Cannon Mills records, 1836-1983 160 Linear Feet — Approximately 63,000 items
The Cannon Mills Records, a textile manufacturer, span the years 1836-1983, although the bulk occurs during 1887-1983. Files and account books concern the operations of Cannon Manufacturing Company and its successor in 1928, Cannon Mills, its subsidiary and associated textile mills, related business interests, and community involvement. The records include correspondence, volumes, memoranda, statistical compilations, reports, printed material, and financial and legal documents.
In 1898 Cannon Manufacturing Company switched to towel manufacturing, and in later years the product line expanded into blankets. In 1971 sales exceeded $305 million, and the company dominated over 50% of the country's towel business and over 20% of the sheet business.
Important topics include the textile industry, economic conditions related to the textile industry, textile marketing and sales, state and national textile industry associations and public and governmental relations; textile industry consolidation; textile equipment and manufacturers; textile production and costs; an antebellum textile mill; and the Cannon, Patterson, Swink, Odell, Barringer, Johnston, Murdoch, and other families who were owners and managers of one or more of the textile mills.
Topics and materials related to personnel are millworkers (both men and women), child labor (both girls and boys), employee retirement plans, the Textile Workers Union of America, time books, employee injuries, company mercantile stores, and mill houses and villages.
Other business activities involved building construction, architects, and contractors; investment in securities and commodities; advertising; taxation; stock and stockholders (both men and women); corporate directors; insurance; bankruptcy and bad debts; cotton brokers; cotton buying and the cotton market; dividends; banks and banking; mill superintendents' records; real estate; lawsuits, one involving racial discrimination; and estate settlements.
Community relations are evident in records relating to churches, schools, the Y.M.C.A., Freemasons, philanthropy to local organizations, and secondary boarding schools in North Carolina and the inception of agricultural training for boys and home economics for girls. The city of Kannapolis, N.C., in which the main offices of Cannon were located, was a particular focus of company interest.
There are record series for the nine companies that were consolidated in 1928 to form Cannon Mills: Cannon Manufacturing Company, Cabarrus Cotton Mills, Barringer Manufacturing Company, Franklin Cotton Mills, Gibson Manufacturing Company, Kesler Manufacturing Company, Patterson Manufacturing Company, Norcott Mills Company, and Hobarton Manufacturing Company. These mills were all in the western Piedmont of North Carolina.
A number of other mills, owned by or associated with the Cannons or Cannon Mills, had a separate existence in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. Those mills, represented in this collection by series, include Central Mills, Central, S.C.; Bloomfield Manufacturing Co., Statesville, N.C.; Brown Manufacturing Co., Concord, N.C.; Roberta Manufacturing Co., Cabarrus County, N.C.; Imperial Cotton Mills, Eatonton, Georgia; Social Circle Cotton Mills, Walton County, Georgia, Swink Manufacturing Company, Rowan County, N.C.; Travora Textiles, Graham and Haw River, N.C.; Windemere Knitting Mills, Albemarle, N.C.; and Wiscassett Mills, Albemarle, N.C. Other mills, not represented here by series, were related to the Cannon group, and information about them occasionally appears in the collection. These firms include: Amazon Cotton Mills, Thomasville, N.C.; Durham Hosiery Mills; Efird Manufacturing Co., Albemarle, N.C.; Tuscarora Cotton Mill, Mt. Pleasant, N.C.; Buck Creek Cotton Mills, Siluria, Ala.; and Paola Cotton Mills, Statesville, N.C.
Basic information about these textile mills can be found in the annual volumes of Davidson's Textile Blue Book. The size and products of many of the factories varied over the years.
The huge Cannon corporation also had related business interests and community involvements that are represented by organizations and record series in this collection. They include: Cannon Mills, Inc., the selling agency in New York City; Cannon of West Coast, Inc.; L. T. Barringer and Co., a cotton brokerage firm in Memphis, Tennessee; the Brown-Roberta Foundation, a community philanthropy; J. A. Skipwith and Co., cotton brokers at Concord, N.C.; Klumac Cotton Mills, Salisbury, N.C.; P. M. Morris Real Estate Company, Concord, N.C.; Rowan County Farm Life School; and the Trading and Commission Company, a selling agency and holding company.
The series in this collection represent executives, offices, a department, subsidiary companies, affiliated companies, and related businesses and organizations. The general arrangement of the 47 series is: reference information; members of the Cannon family; executive offices; executives; a department; and numerous companies, businesses, and organizations, these arranged mostly alphabetically.
The surviving files and volumes represent only a small percentage of the original archives. Some parts of the company have considerable papers in this collection, but no series is anywhere near complete. Some series are quite small. Record survival was random, but many important and useful files and account books are available.
Information about particular topics, companies, and individuals is often scattered in a number of series in this collection, and the container list serves as a guide to many of them. It should be remembered that company activities may be reflected by bookkeeping entries in the account books whether or not relevant files are available. Because of the interlocking relationships of the various companies, information about one firm may not be exclusive to its own series.