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In the late 19th century, women held nearly two-thirds of all textile jobs in Lowell, with many immigrant women ing Yankee mill girls in the textile industry. Most pronounced was the control corporations exerted over the lives of their workers. The men who ran the corporations and managed the mills sought to regulate the moral conduct and social behavior of their workforce. Within the factory, overseers were responsible for maintaining work discipline and meeting production schedules.
In the boardinghouses, the keepers enforced curfews and strict codes of conduct. Male and female workers were expected to observe the Sabbath, and temperance was strongly encouraged. The clanging factory bell summoned operatives to and from the mill, constantly reminding them that their days were structured around work. Most textile workers toiled for 12 to 14 hours a day and half a day on Saturdays; the mills were closed on Sundays.
Typically, mill girls were employed for nine to ten months of the year, and many left the factories during part of the summer to visit back home. The majority of mill girls in Lowell lived in boardinghouses. These large, corporation-owned buildings were often run by a female keeperor a husband and wife.
A typical boardinghouse consisted of eight units, with 20 to 40 women living in each unit. For most young women, life in the boardinghouse was dramatically different from life on the farm.
Usually they shared a room with three other women, sleeping two to a bed. A fireplace in each room provided warmth in the colder seasons. The keeper prepared three meals a day, and the women dined together in a common room. Women formed many new friendships with other female boarders. The bonds created through daily social intercourse helped new workers adjust to the demands of factory life.
And during the strife of labor protests, boardinghouses often became informal centers of organizing activity. Explore This Park. Lowell National Historical Park Massachusetts. Info Alerts Maps Calendar Reserve.
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Dismiss View all alerts. The Mill Girls of Lowell. Choices and Changes. To find workers for their mills in early Lowell, the textile corporations recruited women from New England farms and villages. In the mills, female workers faced long hours of toil and often grueling working conditions.
Yet many female textile workers saved money and gained a measure of economic independence. Leaving Home. Some had labored in small textile mills. Others had produced cotton or woolen goods or shoes for merchants who employed men and women in their homes and paid them by the pieces they produced. On many farms the father was the property owner and head of household. Family members shared daily and seasonal tasks. In addition to strenuous chores outdoors, mothers and daughters toiled in the home, cooking, cleaning, and making clothes.
This hardscrabble life proved increasingly difficult for young women, and by the early s a growing of Yankee farm families faced severe economic difficulties. For many young, rural women, the decision to leave home for a city like Lowell was often born of necessity. A New Way to Live and Work.
Life in a Boardinghouse. A long brick boardinghouse with workers posed outside The majority of mill girls in Lowell lived in boardinghouses. Voices of Protest. Female workers struck twice in the s.
In the s, female labor reformers banded together to promote the ten-hour day, in the face of strong corporate opposition. In large strikes against the textile manufacturers in andwomen workers played prominent roles. Born on a New Hampshire farm inBagley arrived in Lowell in and worked in a of mills.
She became a powerful speaker on behalf of male and female workers, promoted the hour workday, and edited the labor newspaper The Voice of Industry. Last updated: November 15, In the late 19th century, women held nearly two-thirds of all textile jobs in Lowell, with many immigrant women ing Yankee mill girls in the textile industry Choices and Changes To find workers for their mills in early Lowell, the textile corporations recruited women from New England farms and villages.
Life in a Boardinghouse A long brick boardinghouse with workers posed outside The majority of mill girls in Lowell lived in boardinghouses.Looking for girl 1840
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The Role of Women in the Industrial Revolution