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Southern Spaces
A journal about real and imagined spaces and places of the US South and their global connections

From Raw Cotton to Cloth

Bluffton, South Carolina
Emory University
Published November 22, 2006


Through video and still photography, James L. Hughes III and Pressly Hall document the production of unfinished sheeting from raw cotton at Springs Mills' Katherine Plant in Chester, South Carolina.


Opened in 1968, the Katherine plant was the last of four Springs cotton mills operating in Chester, South Carolina. Hughes and Hall captured these images shortly before the plant was scheduled to close in February 2007 and transfer its weaving operations to Brazil. Although the highly mechanized factory required few workers, the Katherine Plant’s closing marked the end of an era for this Carolina Piedmont town, with its history of textile manufacturing. The slides and video footage presented here offer a rare glimpse of the manufacturing sequence which occupied the lives of hundreds of thousands of southern workers over several generations.

Photo Essay and Video: The Process of Making Cloth

This short video follows the process of making unfinished sheeting from raw cotton at the Katherine Plant of Springs Mills (now Springs Global) in Chester, South Carolina in 2006.

Stacey Martin, Chester, South Carolina map, 2006.

About the Photographer

Pressly Hall is a professional freelance photographer living in Chester, South Carolina, specializing in documentary work, advertising, still life, and portrait photography, as well as production work for film commercials. She has a BA in English from Erskine College and an AA degree in Commercial Photography from Randolph Community College. After four years working in Manhattan, Hall returned home to Chester, South Carolina, where she opened Pressly Hall Photography in 2000 and pursues documentary interests in areas of midwifery and southern culture.

About the Filmmaker

A native of Chester, South Carolina, James L. Hughes III is currently a PhD student in the Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts at Emory University. His research interests include twentieth-century southern culture, documentary film production, and NASCAR's impact on contemporary American culture.

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