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End of (another) cotton era in South?

Sometimes a news story with historical resonance prompts us to dig through the Library of Congress archive for visual context. That's the case here.

As NPR reports, a cotton mill in Augusta, Georgia run by descendants of cotton gin inventor Eli Whitney is shutting down, and some folks are noting the symbolic and historic importance of the event:

Between 2006 and '09, U.S. cotton acreage dropped by 40 percent. That's exactly when Whitney's business dried up.

"The old world of cotton is probably dead," says Darren Hudson, director of the Cotton Economics Research Institute at Texas Tech University.

According to Hudson, S.M. Whitney's closing is the symbolic end of an era. He says today's market is all about export sales, not business relationships.

Read more about the closing here.

It's worth seeing the F.E. Lee Co. panoramic images from 1917 at larger size on the Library of Congress site:
A Georgia Cotton plantation
Picking Cotton in Georgia

We have previously published pictures by Dorothea Lange and Lewis Hine.