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Lowell Mill Girl Letters

Anonymous 1840


 Lowell 7th 1840

Dear Friendaccording to my promise I take my pen in hand to Write to you to let you no that i am A 
Factory girl and i wish you Was one i dont no  But thier Will Be aplace For you in a fortnigh or three Weeks 
and as Soon as thier is i Will let you no and as you Can board With me  We Will have first rate fun getting up mornings in the Snow Storms  Susan Sends love to you you dont no how iwant to See you and ivery often think of the good times  We have had to gether Give my respects to moses2 tell him not to forget the Spanggles you dont no how pleasant it is here We Can See all dracut3 From our window Give my love to the miss grays. Elizabeth there is a lot of hansome fellows here my mother is going to Send me a Bundle this Week and you Besure to Write and put the letter in it  Write me all the  logier you can think of about every thing often i think i would like to have you here toohave a good laught for pitty Sake dond show this letter to any body for the Girls are talking  So that idont no what to Write 
            So I Subscribe myself your Friend.  adieu 

1 Elizabeth Ann Jackman born: 1824 June 7, Newbury, Massachusetts, died: 1889, Newbury, Massachusetts, daughter of Richard and Elizabeth Jackman; married 1847 Charles William Hale born: 1821 February 10, Newbury, Massachusetts. 

2 Moses Bradbury Jackman born: 1819, Newbury, Massachusetts, son of Richard and Elizabeth Jackman; married 1847 Mary E. Smith born: 1824, Massachusetts 

3 Dracut, Massachusetts

Anonymous (Bethel, VT) October 1, 1854



                                  Lowell Oct 1 
                                  My Dear brother

I am seated to write you once more I recieved your leter and was very glad to hear from you and also to 
lurn your helth was so good my helh is very good and I enjoy myself beter since Aurilah come back she has come in to the same mill I have lurnt her and am in hops  we shall have looms together she is a dear good girl I never was so well aware how nesesary to my hapiness  wer friends or those I love as I have ben since I come hear how I wish you was whare I could see you once in a while for none have a larger share of my 
love than my brother, when I hear or see the vises of som  yong men I think with no small share of pride and thankfullnes that my brothers if not holy from free folts as so good as they ar 

I supose you will not be sory when you get through to [unclear] I recieved a leter from Carie a short time since when I answer it

I shall direct it to you for I supose it will not do to direct it to her

Prehaps you have hurd we have got the eleven hour sistum we go in at seven and come out at seven we canot make quit as much but it is much easier we had quite a fire hear last week the Musium2 was burnt as the inside and [unclear] was burnt the wether is quite cool fall has indeed come the falling leaf and chily wind remind us that winter is fast aproaching I have been hear almost six months last night I put thirty dolars in the Apleton Bank dont you think I have done prety well for me I have had to get a good money thing since I come hear I dont want you to say any thing about it

I had a leter from home a short time since and father having the blues for the grashopers ar eating up evry thing and he hasnt got any horse give my love to all inquiring friends and acpt  the same

I wish I had ben hear a good while and was going home this fall but nothing preventing I must stay 
one year longer 
now write me a long leter as soon as you get this good night Your [unclear]


  1 Lowell, Massachusetts.

 2  Lowell Museum, 1840-1854.

Bethel, VT, October 19, 1854



                                 Lowell Oct 19, 1854

Dear Brother,

I am seated this beautiful sabath to write you does it seam that two weeks ago we wer together now many miles devides us it seams like a much longer time to me

I arived hear saft friday about 2 o clock I arived at thursday and I went to see Lew is he well and so glad to see me it paid me for all the trouble he says you dont know how much good it does me to have you come and see me he inquired about you and said he should have been very proud to have seen you I told him what you Said to me to get [unclear]he seamed very glad he says if I get  out whare shall I go I shant want to stay round Some he said he wished he could go whare some one could advise him what to do he seamed very anixaous to get out when I set down to a good super I think of him all he has is a piece of brown bread 
no butes in the morning hours at noon meet and potato no gravy

Thare was a felon thare by the name of [unclear] that I was acquainted with in [unclear] (he was not a prisoner) he worked thare he said Lewis was a good boy he thought he had staid long enough and it was a hard place Lewis says if he ever gets out he shall try to be something how is your helth I have wored about you do be carfull wont you how does Bill and [unclear] look you must be kind to [unclear] for you know he woried us left [unclear] awful rawor all us will miss you some wont she give my love to Tom tell him to write me and write as soon as you get this with much love your Sister

1 Lowell, Massachusetts. 

Bethel, VT, September 16, 1855



                                             Lowell July

Bethel Sept.16

My Dear Brother

I am seated this lovely sabath too write you a few lines it is very warm hear now it seems as if I never knew warmer wether than it has been some time back there has been but one case of the Cholera that I know of yet Dear I wish Brother you could have been here the forth I often thought of you and wished you hear too enjoy it with me the first thing in the morning a company marched down this street and surlinly I never saw such a sight they all wore masks or was painted and had on all sorts of clothsthey did not look like human beings they looked more like pictures in the comic almanic the fire engine companies formed on  Merr street 
there was 12 in number each company was dressed in diferent uniform their engines wer trimed with flowers, and there horses wer handsom and trimed with flowers it looked beautifully at three in the afternoon a baloon went up with one man in it he came down at Boston or near there and in the eavening I went and saw the 

1  Lowell, Massachusetts.

Lucy Ann, June 29, 1851





June 29, 1851

Cousin Charlotte, 

Your letter was joyfully received last thursday evening, & this morning I take my pen with a right good will to answer you. This is sabbath morning & can I spend it better than in writing to you?. . .I am alone in my little bedroom. Cordelia & Cornelia Montague are with Chauncey Hopkins in the sitting-room. . . .

I have earned enough to school me awhile, & have not I a right to do so, or must I go home, like a dutiful girl, place the money in father’s hands & then there goes all my hard earnings, within prison walls, my sleepless nights & gloomy days, & all for what, to benefit mother, to make her or any member of our family happy?–No! but to buy chairs, tables, beds &c for our neighbors. And are they better off or happier with them? Not if they are honest…then is not my earnings a dead loss to the world, so appropriated. I answer yes, & my loss of strength & energy are spent in vain. I have done nothing but harm in the world. But if I go to Oberlin4 I take comfort & forget all those long wearisome mill days & perhaps I prepare myself for usefulness in this life—if not I can at least prepare myself to enjoy this life & the next in my way of thinking. If I am necessarily detained at home I shall think all is for the best. I merely wish to go because I think it the best way of spending the money I have worked so hard to earn. You enquired about my health. . .You seem to think I have abused the good health I have been blessed with. Doubtless I have as we all do, through ignorance, but not in walking through wet & snow, as you seem to think,—no I do not remember of taking even a cold after one of those long walks, because I used to take great precaution & freely use the cold water before resting after them. I could not walk now as I am out of practice but I do think they did not hurt me so much as does boarding house fare in one week. As to sitting up late nights do not many others the same. Colonel Lemnhowsky said four hours of sleep is all that he requires. But I sleep enough; they will not let me read in the mill so I sleep there & read nights, & some funny dreams I have besides my looms. I presume I could tell of as many aches as most people, but will that do any one any good? no nor me either. I usually go to bed between ten & eleven, put the lamp in a chair nearby, & read Weld’s Grammar till I get sleepy. I do not get through more than one lesson usually, but when I have an interesting book or story, I do not feel sleepy till sometime in the “wee hours…” I have lost so much energy & ambition since I came to the mill that I fear I shall not do much at school, unless I meet with something to arouse me. . .Yours Truly

Lucy Ann

I’m anxious to know how grandmother is.

1 “An Independent Voice: A Mill Girl from Vermont Speaks Her Mind,” Loriman S. Brigham, ed. Vermont History, Vol. 41, No. 3, (1973): 142, 144-146.

2 Edited by Old Sturbridge Village.

3 Clinton, Massachusetts. 4 Oberlin College, Ohio.

Anonymous (Marcia) Letter

FROM: "MARCIA" (no last name), LAKE VILLAGE, NH
DATE: 1849

If things go right I think of coming to Lowell the last of next week but I cannot stay more than two days because I must go into the mill week after next.  If I can get a chance to trim cloth.  If I do I can board here for nothing they want me to.  I shall not have to work before breakfast or after four o'clock in the afternoon; I shall have my work by the window opening to the west up in the upper story so I shall the benefit of good of the best of air and that I could not get in Lowell   I could have my book in there and study.  If I could not read by course I could do in such a manner that it would be more beneficial than mere cursory reading I should be alone most of the time and I should build castles in the air and indulge in long dreamy reveries about you and the future but I should be much happier with you Charles but I must go to work in the mill somewhere as I want about 20 dollars the worst kind at least.   I shall want it this spring and if I work in Lowell I shall begin to grow poorer and weaker.  I never was better in my life nor weighed so much and if I work Lowell I cannot actually have the privilege of looking out into the pure light of heaven.  Tis the hardest work and the most absolute confinement from one week end to another.  I do not work in the mill here I shall not any where but may and probably shall (if you do not come up here soon to set up in business) go to Lowell and do house work I think.

I shall be so proud of you you little rogue you.  pardon me sir I did not mean a rogue in business I meant I meant. . . .

Anonymous (Lizzie) 1866

April 16, /66

To All At-Home

Here I am safely landed in Lowell. I got at the Depot at half past five and the first smiling face I saw was Calista’s1. I was glad to be sure I got my baggage and myself in a hack and went to Mrs. Sanborn’s they were setting the table for tea – soon.  Calista and Lucy came in I was introduced to the boarders.  a part of them there are twenty - I think. then we had tea then went to our room and talked fast for awhile till the streets were lit then we (Kitt and I) went out - to the post-office & to walk. see such a sight of pretty things it makes me want to get rich right away now we are in our room both writing Kitt had a letter from Fisher they have got a boy.  I hope I am going to like - don’t feel a bit homesick yet for all my room is not very large or nice.  don’t know rather Kitt and I shall room together or not - guess we shall sleep together tonight. Had a good visit with Mary. She met me at the Depot. I had an awful headache that day was not dressed quite warm enough

1 Calista Burgin b: 1836, Maine; working in cotton mill, boarding at Mary J. Hutchinson b: 1814.