Lowell system

They were paired with more experienced women, who trained them in the ways of the factory. Lowell believed that by providing safety in the workplace, comfortable living conditions, and a socially positive living and working environment he could ensure a steady supply of labor.

He hoped his program would prove an alternative to the system of child labor that had long been in use in Britain and also prevailed in New England textile mills. Lowell found his employees in the girls and young women of the surrounding countryside.

Rebecca is a freelance writer and history lover who got her start in journalism working for small-town newspapers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire after she graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.

Those who work in the mills ought to own them, not have the status of machines ruled by private despots who are entrenching monarchic principles on democratic soil as they drive downwards freedom and rights, civilization, health, morals and intellectuality in the new commercial feudalism.


This dismayed the agents of the factories, who portrayed the turnout as a betrayal of femininity. The first child workers were hired in The average life, working life we mean, of the girls that come to Lowell, for instance, from Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, we have been assured, is only about three years.

I well remember the chagrin I often felt when attending lectures, to find myself unable to keep awake…I am sure few possessed a more ardent desire for knowledge than I did, but such was the effect of the long hour system, that my chief delight was, after the evening meal, to place my aching feet in an easy position, and read a novel.

New management took over and the mills soon began to change, according to the book The Simple Life: To attract the necessary work force to his plant, Lowell established an innovative labor program.

But this masked the bitter opposition of many workers to the 12—14 hours of exhausting, monotonous work, which they saw was corrosive to their desire to learn. It is highly unlikely that Slater resorted to physical punishment, relying on a system of fines.

A large number of young mill girls went on to become librarians, teachers, social workers, etc. After a series of meetings, the female textile workers organized a "turn-out" or strike. This greatly increased the scale of manufacturing.

As the economic calamity continued in Octoberthe Directors proposed an additional rent hike to be paid by the textile workers living in the company boarding houses.

Lowell Mill Girls and the factory system, 1840

These mill girls, as they were called, were required to live in company-owned Lowell system adjacent to the mill and were expected to adhere to the rather strict moral code of conduct espoused by Lowell. It is these wages which, in spite of toil, restraint, discomfort, and prejudice, have drawn so many worthy, virtuous, intelligent, and well-educated girls to Lowell, and other factories; and it is the wages which are in great degree to decide the characters of the factory girls as a class.

From May to August, the work day started at 5am. Increased competition in the textile industry which was the model for other industries of the day forced factory owners to cut wages and lengthen hours to stay profitable and meet production demands. They were supervised by older women, called matrons, and were expected to work diligently and attend church and educational classes.

Children aged 7 to 12 were the first employees of the mill; Slater personally supervised them closely.

Lowell Mill Girls

The noise of the machines was described by one worker as "something frightful and infernal", and although the rooms were hot, windows were often kept closed during the summer so that conditions for thread work remained optimal. Britain was the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution and its many new textile mills inspired Lowell to build similar, but better, mills in the United States, according to the book Introduction of the Power Loom, and Origin of Lowell by Nathan Appleton: The mill girls responded by staging a strike and organizing a labor union called the Factory Girls Association.

The association helped pass laws the limited working hours but the mills simply ignored the new laws. This section needs additional citations for verification. Additionally, since the American population was small, hired labor was expensive.

Water powered line shafts and belts now connected hundreds of power lines. When you sell your product, you retain your person. These were the first investigations into labor conditions by a governmental body in the United States. They organized fairs, parties, and social gatherings. Lunch was served throughout the year at The proposed rent hike was seen as a violation of the written contract between the employers and the employees.

In her autobiography, Harriet Hanson Robinson who worked in the Lowell mills from — suggests that "It was to overcome this prejudice that such high wages had been offered to women that they might be induced to become mill girls, in spite of the opprobrium that still clung to this degrading occupation.

Two years later the "Lowell girls" struck again when their housing rates were raised; again the strike failed, as workers found themselves unable to make ends meet and were back on the job within a month. The first mills, the Merrimack Manufacturing Companywere running by Sarah Bagley The sense of community that arose from working and living together contributed directly to the energy and growth of the first union of women workers, the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association.

What Was the Lowell System?

The arrival of the Irish in Lowell, beginning inalso contributed substantially to the demise of the Lowell System of Labor. The Story of Textiles:Lowell offers a unique blend of urban amenities and suburban convenience with the backdrop of unmatched natural beauty.

For information on things to do. The Waltham-Lowell system was a labor and production model employed in the United States, particularly in New England, during the early years of the American textile industry in. Mar 23,  · The Waltham-Lowell system was a labor and production model employed in the United States, particularly in New England, during the early years of the American textile industry in.

The Lowell system was a labor system that was new and enticing to young farm girls. As an employee of the Boston Manufacturing Company, the girls were offered a safe workplace, a place to live.

Learn lowell system with free interactive flashcards. Choose from 64 different sets of lowell system flashcards on Quizlet. Using primary source documents, you can examine the changing face of gender, class, and labor in the s and s through the lens of the Lowell System and determine if Lowell was a real opportunity for working women or a dead end.

Lowell system
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