The Lowell Mill Girls: Truly Striking Women


The Lowell mill girls were a revolution in labor and in women's place. Women had never before been targeted to work in public, as they were expected to work in the home and maintain the family. Employers had never before used women as their main form of labor. The idea of women working in public was revolutionary because women generally did not leave the home and family to work in public.

·          Women never had many rights before. “It must be remembered that at this date women had no property rights. A widow could be left without her share of her husband’s (or the family) property...A father could make his will without reference to his daughter’s share of the inheritance....A woman was not supposed to be capable of spending her own or of using other people’s money." (Robinson)

·          Working at mills gave women more economic freedom and rights than ever had before

·          For the first time in this country woman’s labor had a money value. She had become not only an earner and a producer, but also a spender of money, a recognized factor in the political economy of her time. And thus a long upward step in our material civilization was taken; woman had begun to earn and hold her own money, and through its aid had learned to think and act for herself.” (Robinson)

Five mill girls with shuttles
·          Lowell became very popular destination for women seeking freedom and equality from men

·          Population of Lowell grew immensely during early and most productive years at Lowell mills
Women were able to earn their own money
·          "For the first time, girls and women had the opportunity to earn real cash wages and to do so in their own right...The money earned was usually money they could keep or spend as they wished."  (Robinson)

·          Being able to earn and spend own money was revolution for women

·         "Men belonged to the sphere of work, which occurred outside the house; women belonged to the sphere of home." (Goloboy)

·         Mill girls revolutionary in women's place. Women generally stayed in the home, but mill girls worked in public place 
Women had never worked out of the home before
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