Interview with Eula McGill, December 12, 1974.
You can choose to download or listen to an .mp3 interview
or read the text. There is loss of audio at one point, and the transcript is lost there as well.
Jacquelyn Dowd Hall,
Spruill Professor of History and director of the Southern Oral History Program at the
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, talks about Eula McGill
With An Ear Toward History
By Anne Blythe
Reprinted with permission from The Chapel Hill News.
Jacquelyn Dowd Hall was in Alabama for a human welfare conference last fall when a woman in her 90s, decked out in fashionable garb, stepped toward her.
Right off the bat, Hall recognized Eula McGill, an organizer in the Southern textile factory worker movement of the 1930s, whom she had interviewed in the late 1970s.
"There she was dressed to the nines, with this big hat on, and high heels, still a woman of just this immense presence, and she came up to me and spoke," the director of the Southern Oral History Program recalled recently. "And I hadn't seen her in all those years. It was just thrilling to see her still going."
If you ask Hall, who has been at the helm of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's oral history program for the last quarter century, which are her favorites of the hundreds of interviews she's done, the petite woman hesitates much like a mother being called on to rank her children.
Yet, when she thinks back on all the interesting people whose life stories she has heard, Hall ventures that she would list McGill among the most intriguing. However, her answer, she cautions, is probably influenced somewhat by the flattering reunion in the fall.
"I was interested in her as a woman who'd had an unusual career," Hall said on a recent Monday, while sitting in the living room of her Tenney Circle home. "Because of her work, she had lived in motels most of her life. I just couldn't imagine a life without one place to call home."
During the several hours the women talked in the 1970s, Hall found out that, as she suspected, life on the road had not always been easy for McGill; thus her interview revealed a softer side of the organizer that news accounts rarely touched.
Eula McGill: From Textile Mill to Ethical Influence.
Singing for Workers' Rights
Ta ra ra boom-de-ay-
ain't got a word to say,
they chiseled all my pay,
then took my job away.
Boom went the boom one day,
it made a noise that way.
I wish that I'd been wise,
next time I'll organize.
Textile worker protest song, cited from The Voice of Southern Labor, Radio, Music, and Textile Strikes, 1929-1934
by Vincent J. Roscigno and William F. Dana
Eula McGill sings "Hey, boss man, you're not so big, you're just tall, that's all!"
muse.jhu.edu/journals/wide_angle/v021/21.2gaines.html - requires library/society access
Gaines, Jane 1946-
Radical Attractions: The Uprising of '34
Wide Angle - Volume 21, Number 2, March 1999, pp. 101-119
The Johns Hopkins University Press
In her own words:
Captured voice interviews can be played in mp3 or streaming Real Media format.
Archived at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, as a part of their
Southern Oral History Program, the project page is named
Work and Protest: Interviews
You can link to the page, then search the page for Eula McGill. There are several voiced
entries. You can listen to the first voice snippit in mp3 format
. Please be patient as the mp3 file loads onto your system.
These links are:
You can download recordings and/or transcripts of 1976 interviews
McGill became involved in labor activism and helped to organize a local union and general strike in 1934. Following that, she moved up in the ranks of the labor movement as a labor organizer. She emphasizes her work with the Women's Trade Union League
Eula McGill, February 3, 1976. Interview G-0040-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
McGill explains how bosses in the Dwight textile mills often used harsh and vulgar language when addressing female workers.
UAB CLEAR, a center of UAB School of Business
UAB's Center for Labor Education and Research presents
2002: The Status of Union Women in Alabama.
Alabama has produced its share of dynamic women labor leaders, including the legendary
Eula McGill of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union ...
CLEAR designs and presents university level education programs for organized labor.
Each class provides the information and skills union leaders need to more effectively
represent their members. Classes are tailored to meet the needs of each group.