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United Textile Workers of America, Local 257 (Erwin, N.C.) records

Identifier: L1986-36

Scope and Content of the Records

The records of United Textile Workers of America (UTWA) Local 257 (Erwin, North Carolina) date from 1900 to the mid-1980s, though the bulk of the collection dates from 1945 to 1965. Grievances and arbitration cases form the majority of the collection. Of note are materials pertaining to the October 8, 1945-March 1, 1946 textile labor strike in Erwin, North Carolina; National Labor Relation Board forms disavowing membership in the Communist party; and wage negotiation information from 1951. Also included are: constitutions and by-laws, correspondence, union membership rosters, office files, photographic materials, financial ledgers, labor publications, newspaper clippings, artifacts such as photo mechanical prints, charters and spun yarn, as well as items from other local labor unions.


  • Creation: 1900-1986
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1940 - 1960


Restrictions on Access

Collection is open for research use. Access to boxes OS7 and OS 8 is restricted for 75 years from the date of creation.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Georgia State University is the owner of the physical collection and makes reproductions available for research, subject to the copyright law of the United States and item condition. Georgia State University may or may not own the rights to materials in the collection. It is the researcher's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and obtain permission from the copyright holder before publication, reproduction, or display of the materials beyond what is reasonable under copyright law. Researchers may quote selections from the collection under the fair use provision of copyright law.

History of United Textile Workers of America, Local 257 (Erwin, N.C.)

The United Textile Workers of America was chartered in 1901 as an affiliate of the American Federation of Labor. It was a charter member of the Committee for Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1935, and in 1937 was also one of the founding unions of the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Once in the CIO in 1937, the UTWA was renamed the Textile Workers Organizing Committee (TWOC) and then the Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA). In 1939, a small dissident faction of TWUA sought and was allowed to re-affiliate with the AFL under the original name of UTWA. By the late 1940's and early 1950's, the UTWA was again a member of the CIO. In October 1952 the union re-aligned for the last time with the AFL, remaining with that labor organization until the AFL and CIO merged in 1955. In 1995-1996, the UTWA merged with the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCWIU).

UTWA-Local 257 represented textile workers at various Erwin Cotton Mills plants in North Carolina and Mississippi. During the late 1940s-early 1950s, when UTWA re-affiliated with the CIO, UTWA Local 257 became TWUA Local 246. By 1954, when the Local re-aligned themselves with the AFL, they reverted to the name of UTWA Local 257, remaining Local 257 until dissolving in 1986, following the closing of the last Erwin Mills plant by J.P. Stevens. Now defunct, UTWA-Local 257 was also a member of the Durham Building and Construction Trades Council.

Erwin Cotton Mills was founded in 1892 by Benjamin R. Duke and William Allen Erwin in West Durham, North Carolina. A second mill was built in Duke (now Erwin), in Harnett County in 1903. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, at the height of its success, Erwin Mills (the company's name was shortened in 1950) comprised eight separate mill sites. Seven of the mills were in North Carolina and the eighth was in Stonewall, Mississippi. Mills 1, 4, and 6 were located in Durham, North Carolina; mills 2 and 5 were in Erwin; mill 3 operated as a finishing plant in Cooleemee, North Carolina and mill 7 was in Neuse, North Carolina. Over the years, Erwin Mills came under the control of different textile companies. In the 1950s the mills were acquired by Abney Mills of South Carolina. Later, the North Carolina based Burlington Industries acquired control of the company. By 1986 Burlington sold the mills to the J.P. Stevens Company and shortly thereafter, the last operational plant in West Durham was closed.


36 Linear Feet (in 63 boxes)

Language of Materials



United Textile Workers of America, Local 257 represented textile workers at various Erwin Cotton Mills plants in North Carolina and Mississippi. The local's records, 1900-1986 (bulk 1940-1960), consist primarily of grievances and arbitration cases. Other records include constitutions and bylaws, correspondence, union membership rosters, office files, photographic materials, financial ledgers, printed materials, and artifacts.


The records are arranged into four series:

  1. Series I: Administrative files, 1900-1976
  2. Series II: Company relations, 1941-1986
  3. Series III: Organizational files, 1919-1980, bulk: 1945 - 1965
  4. Series IV: Printed materials, 1938-1967

Acquisition Information

Donated United Textile Workers of America, Local 257, courtesy of Rose Pennington, October 1986.

Related Archival Materials

Related Materials in Other Repositories

  1. Erwin Mills records, 1832-1976 (RL.00366). David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Duke University, Durham NC.

The Southern Labor Archives contains numerous collections created by various unions representing workers in the textile industry. These collections include union records from the International Ladies Garment Workers (ILGWU), Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers (ACTWU), United Textile Workers of America (UTWA), Textile Workers Union of America (TWUA), Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Workers (UNITE), and its successors UNITE HERE and Workers United.

Separated Materials

During processing, materials were separated to other Southern Labor Archives Collections. For periodicals, see the Southern Labor Archives Periodicals Collection finding aid or catalog. For pamphlets, see the Southern Labor Archives Pamphlet Collection finding aid (note that this collection has been weeded over time).

Separated to the Southern Labor Archives Periodicals Collection

  1. Machinists Monthly Journal: Machinists on the March. International Association of Machinists, undated

Separated to the Southern Labor Archives Pamphlet Collection

  1. Wages In a National Emergency; Wage Stabilization Board. GPO, 1952

Processing Information

Processed by Mary McMahon Dawson at the file level, 2004. The records of United Textile Workers of America Local 257 are organized into four series. Series I: Administrative files, contain constitutions and bylaws, handbooks, correspondence, minutes, ledgers, payroll books and union membership rosters. Series II: Company relations includes agreements and negotiations, grievances, arbitration proceedings and other legal cases. Series III: Organizational files, reflects the daily business of Local 257, and also includes oversized materials such as print photographs, and rolled landscape photographs of annual and biennial union conventions. Series IV, Printed materials, contains newspaper clippings, newspapers, magazines, newsletters and two maps. Publications, oversize materials, and newsletters can be found throughout Series I-IV.

United Textile Workers of America, Local 257 (Erwin, North Carolina):
A Guide to Its Records at Georgia State University Library
Georgia State University Library
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

100 Decatur St., S.E.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
404-413-2881 (Fax)