A rare image of tobacco workers in the 1920s.

A rare image capturing workers on a Wilson County tobacco farm preparing to “barn” or “put in” green tobacco to begin the curing process. There is no information identifying the eighteen or so people, including five young children, depicted. Two — at far left, just visible behind the boy, and at far right, leaning against a fence — were African-American.

This photograph is part of the Commercial Museum Collection at U.N.C.’s Southern Historical Collection. Per the collection’s description, “the Commercial Museum, located in Philadelphia, Pa., was in operation from 1897 to 2010. Modeled after the great exhibition halls of the World’s Fairs (World Fair, Universal Exposition) of the late nineteenth century, the Museum offered a vast selection of displays and information related to commerce and trade in Pennsylvania, across the United Sates, and the international marketplace. The Museum maintained a large collection of photographs documenting a variety of industries, agriculture, and trade in many areas of the United States. These images were marketed for use in publications around the United States and the world. The images, circa 1923-1939, document agriculture and industry in Alamance, Anson, Cabarrus, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Halifax, Moore, Sampson, Wayne, and Wilson counties in North Carolina. A few towns are also identified. Subjects include cotton, farming, lumber, pottery, and tobacco. …”

Scan 4, Series 1, Wilson County Tobacco Production, ca. 1926; Commercial Museum (Philadelphia, Pa.) Collection of North Carolina Photos, ca. 1923-1939; Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 


  1. I love old photos. We don’t have as many due to a house fire in 1966. I’m glad you
    keep sharing information.
    Thank you
    Margie Artis Pearce

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