Pierce, Miss Ella 1971-08-10,26

From SWC Oral History Collection
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Miss Ella Pierce, longtime employee of the Itasca Mill, relates the origin, function and liquidation of the Itasca Weaver’s Guild and its policies and practices. She also discusses various Itasca fabrics and tells some personal anecdotes.

General Interview Information

Interviewee Name: Miss Ella Pierce

Additional Parties Recorded: None

Date: August 10 and 26, 1971

Location: Itasca, Texas

Interviewer: Fred Carpenter and David Murrah

Length: 3 hours


Tape 1, Side 1: Reviews early life and family background, Early Itasca described, "Mill village" recalled, Moved to Chapman Ranch in 1926, Later moved to Osceola, Texas, Began work for Itasca Mill in 1935, Answered public inquiries, Became decorator and designer, Retail selling discussed, Describes advertising program, Explains naming of Itasca Weaver’s Guild and trademark selection, Mill participated in Texas State Fair (1936), Review of different types of fabrics, Color added for variety, Samples sent out through the mail, Desired response received.

Tape 1, Side 2: Held design contest in 1938, Design books published, Advertising expansion explained, Lists uses for Itasca fabrics, Mr. Sid Files’ illness occurred in 1950, Overspending advertising budget resulted from outside influences, Note Mr. Files’ lack of enthusiasm for retail stores, Listing of retail stores, Less profit in "resale" goods, Began custom drapery business, Style shows held for publicity, Designed leaflet for dress patterns, Weaver’s Guild explained, Reads poem written for open house, Comments on growth of Weaver’s Guild, Sales statistics in 1939 revealed.

Tape 2, Side 1: Mentions Woman’s Day ad of Itasca sombrero cloth, Old spinning wheel model described, Explains different widths of Itasca fabrics, Design instruction book created, Contains description of wedding dress, Shag rugs described, Explains selection of retail store pictures and fixtures, Sid Files’ education and training reviewed, Itasca Museum mentioned, Entered rayon competition, Stockholders’ attitudes examined, Discussion of Lubbock retail store, Still receives inquiries on Itasca, Speculation of preservation of Itasca Mill records, In custom business after closing of the mill, Some production continued after mill closed, Mr. Files purchased Itasca Weavers.

Tape 2, Side 2: Mr. Files’ illness recalled, Process of liquidating mill fixtures explained, Style show influenced community, Cites personal involvement with teenagers, Museum project noted.

Tape 3, Side 1: Began with Itasca as secretary, Osnaburg weave described, Made sample bolts for New York wholesalers, Spindles and looms used, 1901-1923, Comments on success of ratine fabric, Origin of the Weaver’s Guild explained, Sent personalized letters to Texas women, Advertising methods examined, Ad in Texas Outlook and other periodicals, Had display at State Fair in Dallas, Stresses uniqueness of Itasca fabric, Material sent to Tennessee plant for vat dyeing, Instruction booklet created, Helen Grandstaff employed as artist, Drapery market established, Reviews volume of sales, Methods of promotion listed, Retail stores named, Reasons for retail profit decline, Synthetics were a factor in the mill’s closing, Examines alternatives to liquidation, Cites reasons for limited patterns.

Tape 3, Side 2: Sid Files’ purchase of Weavers Guild recalled, Fabric sold after liquidation, Purchases made from wholesale firm, Prices and profits studied, Mr. Files’ relationship to employees was good, Christmas party held for employees, Sidney Files’ background given, Itasca management reviewed, Describes termination of Weaver’s Guild, Itasca employees’ loyalty mentioned, Use of discolored Lubbock-area cotton, Discussion of stockholders and dividends.

Tape 4, Side 1: Explains significance of the term "Guild", Labor union (CIO) activity discussed, Effects of labor strike, Picket line anecdote related, Cites effects of union contract on workers and management, Present state of Itasca retail store in Lubbock described, Ruth Reed is present owner.

Tape 4, Side 2: Blank

Range Dates: 1926-1971

Bulk Dates: 1935-1950

Access Information

Original Recording Format:

Recording Format Notes:


Thank you for your interest in this oral history interview. Our oral history collection is available to patrons in the Southwest Collection's Reading Room, located on the campus of Texas Tech University. For reading room hours, visit our website. Please contact Reference Staff at least one week prior to your visit to ensure the oral history you are interested in will be available. Due to copyright issues, duplications of our oral histories can only be made for family members. If an oral history transcript has been made available online, the link will be provided on this page. More information on accessing our oral histories is located here. Preferred citation style can be found here.