Saturday, April 28, 2007

Quiet Sickness: Earl Dotter, Photojournalist of Americans at Work

In the course I team-teach on American Working Class Literature and Research Writing, I'm always searching for sources to help expand my students' learning beyond what we do in class.

I thought this was a particularly poignant picture from Earl Dotter's book:

The Quiet Sickness by photojournalist Earl Dotter

Mr. Dotter first encountered what was to become the inspiration for this book's title in a humble textile mill community in Greenville, South Carolina. As it turned out, the village's cotton mill workers had contracted Brown Lung disease as a consequence of exposure to cotton dust while on the job at the local mill. Byssinosis victims cannot usually sleep through the night due to constant coughing brought on by the disease. The community had these signs erected to help victims rest at any time of day.

Quiet Sickness sign (TX43-F26-78)

Scroll down here, and you can survey other pictures from his book from different categories.


Pinehurst in my Dreams said...

Scroll down - where?

Go Figure said...

graphic photo. nothing has changed today, except now it is not politically correct to put up such signs. i would suggest to you that today people, more than ever, don't want to know about such problems because (1)if they don't know, then it isn't going on; and (2) worst of all, they feel helpless to address these problems because they correctly believe that if they try, they will lose their own jobs.

Student of Life said...

Those mill villages are an interesting part of the landscape here in South Carolina. Most of the villages still exist, but the mills are shut down, and in many cases, burned down. In many communities, the buildings' shells still sit there as a silent metaphor of the price they all paid. I'll have to get that book.