This examination of the CIO’s postwar Southern drive was aided considerably by a number of people, some of whom must be singled out for the extra effort they went to on my behalf. Sharon Estes Knapp of Perkins Library at Duke University initially catalogued the Operation Dixie Archives and made my searches in that complex collection extremely productive. Leslie Hough and Robert Dinwiddie at the Southern Labor Archives at Georgia State University also provided a great deal of help at numerous points throughout the process. Jim Roan of the National Museum of American History Library went out of his way to locate material that was essential during the final months of the project.
Throughout, Keir Jorgensen, associate research director of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, provided me with documents from files of the Textile Workers Union of America, along with names and addresses of retired TWUA organizers. He also put the manuscript into circulation among a large network of retired textile organizers and officials. Among them, I received especially valuable suggestions and additional help from Lawrence Rogin, Sol Stettin, Solomon Barkin, Donald McKee, and Lewis Conn. They are in no way responsible for the interpretations herein, some of which differ significantly from their own. I am all the more appreciative of their cooperation in light of this fact.
Robert Korstad of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill provided important information from his own work on the Food, Tobacco, Agricultural, and Allied Workers (FTA) and its Local 22 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Janet Irons of Duke University gave me advice and perspective from her work on the 1934 textile strike, helping me a great deal. Allison Porter provided me with valuable insight on organizers, the work of organizing, and the labor movement in general. I also extend special thanks to Nelson Lichtenstein of Catholic University, who gave the manuscript a sophisticated reading from which I profited enormously. The interviews so critical to this study would have been impossible without grants from Duke University’s Department of History and Graduate School, the Duke University—University of North Carolina Women’s Studies Research Center, and the Rieve-Pollock Foundation. My editors at Temple University Press, Jane Cullen, Doris Braendel, and Charles de Kay, have been extremely gracious and have made this a very positive experience.
There is a paragraph found in most acknowledgments devoted to those who moved the product from hand-written notes to a completed manuscript. Those to be thanked are almost invariably women; and they are never thanked enough. Many of my interviews would be locked away on audio tape had my mother, Sue Griffith, not volunteered to type transcripts for me. Without complaint, Dorothy Sapp typed every word of this manuscript at least once.
Lawrence C. Goodwyn supported this project, and its author, from start to finish, first as a resilient and determined dissertation advisor and later as a colleague and friend. Nell Goodwyn’s friendship, support, and advice were critical, as well. Scott Ellsworth, Stacy Flaherty, Marjolein Kars, and Carolyn Stefanco were staunch allies and patient friends. Mickey Tullar made sure I lived through the process. And, not least, there is George Reed, who lived through it with me. He read drafts of the manuscript, learned to read my face, held on through some fairly heavy weather, taught me many important things, and helped sustain my hope that I might be doing more than simply adding historical minutiae to the written record.
Finally, there are the retired organizers I interviewed and about whom I wrote. It is through their eyes that we can see something of the grim underside of industrial life in the postwar years, labor organizing in the American South, and the dynamics involved in attempting to build a mass-based movement. Each of them took risks in talking to me. To spend many months or years at great personal cost and sacrifice, fighting something that in large part turns out to be a losing battle is no simple matter. To allow a stranger access to the most personal details surrounding such an experience adds an emotional dimension that is, I think, appropriate to the historical reality of Operation Dixie. These men and women went where the stakes were the highest, where the opposition was most implacable and the workers were most in need. I wanted to set down as complete an account as I could, recording what I took to be their mistakes and weaknesses as well as their achievements. One cannot, after all, honor people by romanticizing them. This, then, is the story of their effort.