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The Uprising of '34 collection

Identifier: L1995-13

Scope and Content of the Collection

The Uprising of '34 Collection demonstrates how communities can be impacted in contemporary ways by history and memory, decades after a series of events occur. Veterans of the events of 1934 and their descendants-black, white, mill worker, manager, union, and non-union- were interviewed about mill village life, work conditions, southern contemporaneous culture as well as the strike itself. Consisting of oral history interviews, transcripts, archival and production footage, and supporting documentation, this collection examines a previously hidden or little-known legacy of the labor movement in the South and the impact of the knowledge, or lack of it, on today's workers. This documentary footage literally unlocks the past of 1934, as many interviewees shared memories that they had not even discussed with family members.

Although The Uprising of '34 can stand along as a unique window into a crucial period of southern labor-management and textile worker history, the supporting production materials will supply the researcher with an invaluable source of first-hand experience during this time. This footage captures memories that will soon disappear completely from the historical landscape.


  • Creation: 1987-1995

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Copyright restrictions apply.

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 the Project

The Uprising of `34 project was initiated and sponsored by the Research Consortium for the Southwide Textile Strike of 1934, a collaboration of 60 scholars from major southern institutions, as well as community educators and trade unionists. Documentarian George Stoney and independent filmmakers Judith Helfand and Susanne Rostock directed and produced the film. This documentary was a presentation of the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It first aired in 1995.

This production won the following awards: the Best of Festival, Big Muddy Film & Video Festival, Southern Illinois University [1995]; Juror's Choice, Charlotte Film Festival; Director's Choice, Black Maria Film & Video Festival [1995]; Joady Award, Film Arts Foundation [1996]; Gold Apple, National Educational Media Network [1995]; and the Golden Plaque, Documentary, Chicago International Film & Video Festival [1995]. In 1998, it received the George Foster Peabody Award for Excellence in Journalism.

Historical Background of the General Textile Strike

In 1934, Southern textile workers took the lead in a nationwide strike that saw half a million workers walk off their jobs in the largest single-industry strike in the history of the United States. Mill owners' non-compliance with New Deal legislation resulted in their demanding speeded up production that forcing workers to exact the same amount of work from 8 hours that they formerly completed in 12 and for wages far below the federal government's newly established minimum rate. This financial and quota "squeeze" of workers was a variation of the notorious "stretch-out," where fewer "operatives" were spread out along looms to mill the same yardage.

For a brief time, these new union members, in response to the mill owner's intransigence in the face of New Deal legislation, stood up for their rights and became a viable, but short-lived, worker force in the South. Management's reaction to the strike was swift and strong: owners mobilized to crush the strike in a variety of ways. Some mill workers were murdered, thousands more were blacklisted and made unable to work in the industry ever again, and many were so intimidated that "union" became a dirty word in Southern communities for decades following. "It was on Labor Day in 1934 that I witnessed the closest thing that this country has had to a revolution. The General Textile Strike was one of the largest strikes in American history; it was the culmination of years of homegrown organizing and protest. For many Southern workers it was the first time they had raised their voices as citizens to challenge the control of the mill owners," recalled Joe Jacobs, a featured narrator in Uprising. for decades, Jacobs figured prominently as a labor law attorney and Democratic Party activist in the Atlanta and the South.


116.26 Linear Feet (in 24 manuscript boxes, 85 paige cartons)

Language of Materials



The collection consists of oral history interviews and transcripts, production footage and publicity materials related to the creation of the "Uprising of '34" documentary. Veterans or their descendants were interviewed about mill life, work conditions, southern culture, as well as the strike itself. These interviews were incorporated into the production itself.

Organization and Arrangement of the Collection

This collection is arranged into four series: (1) General Documentation, (2) Interviews, (3) Archival Footage and (4) Production Footage and Masters. The original order and system of organizing the collection has been maintained. Some videotapes already have had use copies made for preservation purposes.

This finding aid was created years before the National Historical Publications and Records Commission awarded Georgia State University Library a grant to digitize many of the obsolete formats represented in the collection. As a result, this description has not kept pace with the rapid change in access conditions for The Uprising of '34 materials. Please consult Special Collections and Archives with any questions regarding accessing this collection.

Digital Access

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission awarded Georgia State University Library a grant to digitize, transcribe, and make available online all of the interviews, which previously existed only in obsolete audiovisual formats. Most of the interviews are available at Georgia State University Library Digital Collections.

Related Archival Materials

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.

Processing Information

The collection was first received in 1995 with additions in 1999 and 2000. The processing was completed in 2000. Some of the videotapes have master and user copies. All computer disk files have been converted from WordPerfect 4.0 to Word 2000.

The Uprising of '34:
A Guide to the Collection at Georgia State University Library
Georgia State University Library
June 2001
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)