentiment flourished in many areas. The workers’ attempts to organize culminated in a strike that began in early September and lasted for 22 days. Nearly half a million workers walked off their jobs. Mill owners responded with force, and strikers were shot and killed in several Southern towns.
Workers who participated in the strike lost their jobs, and many were blacklisted from working in their small towns. The economic consequences of the strike were devastating, and helped to reinforce the anti-union sentiment that exists in many parts of the South even today. This project will make a collection of first-person accounts of the strike and its
aftermath widely available for the first time.
The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a statutory body affiliated with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), supports a wide range of activities to preserve, publish, and encourage the use of documentary sources, created in every medium ranging from quill pen to computer, relating to the history of the United States.
For more information, contact Kathryn Michaelis, Digital Projects Coordinator, Georgia State University Library, at (404) 413-2860 or firstname.lastname@example.org.