Aug 25

Textiles on the Rise 8-5.3

In this lesson students analyze the workings of South Carolina’s textile industry using photographic evidence.  Students then work as museum curators to create exhibits that help record history.

Click here to download the full lesson with attached handouts. Textiles on the Rise

Historical Background

“Textile manufacturing began in South Carolina before the Civil War, but it became important to the economy of the state after the war. By 1880, the industry was producing almost $3 million worth of goods a year. For many years, textile manufacturing was measured by the number of spindles, or rods on which thread was gathered, in a mill. In 1880, South Carolina had eighteen textile mills operating with 95,983 spindles. About one-half of those spindles were located in Aiken County. Most of the remaining spindles were in the upper Piedmont counties of Anderson, Greenville, Oconee, and Spartanburg.”

Horne, Paul A. Jr. South Carolina: The History of an American State, 2nd Ed. Georgia: Clairmont Press, 2006.


South Carolina Standards

8-5.3 Summarize the changes that occurred in South Carolina agriculture and industry during the late nineteenth century, including changes in crop production in various regions, and the growth of the textile industry in the Upcountry.

3-5.1 Summarize developments in industry and technology in South Carolina in the late nineteenth century and the twentieth century, including the rise of the textile industry, the expansion of the railroad, and the growth of the towns.

3-5.3 Summarize the changes in South Carolina’s economy in the twentieth century, including the rise and fall of the cotton/textile markets and the development of tourism and other industries.



  • Students will research the history of South Carolina’s textile industry.
  • Students will create an exhibit (physical or digitized) using the Gregg Graniteville Photographic Archive that explains why the textile industry was important to South Carolina.

Time Required                                                                    Recommended Grade Level

3 class periods                                                                        Middle/High

Lesson Materials


Lesson Preparation

  1. Visit the Gregg Graniteville Photographic Archive.
  2. Navigate the site to become more familiar.  Clicking on each photograph will take you to the Collection home where you can save to “My Favorites”.
  3. Print the Analyzing Photographs and Prints guide, Primary Source Analysis handout, rubric for grading, and the What Makes a Good Interactive Exhibit handout associated with this lesson.
  4. Develop a list of information that is important for students to understand about the textile industry in South Carolina for the debriefing portion of the lesson.

Lesson Procedure

  1. Explain to students that they each will be conducting research on the start of the textile industry in South Carolina.  Emphasize that their goals are to analyze the photographs and to conduct additional research to learn the history of the textile industry. Finally students are to create an exhibit using the photographs from the collection.
  2. Distribute all necessary handouts to students.
  3. Preview these handouts with students.  Emphasize that the goal is to conduct a thorough analysis of each picture. It is not necessary to answer every question on the guide.
  4. Practice analyzing a photograph or two with the whole class.
  5. Direct students to visit the Gregg Graniteville Photographic Archive and the Gregg Graniteville Library site.
  6. Students should select 5 photographs and save them to “My Favorites” inside the collection.  Students can choose to create a PowerPoint presentation with these photographs.
  7. After saving each photograph, students should conduct research to help them explain the history of the textile industry in South Carolina.
  8. Reconvene after analysis and research to debrief with the whole class.  Ask:  How did South Carolina’s textile industry get started?  Collect their feedback on the board.
  9. Add information from your own presentation to fill in gaps that may have been missed.
  10. After debriefing, students should work to create an exhibit that explains the history of the textile industry in South Carolina.
  11. Collect their final products, and then grade using the rubric provided, grade then display.


Use the grading rubric to assess the adequacy of research information included in exhibit.


Lesson Extension Options

  • Have students present their exhibit in a three minute presentation to the class.
  • Have students vote to determine who created the best exhibit. Place the top three on display in the classroom.
  • Display the exhibits in the library for faculty and student viewing.


Digital Collections Information

This lesson plan is based on images and/or documents derived from the Gregg Graniteville Photographic collection available from the University of South Carolina Digital Collections Library.


To see other collections that may be helpful to your search, visit the Digital Collections homepage or visit SCDL’s collections.