“Spinning Yarns, Knitting Socks, and Sewing Suits: Stories of Carroll County’s Textile and Apparel Industries”

The textile and apparel industries have had a significant impact on the West Georgia region since its early settlement by European Americans in the 1830s. In 1999, the Center for Public History began to explore this history through our oral history project to document Carroll County’s history in the twentieth century. For several years, the Center staff—especially graduate students Arden Williams, Carey Tilley, and Teresa Beyer Sherwood and undergraduate research assistant Beau Brummett—documented Banning Mill, a nineteenth-century cotton mill located near Whitesburg, Georgia. Click here for the results of this research can be found at the website that Teresa Beyer prepared for her M.A. thesis project.

To expand this project, the Center applied for a grant to the Georgia Humanities Council to develop a broader context for the textile, hosiery, and apparel industries and their related buildings in the west Georgia region. We conducted additional research and oral histories, collected documents and records related to these businesses, and prepared a traveling exhibit on the topic that has traveled to some of the most significant textile or apparel industry communities in our region: Bremen, Bowdon, Carrollton, and Villa Rica. Curated by Center director Ann McCleary and graduate research assistants Melissa Buchanan and Catherine Hendricks, designed by undergraduate research assistant William Nesbitt, and produced in part with additional funding from the Warren and Ava Sewell Foundation, this panel exhibit is available free of charge to communities around the region.

Over the last year, undergraduate research assistants Lauren Miller and William Nesbitt expanded this exhibit into a website available here. This website includes not only an on-line version of the traveling exhibit but also podcasts incorporating our oral histories and educational materials for school teachers, especially grades four, five, and eight in Georgia.

Most recently, the Center has been assisting the City of Bremen as it seeks to develop a new museum focused on the rich history of the apparel industry. Graduate research assistants Lindsay Gustafson and now Morgan Carraway have helped the museum board to develop a mission statement and museum policies, conduct oral histories, gather artifacts and papers, apply for grants, develop exhibits, and conduct programs.

All of our research and fieldwork materials collected since 1999 are archived at the Center for Public History. Included within the archives is a large collection of business records from the Printed Fabrics Company, located in the old Mandeville Mill from the late 1950s through 2004. Center archivist Catherine Hendricks has organized the textile and apparel industry collection and produced a new finding aid for the collection. For more information on this collection, please contact the Center.






For another exhibit, please check out the following site: Banning Mill