Working Outside the Home

The expansion of the textile industry and the growing supply of inexpensive cloth changed Vermont women’s lives dramatically. Young women, previously crucial to home cloth production, found that their skills were no longer needed. But because weaving was still viewed as women’s work in America, the textile mills recruited hundreds of Vermont farm girls to be laborers. Other young girls found work in the familiar role of housekeeping. Many women taught school, another occupation that was seen as a natural extension of their feminine role. Though countless young girls put in a few years of work for wages, most still expected to marry, raise children, and make a home.

Illustration showing the looms at the Merrimack Manufacturing Company, in Lowell, massachusettes.

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