Heather M. White
Chowan's Best: Women, Labor and Change in the Bertie County Herring Industry.
(Under the direction of Dr. Karen Zipf) Department of History, November 2004.
The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the role of female labor in the declining herring industry in Bertie County, North Carolina during the later twentieth century. This paper argues that women's changing work patterns contributed to the decline of the local herring industry. Operating in the early spring months and for only short durations, the herring industry utilized the work of women who were otherwise idle during slow periods of agriculture. The supplemental work provided much needed income to already struggling families. Women provided the mobile labor force that supplied labor to seasonal industries, such as the fishery. Chapter One addresses the role of agricultural mechanization in the decline of seasonal labor. Chapter two considers the function of race relations and civil rights that create new opportunities for African American women. Chapter three addresses the influx of industrialization that provides for women in the region. As race, class and gender intersect, each influence the labor source available to the herring industry, therefore, contributing greatly to its decline.