Day 55, Saturday, September 8, 2018
Lowell National Historical Park, Lowell, Massachusetts
After I visited the Boott Cotton Mill and Museum, I headed back outside to find a folk music festival happening on the grass outside. I stopped to listen for a while and was impressed by the talent of the musicians! There was a banjo and fiddle competition and a musical duet. It was nice just sitting outside and enjoying the music.
Next I headed over to the Mill Girls and Immigrants Exhibit, just across the square from the Mill. The exhibit is housed in what used to be one of the Boott Cotton Mill’s boardinghouses. The boardinghouse was built in 1835, and housed 20-40 mill girls in a communal setting. About $1.25 per week would have paid for three meals per day, limited laundry and a shared bedroom.
The boardinghouses were owned and operated by the mills and had strict rules for the residents. Girls had curfews, were not allowed to consort with men, were not permitted to drink and had to attend church services on Sundays. If they broke the rules, their job could be at risk. Times were different then…
It was interesting to see the parlors, communal dining room, and bedrooms in the boardinghouse. Even though the girls wouldn’t have had any privacy, it did give them ready access to friends and a support system in a city and job that was unlike anything they had experienced.
After I left the boardinghouse, I took a walk back through the town along the canal and its walking path. It was interesting to imagine what these workers experienced almost 200 years ago. I’m so glad that Lowell had the foresight to save these old buildings and their history.