History Around Us

I’m not sure I really appreciated Lowell’s place in history. We live immersed in the history of the Industrial Revolution here in Lowell, and oftentimes we don’t see or appreciate it.

Carved out of Chelmsford, Lowell traces its beginnings to the 1820s. Lowell was a planned manufacturing center for textiles.

This week, my third graders visited the Tsongas Industrial History Center and the Boott Mills as part of our third grade study of the community. The program we participated in, Change in the Making, chronicles Lowell’s development from its beginnings as East Chelmsford to the development of the textile mills.

We started in the Boott Mills Weave Room – where although only 6 looms were operating the noise of the looms was nearly unbearable. Climbing five flights of stairs to the class rooms was a chore for my third graders – but something Mill workers did numerous times each day, and in record time.  

As tempting as it might be to romanticize the past, there was much that made life as a Lowell Mill girl (or boy) hard. Long regimented hours, dangerous machinery, unreasonable mill overseers, and an often unhealthy environment caused by the cotton fibers in the airless weave rooms. I’m not sure many of my students thought they would enjoy being part of the good old days.

I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t have.

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