Holly Guran | The Committee Responds to Petitions for the Ten-Hour Day, 1845

Based on Massachusetts House Document no. 50


We gathered many facts in relation to

the Hours of Labor. The average each day

in the Lowell mills—twelve and a half.


Sarah Bagley works by the piece.

Chief evil: shortness of time for meals.

Next evil: no time to cultivate the mind.


Dr. Wells, city physician found less sickness

here than elsewhere, fewer dying

in Lowell this year than last.


Petitioners respond. Females taken sick in Lowell

return home and die. One girl fell down, broke

her neck which led to instant death.


Mr. Isaac Cooper Member of the House, overseer

at a mill, said girls enjoy the best health.

Early to bed, early to rise, three meals regular.


Olive Clark favors the ten-hour system.

The long hours affected my health, my breath.

Small balls of cotton fly about.


We visited and saw grass plats laid out

and within, cultivated flowers

all aimed at health and comfort.


Mr. Abbot at the Lawrence Corporation

was asked to appear. His boss instructed,

Go, but say as little as possible.


Restricting the hours, we could not compete.

Better if they were less, the air pure, more time to eat,

but the remedy is not with us.


Sarah Bagley complained. Whatever

was given  was made to say

what we never said or thought of saying.

In conclusion, the remedy lies in more love

for social happiness, a higher appreciation

for man’s destiny, in less love for money.


They shaped the whole to please the aristocrats.

In the next one we’ll ask them to extend us

the same protection they give animals.


Lewis Hine - Spinners in a cotton mill, 1911

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