New in the collection: J. P. Stevens ‘brown lung’ pinback

Pinback with image of Louis Harrell and words "Help Textile Workers Win Justice. Boycott J.P. Stevens."

Louis Harrell was a J.P. Stevens millhand in Roanoke Rapids. In 1978, not long after this photo was taken, he died of byssinosis, a condition caused by cotton dust and commonly known as brown lung.

A similar photo of Harrell appeared on an OSHA brochure issued during the Carter administration but recalled under Reagan as biased toward labor.

Also in the collection: two other anti-Stevens pinbacks.

Textile unionism peaked in Roanoke Rapids

On this day in 1974: In a landmark union election, J.P. Stevens employees in seven Roanoke Rapids mills vote to be represented by the Textile Workers Union of America: 1,685 for the union, 1,448 against.

North Carolina’s AFL-CIO President Wilbur Hobby proclaims “a new day in Dixie. J.P. first, the textile industry second and then the whole South.” But it will take the union six discouraging years to negotiate a contract with J.P. Stevens, and union membership both nationally and in North Carolina will drop over the next four decades.