Speaker's Bureau

Tales From the Mill Villages

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The Folklore and oral traditions from the mill villages are rapidly changing as the they go the way of the coal camps in the mountains. Storytelling itself, the connective tissue of the community, has been drastically affected by this change. Dr. Williams has collected stories from mill workers in the Upstate, and he weaves a tapestry of yarns from colorful raconteurs such as Powerhouse Hawkins, a once infamous Spartanburg baseball pitcher. With the aid of Powerhouse, Dr. Williams recreates the larger than life mill baseball league and peoples it with great ball players of the past like Shoeless Joe Jackson and Dizzy Dean. In addition, he recreates life in the villages through children’s games and nursery rhymes along with foodways and workers’ tales. Dr. Williams highlights his own oral history collection with an archeological study of Sampson Mill Village in Greenville County, SC which uncovered unique family artifacts when they excavated this mill village. By recreating actual families from a mill village through their stories, Dr. Williams brings the village to life once more. The audience is encouraged to participate in this animated presentation.

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