South Carolina cotton mills sprang up in the mid-to-late 1800s and were a leading industry in South Carolina well into the depression era when the price of cotton plummeted and many mills went under. The lives of the mill workers and the history of South Carolina textile mills during this era remain a point of curiosity, almost as much as the lives of our ancestors who lived through the Great Depression.

These 23 rare photos document mill workers, particularly the children, and give an unprecedented insight into the lifestyle as well as the livelihoods and the family life of cotton mill workers in South Carolina.

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This rare glimpse into the life of cotton mill workers in the first two decades of the 1900s provides some insight into the lifestyle and hardships endured in this era. South Carolina was built on the backs of these laborers, who literally put the clothing on the backs of their fellow South Carolinians and others around the country.

For another look into South Carolina’s past, take a look at these 21 Rare Photos Taken In South Carolina During The Great Depression.

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More to Explore

The History Of South Carolina Textile Mills

Where can I learn more about factory history in South Carolina?

  • South Carolina State Museum
  • Greenville Textile Heritage Park
  • The Charleston Museum