After 10 months of researching and 4 months of writing, I finally finished my Master’s thesis!! The Sacrifices of the American Textile Industry and the Common Good focuses on the ever-changing notions of common good as the shifting nuanced idea influenced the sequence of events that culminated in the failure of the Textile Trade Enforcement Act of 1985 and the Textile and Apparel Trade Act of 1987, and the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993. Although the idea to focus on the textile industry came from my internship with the National Museum of American History, it was the insightful and rich collections at SCPC that shaped my argument about protective legislation.
What you need to know is…Layoffs have been devastating to textile producing states such as South Carolina, especially to the communities that have high numbers of people employed in the industry. Considering the thousands affected by foreign competition and the constituent ccorrespondence sent to congressional offices between 1984 and 1994, I argue that southern politicians acted in the best interest of the textile community and their notion of the common good when they tried to enact protective legislation. Representative Butler Derrick and Senator Ernest F. Hollings recognized the threat to the common good in the early 1980s and spent the following two decades fighting to protect the textile community from the conflicting interests of the national community- even dividing themselves from textile executives during the passage of NAFTA!
There are dozens of correspondence folders in both collections- 21 folders of correspondence for the 1985 legislation in Derrick’s collection alone – that shed a personal light on a national problem. The insightful staff at SCPC graciously listened as I rambled on about textiles and offered useful suggestions and encouraging advice that led me to untapped resources. The collections at SCPC are rich in many ways and I can guarantee that your next paper or thesis can be found at SCPC!
~contributed by Katharine Klein