You are a teenaged girl who has been sent to the factory to earn money to help support your farming family. Your parents are very proud of you and miss you deeply. You are excited about going to work at the mills because not only will you earn your own money, but you will be helping your parents. You have also been promised a good education of reading and writing, and a firm foundation in religion and lady-like manners.
In the 1800s these are all good qualities for attracting a good husband. The Lowell Sun, a local newspaper, wants you to write about life as a "Mill Girl". They want to know if working in the mills is everything you thought it would be. As you research the working conditions of the factories and the living conditions of the boardinghouses try to imagine yourself living in Lowell, Massachusetts during the 1830s. As you learn about your new environment pay careful attention about what it is like to live in Lowell because you will be writing a group editorial to the Lowell Sun answering some questions about the working and living conditions.
Using the websites listed below, research one of the following aspects of life as a “Mill Girl”:
When your research is complete, write a feature story for the Lowell Sun describing your life based on your research. Share your research with the rest of the class.
- Working conditions
- Living conditions
- General life.
Denenberg, Barry. So Far From Home: The Diary of Mary Driscoll, An lrish Mill Girl, Lowell, Massachusetts. Scholastic, 2003.
Flanagan, Alice K. The Lowell Mill Girls. Compass Point Books, 2006.
Lowell Mill Girls
Mill Life in Lowell: 1820-1880
Tales of Factory Life, No. 1
Women, Work, and Protest in the Early Lowell Mills
Journals Written by Lowell Mill Participants
Writings of Lowell Mill Girls
This lesson was adapted from a WebQuest developed at Indio Middle School, Indio, California, by Bette Brooks, Kent State University.