Throwback Thursday: Lowell Mill Girls Stand Up

By Kelly Ross

It’s Women’s History Month and while we continue to fight as a group for labor rights, women have consistently gotten the short end of the stick throughout history. Women today still do not get pay equal to men in the workplace. Today we celebrate a group of women who took a stand for fair working conditions in their day, the Lowell Mill Girls.

In 1826 Francis Cabot Lowell built a textile mill in the city now known as Lowell Massachusetts.  He staffed his mill with over 8,000 women workers ranging in age. These workers became known as the Lowell Mill Girls.

It was common for business owners at this time to employ women and children exclusively as they could pay them significantly less than men. The women often worked 14 hour days in horrific conditions and they could only afford to live in cramped rooms rented by the mill, sometimes with three women to one twin bed.

The Lowell Mill Girls were some of the first women to join the fight for labor reform. They organized and held “turn outs” or strikes that called for better working conditions at the textile mill. So in the spirit of Women’s History Month click on the link below where you will hear an excerpt from one of the Lowell Mill Girls’ diary recounting one of their first strikes which was instrumental in the success of women in organized labor.

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