USC Upstate Workshop Series Celebrates Spartanburg’s Textile Past

June 27, 2022 at 4:00 pm

Thirty-seven educators from 16 U.S. states will convene July 10-23 for an immersive workshop series by the University of South Carolina Upstate that aims to use Spartanburg County’s textile heritage to help them explore and teach the histories of their communities.

The series, “Fabric of the Past: Weaving the Twentieth Century at the Beaumont Mill and Village in South Carolina,” was made possible by a nearly $187,000 Landmarks in American History grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). USC Upstate professors Paul Grady, Andy Myers, Rebecca Mueller, Warren Bareiss, and the university’s archivist Ann Merryman developed the series.

“This project highlights the rich textile history of the Upstate and I am so proud of our outstanding faculty for breathing new life into these stories,” said Tanya Boone, Ph.D., dean of USC Upstate’s College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. “We are delighted to have this opportunity to share this heritage with educators from across the country while we equip them with the tools they need to teach the histories of their communities.”

Participants will gain a deeper understanding of American history through a place-based exploration of Spartanburg’s 130-year-old Beaumont Mill and the neighboring Beaumont Mill Village, which has continued to thrive long after the textile plant shuttered in the late 1990s.

The series will occur as two weeklong sessions, with about half of the educators participating the week of July 10-16 and the other half July 17-23. NEH grant funds enabled USC Upstate to offer the series free of charge to participants and provided stipends that will help cover their individual travel, hotel, and meal costs.

During the series, participants will explore industrialization in the early 20th century, race relations at the onset of Jim Crow segregation, class and labor friction during the Progressive Era and Great Depression, gender dynamics during World War II, the mill’s closure at the end of the last century, and the mill property’s revitalization at the start of the 21st century.

The educators will learn inquiry-based instruction methodologies that incorporate primary sources, oral histories, and local landmarks. This will help them engage their students in experiential learning and community-based history.

“We are excited to be a part of the NEH’s Landmarks in American History program,” said Grady, a professor of history at USC Upstate and a co-author of the grant proposal. “It is a sign of the importance of this region’s textile heritage, and we are fully committed to honoring that legacy by bringing the memories of the people of the Beaumont Mill community to social studies classrooms across South Carolina and the nation.”

The program includes a performance by the Greenville Textile Heritage Band. Its members will play traditional mill community music and provide additional education about the role of workers in the mill.

“I was drawn to this workshop for its focus on community and local history,” said workshop participant George Stevens, who teaches eighth grade social studies and ESOL at McCracken Middle School in Spartanburg. “I believe my students would respond to learning more local history because it is familiar and tangible.”

“Oral history is an important, but often forgotten component of history and a valuable primary source,” said Quanta Wyatt, a librarian with the Armorel Public Schools in Marion, Ark. “I have used pictures as primary sources in the library and my classroom but I feel I need more confidence to implement oral primary sources into my curriculum. My participation in this seminar will enable me to prepare lessons that relate to my students but contain a varying viewpoint.” For more information, please visit:

Spartanburg’s Beaumont Mill and surrounding Beaumont Mill Village will serve as a case study for participants in USC Upstate’s “Fabric of the Past” workshop series in July.