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Spencer’s Labor history Storytelling Project

Share Your Stories

Online Submittal Form

Privacy & Confidentiality

Upcoming Events

FAQ’s

The Town of Spencer is gathering stories of the hardworking people who built Spencer to inspire the design of our new Town Hall mural, which will honor and celebrate Spencer’s rich labor history.

We believe our community holds a wealth of untold stories about the people who built Spencer. These stories span the generations of workers who fired the engines of our prosperity, from the blacksmiths and machinists at the Shops to our own neighborhood grocers, barbers, and community workers. These stories – and what they reveal about who we are as Spencerians – are waiting to be told.

In launching the Labor History Storytelling Project, the Town of Spencer aims to document and celebrate the diverse experiences of Spencer’s historical  and contemporary workforce, and ultimately to inspire the new mural. We believe the most valuable stories are those rooted in authenticity – shared among families, between neighbors, and preserved as cherished memories. We also recognize that labor history is a living and evolving story, encompassing both the past and the present. This includes the experiences of today’s workforce, which continues to shape our Town. We humbly ask you to share your stories.

The Labor History Storytelling Project is an invitation to the community to share your stories, old photographs, and memories. Together, we will create a new landmark mural that will be a fitting tribute to those who built Spencer.

Share Your Stories

Online Submittal Form

Privacy & Confidentiality

Upcoming Events

FAQ’s

Community Contributions: Share Your Stories

Share your story, shape our mural, and leave a legacy!

Your stories matter, both past and present. Did your grandparents talk about their working days in Spencer? Do you have childhood memories about visiting the local grocers or barbers? Did you have a favorite teacher who made a lasting impression on you? Do you have stories about your own contemporary experiences, including community volunteering? Perhaps you have a collection of old family photos, letters, or artifacts that speak of days gone by. These are the stories we seek – stories that breathe life into our history.

What We’re Looking For

To ensure our new Town Hall mural authentically reflects local labor experiences, we’re seeking a variety of materials that can help tell the story of our town and its people. Here are the types of submissions we’re looking for:

1. Written Stories and Anecdotes:

  • Personal Narratives: First-hand accounts detailing individual experiences of working and/or volunteering in Spencer. This can include stories of day-to-day work life, special events, or significant career milestones.
  • Family Stories: Tales passed down through generations that reflect the lives and contributions of family members to Spencer’s labor history, including domestic work and homemaking. These can include anecdotes about family members who worked in the Spencer Shops or other local professions.
  • Experiences of Women: Narratives that shed light on the unique and impactful roles of women. This includes traditional roles in domestic and caregiving spheres to involvement in industry, education, and other professions. The goal with these narratives is to recognize the sometimes understated importance of women in labor history, especially considering the societal and professional barriers they have historically faced.
  • Experiences of Minority Groups: Stories of minority groups in Spencer’s labor history, including the experiences of African-Americans, Hispanic/Latino workers, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and other ethnic groups, acknowledging their contributions and unique challenges. By exploring these narratives, the project aims to shed light on less explored aspects of labor history, and the contributions of diverse communities to building Spencer.
  • Industry & Community: Stories that showcase how the labor force and industries impacted and shaped the community of Spencer, including the town’s social life.
  • Challenges & Triumphs: Stories of overcoming challenges or celebrating significant achievements in the workplace, whether personal victories or collective successes.
  • Cultural & Social Life: Descriptions of the social and cultural aspects of working life in Spencer, such as community events, traditions, unions, and work gatherings.
  • Changes Over Time: Accounts that describe how labor and work life in Spencer have evolved over the years, capturing shifts in industry, technology, and workforce dynamics.
  • Influential Local Figures: Stories about notable personalities or influential figures in Spencer’s labor history who made a significant impact on the town’s history.
  • Retrospective Reflections: Insights and reflections about your own experiences, offering a retrospective look at your working life and what you witnessed.
  • Anecdotes of Daily Life: Small, everyday stories, even ordinary ones, that help paint a picture of the spirit and character of Spencer.

2. Family Photographs & Other Photos:

Please be aware that the project will not retain any physical photographs that are submitted. Our goal is to gather information and insights from these photos to authentically represent Spencer’s labor history in the mural. After documenting their details, all original photographs will be promptly returned.

  • Workplace Photos: Photos of workers engaged in any occupation. Includes snapshots inside factories and places of business, showing machinery, workstations, and day-to-day operations.
  • Community Photos: Images depicting daily life in Spencer, including shops, street scenes, schools, and community events.
  • Portraits & Group Photos: Portraits of individual workers in their work attire, or group photos of labor teams, social clubs, or community groups.
  • Experiences of Women: Photographs that highlight the roles of women in Spencer’s labor history, including images depicting women in both traditional domestic and caregiving roles, as well as participation in industry, education, and other professions. The goal with these photos is to recognize the crucial yet often underrepresented role of women in labor history.
  • Experiences of Minority Groups: Photographs that depict the experiences of minority groups in Spencer’s labor history, including images of African-Americans, Hispanic/Latino workers, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and other ethnic groups, acknowledging their significant contributions and unique challenges. Through these images, we aim to reveal the lesser-know stories about the minority groups who played an essential part in building Spencer.
  • Special Events: Photos of parades, festivals, and significant community events, and images commemorating milestones like factory openings or significant anniversaries.
  • Family Life & Domestic Scenes: Candid shots depicting family life and home life of workers, including intersection of work and family life.
  • Transportation & Streetcars: Photos of streetcars, buses, and other modes of transportation relevant to Spencer’s history, including photos showing the evolution of transportation in the town.
  • Education & Culture: Photos of local schools, educational events, and cultural activities highlighting the role of education and culture in labor communities.
  • Leisure & Recreation: Photos of workers and families during leisure time, at local parks, or community centers. Includes sports teams, recreational clubs, or hobby groups.
  • Historical Landmarks & Architecture: Photos of significant buildings, factories, and landmarks in Spencer.
  • Comparative & Evolutionary Shots: “Then-and-now” photos showing the same locations at different times, and images illustrating changes to the Town’s landscape and infrastructure over time.
  • Personal Memorabilia & Keepsakes: Photos of personal items, awards, or mementos related to labor history and the local workforce.

3. Letters and Documents:

  • Personal Correspondence: Personal letters (including postcards and telegrams) that shed light on the life and work of Spencer’s residents.
  • Workplace Records: Employment records, pay stubs, contracts, and official communications from employers such as notices, memos, and announcements.
  • Newspaper Clippings & Articles: Local newspaper articles covering significant events related to Spencer’s labor history, such as editorials, opinion pieces, or letters to the editor.
  • Diaries & Journals: Personal diaries or work journals that provide day-to-day accounts of work experiences in Spencer.
  • Educational & Training Materials: Manuals, handbooks, or educational materials used to train workers, especially in specialized trades. Also includes certificates or awards recognizing professional development or achievements.
  • Business Records: Ledgers, account books, or transaction records from local businesses and shops, including business correspondence that reveals economic climate and commercial practices.
  • Annotated Photographs: Photos accompanied by annotations or descriptions, adding context to the image.
  • Advertising & Promotional Materials: Brochures, flyers, and advertisements for local businesses and events, depicting the commercial landscape of Spencer.

4. Oral Histories, Audio Recordings & Videos:

  • Personal Histories: Audio or video recordings of personal stories and experiences related to working in Spencer, such as interviews with family members or interviews with former workers.
  • Lectures & Speeches: Audio or video recordings of lectures, speeches, or presentations relevant to Spencer’s labor history.
  • Documentary Clips & Historical Footage: Clips from documentaries or historical footage, including historical video tours of Spencer.
  • Links to Other Resources: Any other relevant audio or video recording. We are also looking for links to online resources that may be useful, such as links to archival materials, web pages, and any other relevant audio or video recordings.

5. Artifacts and Memorabilia:

  • Any item that tells a story about local labor experiences, including (but not limited to) workplace tools and equipment, personal belongings of workers, company and union memorabilia, historical documents and certificates, advertising and promotional items, commemorative objects, etc.

 

How to Contribute

“We’ve made submitting your stories and memories as simple as possible. Please use the following link to access our online submission form, where you can easily upload your materials: SUBMIT HERE

For those with original materials or physical items, we offer a secure and careful handling process. You can contact Town Hall at 704-633-2231 ext. 20 or email kharris@spencernc.gov to schedule an appointment. Our staff will assist in scanning or copying your items, ensuring they are handled with care. We will also take appropriate documentation on all items submitted.

We understand that many of these items are invaluable and irreplaceable. That’s why physical items will be immediately returned to you after being photographed or documented by staff, following appropriate procedures. This process ensures the preservation of your contributions to the Spencer Labor History Storytelling Project.

Online Submittal Form

Click here to access our online submission form: SUBMIT HERE

You can use this online form to easily submit and upload materials. Each section allows you to upload files and add details like descriptions. If you have multiple files or different file types to submit (e.g. documents, photos, etc.), simply upload them in the appropriate section.

Privacy & Confidentiality

Privacy Statement:

We respect your privacy and the confidentiality of the materials you submit. Unless you provide explicit authorization, all files and information submitted will be kept confidential. Access to these materials will be strictly limited to the Town Planner and will only be shared with our mural artist, Max Dowdle, as part of the research and concept art development phase for the mural project. This controlled sharing is solely for the purpose of informing the mural’s design and ensuring that it accurately reflects the stories and history of our community.

Choose Between Limited Use v. Expanded Use:

If you choose to contribute materials to this project, you may further specify your preferences regarding the use of the materials you submit. This choice allows you to control how your submissions are utilized in the context of our project. Under “Strictly Limited Use”, your contributions will only be used for internal research and development of the mural project, with no public exposure or external use. Under “Expanded Use”, your contributions may be used more broadly, including public displays, educational purposes, and Town publications, enhancing their impact beyond the immediate mural project.

Upcoming Events

The Town of Spencer is hosting a Labor Historic Storytelling Social Night on Thursday, February 22, at 6:00 P.M. at the Spencer Town Library, 300 4th Street.

Join us for a unique evening at Spencer Library! We’re gathering stories of the hardworking people who built Spencer to inform the design of our new Town Hall mural, which will honor and celebrate Spencer’s rich labor history. Your personal or family stories about working in Spencer will inspire the design of the new Town Hall mural by artist Max Dowdle.
Expect an evening of warm drinks, engaging conversations, and a chance to reflect.

Click here to view our event flyer!