Who Were the Lowell Girls? A Force to Be Reckoned With

By | May 21, 2019

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Print Depicting Workers at a Textile Factory. Engraving, 1835. Source: (gettyimages.com)

In the mid-1800s, textile mills were a big business in New England town, particularly the town of Lowell, Massachusetts. To keep the mills humming along and to keep the profits as high as possible, the mill owners hit on a revolutionary idea: they would employ women. They offer young women from surrounding towns and villages, women who had very few options, the chance to earn their own income and enjoy economic freedom. It was a dream come true for many women, but the dream quickly turned to a nightmare that could only be stopped with a collective show of women supporting other women. So, who were the Lowell Girls? They were a force to be reckoned with. 

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Female mill workers from Lowell, Massachusetts, called themselves the Lowell Girls. Source: (resources.sun-associates.com)

Recruiting Mill Girls

Mill owners sought young girls and women from New England farms to work in the textile factories. They promised them a weekly paycheck plus room and board in a nice boardinghouse. Most of the women were between the ages of 15 and 35, but some were as young as 12. What the women found when they started work was long, grueling hours, poor working conditions, and tyrant bosses.