Father, son deeply divided over labor reforms

Why I read footnotes:

“Interestingly, the first 18 years of the journal included dozens of often lurid accounts of suicides among textile mill workers, in most cases young women. Then, in 1929, such reports suddenly ceased. Perhaps Clark realized [such] stories provided ammunition to critics [of] living and working conditions in mill villages.”

— From “Defending White Supremacy: David Clark and the Southern Textile Bulletin, 1911-1955” by Bart Dredge (North Carolina Historical Review, January 2012)

Dredge, a sociology professor at Austin College, gives overdue attention to the Charlotte trade-journalist’s pugnacious defense of the socioeconomic status quo. 

Clark’s father was none other than Walter Clark, chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court and leading advocate of such workplace reforms as child labor laws — all opposed by David. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall at the Clarks’ Thanksgiving dinners….

I asked Dr. Dredge about their relationship:

“If I played a psychoanalyst on television, I would conjure up some twisted psychological reason for the nut falling so far from the liberal tree….

“It really is odd. Not only because the son was so far removed from his father on a host of issues, but also because he fought over those issues with such passion…. There had to be something there.”

Ranking high on Clark’s enemies list was UNC, a hatred Dredge links to Frank Porter Graham’s call for an Industrial Bill of Rights in the aftermath of the Gastonia strike of 1929: “Clark, it seems, nearly exploded when that came out.”



Civil rights museum keeps visitors on short leash

“Most frustrating…  is that everyone who comes to this museum has to be taken on a guided tour; no one can explore the galleries, exhibits and artifacts at their own pace. While the docents are usually well trained and work from thorough scripts, visitors get only one interpretive angle ….

“Why is the museum insisting on this guided tour, unlike most other major civil rights museums?… Part of the answer… is apparent in the core exhibit, where there is a curious absence of explanatory panels in most display cases and virtually no object labels whatsoever…. ”

— From a mostly favorable review of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro by David A. Zonderman, N.C. State history professor, in the North Carolina Historical Review (July 2011)


Professional historian or professional Tar Heel (choose)

The ongoing revision of North Carolina’s Civil War talking points brings to mind the advice R.D.W. Connor, the state’s most prominent historian, gave editor Robert B. House in 1923 on how to put out the new North Carolina Historical Review:

“Don’t let professional North Carolinians and professional Southerners ruin the quarterly with ‘patriotic’ articles… Make it a real scholarly historical publication. Avoid old hackneyed subjects — Mecklenburg Declaration, Regulators, First at Bethel, number of troops in Confed. Army, etc.!”