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Life Near the Mills: Rebecca Harding Davis, Industrialization, and Lowell Bridget M. Marshall University of Massachusetts, Lowell

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Presentation on theme: "Life Near the Mills: Rebecca Harding Davis, Industrialization, and Lowell Bridget M. Marshall University of Massachusetts, Lowell"— Presentation transcript:

1 Life Near the Mills: Rebecca Harding Davis, Industrialization, and Lowell Bridget M. Marshall University of Massachusetts, Lowell

2 Of Iron Mills & Cotton Mills “Life in the Iron Mills” appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in April 1861 “Among Lowell Mill Girls: A Reminiscence” by Lucy Larcom appeared in The Atlantic Monthly in November 1881 Deborah works at a cotton mill; she “was weak, aching from standing twelve hours at the spools” (19).

3 Bobbin Girl by Winslow Homer from Lowell National Historical Park

4 Girl at loom Image from Museum of American Textile History online at Center for Lowell History

5 The Industrial System: Working by the Clock “Not many even of the inhabitants of a manufacturing town know the vast machinery of system by which the bodies of workmen are governed, that goes on unceasingly from year to year” (Davis 19).

6 American Textile History Museum & Center for Lowell History

7 Working by (and for) the Numbers The overseer “was talking of net profits.... giving, in fact, a schedule of the annual business of the firm to [....] a reporter for one of the city- papers, getting up a series of reviews of the leading manufactories” (27 – 28). “‘Pig-metal,’ mumbled the reporter, -- ‘um! – coal facilities, -- um!—hands employed, twelve hundred, -- bitumen, --um! All right, I believe, Mr. Clark; --sinking-fund, -- what did you say was your sinking-fund?” (28).

8 Library of Congress

9 Industrialization and the Picturesque Davis’s narrator says of Deb: “Perhaps, if she had possessed an artist’s eye, the picturesque oddity of the scene might have made her step stagger less, and the path seem shorter; but to her the mills were only ‘summat deilish to look at by night’” (19 – 20).

10 1839 Postcard Image of Lowell Center for Lowell History

11 Lowell in 1856 Lowell Historical Society

12 Wheeling, (W)VA, 1877 Belmont Nail Works in Wheeling, the “nail capital of the world” in the late 19 th century From the David Rumsey Map Collection

13 Wheeling, (W)VA, 1877 “Top Mill” of the Wheeling Iron & Nail Company From the David Rumsey Map Collection

14 Sites of Note for Primary Sources: Library of Congress American Memory -- Tsongas Industrial History Center -- Lowell National Historic Park -- Center for Lowell History --


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