AMERICAN FACTORIES AND THEIR FEMALE OPERATIVES
BY REVEREND WILLIAM SCORESBY
[Boston November 9, 1844]
In May 1842, the last month before the reduction of wage, I tended 2 looms, running at the rate of 140 beats per minute [2 looms x 140 beats = total 280 beats per minute]. In 24 days I earned 14 dollars 52 cents.
In the next month, June when speed and prices had both been reduced, I tended 3 looms, at a speed of 100 [3 looms x 100 beats = total 300 beats per minute], and earned in 24 days 13 dollars and 52 cents, and I certainly, after the first few days, had an easier task than with 2 looms at the high speed. I increased my earnings every month a little, by the gradual increase in sped, as I grew accustomed to it.
In January, 1843, the speed was raised to about 118 [3 looms x 118 beats = total 354 beats per minute], and the price reduced still lower. I earned in that month, in 24 days on 3 looms, 14 dollars and 60 cents, and my work was in no degree harder. The speed was raised just as we could bear it, and often, almost always, at our own request, because with the increase of speed our pay increased.
In June, 1843, I still tended 3 looms, and in 24 days earned 15 dollars and 50 cents, and in June, 1844, feeling able to tend 4 looms at a speed of about 120 [4 looms x120 beats = total 480 beats per minute]. I received 16 dollars and 92 cents in payment for 24 days’ work.
I affirm that I have not in any of these or other months, overworked myself. I have kept gaining in ability and skill, and as fast as I did so I was allowed to make more and more money, by the accommodation of the speed of the looms and to my capacity. I am by no means the best worker in the room where I work, though perhaps better than average. I believe I have given no exaggerated picture of what has been thee true average of girls. The other departments I suppose have fared much as we in the weave rooms.