The labor movement began with the introduction of mechanized manufacturing. One of the first U.S. industrialized cities was Lowell, Massachusetts, just 20 minutes from Windham. The Lowell factories originally were staffed with young New England farm girls who operated the looms. These women found Lowell to be a way to earn money to support their families back home. Some girls also saw Lowell as a chance for adventure, an opportunity to indulge in purchasing goods from the numerous shops that grew along with the mills, or, another way to educate themselves through the lecture and other "improvement" programs that became available.
The mill girls also published their own journal, The Lowell Offering, which contained their essays, stories, and poems. (A sampling of their work can be found in The Lowell Offering: Writings by New England Mill Women (1840-1845) [331.487 LOW])
A middle school project, which took place last school year, saw students at Moran Middle School holding a poetry slam using the poems of mill girls!
I did a quick search and found that the Moran Middle School is in Wallingford, Connecticut, and there is a Moran Middle School blog project, The Greatest Middle School Social Studies Blog in the World. It could very well be the "greatest"--it certainly shows a lot of planning and thought has gone into it, and, they're looking for collaborators from around the world. Read more about it here.
The Library will be closed on Monday for the Labor Day holiday, but I will post a few of the Lewis Hine photos of mill workers that were taken in Lowell a half a century after the Lowell Mill girls wrote their poetry.
The Poetry Friday Round-Up will be held at Poetry for Children.