Labor Unions, Romance And Murder In Lowell Mills

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Imagine spending 13 hours a day on your feet inside a large factory. The air is thick with cotton fibers and the deafening noise of machines making cloth. You get $3 a week and live in boarding houses near the textile mill.

That was the reality for thousands of young women at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States. At the epicenter: Lowell, Mass. Many women left their family farms in the 19th century, coming to Lowell to save some money and earn some independence.

A new novel uses the history of the Lowell Mill Girls, and the true story of the murder of a Fall River girl in 1832, which rocked the community.

"The Daring Ladies of Lowell" infuses history and fiction into a compelling story about life in the factories, the coming push for workers' rights, class in the 19th Century and murder.


Patricia O'Brien, journalist and author. She has published two books under the pen name Kate Alcott.


New England Historical Society: Methodists Vs. Millgirls In The Murder Trial Of The Century

  • "On one thing, everyone agrees: On December 21, 1832, Sarah Cornell was found dead. A Fall River, Mass., mill girl, she was discovered hanged in a farmyard in neighboring Tiverton, R.I. – so stiff from the cold that her body would not lie flat on the ground after a farmer cut her down. That’s about where the consensus ends."

This segment aired on March 17, 2014.


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