Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dover Mill Girls

Think your job is difficult? Read on:
Advertisement from the Strafford Register August 12, 1822:

Wanted to Hire: At the Dover Cotton Factory, Upper establishment, 50 smart, capable girls between 12 and 25 years of age to work in the factory to whom constant employment and good encouragement will be given.
The work was hard and the pay was low. Girls were given $ .47 cents a day plus room and board. In 1828 the mill changed hands and the new owner reduced female workers wages by $.5, but not men. Talking was not permitted, not that it would be heard above the rumble and clatter of the machinery. The eleven hour workday was ruled by a system of bells. Workers who were late would be locked out and subjected to a 12 1/2 cent fine.
The work was also dangerous. Newspaper accounts frequently reported accidents such as a woman's hand being mangled in machinery, or a girl losing her scalp when her hair became stuck in the looms.

The mill girls were finally driven to rebellion, enacting the first women's strike in the United States. On December 30, 1828, about half of the 800 mill girls walked out. They marched around the Mill with signs and banners and even ignited two barrels of gunpowder. The Dover mill girls were forced to give in when the mill owners immediately began advertising for replacement workers. Striking workers returned to work January 1, 1829 at reduced wages.  To read more follow this link. 

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