Rosa “Midge” Murphy sat down and told her boss she refused to run the tufting machine.
Murphy said she wasn’t being paid a fair wage for what was being required for her and she refused to work until the injustice was addressed.
Murphy was working at James Carpet, which stood along Cleveland Highway where the North Bypass is today. She had no choice but to join the workforce after her husband left her with a son and no income.
The textile industry was booming in the late 1950s and offered a place for Murphy to make a living.
“I had a young’un to feed,” she said. “And he ate.”
After a small battle with her boss and the owner, Murphy’s pay was raised $1 an hour. She was paid the same wages as a man running the same machine in that time.
Murphy shared her story with officials with the Center for Public History at the University of West Georgia on Sunday. They were at the Dalton Freight Depot recording people’s personal history in the textile industry and scanning photos for “Textile History Day.”
Murphy “didn’t share a lot of details about textile, but she gave us women’s rights’ history, which is very valuable,” said Dusty Marie Dye, assistant director at the center.
The center records and promotes regional history and helps communities develop projects to showcase that history. Currently the center is working on developing a West Georgia Textile Heritage Trail and a history book documenting photos. The trail centers around U.S. Highway 27, but includes surrounding areas.
“We hope to collect stuff for that today. We’re always looking for stories and artifacts,” Dye said. “We hold history days to identify stories in a community that we can build on.... This is our first one in Dalton, but we hope to do more. We’re hoping to work on an interpretive project here, like a walking tour.”
Bradly Putnam, a Tunnel Hill resident who collects historical photos and items, took photos of spread houses and chenille spreads hanging along U.S. Highway 41 to be scanned for the center’s use.
Putnam’s family, including his parents Elbert and Georgia Lee Putnam, owned several businesses along U.S. 41 where chenille spreads were sold.
Many times “we lived in the back and they made spreads in the front,” Bradly Putnam said. “It was a way of living.”
The center scans photos, newsletters, and takes photos of quilt and chenille samples.
“People have a lot of stories to tell that have not been told,” Dye said. “We’re passionate about those stories.”