Gastonia, 1929: The Story of the Loray Mill Strike

By John A. Salmond | Go to book overview

BIBLIOGRAPHY

BRIEF ESSAY ON SOURCES

The first point I should make is that in some important respects the manuscript material available to me was not as extensive as I had anticipated. In particular, the International Labor Defense Papers, now available on microfilm, and so rich in material pertaining to the great trials of the 1930s in which the ILD was involved -- the Scottsboro Boys, for example, and Angelo Herndon -- proved to contain almost nothing of value for my study. Similarly, the records of the North Carolina adjutant-general's department are silent on the National Guard's activities in Gastonia. Furthermore, the records of the Loray Mill were destroyed in 1935. Fortunately, both the American Civil Liberties Union Papers and the Mary Heaton Vorse Papers contained voluminous ILD material, including correspondence, broadsheets and pamphlets, and copies of the Labor Defender. Relevant copies of the Labor Defender were also available in the Nell Battle Lewis Papers, the George S. Mitchell Papers, and the Theodore Draper Papers.

The ACLU collection was the most important single manuscript source; in addition to the material described above, it contained a wealth of correspondence with the strike leadership, with the general public, and with the lawyers involved in the various trials during the year. There were also eyewitness accounts of the events of 1929. The Vorse Papers, too, contained much useful material, including the diary she kept during her weeks in Gastonia, drafts of the newspaper and magazine articles she wrote while on assignment there, transcripts of the strikers' songs, and a considerable amount of personal correspondence relating to the strike. The Harriet Herring Papers were of value principally because of the long, astute letters she wrote describing the trials of those accused of conspiring to kill Chief Aderholt. Both the Vera Buch Weisbord and the Paul Crouch Papers contained a few items of interest, from the perspective of the strike's leadership. The Nell Battle Lewis, William Terry Couch, and Frank Porter Graham Papers shed some light on the travail of North Carolina's liberal community during the long year.

It is difficult to find anyone now who can remember the strike. I was fortunate, therefore, in being able to interview two women whose recollections of 1929 were exceedingly clear. One was Fay Sams, whose husband and father-in-law were both on the Gastonia police force in 1929, and who shared with me her recollections of the events of June 7 and September 14. The other was Sophie Melvin Gerson, the only survivor of the sixteen put on trial in Charlotte in August that year. Her recollections of the trial, her comrades, and the people she came to work with have been an invaluable source for this book; so have those of her husband, Si Gerson, who was also in Gastonia for part of 1929, having replaced George Pershing as the representative of the Young Communist League. Both Robert Allen and Christina Baker generously made available transcripts or tapes of interviews they had con-

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Gastonia, 1929: The Story of the Loray Mill Strike
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • 1 - The Setting 1
  • 2 - The Strike 23
  • 3 - The Shooting 69
  • 4 - Trial and Terror 105
  • 5 - The Verdicts 138
  • 6 - The Aftermath 167
  • Notes 191
  • Bibliography 209
  • Index 219
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