Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Date Information

May 2019

Department

History

First Advisor

Donna Seger

Abstract

The antebellum period in American history began at the end of the War of 1812, and lasted till the outbreak of the Civil War. This was a time of growth for the new country of the United States of America, and largely coincided with the industrial revolution, which spanned the 18th and 19th centuries. The 1830s through the 1860s was a time which saw the rise of industrial labor in America, and the instillation of cotton and textile mills. As cities began to crop up around industrial centers, typically built along waterways and canals, new societies were quickly formed. In the case Lowell Massachusetts, the mills were largely operated by women. These operatives, who would become known as the Lowell Mill Girls, formed their own society rooted in New England’s self-improvement ideology. With the absence of men from their daily lives, these women were able to exist in a city beyond the confines of their own home and domestic endeavors. Seizing access to literature and creating opportunities for their own academic advancement, the women of Lowell thrived in their own community, despite the sacrifices it cost them.

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