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Babies in the Mill, song lyrics

Song: Babies in the Mill
Lyrics: Dorsey Dixon(1)

Music: Dorsey Dixon(1)
Year: c. 1930's
Genre: Country
Country: USA

I used to be a factory hand,
When things was moving slow,
When children worked in cotton mills,
Each morning had to go.
Every morning just at five,
The whistle blew on time,
To call them babies out of bed,
At the age of eight and nine.
This song was originally posted on
Come out of bed, little sleepy head,
And get you a bite to eat.
The factory whistle's calling you,
There's no more time to sleep.

The children all grew up unlearned,
They never went to school.
They never learned to read or write;
They learned to spin and spool.
Every time I close my eyes,
I see that picture still,
When textile work was carried on,
With babies in the mill.

To their jobs those little ones,
Were strictly forced to go;
Those babies had to be on time,
Through rain and sleet and snow.
Many times when things went wrong,
Their bosses often frowned.
Many times those little ones,
Was kicked and shoved around.
This song was originally posted on

Old timer can't you see that scene,
That through the years go by,
Those babies all went on the job,
The same as you and I.
I know you're glad that things have changed,
While we have lots of fun,
As we go in and do the jobs,
That babies used to run.



1 - Dorsey Dison (1897 - 1968) biography from the Dictionary of North Carolina, University of North Carolina Press.

2 - This is a song about child labor which was common, particularly in poor areas well into the 20th century.

3 - More on child labour from The History Channel.

4 - Though the first known recording of this by Dorsey Dixon is in 1962, it is widely believed he wrote it in the 1930's when he and his brother Bob, recorded as the Dixon Brothers.