Tuesday, September 2, 2014

At the Farmers' Market - Historic American Seeds and Plant Catalogs from Smithsonian Institution Libraries




Labor Day - 1848 Rules for the Girls at Lowell, Massachusettes


Factory Rules from the Handbook to Lowell, 1848

REGULATIONS TO BE OBSERVED by all persons employed in the factories of the Hamilton Manufacturing Company. The overseers are to be always in their rooms at the starting of the mill, and not absent unnecessarily during working hours. They are to see that all those employed in their rooms, are in their places in due season, and keep a correct account of their time and work. They may grant leave of absence to those employed under them, when they have spare hands to supply their places, and not otherwise, exc ept in cases of absolute necessity.

All persons in the employ of the Hamilton Manufacturing Company, are to observe the regulations of the room where they are employed. They are not to be absent from their work without the consent of the over-seer, except in cases of sickness, and then t hey are to send him word of the cause of their absence. They are to board in one of the houses of the company and give information at the counting room, where they board, when they begin, or, whenever they change their boarding place; and are to observe the regulations of their boarding-house.

Those intending to leave the employment of the company, are to give at least two weeks' notice thereof to their overseer.

All persons entering into the employment of the company, are considered as engaged for twelve months, and those who leave sooner, or do not comply with all these regulations, will not be entitled to a regular discharge.

The company will not employ any one who is habitually absent from public worship on the Sabbath, or known to be guilty of immorality.

A physician will attend once in every month at the counting-room, to vaccinate all who may need it, free of expense.

Any one who shall take from the mills or the yard, any yarn, cloth or other article belonging to the company, will be considered guilty of stealing and be liable to prosecution.

Payment will be made monthly, including board and wages. The accounts will be made up to the last Saturday but one in every month, and paid in the course of the following week.

These regulations are considered part of the contract, with which all persons entering into the employment of the Hamilton Manufacturing Company, engage to comply.

JOHN AVERY, Agent.




Boarding House Rules from the Handbook to Lowell, 1848


REGULATIONS FOR THE BOARDING-HOUSES of the Hamilton Manufacturing Company. The tenants of the boarding-houses are not to board, or permit any part of their houses to be occupied by any person, except those in the employ of the company, without special per mission.

They will be considered answerable for any improper conduct in their houses, and are not to permit their boarders to have company at unseasonable hours.

The doors must be closed at ten o'clock in the evening, and no person admitted after that time, without some reasonable excuse.

The keepers of the boarding-houses must give an account of the number, names and employment of their boarders, when required, and report the names of such as are guilty of any improper conduct, or are not in the as are guilty of any improper conduct, or are not in the regular habit of attending public worship.

The buildings, and yards about them, must be kept clean and in good order; and if they are injured, other-wise than from ordinary use, all necessary repairs will be made, and charged to the occupant.

The sidewalks, also, in front of the houses, must be kept clean, and free from snow, which must be removed from them immediately after it has ceased falling; if neglected, it will be removed by the company at the expense of the tenant.

It is desirable that the families of those who live in the houses, as well as the boarders, who have not had the kine pox, should be vaccinated, which will be done at the expense of the company, for such as wish it.

Some suitable chamber in the house must be reserved, and appropriated for the use of the sick, so that others may not be under the necessity of sleeping in the same room.

JOHN AVERY, Agent


Labor Day - Lucy Larcom 1824-1893 Poet and Mill Girl


Tintype. University of Massachusettes at Lowell


American poet Lucy Larcom (1824-1893) was the ninth of ten children. Her sea captain father died when she was very young. When she was 11 years old, her family moved to Lowell, Massachusetts, where her mother got a job as superintendent of a female dormitory at the local textile mill. Lucy herself worked in the mills for 10 years.


Excerpt from An Idyl of Work 1875

The carding room, with its great groaning wheels,
Its earthquake rumblings, and its mingled smells
Of oily suffocation;
Long clean alleys, where the spinners paced
Silently up and down, and pieced their threads,
The spindles buzzing like then thousand bees.
The Long threads were wound from beam to beam,
And glazed, and then fanned dry in breathless heat.
Here lithe forms reached across wide webs, or stooped
To disentangle broken threads, or climbed
To where their countenances glistened pale
Among swift belts and pulleys.
The door, swung in on iron hinges, showed
A hundred girls who hurried to and fro,
With hands and eyes following the shuttle’s flight,
Threading it, watching for the scarlet mark
That came up in the web, to show how fast
Their work was speeding. Clatter went the looms,
Click-clack the shuttles. Gossamer motes
Thickened the sunbeams into golden bars,
And in a misty maze those girlish forms,
Arms, hands, and heads, moved with the moving looms,
That closed them in as if all were one shape,
One motion.

Source: Lucy Larcom, Lucy Larcom: Life, Letters, and Diary by Daniel Dulany Addison, Houghton, Mifflin, 1894.


American Textile History Museum


Labor Day - 1845 Report of Labor Conditions for women & girls at Lowell, MA Textile Mills


In 1775, the American Manufactory at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, introduced to America the spinning jenny, a machine for spinning thread. In 1814, a Waltham, Massachusetts, factory became the 1st American site with a power loom for the mechanized weaving of cloth.  During the 1800s, textile manufacture became the largest American industry, employing millions of people, mostly women and children.  The earliest textile manufacturer in the United States, such as the Slater Mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, employed mostly children. Child labor was generally accepted in the 1700s-1800s, since children were already accustomed to working long hours on their families’ farms.  Certain of the working conditions — such as 12 to 14 hour workdays 6 days a week for both adult & child workers; low wages; deafening noise; dangerous machinery; unhealthful air; & overcrowded housing— prompted growing criticism of workers’ exploitation as the century progressed.

Massachusetts House Investigation into Labor Conditions 1845

The Special Committee to which was referred sundry petitions relating to the hours of labor, have considered the same and submit the following Report:

... On the 13th of February, the Committee held a session to hear the petitioners from the city of Lowell. Six of the female and three of the male petitioners were present, and gave in their testimony.

... Miss Sarah G. Bagely said she had worked in the Lowell Mills eight years and a half, six years and a half on the Hamilton Corporation, and two years on the Middlesex. She is a weaver, and works by the piece. She worked in the mills three years befo re her health began to fail. She is a native of New Hampshire, and went home six weeks during the summer. Last year she was out of the mill a third of the time. She thinks the health of the operatives is not so good as the health of females who do house-w ork or millinery business. The chief evil, so far as health is concerned, is the shortness of time allowed for meals. The next evil is the length of time employed -not giving them time to cultivate their minds. She spoke of the high moral and intellectual character of the girls. That many were engaged as teachers in the Sunday schools. That many attended the lectures of the Lowell Institute; and she thought, if more time was allowed, that more lectures would be given and more girls attend. She thought tha t the girls generally were favorable to the ten hour system. She had presented a petition, same as the one before the Committee, to 132 girls, most of whom said that they would prefer to work but ten hours. In a pecuniary point of view, it would be better , as their health would be improved. They would have more time for sewing. Their intellectual, moral and religious habits would also be benefited by the change. Miss Bagely said, in addition to her labor in the mills, she had kept evening school during th e winter months, for four years, and thought that this extra labor must have injured her health.

... From Mr. Clark, the agent of the Merrimack Corporation, we obtained the following table of the time which the mills run during the year.

Begin work.
From 1st May to 31st August, at 5o clock.
From 1st September to 30th April, as soon as they can see.
Breakfast.
From 1st November to 28th February, before going to work.
From 1st March to 31st of March, at 7 ¼ o'clock.
From 1st April to 19th September, at seven o'clock.
From 20th September to 31st October, at 71/2 o'clock. Return in h alf an hour.
Dinner.
Through the year at 12 ½ o'clock.
From 1st May to 31st August, return in 45 minutes.
From October, at 7 ½ o'clock.
Return in half an hour.
Dinner.
Through the year at l2 ½ o'clock.
From 1st May to 31st August, return in 45 minutes.
From 1st September to 30th April, return in 30 minutes.
Quit work.
From 1st May to 31st August, at 7 o'clock.
From 1st September to 19th September, at dark.
From 20th September to 19th March, at 7 ½ o'clock.
From 20th March to 30th April, at dark.
Lamps are never lighted on Saturday evenings. The above is the time which is kept in all the mills in Lowell, with a slight difference in the machine shop; and it makes the average daily time throughout the year, of running the mills, to be twelve hour s and ten minutes.

There are four days in the year which are observed as holidays, and on which the mills are never put in motion. These are Fast Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. These make one day more than is usually devoted to pastime in any o ther place in New England.


A Description of Factory Life by an Investigator in 1846
We have lately visited the cities of Lowell and Manchester, and have had an opportunity of examining the factory system more closely than before. We had distrusted the accounts, which we had heard from persons engaged in the Labor Reform, now beginning to agitate New England; we could scarcely credit the statements made in relation to the exhausting nature of the labor in the mills, and to the manner in which the young women, the operatives, lived in their boarding-houses, six sleeping in a room, poorl y ventilated.

We went through many of the mills, talked particularly to a large number of the operatives, and ate at their boarding-houses, on purpose to ascertain by personal inspection the facts of the case. We assure our readers that very little information is po ssessed, and no correct judgments formed, by the public at large, of our factory system, which is the first germ of the Industrial or Commercial Feudalism, that is to spread over our land.

In Lowell live between seven and eight thousand young women, who are generally daughters of farmers of the different States of New England; Some of them are members of families that were rich the generation before.

The operatives work thirteen hours a day in the summer time, and from daylight to dark in the winter. At half past four in the morning the factory bell rings, and at five the girls must be in the mills. A clerk, placed as a watch, observes those who a re a few minutes behind the time, and effectual means are taken to stimulate to punctuality. This is the morning commencement of the industrial discipline- (should we not rather say industrial tyranny?) which is established in these Associations of this m oral and Christian community. At seven the girls are allowed thirty minutes for breakfast, and at noon thirty minutes more for dinner, except during the first quarter of the year, when the time is extended to forty-five minutes. But within this time they must hurry to their boarding-houses and return to the factory, and that through the hot sun, or the rain and cold. A meal eaten under such circumstances must be quite unfavorable to digestion and health, as any medical man will inform us. At seven o'clock in the evening the factory bell sounds the close of the days work.

Thus thirteen hours per day of close attention and monotonous labor are exacted from the young women in these manufactories. . . So fatigued-we should say, exhausted and worn out but we wish to speak of the system in the simplest language-are numbers o f the girls, that they go to bed soon after their evening meal? and endeavor by a comparatively long sleep to resuscitate their weakened frames for the toils of the coming day. When Capital has got thirteen hours of labor daily out of a being, it can get nothing more. It could be a poor speculation in an industrial point of view to own the operative; for the trouble and expense of providing for times of sickness and old age could more than counterbalance the difference between the price of wages and the e xpense of board and clothing. The far greater number of fortunes, accumulated by the North in comparison with the South, shows that hireling labor is more profitable for Capital than slave labor.

Now let us examine the nature of the labor itself, and the conditions under which it is performed. Enter with us into the large rooms, when the looms are at work. The largest that we saw is in the Amoskeag Mills at Manchester. It is four hundred feet l ong, and about seventy broad; there are five hundred looms, and twenty-one thousand spindles in it. The din and clatter of these five hundred looms under full operation, struck us on first entering as something frightful and infernal, for it seemed such a n atrocious violation of one of the faculties of the human soul, the sense of hearing. After a while we became somewhat inured to it, and by speaking quite close to the ear of an operative and quite loud, we could hold a conversation, and make the inquiri es we wished.

The girls attend upon an average three looms; many attend four, but this requires a very active person, and the most unremitting care. However, a great many do it. Attention to two is as much as should be demanded of an operative. This gives us some id ea of the application required during the thirteen hours of daily laborer. The atmosphere of such a room cannot of course be pure; on the contrary it is charged with cotton filaments and dust, which, we were told, are very injurious to the lungs. On entering the room, although the day was warm, we remarked that the windows were down; we asked the reason, and a young woman answered very naively, and without seeming to be in the least aware that this privation of fresh air was anything else than perfectly n atural, that "when the wind blew, the threads did not work so well." After we had been in the room for fifteen or twenty minutes, we found ourselves, as did the persons who accompanied us, in quite a perspiration, produced by a certain moisture which we o bserved in the air, as well as by the heat.

The young women sleep upon an average six in room; three beds to a room. There is no privacy, no retirement here; it is almost impossible to read or write alone, as the parlor is full and so many sleep in the same chamber. A young woman remarked to us , that if she had a letter to write, she did it on the head of a band-box, sitting on a trunk, as there was not space for a table. So live and toil the young women of our country in the boarding-houses and manufactories, which the rich and influential of our land have built for them.

The Editor of the Courier and Enquirer has often accused the Associationists of wishing to reduce men "to herd together like beasts of the field." We would ask him whether he does not find as much of what may be called "herding together in these modern industrial Associations, established by men of his own kidney as he thinks would exist in one of the Industrial Phalanxes, which we propose.


For further research into New England mill workers...

See the magazine American Ancestors: New England, New York, and Beyond published by the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Their Volume 14, Number 1, Winter 2013 focues on Researching the Lives of Nineteenth-Century New England Mill Workers.

Online sources for further study...

The Center for Lowell History regularly adds primary records and secondary sources to its website.

Especially useful website features include Mill Life in Lowell, 1820–1880, a collection of links to specific topics; the Lowell Corporation Hospital Association Registry of Patients, 1840–1887; and the Lowell Institute for Savings Bank Records, 1829–1992.

The Harvard University Library, through its Open Collections Program “Women Working, 1800–1930”, has available published texts, manuscripts, & images — a number of which relate to the textile industry & its workers.

You might wish to contact Judith A. Ranta, PhD, who has written books and articles about 19C American mill workers, including Women and Children of the Mills (1999) and The Life and Writings of Betsey Chamberlain: Native American Mill Worker (2003). She can be reached at jranta3@earthlink.net.


Labor Day - 1835-48 Mill Girls at Lowell, Massachusettes





Harriet Jane Hanson Robinson (1825-1911) was born in Boston, one of 4 children of William and Harriet Hanson. When she was six years old, her father died. To support the children, her mother moved to Lowell, Massachusettes, to manage one of the boarding houses there operated for the girls who worked in the mills. When she was 10, Harriet began working in the mills intermittently from 1835 to 1848. She left at 23 to marry.


Excerpts from her book Loom and Spindle; or, Life among the Early Mill Girls

"The first factory for the manufacture of cotton cloth in the United States was erected in Beverly, Mass., in 1787, and in 1790 Samuel Slater established the cotton industry in Pawtucket, R.I.; but the first real effort to establish the enterprise was in Lowell, where a large wooden building was erected at the Wamesit Falls, on the Concord River, in 1813.

"The history of Lowell, Mass., is not identical with that of other manufacturing places in New England, and for two reasons: first, because here were gathered together a larger number of factory people, and among them were the first who showed any visible sign of mental cultivation; and, second, because it was here that the practice of what was called " The Lowell factory system " went into operation, a practice which included the then new idea, that corporations should have souls, and should exercise a paternal influence over the lives of their operatives...

"In 1832, Lowell was little more than a factory village. Five "corporations" were started, and the cotton mills belonging to them were building. Help was in great demand and stories were told all over the country of the new factory place, and the high wages that were offered to all classes of work­people; stories that reached the ears of mechanics' and farmers' sons and glave new life to lonely and dependent women in distant towns and farm­houses .... Troops of young girls came from different parts of New England, and from Canada, and men were employed to collect them at so much a head, and deliver them at the factories...

"The early mill­girls were of different ages. Some were not over ten years old; a few were in middle life, but the majority were between the ages of sixteen and twenty­five. The very young girls were called "doffers." They "doffed," or took off, the full bobbins from the spinning­frames, and replaced them with empty ones. These mites worked about fifteen minutes every hour and the rest of the time was their own. When the overseer was kind they were allowed to read, knit, or go outside the mill­yard to play. They were paid two dollars a week. The working hours of all the girls extended from five o'clock in the morning until seven in the evening, with one half­hour each, for breakfast and dinner. Even the doffers were forced to be on duty nearly fourteen hours a day. This was the greatest hardship in the lives of these children. Several years later a ten­hour law was passed, but not until long after some of these little doffers were old enough to appear before the legislative committee on the subject, and plead, by their presence, for a reduction of the hours of labor...

"The most prevailing incentive to labor was to secure the means of education for some male member of the family. To make a gentleman of a brother or a son, to give him a college education, was the dominant thought in the minds of a great many of the better class of mill­girls. I have known more than one to give every cent of her wages, month after month, to her brother, that he might get the education necessary to enter some profession. I have known a mother to work years in this way for her boy. I have known women to educate young men by their earnings, who were not sons or relatives. There are many men now living who were helped to an education by the wages of the early mill­girls.

"It is well to digress here a little, and speak of the influence the possession of money had on the characters of some of these women. We can hardly realize what a change the cotton factory made in the status of the working women. Hitherto woman had always been a money saving rather than a money earning, member of the community. Her labor could command but small return. If she worked out as servant, or "help," her wages were from 50 cents to $1 .00 a week; or, if she went from house to house by the day to spin and weave, or do tailoress work, she could get but 75 cents a week and her meals. As teacher, her services were not in demand, and the arts, the professions, and even the trades and industries, were nearly all closed to her.

"As late as 1840 there were only seven vocations outside the home into which the women of New England had entered. At this time woman had no property rights. A widow could be left without her share of her husband's (or the family) property, an " incumbrance" to his estate. A father could make his will without reference to his daughter's share of the inheritance. He usually left her a home on the farm as long as she remained single. A woman was not supposed to be capable of spending her own, or of using other people's money. In Massachusetts, before 1840, a woman could not, legally, be treasurer of her own sewing society, unless some man were responsible for her. The law took no cognizance of woman as a money­spender. She was a ward, an appendage, a relict. Thus it happened that if a woman did not choose to marry, or, when left a widow, to re­marry, she had no choice but to enter one of the few employments open to her, or to become a burden on the charity of some relative.

"The life in the boarding-houses was very agreeable. These houses belonged to the corporation, and were usually kept by widows (mothers of mill-girls), who were often the friends and advisers of their boarders.

"Each house was a village or community of itself. There fifty or sixty young women from different parts of New England met and lived together. When not at their work, by natural selection they sat in groups in their chambers, or in a corner of the large dining-room, busy at some agreeable employment; or they wrote letters, read, studied, or sewed, for, as a rule, they were their own seamstresses and dressmakers.

"The boarding-houses were considered so attractive that strangers, by invitation, often came to look in upon them, and see for themselves how the mill-girls lived. Dickens, and his "American Notes," speaks with surprise of their home life. He says, "There is a piano in a great many of boardinghouses, and nearly all the young ladies sub- scribed to circulating libraries." There was a feeling of esprit de corps among these households; any advantage secured to one of the number was usually shared by others belonging to her set or group. Books were exchanged, letters from home were read, and "pieces," intended for the Improvement Circle, were presented for friendly criticism.

"There was always a best room in the boarding-house, to entertain callers in; but if any of the girls had a regular gentleman caller, a special evening was set apart each week to receive him. This room was furnished with a carpet, sometimes with a piano, as Dickens says, and with the best furniture, including oftentimes the relics of household treasures left of the old-time gentility of the housemother.

"This mutual acquaintanceship was of great advantage. They discussed the books they read, debated religious and social questions, compared their thoughts and experiences, and advised and helped one another. And so their mental growth went on, and they soon became educated far beyond what their mothers or their grandmothers could have been. The girls also stood by one another in the mills; when one wanted to be absent half a day, two or three others would tend an extra loom or frame apiece, so that the absent one might not lose her pay. At this time the mule and spinning-jenny had not been introduced: two or three looms, or spinning-frames, were as much as one girl was required to tend, more than that being considered "double work."

"The inmates of what may be called these literary house. holds were omnivorous readers of books, and were also subscribers to the few magazines and literary newspapers; and it was their habit, after reading their copies, to send them by mail or stage-coach to their widely scattered homes, where they were read all over a village or a neighborhood; and thus was current literature introduced into by and lonely places.

"From an article in The Lowell Offering, ("Our Household," signed H.T.,) I am able to quote a sketch of one factory boarding-house interior. The author said, "In our house there are eleven boarders, and in all thirteen members of the family. I will class them according to their religious tenets as follows: Calvinist Baptist, Unitarian, Congregational, Catholic, Episcopalian, and Mormonite, one each; Universalist and Methodist, two each; Christian Baptist, three. Their reading is from the following sources: They receive regularly fifteen newspapers and periodicals; these are, the Boston Daily Times, the Herald of Freedom, the Signs of the Times, and the Christian Herald, two copies each; the Christian Register, Vox Populi, Literary Souvenir, Boston Pilot, Young Catholic's Friend, Star of Bethelehem, and The Lowell Offering, three copies each. A magazine, one copy. We also borrow regularly the Non-Resistant, the Liberator, the Lady's Book, the Ladies ' Pearl, and the Ladies' Companion. We have also in the house what perhaps cannot be found anywhere else in the city of Lowell,-a Mormon Bible."

"Novels were not very popular with us, as we inclined more to historical writings and to poetry. But such books as "Charlotte Temple," "Eliza Wharton," "Maria Monk," "The Arabian Nights," "The Mysteries of Udolpho," "Abellino, the Bravo of Venice," or "The Castle of Otranto," were sometimes taken from the circulating library, read with delight, and secretly lent from one young girl to another.

"Our religious reading was confined to the Bible, Baxter's "Saints' Rest," "The Pilgrim's Progress," "The Religious Courtship," "The Widow Directed," and Sunday-school books.

"It was fortunate for us that we were obliged to read good books, such as histories, the English classics, and the very few American novels that were then in existence."


Source: Harriet Jane Hanson Robinson. Loom and Spindle; or, Life among the Early Mill Girls. T. Y Crowell & Company, 1898.


Labor Day - 1827 The Textile Spinning Girls of Lowell, Massachusetts


Bobbin Girl by Winslow Homer, Lowell National Historical Park

In 1775, the American Manufactory at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, introduced into the British America colonies the spinning jenny, a machine for spinning thread. After the Revolution & as the Early Republic gained interest in producing goods for trade, in 1814, a Waltham, Massachusetts, factory became the 1st American site with a power loom for the mechanized weaving of cloth. During the 1800s, textile manufacture became the largest American industry, employing millions of people, mostly women & children.

Young women in Lowell, Massachusetts 1827

"On the 12th of October, we made an expedition from Boston to the largest manufacturing establishment in New England, or, I suppose, in America, at Lowell, on the banks of the Merrimack. This river had been allowed to dash unheeded over the Falls in that neighbourhood, from all time, until the recent war gave a new direction to industry, and diverted capital heretofore employed in commerce or in agriculture, into the channel of manufactures. A few years ago, the spot which we now saw covered with huge cotton mills, smiling villages, canals, roads, and bridges, was a mere wilderness, and, if not quite solitary, was inhabited only by painted savages...

"The stuffs manufactured at Lowell, mostly of a coarse description, are woven entirely by power looms, and are intended, I was told, chiefly for home consumption. Every thing is paid for by the piece, but the people work only from daylight to dark, having half an hour to breakfast and as long for dinner.

"The whole discipline, ventilation, and other arrangements, appeared to be excellent; of which the best proof was the healthy and cheerful look of the girls, all of whom, by the way, were trigged out with much neatness and simplicity, and wore high tortoise-shell combs at the back of their heads.

"I was glad to learn that the most exemplary purity of conduct existed universally amongst these merry damsels—a class of persons not always, it is said, in some other countries, the best patterns of moral excellence. The state of society, indeed, readily explains this superiority: in a country where the means of obtaining a livelihood are so easy, every girl who behaves well is so sure of being soon married.




"In this expectation, they all contrive, it seems, to save a considerable portion of their wages; and the moment the favoured swain has attained the rank of earning a dollar a-day, the couple are proclaimed in church next Sunday, to a certainty. The fortune, such as it is, thus comes with the bride; at least she brings enough to buy the clothes, furniture, and the other necessaries of an outfit.

"Generally, however, these good folks, as well as many of the more wealthy class of the community, do not think of setting up an establishment of their own at first, but live at boardinghouses. This apparently comfortless mode of life, is undoubtedly far the most economical; besides which, it saves the mistress of the family from the wear and tear of domestic drudgery, always unavoidably great in a country where menial service is held to be disgraceful.

"What happens when a parcel of youngsters make their appearance I forgot to enquire; but before that comes about to any great extent, the parties have probably risen in the world; —for every thing in America relating to population, seems to be carried irresistibly forward by a spring-tide of certain prosperity. There is plenty of room—plenty of food—and plenty of employment ; so that, by the exercise of a moderate share of diligence, the young couple may swell their establishment to any extent they please, without those doubts and fears, those anxious misgivings, which attend the setting out of children in older and more thickly peopled countries...

"On the 13th October, at six o'clock in the morning, I was awakened by the bell which tolled the people to their work, and on looking from the window, saw the whole space between the ' Factories' and the village speckled over with girls, nicely dressed, and glittering with bright shawls and showy-coloured gowns, and gay bonnets, all streaming along to their business, with an air of lightness, and an elasticity of step, implying an obvious desire to get to their work."

Source: Basil Hall. Travels in North America, in the years 1827 and 1828, Volume 2.


Morning Madonna


Johann Friedrich Overbeck (German artist, 1789–1869) Mary and Elisabeth with John and Baby Jesus

 In this blog, I try to begin each day with a painting of the Madonna & Child. It centers me; connects me to the past; & encourages me to post some of the religious paintings which were the core of early Western art.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day - Women & children working at home in early 1900s America by Photographer Lewis Wickes Hine 1874-1940


"Mrs. Totora, makes from $2 to $2.50 a week making lace for a contractor. Husband and two children, 4 and 7. Mrs. T. said, "I rather work for a factory, they pay more." New York City, December 1911"


Lewis Wickes Hine, born in 1874 in Wisconsin & died in 1940, was an American sociologist & photographer. Using his camera as a tool for social reform, his photographs were instrumental in changing child labor laws in the United States. His photos were accompanied by descriptions supplied by witnesses, which are related in the captions here.  As disturbing as the photos are the captions.  In many of these in-home photos, the family seems to be wearing their best clothing & seems to be honored to have their picture taken, while many of the descriptions belittle the family.

In 1908-1912, he became the photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. Over the next decade, Hine documented children working at home & in American industry to aid the NCLC’s lobbying efforts to end the practice. Photos are at the Still Picture Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division (NWCS-S), National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD, 20740-6001.


"Home of Mrs. Schiaffo. She is a contractor, getting lace from the home workers in the neighborhood. Woman in black has just brought in some work and the lace goes to a Mfg. Co. On the couch with Mrs. S. is 7 year old Millie, who is learning to make lace. New York City, December 1911"


"Mrs. Palontona and 13 year old daughter, working on pillow-lace in dirty kitchen of their tenement home. They were both very illiterate. Mother is making fancy lace and girl sold me the lace she worked on. New York City, December 1911"


"Mrs. Mauro, and family working on feathers, make $2.25 a week. In vacation two or three times as much. Victoria, 8, Angeline, a neighbor, 10, Fiorandi, 10, Maggie, 11. Father is a street cleaner, and has a steady job. New York City, December 1911"


"Picking nuts in dirty basement. The dirtiest imaginable children were pawing over the nuts eating lunch on the tabel, etc. Mother had a cold and blew her nose frequently (without washing her hands) and the dirty handkerchiefs reposed comfortably on table close to the nuts and nut meats. The father picks now. New York City, December 1911"


"A family picking nuts. Mother nursing baby while picking nuts. Was suffering with a sore throat. Rosie, 3, hanging around; Genevieve, 6, Tessie, 6, picks too. Make $1.50 to $2 a week. New York City, December 1911"


"Mrs. Marengin. Pepino, 10 years old, cracking nuts with her teeth. The mother had just been doing the same. Carmine, 8, the boy about the same age works too. Some of them work until 8 or 9 P.M. Boy holding baby is foolish. Husband works in railroad. New York City, December 1911"


"Mary Prenda, 13 years old. Short-sighted girl with glasses working after school on flowers with Mary's aunt. New York City, December 1911"


" Mrs. Salvia, Joe, 10 years old, Josephine, 14 years, Camille, 7 years, picking nuts in a dirty tenement home. The bag of cracked nuts (on chair) has been open all day waiting for the children to get home from school. The mangy cat (under table) roamed about over everything. Baby is sleeping in dark inner bedroom (3 years old). New York City, December 1911"


"Mrs. Lucy Libertime and family, Johnnie, 4 years old, Mary 6 years, Millie, 9, picking nuts in the basement tenement. Mary was standing on the open bag holding the cracked nuts, with her dirty shoes on, and using a hugh dirty jack knife. On the right is a cobbler bench used by shoemaker in this room. They live in dark inner bedrooms, and filth abounds in all rooms and in the dark, damp entry. New York City, December 1911"


 " Mrs. Battaglia, Tessie (age - 12 years), Tony (age - 7 years), 170 Mulberry St. Rear house, 5th floor. Garment workers. Husband crippled by a fall, tends to basement. Mrs. Battaglia works in shop except Saturdays, when the children sew with her at home. Get 2 or 3 cents a pair finishing men's pants. Said they earn $1 to $1.50 on Saturday. Father disabled and can earn very little. New York, January 1908"


"Basso family, making roses in dirty poorly lighted kitchen. Pauline, 6 years old, works after school. Peter, 8, works until 8 P.M. Mike, 12 years old, until 10 P.M. Father keeps a rag shop. New York City, January 1912"


 "Averzano family, photo taken 1:30 P.M. March 6, a school day and Josephine said she wasn't going to school this week on account of the work. I like to work and I like to go to school too. Our investigator reports her as a truant. The eight year old sister can speak no English. New York City, March 1911"


"Making dresses for Campbell kids dolls in a dirty tenement. The older boy, about 12 years old, operates the machine when the mother is not using it, and when she is using it, he helps the little ones break the threads. New York City, March 1912"


"Garment workers. Katrina De Cato, 6 years old, Franco Brezoo, 11 years old, Maria Attreo, 12 years old, Mattie Attreo, 5 years old. 4 P.M. New York City, January 1910"


Labor Day - Women & children in the workplace in early 1900s America by Photographer Lewis Wickes Hine 1874-1940



 "January 1909. Two of the helpers in the Tifton Cotton Mill at Tifton, Georgia. They work regularly."


Lewis Wickes Hine, born in 1874 in Wisconsin & died in 1940, was an American sociologist & photographer. Using his camera as a tool for social reform, his photographs were instrumental in changing child labor laws in the United States. His photos were accompanied by descriptions supplied by witnesses, which are related in the captions here.

In 1908-1912, he became the photographer for the National Child Labor Committee. Over the next decade, Hine documented children working at home & in American industry to aid the NCLC’s lobbying efforts to end the practice.  Photos are at the  Still Picture Records Section, Special Media Archives Services Division (NWCS-S), National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD, 20740-6001.



"5 year old Helen and her stepsisters hulling strawberries at Johnson's Hulling Sta. Helen is an orphan, who, one month after the death of her widowed mother, was adopted by the Hope family of Seaford. This is her 2nd season at Johnson's Hulling Sta. On the day of investigation, she started working at 6 A.M., and at 6 P.M. the same day, Helen was still hulling strawberries. Seaford, Del, May 1910"



"January 19, 1909. Macon, Georgia. Some adolescents in Bibb Mill No. 1"


  "Two of the tiny workers, a raveler and a looper in London Hosiery Mills. London, Tenn, December 1910"


"All these pick shrimp at the Peerless Oyster Co. I had to take photo while bosses were at dinner as they refused to permit the children to be in photos. Out of 60 workers, 15 were apparently under 12 years old. Bay St. Louis, Miss, March 1911"


 "Eight year old Jennie Camillo lives in West Maniyunk, Pa. (near Philadelphia). For this summer she has picked cranberries. This summer she is at Theodore Budd's Bog at Turkeytown, N.J. This is the fourth week of school in Philadelphia and people will stay here two weeks more, September 1910"


 "Some of the young girls who roll cigarettes. I could not induce the very smallest ones to get into the photo. One boy said, Lots are working under 14. I went in under 12. Danville, Va, June 1911"


"7-year-old Rosie shucks about 4 pots a day at Varn & Platt Canning in Bluffton, South Carolina."



"Group of children carrying in their pecks to the bushel man. We measured one of these peck boxes and found it contained 10 quarts instead of eight. Theodore Budd's Bog at Turkeytown, N.J. This is the fourth week of school in Philadelphia and the people will stay here two weeks more, September 1910"



"Young spinner in Roanoke Cotton Mills. Said 14 years old, but it is doubtful. Roanoke, Va, May 1911"



"Some of the young girls working in the Pelzer Mfg. Co. Not the youngest. Some of them seem surely under 12. All in photo work. Pelzer, S.C, May 1912"



"Alberta Mc Nadd on Chester Truitt's Farm. Alberta is 5 years old and has been picking berries since she was 3. Her mother volunteered the information that she picks from sun-up to sun-down. Cannon, Del, May 1910"



"3 year old and 2 boys hulling berries at Johnson's Canning Camp. Seaford, Del, May 1910"



"On right hand end is Marie Colbeck, 8 years old, who shucks 6 or 7 pots of oysters a day (30 or 35 [cents]) at Alabama Canning Factory.  Bayou La Batre, Ala, February 1911"



"A mother hulling berries while she nurses her infant. Her other children sit beside her, also at work. Little Mabel Guthrie, 4 years old, started working last year. Seaford, Del, May 1910"



"The girl berry carriers on Newton's Farm. Ann Parion, 13 years of age, working her 5 season, carries 60 Lbs. of berries from the field to the sheds. Andenito Carro, 14 years old, working her 2nd season, is carrying a 25 lb. load of berries. Besides the great physical strain in carrying such weight, these girls also pick berries. When Andenito was asked her age, she responded 12, at which her mother interrupted to say she was past 14. Cannon, Del, May 1910"



"Daisy Langford, 8 years old, works on Ross's Canneries, Seaford, Del. She helps at the capping machine, but is not yet able to keep-up. She places caps on cans at the rate of about 40 per minute working full time. This is her first season in the cannery, June 1910"



"Force working in West Point Cotton Mills. West Point, Miss, May 1911"



"A little spinner in a Georgia cotton mill. January 1909."



"Josie (age 6), Bertha (age 6) and Sophie (age 10) shuck at the Maggioni Canning Company in Port Royal."



"September 1911. Merilda carrying cranberries at Eldridge Bog near Rochester, Mass."



"November 1908. A typical Spinner at Lancaster Cotton Mills in South Carolina."



"At the Maggioni Canning Company in Port Royal, South Carolina, children shucked oysters for 4 hours before a half day of school, returning for 3 more hours of work after school."



"A little spinner in the Globe Cotton Mill. The overseer admitted she was regularly employed there. Augusta, Ga, January 1909"



"January 1909. Tifton, Georgia. Workers in the Tifton Cotton Mills. All these children were working or helping, 125 in all."



"Addie Laird, 12 years old. Spinner in a Cotton Mill. Girls in mill say she is 10 years old. She admitted to me that she was 12 years old, that she started during school vacation and now would stay. North Pownal, Vt, February 1910"



"September 1911. Cranberry pickers at Smart's Bog near South Carver, Mass."



"Laura Petty, a 6 year old berry picker on Jenkins Farm. "I'm just beginnin'. Licked two boxes yesterday." Gets 2 [cents] a box. Rock Creek, Md, June 1909"



"Payne Cotton Mill. Girl with drooping eyes and hands on hips has been helping one year. Macon, Ga, January 1909"



"Minnie Pastor, 10 years old, tending news stand in New York. New York City, July 1910"



"Slebzak family (Polish) working on Bottomley Farm. They have worked here 3 years and one winter at Avery Island, La. All work except the very smallest. She hangs aroung the fields. Begin work about 4 A.M and work sometimes until sunset. Rock Creek, Md, June 1909"



"1911. The girl works all day in a cannery. Location unspecified but possibly Mississippi."



"Seaford, Delaware. May 1910. "Mother and children hulling strawberries at Johnson's Hulling Station. Cyral (in baby cart) is 2 yrs. old this May and works steadily hulling berries. At times Cyral would rest his little head on his arm and fall asleep for a few minutes and then wake up, commencing all over to hull berries. While it was found in this investigation that children 3, 4, 5 yrs. were accustomed to start out before sun-up to pick berries, we have not found many cases such as this."



"One of the spinners in Whitnel Cotton Mill. She was 51 inches high. Has been in the mill one year. Sometimes works at night. Runs 4 sides - 48 cents a day."



"Some of the workers in the Farrand Packing Co. Baltimore, Md, June 1909"



"A moment's glimpse of the outer world. Said she was 11 years old. Been working over a year. Rhodes Mfg. Co. Lincolnton, North Carolina"



"August 1908. Noon hour in an Indianapolis cotton mill."



"Rose Biodo, Philadelphia, 10 years old. Working 3 summers, minds baby and carries berries, two pecks at a time. Whites Bog, Brown Mills, N.J. This is the fourth week of school and the people expect to remain here two weeks more, September 1910"



 "July 1909. Baltimore, Maryland. Workers stringing beans in the J.S. Farrand Packing Co. Those too small to work are held on laps of workers or stowed away in boxes."



"At the Maggioni Canning Company in Port Royal, South Carolina, children shucked oysters for 4 hours before a half day of school, returning for 3 more hours of work after school"



"Spinners and doffers in Lancaster Cotton Mills. Dozens of them in this mill. Lancaster, S.C., December 1908"



"March 1909. Hartford, Conn. Newsgirls coming through the alley. The smallest girl has been selling for 2 years."



"The supervisor said, "She just happened in." She was working steadily. The mills seem full of youngsters who just happened in or are helping sister. Newberry, South Carolina. 1908"



"September 1911. Cranberry pickers at Smart's Bog near South Carver, Mass. "Annette Roy, the youngest worker. Said 7 years old. Picked last year. Lives at 171 Orange Street, Fall River. Also Napoleon Ruel, 53 Hopkins Street. Said 9 years old."



  "The Supt. and a group of children under 16 years starting work after noon. Yazoo City, Miss, May 1911"



"August 1908, Cincinnati. Lena Lochiavo, 11 years old, Basket Seller, Sixth Street Market. Saloon entrance. 11 p.m. Had been there since 10 a.m. and not yet sold out."



"4 year old Mary, who shucks oysters, (two pots a day). Tends the baby when not working. The boss said that next year Mary will work steady as the rest of them. The mother is the fastest shucker in the place. Earns $1.50 a day. Works part of the time with her sick baby in her arms. Father works on the docks. Dunbar, La, February 1911"



"Adrienne Pagnette, and adolescent French illiterate, speaks almost no English. Is probably 14 or 15. Doffs on the top floor spinning room. Her brother is 15 but I doubt it. Her sister Annie said she was 12 years old and helps sister in mill. Been at it all summer. Stooping, reaching and pushing heavy boxes is bad for young girl adolescent. Winchendon, Mass, September 1911"



"Workers in Dunbar, Louisiana stand in front of a shell pile.  They work from 3 AM until 5 PM."



"These all work in Cleveland Hosiery Mills. The very youngest one (with curls) said, "I ravels and picks up." Small boy in another mill said, "Over in Cleveland, they work em so little, they have to stand em on boxes to reach." Children here and in the hosiery mills generally seemed better dressed and in better condition than in spinning mills. Cleveland, Tenn, December 1910"



"8-year-old Annie from Baltimore is a shucker in the Dunbar Cannery, (Dunbar, Louisiana)."



" Three pickers going home from work. Anne, 7 years old, and brother Vincent said 11. Vincent picked last summer. Inez, sister said 6 years old, and picked last summer wid me mudder. Smallest one not quite large enough to get work. Father works in Parker Mills. Parker Mills, Mass, September 1911"



 "Operatives in Indianapolis Cotton Mill. Noon Hour. August 1908."



"April 1909. Phenix, Rhode Island. Edward St. Germain and sister Delia. She has been working in Phoenix Mill for eight months. He works also. They cannot speak English."



"Young pickers on Swift's Bog. All working. Falmouth, Mass, September 1911"



"Girls working in Tampa, Florida, cigar box factory. I saw 10 small boys and girls. Has had reputation for employment of youngsters but work is slack now. January 28, 1909."



"Camille Carmo, Justine, 7 and 9 years old. The older one picks about 4 pails a day. Youngest was picking also. Rochester, Mass, September 1911"



"Teixiera family. Mary 11 years old; Manuel, 10 yrs. Mother and these two children pick 40 measures a day at 7 [cents] a measure. See scoops and pail in foreground. There were two out of 18 workers apparently under 12 and they expected to work several weeks more, losing some weeks of schooling. Falmouth, Mass, September 1911"



 "Two newsgirls. Wilmington, Del, May 1910"




"Circa 1909. Straw beds and footlockers in shack occupied by berry pickers. Anne Arundel County, Maryland."