Voices of the Mills: Oral History Interviews with Connecticut Mill Workers, Mill Managers, and Residents of Mill Communities

In the 1990s, the Mill Museum conducted oral history interviews with retired textile mill workers, mill managers, and residents of textile mill communities in eastern Connecticut, mostly Willimantic, the former “Thread City.” By then, most of the state’s once vibrant textile industry had left, first for the American South, and then overseas. The Museum wanted to record the voices of the last generation of Connecticut’s textile mill people before they were gone. The interviews were carried out under the supervision of the late Dr. Bruce Stave, of the University of Connecticut History Department and Institute for Oral History. Most of the interviews were conducted by Thomas R. Beardsley, then an M.A. History student at UConn and scholar-in-residence at the Mill Museum. Most of the interviews were recorded on tape cassettes. Written transcripts were created, some of which were published in Thomas R. Beardsley, Willimantic Industry and Community: The Rise and Decline of a Connecticut Textile City (Willimantic: Windham Textile and History Museum, 1993). Recently, the Mill Museum was able to digitize the tape cassette recordings, thanks to Dr. Anna D. Jaroszyńska-Kirchmann of the Eastern Connecticut State University History Department and E.C.S.U.’s instructional technology staff, where the recordings were used in advanced History classes. The Museum is now placing the digital recordings online, here on its website, for public access. The recordings are (c) Windham Textile and History Museum.

Blackburn, Edith Hartley: Mill Worker. Interviewed by Thomas R. Beardsley, 1990.