From Massachusetts, One Historian's Dogged Pursuit of Dallas's Lost History Strikes Gold
I have done all my research, and I am now transcribing interviews and writing the stories. I just posted my story on Rosa and Exie Phillips, the two kids who worked at the Dallas Cotton Mill. This turned out to be quite a compelling story, and a very sad one.Rosa and Exie appeared in several of Hine's photos -- perhaps you recall this one (that's Rosa on the far right), or this one featuring just the two of them. Rosa and Exie also appear in the picture at top: Rosa is third from right in the bottom row; her younger brother is the boy front and center.
Manning has done something extraordinary: He's tracked down not only the history of the Dallas Cotton Mill itself -- it was built in 1891 at a then-extraordinary cost of $400,000 and "was the first expensive enterprise of the kind undertaken in Texas," according to the Texas Department of Agriculture in 1909 -- but also interviewed at length Beatrice Earl, Rosa's daughter, who offers an Upton Sinclair novel's worth of back story. But as much as anything, I am struck by Earl's reaction to the photos themselves -- pictures she hadn't seen till Manning showed them to her before their interview:
JM: What did you think when you saw the picture?
BE: I was kind of stunned, and then I broke down and cried. I never had any pictures of my mother as a young person. I only have a few pictures of her after she married my daddy. I only met maybe three of her sisters. So really, that was ... well ... for three or four days, I just kept getting out the picture and looking at it.