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Transcript of Mill Girls
Lowell Mill girls were usually daughters of farmers or lived in Small villages. At the time, Lowell Mills gave the highest wages a woman could make working anywhere else. Most women between the ages of 15 and 30 were lured by the safe boarding, meals, and wages, other women were driven from necessity to work at Lowell Mills.
Many of the Lowell girls had never seen anything larger than a barn or church, so the sight of the textile mill came as a big surprise to most newcomers. The Mill Girl Experience Factory Conditions Most Lowell Girls worked from 5 am untill 7 pm which was an average of 73 hours a week. The workers were often hired for a contract which lasted for a year. Most women worked at the Lowell Mill for 4 years.
Each room had about 80 women that was looked after by 2 men. The machines made a noise described as "Something frightful and infernal". While it was usually hot in the factories, the windows were kept close to keep the machines working better. The air, filled with particles of thread and cloth, was un-safe for workers and led to respitory problems. In France and England, being a Mill Girl was Seen as a degrading title. Boarding & Life Hundreds of boarding houses were built around the mill, about 25 women lived in each house throughout the year. Usually the boarding houses had a curfew of 10 pm and men weren't allowed inside the boarding house. The boarding houses were described as "a small, comfortless, half-ventilated apartment containing some half a dozen occupants". The Lowell girls didn't usually leave the boarding house, although they had the opportunities of half-days and short paid vacations.
The community in the boarding houses had their own ways of speech, dress, and behavior, older women often taught the newcomers these ways. Religion was also a large part of the community and the Lowell handbook even stated "The company will not employ anyone who is habitually absent from public worship on the Sabbath, or known to be guilty of immorality." The Lowell Girls Find A Voice "With great anticipation, you place all of your worldly belongings in a stack of band boxes that will accompany you on your stagecoach journey from New Hampshire or Vermont to Massachusetts. You will become part of “the mill girl experiment,” the lucrative brainstorm of the Boston Associates, rich investors who have financed the community into which you will now be integrated. Although you will experience long hours and potentially life-threatening work conditions, you will have had a chance to earn the highest wages paid to any woman of your time." -Patricia Cummings While it was true that the Lowell Mill girls recieved the highest wages available to a woman, were given a place to live and worship, and were given food, it didn't mean they liked working at the mill. Their work was long and required a lot of effort and their conditions were unsanitary, cramped, and stuffy. The proposition from the Board of Directors to lower wages angered the Mill girls and resulted in a strike. Although the strike failed and the Lowell girls had their wages reduced, it showed the determination of the Lowell girls.
In October 1836 the Board of Directors raised boarding rent which caused yet another strike and the Lowell girls to form the Factory Girls' Association. This strike attracted almost twice the amount of the last protest at about 1,500 workers. The strike was succesful, although it showed the weakness of the Lowell system which worsened in The Panic Of 1837.
The Ten Hour Movement inspired the workers to fight for less hours as well. The newly formed Lowell Female Labor Reform Association (LFLRA) made sure of that. They sent a petition signed by thousands of workers to the Massachusetts General Court. The Court responded by creating a commitee to look at their proposition.After their first attempt to lower work hours failed, they kept on trying untill the legislative committee hearings become an annual thing. The LFLRA started working with other labor movements such as the New England Workingmen's Association. In 1848 the LFRA dissolved and, after further petioning and pressure from textile workers, the Lowell corporation lowered the workday to 11 hours. (From left to right) Jessica, Loulou, & Faith Thanks for Watching The Panic of 1837 was an economic depression. Many people were buying homes and property to sell it for a higher profit. After the Second bank closed and state banks started giving loans, inflation increased significantly. President Andrew Jackson made it so you could only buy land with silver and gold coins, although this didn't help stop enflation. On May 10, 1837 every bank in New york City stopped allowing payment in gold and silver coins, this led property value to decrease and was followed by a five-year depression, with the failure of banks and record unemployment levels.