The North and South Times
The Lowell Health
Are the Lowell Girls' Risks Worth the Money?
Sunday December 31, 1844- The Lowell Mills have been receiving outstanding comments from their tourists, babbling of the immaculate rooms and machinery, but is this really the case? We focused on the Lowell girls of one of the mills in Lowell, Massachusetts, and went in for a deeper look. We saw young women being forced to work for sometimes 14 hours and working in blistering hot conditions, the machines all the while making deafening sounds. Cotton would fill the air and reach the frail mill girl's throat and the poor maiden would start coughing to no end. Many of these Lowell girls have fallen to chronic cough, and others have been falling ill to even worse illnesses. With these illnesses, the girls also complain of being black and blue all over, their hands covered in cuts. In this past year, 362 of these workers have died, inflammation of the lungs proving to be deadly in many cases. And all the while this is happening, wages have been lowering.
The Lowell Girls' Opinions
We talked to many of these girls, and they had a wide variety of views about this situation. One told of us of how just the day before, her best friend had slipped and died by the hand of the dangerous machinery. Another talks of how she has never been healthier in her life, and sees the mills as perfectly safe. There are many conflicting views of the working conditions, but all seem to agree that they would want to lower the hours of work. Many have spoken of forming trade unions to protest against these hours and their wages. Just recently, a woman, by the name of Sarah G. Bagley, has organized the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association. This association fights for a 10-hour workday and large amounts of mill workers have been joining to work with Sarah G. Bagley in her efforts to improve conditions. Maybe we'll see a large improvement in the health of these Lowell girls in the future.