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Woman's Work is Never Done

Factory Workers

Merrimack Manufacturing Co. Trade CardThe mills of Lowell, Massachusetts are well-known for employing large numbers of women. In the 1840's, nearly half the female population of Lowell worked in the mills. Each mill employed a few hundred people. This trade card for the Merrimack Manufacturing Co. shows women working at the cloth-making machines.


Women who moved to the mill towns from farms lived in boarding houses. This image is of the Merrimack Mills and Boarding Houses from The New England Offering, April 1848.

Merrimack Mills and Boarding Houses

Cocheco Mills Trade CardDuring the middle of the nineteenth century, the duration of the work week at the mills was anywhere from 60 to 73 hours. Although this seems long, it was comparable to a farm worker's hours. In addition, factory owners paid higher wages.

Though this trade card says Boston, it is actually for the Cocheco Mills of Dover, New Hampshire. Dover was a very important mill town in the nineteenth century.

Women found factory work appealing because it gave them self-sufficiency and independence as well as savings for the future. This image of a Foudrinier Machine is from Ballou's Pictorial, June 9, 1855. A Foudrinier Machine is used in paper mills to make book paper, leaving the paper on reels to dry so that it will be ready for the finishing process.
Foudrinier Machine Workers
Canning RoomWomen not only worked in large mills, but also in smaller factories. In this image called "Canning Room," from Harper's New Monthly Magazine, September 1870, women are canning peaches. Women also worked in the fields to pick fruit to be canned.
Factory Girl's Garland
The Factory Girl's Garland was a newspaper created for the female mill workers in Exeter, New Hampshire. This image is of the masthead and title of the newspaper from the Feb. 20, 1845 issue.


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