In 1985, the records of the Fulton Bag and Cotton Mills (FBCM) sat in the basement of the mill, never to see the light of day. The records would have been destroyed but for the efforts of the Georgia Institute of Technology's archivists and History, Technology, and Society (HTS) professors. They salvaged the materials and transported them to Georgia Tech's Archives. The institute's history with the textile industry made Georgia Tech a logical repository to house the materials.
The FBCM was a textile mill located just outside downtown Atlanta. Founded in 1868 by Jacob Elsas, a German-Jewish immigrant, the mill produced paper containers to house goods. In the mill's heyday, it had over 40,000 spindles operating and employed over 2,000 workers. Despite the early prosperity of the mill, the company was plagued by periods of labor disputes, most notably the 1914–15 strike, which focused on laborers' growing interest in unionization. After several months of unrest, the strike ended in failure in the spring 1915. By the 1960s, the mill had seen much change, including advancements in packaging and turnover in ownership. In 1968, the Elsas family sold the company to Allied Products Corporation. By 1978, the mill had closed its doors, and in 1997 Aederhold Properties redeveloped the historic mill into a mixed-income community of 182 loft apartments.
The rich contents of the FBCM records consist of architectural and mechanical drawings, photographs, business records, and executive correspondence that give a unique view of life inside a southern textile mill and mill community. In order to make the materials accessible, archivists processed the collection and in 2005 developed the finding aid available on the archives' Web site.
In order to provide a research experience for students in the use of primary sources and as a way to reach a larger audience, a portion of the collection was digitized in 2005. With assistance from the HTS professors, the digital collection was developed to promote research and scholarship through archival collections relating to the HTS academic curriculum. The mill's archival Web site offers researchers the opportunity to view and search digitized items, such as photographs of the mill workers and executive correspondence dealing with the 1914–15 strike.
Collection Profile and Overview: Jody Lloyd Thompson
Illustrations: Katie Gentilello