Preserving History of Rocky Mount Mills


History Harvest Captures Rocky Mount Citizen’s Stories

Memories began to fade with the passing of generations. Valuable oral histories along with diaries and photos are being lost forever. Important everyday stories about how people lived that create a rich fabric of history woven into the larger historical context.

History Harvest

During the mid-twentieth century, fearing the loss of oral traditions, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) released the creative power of thousands of humanists to collect the stories of depression era Americans. The stories recorded fueled historic research and writing since that time. With these efforts to record the vernacular history unleashed by the WPA, the first History Harvest took shape around the country and continues today. The History Harvest is a collaborative, community-based digital history project and learning initiative that wishes to open history by utilizing digital technologies for people to share their artifacts and experiences directly. Community members are invited to participate sharing their letters, photos, objects, and stories while participating in a conversation about the meaning of their stories and materials. Materials are digitally captured and then shared in a web-based archive for general educational use and study. Overall, the History Harvest project goal is to raise visibility and public conversation about history and it’s meaning, as well as providing a new foundation of publicly available material for historical study, K-12 instruction, and life-long learning.

Rocky Mount Mills Stories

In February, a History Harvest took place in Rocky Mount to help capture everyday memories of living and working at the Rocky Mount Mills. Mills were an important part of the North Carolinian economic and social fabric through the 1990s. Communities were created around the mills. Many of the stories of workers and the community are being lost to do passing of those workers and families moving away from the community.

Community Histories Workshop sponsored this History Harvest. Community members and twenty University of North Carolina students joined their professor, Dr. Robert Allen of the American Studies program, in collecting and documenting. The students toured the Rocky Mount Mills site gaining an understanding of the physical environment then they transitioned to the Braswell Memorial Library to collect the wisdom of more than thirty Rocky Mount community members. The community members assisted in identifying people, places, and events as well as shared their stories and artifacts to be digitized. Community Histories Workshop provided equipment to digitize the materials and artifacts relating to the mill and mill village. Oral interviews were recorded.

Through the Community Histories Workshop, they are helping to capture North Carolina’s vernacular history by preserving the stories of the common citizen.

Twin County Hall of Fame

Twin County Museum & Hall of Fame’s purpose is to preserve and celebrate the diverse history of Edgecombe and Nash Counties by honoring citizens who have made broad and lasting contributions to the betterment of the community or who have brought recognition to the community through their accomplishments.