Sawdust in Your Pockets

A History of the North Carolina Furniture Industry

Title Details

Pages: 184

Illustrations: 35 b&w images

Trim size: 0.230in x 0.350in



Pub Date: 10/15/2023

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6550-3

List Price: $32.95


Pub Date: 10/15/2023

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6551-0

List Price: $114.95

Sawdust in Your Pockets

A History of the North Carolina Furniture Industry

The first economic and social history of the North Carolina furniture industry

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  • Description
  • Reviews

During the twentieth century, three industries—tobacco, textiles, and furniture—dominated the economy of North Carolina. The first two are well known and documented, being the subject of numerous books, movies, and articles. In contrast, the furniture industry has been mostly ignored by historians, although, at its height, it was nearly as large and influential as these other two concerns. Furniture companies employed thousands of workers and shaped towns, culture, and local life from Hickory to Goldsboro.

Sawdust in Your Pockets: A History of the North Carolina Furniture Industry is the first survey of the state’s furniture industry from its cabinetmaking beginnings to its digital present. Historian Eric Medlin shows how the industry transitioned from high-quality, individual pieces to the affordable, mass-produced furniture of High Point and Thomasville factories in the late nineteenth century. He then traces the rise of the industry to its midcentury peak, when North Carolina became the largest furniture-producing state in the country. Medlin discusses how competition, consolidation, and globalization challenged the furniture industry in the late twentieth century and how its businesses, workers, and professionals have adapted and evolved to this day.

Sawdust in Your Pockets is a well-researched overview of an important component of North Carolina’s economic history, and it is the first such comprehensive study. This book fills an important gap in the historical literature, and I believe it will inspire future micro-studies of aspects of the state’s furniture industry.

—Melissa Walker, author of Southern Farmers and Their Stories

I have been teaching North Carolina history for over twenty years, and it has always frustrated me that there is so little historical information on the state’s furniture industry out there. Furniture was one of the legs on North Carolina’s three-legged stool (along with tobacco and textiles) that made the state the most industrialized southern state and one of the most prosperous. There is both a need and a market for this book.

—Dan Pierce, author of Tar Heel Lightnin': How Secret Stills and Fast Cars Made North Carolina the Moonshine Capital of the World

About the Author/Editor

ERIC MEDLIN is a history instructor at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, North Carolina. Medlin has published on mid-twentieth-century historians, antebellum North Carolina history, and the Kellogg-Briand Pact. He is the author of A History of Franklin County, North Carolina. He lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.