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Magnolia Mills: 1911

Magnolia Mills: 1911

March 1911. Magnolia, Mississippi. "Interior of Magnolia Cotton Mills spinning room. See the little ones scattered through the mill. All work." Our second look at this workroom. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. View full size.


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Lewis Hine

My daughter and I visited the Columbus Museum of Art recently and saw an exhibit called Radical Camera that had some Lewis Hine prints. The photos had a different feel when I saw them up close. They seemed more authentic and heartfelt.

Fire pails

I believe the fire buckets may have been filled with sand. Water evaporated and would require someone to top them off now-and-then. Note the round bottoms that pretty much made them worthless for any other use so don't even think of taking one for home. In a few years they will be replaced with carbon tetrachloride extinguishers that effectively put out the fire but killed everyone in the vicinity with phosgene gas! Live better through chemistry.

Nice and clean

And well lit.

I'd rather work here than in a Coal Mine.

The boy in the middle actually seems to be smiling.


I grew up in the town next to Magnolia: Liberty, Ms. Both are really small towns (Liberty's census count is below 700), but both are county seats. There was a small but persistent textile industry in the area until the last few years. My mom worked at a sewing machine for decades. The industry was one of the few jobs available for women anywhere around there. Wasn't that great for men either. But now that textiles have departed, jobs are harder than ever to come by for women. Sure, there was a lot of risks working in any kind of factory, but I'm grateful for all the meals in my belly that the work helped to provide.

Water Buckets?

Are those water buckets high on the poles? To be used in case of fire?

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