An interdisciplinary journal about regions, places, and cultures of the US South and their global connections
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  • From Raw Cotton to Cloth

    Pressly Hall, Chester, South Carolina

    James L. Hughes III, Emory University

    22 November 2006

    Through video and still photography, James L. Hughes III and Pressly Hall document the production of unfinished sheeting from raw cotton at Springs Mills' Katherine Plant in Chester, South Carolina.

    Process of Making Cloth

    Opened in 1968, the Katherine plant was the last of four Springs cotton mills operating in Chester, South Carolina. Hughes and Hall captured these images shortly before the plant was scheduled to close in February 2007 and transfer its weaving operations to Brazil. Although the highly mechanized factory required few workers, the Katherine Plant’s closing marked the end of an era for this Carolina Piedmont town, with its history of textile manufacturing. The slides and video footage presented here offer a rare glimpse of the manufacturing sequence which occupied the lives of hundreds of thousands of southern workers over several generations.

    Photo Essay:

    The Life of Cotton at the Katherine Plant of Springs Mills. This short video follows the process of making unfinished sheeting from raw cotton at the Katherine Plant of Springs Mills (now Springs Global) in Chester, South Carolina in 2006.
    Stacey Martin, Chester, South Carolina map, 2006.

    About the Photographer

    Pressly Hall is a professional freelance photographer living in Chester, South Carolina, specializing in documentary work, advertising, still life, and portrait photography, as well as production work for film commercials. She has a BA in English from Erskine College and an AA degree in Commercial Photography from Randolph Community College. After four years working in Manhattan, Hall returned home to Chester, South Carolina, where she opened Pressly Hall Photography in 2000 and pursues documentary interests in areas of midwifery and southern culture.

    About the Filmmaker

    A native of Chester, South Carolina, James L. Hughes III is currently a PhD student in the Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts at Emory University. His research interests include twentieth-century southern culture, documentary film production, and NASCAR's impact on contemporary American culture.

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    Recommended Resources


    Bass, Jack and Jack Nelson. The Orangeburg Massacre. Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 1999.

    Beatty, Bess. "Lowells of the South: Northern Influences on the Nineteenth Century North Carolina Textile Industry." Journal of Southern History 53, no. 1, (1987): 37-62.

    Carlton, David L. Mill and Town in South Carolina 1880–1920. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982.

    Clark, Daniel J. Like Night and Day: Unionization in A Southern Mill Town. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

    Coleman, Glenda Price and Gina Price White. Images of America: Chester County. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2000.

    Collins, Anne Pickens. A Goodly Heritage: A History of Chester County South Carolina. Chester: Collins Publishers, 1986.

    Collins, Anne Pickens. Heritage History of Chester County, South Carolina. Vol. I. Jostens, 2000.

    Collins, Anne Pickens. Heritage History of Chester County, South Carolina. Vol. II. Jostens, 2000.

    Davis, Burke. War Bird: The Life and Times of Elliot White Springs. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987.

    Elisha, Walter Y. Standing on The Shoulders of Visionaries: The Story of Springs Industries. New York: Newcomen Society of the United States, 1993.

    Ford, Lacy K. "Rednecks and Merchants: Economic Development and Social Tensions in the South Carolina Upcountry, 1865-1900." The Journal of American History 71, no. 2, (1984): 294–318.

    Hughes, James L. III. "History, Method, Representation." Zeteo: The Journal of Interdisciplinary Writing (Fall 2013).

    Lander, Ernest M., Jr. "The Development of Textiles in the South Carolina Piedmont Before 1860." Cotton History Review 1, no. 3, (1960): 88–100.

    Mitchell, George. Textile Unionism in the South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1931.

    Pettus, Louise. The Springs Story: Our First One Hundred Years, A Pictorial History. Fort Mill, South Carolina: Springs Industries, 1987.

    Roscigo, Vincent J. and William F. Danaher. The Voice of Southern Labor: Radio, Music, and Textile Strikes, 1929-1934. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004.

    Springs, Elliot White. Clothes Make The Man. New York: J.J. Little and Ives Co., 1949.

    Tullos, Allen. Habits of Industry: White Culture and Transformation of the Carolina Piedmont. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989.


    City of Chester, South Carolina


    Mill Village and Factory in the Piedmont

    Textile Work and Protest in the Carolina Piedmont


    The Uprising of '34. Dir. George Stoney, Judith Helfand, Susanne Rostock (First Run Icarus Films, 1995)

    Recommended Southern Spaces Publications

    Tullos, Allen. The Carolina Piedmont. Southern Spaces, June 8, 2004.

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    Note: A reference to Hughes' essay "History, Method, Representation" was added to the Recommended Resources of this publication on December 10, 2013.