Posted by: history591seventeen | June 16, 2007

Many Mixed Feelings from Lowell, Mass.

 Today we visited Lowell, Massachusetts.  This was a very interesting exhibit about the lives of young (15-30) year old single women, from the mid 1800’s.  We got the opportunity to visit the noisy factory where some of these women worked.  The factories housed up to 200 looms at a time. 

Then we rode on the trolley, which led to a canal boat that took us to the canal locks.  This is where we could see how and where the water had been redirected from the Merrimack River into this canal to harness the water power.  This seems to be amazing technology for the time period. 

We also got the opportunity to see the boarding house and rooms where mill girls would stay, sharing a room with three other girls.  As I walked through these places, I couldn’t help but feel the excitement these girls must have experienced by being here, away from home, for most of them, for the first time.  It is kind of like being away at college for the first time.  You are in control in ways you never have been before, or will be ever again. 

At the same time, I think this could be a very depressing place; I have a 15 year old daughter and the thought of sending her away to work in another city would sadden and terrify me, (but maybe not her).  And we know many of these families needed the money or they wouldn’t have sent the girls. 

Then when this utopia turns out to be nothing like some girls expected, I’m sure they couldn’t leave soon enough.  The mills regulated almost everything the girls did, so the freedom some expected to find really wasn’t here.  However, this was where the textile boom begins.


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  1. I agree with your mixed feelings, Dana. I just wasn’t buying the la vie and roses. It was fun getting to work with you these two weeks! Marie

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