Summer of the Archives Series

Have you ever scrolled through the many items in the North Carolina Digital Collections and discovered a hidden treasure? Each week this summer we will highlight an item from our collection in the hopes of inspiring you to discover new-to-you materials in our digital collections.

Air-conditioning unit over cotton yarn spinning frame. 1938

Air-conditioning unit over cotton yarn spinning frame. 1938

T.G.I.A.C! As summer rolls on and the temperature and humidity outside continue to rise, many of us are thankful for our air-conditioning units, and shiver to think about what life was like before beloved AC. The first humidity-controlling and air ventilation systems in the south were installed in cotton mills in order to maintain favorable conditions for spinning cotton yarn, and, as a bonus, provide a more comfortable environment for mill workers. Stuart W. Cramer, born in Thomasville, N.C., was an architect and engineer who coined the term “air-conditioning” in a paper read to the American Cotton Manufactures Association convention in 1906. By the 1930s, air-conditioning, which had previously been found only in industrial settings, was increasingly installed in movie theatres, railway cars, and, after the invention of the window unit in 1951, private homes. This photograph is part of the Historic North Carolina Travel and Tourism digital collection, comprised of photos from the North Carolina Conservation and Development Department, Travel and Tourism Division.

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