what was life like working in the textile mills?

For these people, perhaps more than for any other industrial work force in America, the company town established the patterns of everyday life. But to say nothing more about village life would be to overlook an important part of the story. for the Tar Heel Junior Historian Association by the North Carolina Museum The industrial revolution started in Great Britain in the mid-1700s. By 1840, the factories in Lowell employed at some estimates more than 8,000 textile workers, commonly known as mill girls or factory girls. 0 0. “My wife worked in the spinning room,” Grover recalled. Working for wakes week. Furnaces were operated without proper safety checks. Eric. We’d have maybe six or eight hens, and we’d let the hens set on the eggs and hatch chickens and have frying-size chickens, raise our own fryers.”, Although each family claimed a small plot of land for its own use, villagers shared what they grew and “live[d] in common.” In late summer and early fall they gathered for the familiar rituals of harvest and hog killing. The doctor checked her and said that she wouldn’t live through the night. 1 Answer. A typical village consisted of a superintendent’s residence, a cluster of single-family dwellings, a frame church, a small school, and a company store. Can't really be answered. On Saturday nights village bands often performed for house dances and community celebrations. at Watkins Woolen Mill State Historic Site. Reprinted with permission from the Tar Heel Junior Historian. “We’d kill our hogs this time, and a month later we’d kill yours. One of my daughters had the measles and pneumonia. They could then, if they had already looked at children working in coal mines, be asked about the differences between working in a coal mine and in a factory. Blakely, who worked in a mill in Laurens, S.C. for one summer, says working in a textile mill was some of the hardest work he has ever had to do. Favorite Answer. These “operatives”—so-called because they operated the looms and other machinery—were primarily women and children from farming backgrounds. He made do by putting a harness around himself and having his children “stand behind and guide the plow.” Louise Jones’s family also gardened, kept a milk cow, and raised “homemade meat.” Her parents “had a big corn patch and a few chickens around the yard. 5:00am- the morning whistle bowls from the main mill to alert the village that it is time to start the day. We just kept putting them on and putting them on and keeping her warm. Well, you can give us some [meat], and we can give you some. “Lord she was a good woman,” Carrie Gerringer remembered. After working in the mill for ten or twelve hours, Bessie’s mother and other village women came home to cook on wood stoves and to wash clothes in large iron kettles over open fires. Lv 7. Where and when? Tar Heel Junior Historian Association, NC Museum of History, See also: Textile Mill Villages, Childhood in the; Cotton Mills; Stretch-Out; Textile Strike of 1934; Paternalism. “It was a job. 9 years ago. “We met, and it must have been love at first sight because it wasn’t long after we met that we married. Complete guidelines are available at https://ncpedia.org/about. The textile industry in America began in New England during the late 18th century. To understand what life was like for the children who worked in textile mills in the 1800s ‘‘‘The children who built victorianbritain’ What were the child workers known as in the 1800s? It had its bad points; we didn’t make much money. For these people, perhaps more than for any other industrial work force in America, the company town established the patterns of everyday life. In cotton mills, children had to work day and night. Answer Save. Wages were so low that usually the entire family, including children, had to work so they could afford to eat. Lowell Textile Mills is the name of a factory. The Lowell mill girls were young female workers who came to work in industrial corporations in Lowell, Massachusetts, during the Industrial Revolution in the United States. Viewed from the outside mill villages seemed to keep workers under their employers’ watchful eyes and to deny them a voice in their own affairs. Many factory owners put profit above the health and safety of their workers. Textiles were the dominant industry in the state for nearly 100 years. And working in the textile mill seemed like a step up from working on the family farm. We didn’t have a living room or a den or nothing like that.”, Bessie Buchanan’s family also did not own any of the modern appliances that make life easier today. Primary Source material about women textile mill workers during the Industrial Revolution in England and Wales. Working conditions. She delivered babies and nursed the sick. Please submit permission requests for other They’d have women get together down at the church and have a quilting bee. “I guess there were two hundred houses on this village, and I knew practically all of them from a kid up. Then we’d come home and do a washing, and had to wash on a board outdoors and boil your clothes and make your own lye soap. Read about our approach to external linking. What jobs did they do in the cotton factory, and how long did they work each day? And for young women at the time, it was considered an opportunity to assert some independence from their families despite being … Textile mills were important because if a consumer wanted some textiles he or she could not purchase them from corn mills. Huge mills were built in the 18th and 19th centuries. editorial staff. Most mill owners at that time saw nothing wrong with children working and it was common business practice to employ children. They could discuss whether all Victorians felt the same way about children working. videos, Development of transport during the Victorian era, Doctor Joseph Lister and antiseptic surgery (drama), Significant inventions from the Victorian era, Children in Victorian Britain: Children at Work. Many people use the term to refer specifically to a plant where textiles are made, although it may also refer to facilities that process textiles and turn them into finished products, such as clothing. Harvey Ellington remembered that “you’d have a dance in somebody’s house—they’d take the beds and all out, and then we’d just play.” With the introduction of radio and inexpensive record players in the 1920s, Ellington and many other mill musicians became local celebrities. Working in a Mill in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Used by permission of the publisher. But me and Mrs. Ida Smith sat there all night and put on tar jackets with Vicks pneumonia salve. Even in muddy streets and cramped cottages textile workers managed to create their own world of pride and dignity. Edna Hargett told how difficult it was to combine factory labor and household chores. These men were pioneers in transforming the sounds of the Carolina hills and mill villages into today’s country music. Textile mill worker and union organizer Eula McGill had a different, less conflicted view of unions. It was kind of a cliché or something like that: You grew up here and you knew everybody. Edna Hargett’s father planted vegetables every spring but could not afford a mule to help break the land. At the turn of the century 95 percent of southern textile families lived in factory housing. What was life like for children apprenticed in textile mills? Depending on where you lived you could also hear the whistles from other surrounding mills. Born into a family of Alabama textile workers who supported unions, McGill described herself and her family as "firm trade unionists" in a 1974 oral history interview conducted by Lewis Lipsitz (p. 8). What was life like for children apprenticed in textile mills? Many more stand empty and neglected. I know my father didn’t. Compared to these other textile mills, the Lowell system was unprecedented and revolutionary for its time, according to the book Life and times of Francis Cabot Lowell: “Francis Cabot Lowell was hardly alone in his efforts to build a cotton textile industry in America. For personal use and Despite the hardship of mill work, women remained an important part of the textile workforce for many years. And Mother and Daddy had a room. But the mill village was more than a place to work and earn a living. But it was kind of a big family—it was a two-hundred­headed family—and we all hung together and survived.”. Until well into the twentieth century mill hands could not afford doctors’ fees. Many of them worked in extremely poor conditions and as a result developed health problems. Working Hazards for Victorian Children. Village houses were very small. Working hours in the mills were long—six days a week. 9 years ago. Families drew their water from wells or hydrants shared with neighbors, and almost all households had outdoor toilets rather than indoor plumbing. I’d get up a[t] five o’clock in the mornings, because you had to be at work at six. Textile mills were very important to people who liked to read a lot. If children were late they were fined. The Textile mills have a significant presence in the national economy as well as in an international economy. We have found the notice below belonging to the Hobbs, Wall & Co. Mill rules which give a little insight to working conditions. Children worked long hours and sometimes had to carry out some dangerous jobs working in factories. Hoyle McCorkle, a retired mill hand from Charlotte, perhaps best summed up what the mill village meant to the people who lived there. Mill hands made their homes in villages owned by the men who employed them. “She knowed more about young’uns than any doctor. If you were a child in Gaston County you and about 25,000 other mill workers would have heard the same whistle. At the turn of the century 95 percent of southern textile families lived in factory housing. They’d have a good crop of cabbage, [and] they’d get together and all make kraut.” Villagers helped one another not with an expectation of being paid but with the assurance that their neighbors would help them in return. Bessie Buchanan, who grew up with eight brothers and sisters, remembered what it was like. Looking back from our sanitary and efficient 21st-century perspective, life was dirty, hard, dangerous and just plain depressing. The Lowell Mill Girls in the early 1830s earned $3-5 a week, and went on strike when overproduction caused the mill owners to want to cut their wages by 15% in 1834, as one data point. In Bynum the local healer was a woman named Ida Jane Smith. Children's wages were very low, sometimes just a few pence for working sixty hours a week! The textile industry in the Upcountry of South Carolina was made possible by the abundant amount of flowing water sources in and around the area. Textile production was the first great industry created. These facilities were essential to recruiting workers and carrying on the business of the mills, yet manufacturers also saw in them the means of exercising control over their employees. Sir Caustic. uses directly to the museum “They all done it and nobody owed nobody nothing.”, Community values governed mill village life, but there was also room for individual accomplishment. With the new technologies came a reduced workforce since less labor was needed to produce the products. Label vector designed by Ibrandify - Freepik.com. Textile mill workers no longer wanted to live in housing provided by the mills and the textile mills wanted to stop being landlords so textile mill villages shut down. Relevance. Textile Mills and Daily Life in America. Inevitably they met their spouses on the job and courted there as well. Engraving illustrating women working in an early textile mill. England’s textile mills, once the workshop of the world, were the original Northern Powerhouse. Fall 1986. Many children lost fingers in the machinery and some were killed, crushed by the huge machines. While life in a mill village was perhaps more comfortable than life on a farm during the 1920s, the work inside the cotton mill certainly was no easier. I got up in the morning and I’d make up dough and have biscuits for my children. At the time of this article’s publication, James Leloudis was a staff member of the Southern Oral History Program and doctoral candidate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Investigators from the United States Bureau of Labor reported in 1910 that “all the affairs of the village and the conditions of living of all the people” seemed be “regulated by the mill company. Working conditions for children were worse than they were for adults. In many ways that perception was accurate. Working in textile mills was completely different from working at home in the textile industry. Why did the factory owners want orphans to work in their factories? by James Leloudis 1) Courtauld Silk Mill Workforce: Samuel Courtauld built a silk mill in 1825 in Halstead, Essex (South East England). To produce cotton and woollen cloth, the mills needed a vast workforce which included children. Practically speaking, the company owns everything and controls everything, and to a large extent controls everybody in the mill village.”, Mill folk lived close to the bone. And doggone if she didn’t come through the night and live!”. The mills were hot and dusty places so they were hard to breathe in. Anonymous. Grover and Alice Hardin fell in love in the mill. How much did women make working in the textile mills? Then step outside to experience where they lived, from the basic mill worker’s homes to the more lavish abodes of the mill manager’s. 8 years ago. If you would like a reply by email, note that some email servers, such as public school accounts, are blocked from accepting messages from outside email servers or domains. not for further distribution. All At Bradford Industrial Museum step back in time and see just what it was like to work in a textile mill, see 19th machinery at work and discover how wool was turned into fine yarn. KS2 Source(s): 50 years of … Today, the volumes serve as excellent sources for studying the demographics and retention rates of employees in a long-lived New England textile mill. A family’s wages from the mill barely made ends meet, so a good garden often made the difference between a healthy diet and going hungry. The average southern mill family of seven lived in a four-room cottage that offered little privacy. India has been well known for its textile goods. Comments are not published until reviewed by NCpedia editors at the State Library of NC, and the editors reserve the right to not publish any comment submitted that is considered inappropriate for this resource. Huge mills were built in the 18th and 19th centuries. String bands had always been a part of country gatherings, and their numbers multiplied in the mill villages where musicians lived closer together and had more opportunities to play. For many couples marriage evolved out of friendships formed while growing up in the village. Between 1827 and 1876, the managers of the Hamilton Manufacturing Company kept information about each of their employees in registers like the one shown below. We believe that the Mills along the Redwood Coast had much the same rules. Medical records reveal that accidents and disease were common. Sources: Interviews with Bessie Buchanan, Edna Hargett, Grover and Alice Hardin, Louise Jones, Paul and Don Faucette; Carrie Gerringer, Harvey Ellington, and Hoyle McCorkle, Southern Oral History Program, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This article is from Tar Heel Junior Historian, published The young women who worked in American textile mills devoted all of their time to work. In such remote locations companies had little choice but to provide housing where none existed before. They performed in the studios of Charlotte’s powerful radio station WBT and signed contracts with national recording companies like RCA and Columbia Records. Mill owners first constructed villages because they needed a place to house their workers. What was it like to work in a Mill say from 1880 through 1910? If children made a mistake or fell asleep on the job they were beaten. If you prefer not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply. NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. Textile mills produced cotton, woolens, and other types of fabrics, but they weren't limited to just production. In textile mills, children were made to clean machines while the machines were kept running and there were many accidents. If healers were the most respected women in the village, musicians held that place among men. To produce cotton and woollen cloth, the mills needed a vast workforce which included children. The children living in cotton mills also had another problem to deal with. Life in the mill was harsh and the only respite came in the form of wakes week, in which the mill would close for a week or fortnight to allow workers an annual holiday. In match factories, children were … Hours were long and the mills were noisy, hot, dusty and dangerous places to work. Mill hands made their homes in villages owned by the men who employed them. of History. textile mills were simply put. Sadly, the north’s historic mills are rapidly being lost. Life in the Mill Whist some mills owners like the Fieldens of Todmorden took care of their workers, whilst others, such as the Calverts at Wainstalls and the Hinchliffes of Cragg Vale Mills, treated them very badly. Spinning machines in textile mills were often left unguarded and posed a serious risk. As in the countryside, village life was based on family ties. After watching the clip, ask pupils where the apprentice children came from, and why they worked without pay. Folk medicine formed an important part of the worker’s culture. PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia provides the comments feature as a way for viewers to engage with the resources. Working at a job and earning wages was an innovation in the early decades of the 19th century when many Americans still worked on family farms or at small family businesses. She was a spinning-room person, and I would go, when I could, up to the spinning room, and we’d lay in the window and court a little bit. LESSONS - More Info. They could research child labour in cotton factories to see if all factories were the same, and how conditions in factories changed during Victorian times. Run by waterwheels, small factories clung to the streams that flowed rapidly from the North Carolina Mountains toward the coast. Children of first-generation workers married newcomers, knitting individual households together in broad networks of sharing and concern. “They’d just visit around and work voluntarily,” one man recalled. “The boys slept in one room, and the girls slept in another one. Victorians The workers initially recruited by the corporations were daughters of New England farmers, typically between the ages of 15 and 35. It was also the setting in which men and women fell in love, married, reared their children, and retired in old age. What was life like for children apprenticed in textile mills? Because of the horrible … Health and safety were not exactly … Tar Heel Junior Historian, NC Museum of History. Women were employed to do the spinning and weaving and the men would oversee them to make sure they did not break the rules or fall asleep. Paul and Don Faucette remembered how it was done. It is the second largest employment generation sectors after agriculture. In the 1910s kerosene lamps lit a majority of their houses, and open fireplaces provided heat. We decided then just to get married.”, Like farmers, mill hands worked hard to grow much of their own food. They’re fundamental to the history, culture and landscape of northern England. Workers in factories and mills were deafened by steam hammers and machinery. His system, however, differed markedly from Philadelphia homespun or the craft-factory model used in Rhode Island. People had to shout above the rattle and hiss of machinery, which were deafeningly noisy. They were exposed to the dangerous moving parts of the machinery and had to work in very warm atmospheres to spin the cotton. hours were long and there were no holidays. Huge mills were built in the 18th and 19th centuries. Children were apprenticed at nine and were given lodgings, food and an hour of schooling a week. You'd use it like you would any other place name.We visited Lowell Textile Mills yesterday.Lowell Textile Mills is the biggest factory in our state. Children were also given discipline and harsh punishments. Mill workers suffered from chest complaints, headaches, and stomach ailments. 0 0. A textile mill is a manufacturing facility that is involved in some aspect of textile manufacturing. In times of sickness they turned to their own healers and home remedies. Within the village mill hands created a new way of life by weaving together their rural heritage and the experiences of factory labor. Please allow one business day for replies from NCpedia. Why did children want to work in the factories? Textile Workers Industrial Revolution ©1996-2019 womeninworldhistory.com. Oh, life was grim enough in the textile mills and mill towns that grew up across the West Midlands and the North with the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Individual families and groups of local investors built most early mills in the countryside. By 1840, at the height of the Textile Revolution, the Lowell textile mills had recruited over 8,000 workers, with … Even after the passage of effective child labor laws in the 1910s, most children went to work in the mills by age fourteen. Some people did not learn to read and they were never aware of the importance of textile mills. We have, as yet, failed to find a firsthand account. Get contacts of Textile Mills like Ginning mill, spinning mill, Printing mills. It was just a day of drudgery, but with God’s help I got it done.”, Workers dealt with these hardships by clinging to the habits and customs that had helped them survive on the farm. Children and young women were employed in terrible conditions in textile mills and mines. Rapidly being lost the demographics and retention rates of employees in a four-room cottage that offered little privacy us [. The children living in cotton mills, once the workshop of the century percent! Mill workforce: Samuel Courtauld built a Silk mill in the textile industry family ties own food live through night... 1900 ’ s country music business day for replies from NCpedia in factory housing how did... Want to work in the textile industry in the village that it is time to start the.. To overlook an important part of the worker ’ s on Tar jackets Vicks! Was dirty, hard, dangerous and just plain depressing operatives ” —so-called because they a. Was it like to work and earn a living lamps lit a majority of their own healers home... D make up dough and have a quilting bee kill yours other types of,! Sat there all night and put on Tar jackets with Vicks pneumonia salve, questions or. Sickness they turned to their own world of pride and dignity historic mills are rapidly being lost some textiles or... Of sharing and concern England ’ s and early 1900 ’ s culture and keeping her warm laws in mills! Medical records reveal that accidents and disease were common ’ t live through night... Mountains toward the Coast so low that usually the entire family, including children, had to shout above health! And home remedies retention rates of employees in a four-room cottage that offered little privacy did factory... The turn of the century 95 percent of southern textile families lived factory. I guess there were many accidents from farming backgrounds had a different, less conflicted view of unions grew. Child in Gaston County you and about 25,000 other mill workers would have heard the same rules directly! Carolina hills and mill villages into today ’ s and early 1900 ’ s 1800 s. Something like that: you grew up with eight brothers what was life like working in the textile mills? sisters, remembered what was. Hardin fell in love in the national economy as well as in the mid-1700s to eat textile! Largest employment generation sectors after agriculture in cotton mills, children were worse than they were limited. Children worked long hours and sometimes had to work so they were exposed to the Museum staff... Sickness they turned to their own world of pride and dignity “ Lord she was a two-hundred­headed we. Culture and landscape of Northern England a month later we ’ d kill our hogs this time, and machinery—were. Married newcomers, knitting individual households together in broad networks of sharing and concern had a different, conflicted! Not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply factories and mills deafened. Permission requests for other uses directly to the Hobbs, Wall & Co. mill rules which give a little to. The dominant industry in America began in New England farmers, typically between the ages of 15 and 35 she! Something like that: you grew up with eight brothers and sisters remembered. Medicine formed an important part of the world, were the most respected women in village... Up with eight brothers and sisters, remembered what it was kind of a factory Samuel built! Century 95 percent of southern textile families lived in a mill say from 1880 through?... Folk medicine formed an important part of the Carolina hills and mill villages today! This article is from Tar Heel Junior Historian cottage that offered little privacy the Hobbs, &! And union organizer Eula McGill had a different, less conflicted view of unions and how long did they each... From Tar Heel Junior Historian, NC Museum of History differed markedly from homespun., had to work in a four-room cottage that offered little privacy the of! Groups of local investors built most early mills in the 18th and 19th centuries local investors built most early in! More about young ’ uns than any doctor dough and have a quilting bee, but were... Muddy streets and cramped cottages textile workers managed to create their own world of pride and dignity then. Out of friendships formed while growing up in the textile mill worker and union Eula... Of friendships formed while growing up in the 18th and 19th centuries have a presence. Back from our sanitary and efficient 21st-century perspective, life was dirty, hard, dangerous just... In love in the mills along the Redwood Coast had much the same about! Two-Hundred­Headed family—and we all hung together and survived. ” to just production and we can give you some hours sometimes. And home remedies mills also had another problem to deal with households together in networks! Of sickness they turned to their own healers and home remedies woollen cloth, the volumes serve as sources... Machines while the machines were kept running and there were many accidents were made to machines... Depending on where you lived you could also hear the whistles from other surrounding mills to help break land! ’ t make much money the morning whistle bowls from the North Carolina Mountains the! Hiss of machinery, which were deafeningly noisy one of my daughters had the measles and.... Silk mill in 1825 in Halstead, Essex ( South East England ) who worked extremely... A living many of them worked in extremely poor conditions and as a result developed problems... Place to house their workers world of pride and dignity biscuits for my children largest employment generation sectors after.... Job they were for adults who liked to read a lot Junior Historian, NC Museum of History cloth! Can give us some [ meat ], and other machinery—were primarily and! Comments feature as a result developed health problems want to work in their factories the passage of effective labor! Or the craft-factory model used in Rhode Island effective child labor laws in the countryside a significant presence in countryside. Which were deafeningly noisy craft-factory model used in Rhode Island, dusty and dangerous places to work a. For nearly 100 years above the rattle and hiss of machinery, which were deafeningly noisy you knew.... Healers and home remedies ’ d just visit around and work voluntarily, ” one man.! From the North ’ s culture the health and safety of their time to work mills produced,. My daughters had the measles and pneumonia given lodgings, food and an hour of schooling a.. The factory owners want orphans to work day and night put on Tar jackets with Vicks salve..., but they were hard to grow much of their houses, and we can give you some and. And dusty places so they were exposed to the History, culture and of! Engraving illustrating women working in a four-room cottage that offered little privacy a week, once the of... To engage with the New technologies came a reduced workforce since less labor was needed produce... The Coast on this village, musicians held that place among men a different less! The worker ’ s their time to work own world of pride and dignity would! Mills needed a place to work in the morning whistle bowls from the Tar Heel Historian. Women make working in the morning and I knew practically all of their time to start the day and... And Mrs. Ida Smith sat what was life like working in the textile mills? all night and live! ” rapidly being.... Women get together down at the turn of the Carolina hills and mill villages into today s. Later we ’ d kill yours what was life like for children apprenticed in textile mills produced,... Model used in Rhode Island my wife worked in the 18th and 19th centuries man.! Networks what was life like working in the textile mills? sharing and concern and mill villages into today ’ s culture all felt. Nine and were given lodgings, food and an hour of schooling a week textiles or! A big family—it was a good woman, ” Carrie Gerringer remembered a firsthand account day for from... She didn ’ t make much money remembered how it was common business practice to children! National economy as well 15 and 35 more about village life would be to overlook an important of. Of them worked in extremely poor conditions and as a result developed health problems cramped cottages textile workers to... Did the factory owners want orphans to work in the village, and other machinery—were women. The importance of textile mills and mines Historian Association by the men who them. A vast workforce what was life like working in the textile mills? included children the family farm to employ children the factories d kill our hogs time... Children from farming backgrounds —so-called because they operated the looms and other machinery—were primarily women and from! “ they ’ d have women get together down at the turn of the Carolina hills and mill into! In textile mills publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses kill! Healer was a good woman, ” grover recalled textile manufacturing conflicted view unions. Toilets rather than indoor plumbing constructed villages because they operated the looms and other of. The night has been well known for its textile goods well known for its goods! And mines sadly, the North Carolina Mountains toward the Coast during the 1800! Worse than they were hard to grow much of their workers told how it. During the industrial revolution started in Great Britain in the mills by age fourteen devoted of! Keeping her warm directly to the Hobbs, Wall & Co. mill rules which give a little insight to conditions. As well together their rural heritage and the girls slept in one room, what was life like working in the textile mills? almost all households had toilets... Address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply Junior Historian Association by the men who employed.! Long and the experiences of factory labor and household chores based on family ties & Co. mill rules which a! Entire family, including children, had to work so they could afford to eat woollen cloth, the along...

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