Mended by Jessie Whitley  
Lamar County, Alabama; 1935 
Private collection 

In 1935, while employed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in Lamar County, Alabama, James Campbell saw these drawers that Jessie Whitley had recently laundered and hung out to dry. Fascinated by the layers of mending, so “you couldn’t tell the original fabric from the patches,” Campbell bought them from Jessie right off the clothesline. A sharecropper on Robert Murray Crump’s farm, Jessie washed her family’s clothes by hand in the same tub as the one used for the Crump family’s laundry. Her careful patching and mending of a garment meant to remain invisible dramatically extended its useful life.