Cotton: From Southern Fields to the Memphis Market
by William Bearden
128 pages/soft cover
Available: May 20, 2005
Historian, author, and Mississippi Delta native William Bearden brings hundreds of years of cotton cultivation into breathtaking historical context with Cotton: From Southern Fields to the Memphis Market.
In his latest title, Bearden explores the social and economic tapestry that cotton wove for the South and the world, from playing a huge role in the slave trade and Civil War to building Memphis into an economic powerhouse. More than 200 vintage images expose the rise of cotton as king, the inhumanities endured in bringing it to the market and the empires it created in agriculture, transportation, banking, and warehousing.
Bearden explores the story of cotton from the growing process to harvesting and on to the market. The history includes the slave trade, Civil War, sharecropping, child labor in cotton mills, and technological advances such as the cotton gin, the first mechanical harvester, spinning cotton, tractors, the first threshers, and cotton barges. Bearden also devotes several chapters to the famous Memphis Cotton Exchange.
Highlights of the book include:
• 150 year-old illustrations of slave markets and some of the earliest photographs of African American slaves.
• Never before seen photographs of child laborers (some even 5 and 6 years old) in Southern cotton mills at the turn of the 20th century.
• How farm machinery technology has progressed from the mule-drawn plow and the hoe, to $300,000 8 row mechanical cotton pickers in less than 50 years.
• Vintage photographs of the Memphis Cotton Exchange from the 1930s and 40s are featured when Memphis’ Front Street was the center of the nations cotton trading industry.
• A time when society revolved around the Memphis Cotton Carnival, a yearly month-long celebration of King Cotton. Archival photographs of parades, royal courts and parties are included.
• Elvis Presley signed autographs at the 1956 Cotton Carnival. See the King in his early days.
• Trains and Mississippi River steamboats loaded to the sky with cotton bales were common sights in the Delta and Memphis.
• Rarely seen photographs of downtown Memphis from the turn of the century to mid century.
• Includes photographs of the entire modern process of cotton farming.
In conjunction with authoring local history, William Bearden works as a writer and producer of video documentaries that have spanned San Diego, CA to Amsterdam, Netherlands. He is producing a PBS documentary on the subject matter of this book which will air in August. Bearden was born in the “deep delta” of Rolling Fork, MS. He resides in Memphis, TN.
Available at select bookstores, independent retailers, and on-line retailers, or through Arcadia Publishing at www.arcadiapublishing.com or (888) 313-2665.
Contact Kelly Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org or (843) 853-2070, ext. 367 if you would like to receive review copies, promotional copies to give away, photos for promotional use, or to contact the author for an interview.