Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Cindy Hahamovitch


"A Common Thread" is an analysis of the relocation of the New England textile industry to the states of the Piedmont South between 1880 and 1934. Competition from textile mills operating in the South became a serious challenge for New England textile manufacturers as early as the 1890s. as they watched their profits turn into losses while output and sales of southern goods continued apace during the 1893 depression, owners of northern textile corporations felt unfairly constrained by state legislation that established age and hours standards for mill employees, and by actual and potential labor militancy in their mills. Several New England textile manufacturers, therefore, opened southern subsidiary factories as a way to effectively meet southern competition. In 1896, the Dwight Manufacturing Company of Chicopee, Massachusetts was one of the first New England cotton textile companies to open a southern branch mill. Within a thirty-year period, many of the largest textile corporations in Massachusetts would move part or all of their operations to North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama where textile production took place in mills that cost less to fuel, was done by workers whose wages were lower than those paid in New England, and occurred in a region where textile unions and state regulations were virtually non-existent.;Through the lens of the Dwight Manufacturing Company, "A Common Thread" examines this process of regional transfer within the U.S. textile industry. The specific goals of the study are to explain (1) why and how Massachusetts cotton manufacturing companies pursued relocation to the South as a key strategy for economic survival, (2) why and how southern states attracted northern textile capital, and (3) how textile mill owners, the state, manufacturers' associations, labor unions, and reform groups shaped the North-to-South movement of cotton mill money, machinery, and jobs. "A Common Thread" provides a historic reference point for and helps inform on-going discussions and debates about capital mobility and corporate responsibility as the industrial relocation from region to region that occurred during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries continues from nation to nation within the context of economic globalization.



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