Women Wage-Earners eBook

Helen Stuart Campbell
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 208 pages of information about Women Wage-Earners.

Until well on in the nineteenth century the factory and the domestic system were still interwoven, nor had there been intelligent definition of the actual meaning of this system until Ure formulated one:—­

“The factory system in technology is simply the combined operation of many orders of work-people in tending with assiduous skill a series of productive machines, continuously impelled by a central power."[15]

A central power controlling an army of workers had been the dream of all mechanicians; and Ure formulated this also:—­

“It is the idea of a vast automaton, composed of various mechanical and intellectual organs, acting in uninterrupted concert for the production of a common object,—­all of them being subordinate to a self-regulated moving force.”

This was the result brought about by the gradual extension of the factory system.  The objections made from the beginning, and still made, with such answers as experience has suggested, find place later on.


[4] By Thorold Rogers.

[5] Weeden’s Economic and Social History of New England, vol. i. p. 304.

[6] Caulkins, p. 273.

[7] Rider’s Book Notes, vol. ii. p. 7.

[8] Boston News-Letter, Jan. 25, 1773.

[9] Boston News-Letter, Jan. 25, 1773.

[10] Barry’s Massachusetts, vol. xi. p. 193.

[11] Weeden’s Social and Economic History of New England, vol. ii. p. 790.

[12] Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1798-1835, p. 353.

[13] Atlantic Monthly, December, 1883, p. 773.

[14] For further detail, see McMaster’s History of the United States, vol. i. p. 62.

[15] Philosophy of Manufactures, by Andrew Ure, M.D., p. 13.


Early aspects of factory labor for women.

Lack not only of machinery but of any facilities for its manufacture hampered and delayed the progress of the factory movement in the United States; but these difficulties were at last overcome, and in 1813 Waltham, Mass., saw what is probably the first factory in the world that combined under one roof every process for converting raw cotton into finished cloth.

Manufacturing, even when most hampered by the burden of taxation then imposed and the heavy duties and other restrictions following the long war, began under happier conditions than have ever been known elsewhere.  Unskilled labor had smallest place, and of this class New England had for long next to no knowledge.  Her workers in the beginning were recruited from the outlying country; and the women and girls who flocked into Lowell, as in the earliest years they had flocked into Pawtucket, were New-Englanders by birth and training.  This meant not only quickness and deftness of handling, but the conscientious filling of every hour with the utmost work it could be made to hold.

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Women Wage-Earners from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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