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From “10 Footers” to Factories: Industrial Growth in the Antebellum North
Resources & Links

Theme: An Industrious People: American Economic History
Topic: Building Wealth Through the China and East Indies Trade
Date: Summer 2005

Annotated Bibliography | Primary Sources -Print | Websites and Web Resources |
Related Archives and Collections | Other

Resources and Links compiled and annotated by SALEM in History staff

Annotated Bibliography
Compiled and annotated by SALEM in History staff

Secondary Sources


Bailey, Ronald. “The Other Side of Slavery: Black Labor, Cotton, and Textile Industrialization in Great Britain and the United States.” Agricultural History 1994 68(2): 35-50.

Traces and explains the ways in which industrialization in Britain and New England in   the late 18th and early 19th centuries supported a Southern economic system based on black slave labor.

Blewett, Mary. Men, Women, and Work: Class, Gender, and Protest in the New England Shoe Industry, 1780-1910. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.

A seminal work (building on Dawley’s study) which uses gender analysis to understand the shape/process of shoe production, the social lives of Lynn shoeworkers and to explain the ultimate failure of the 1860 shoeworker strike.

Buck, Robert Enoch. “Railroads and Capital: Money, Credit, and the Industrialization of Shoemaking. American Journal of Economic and Sociology 57 (4): 513-528.

Compares Lynn, MA and Buckfield, MA (two towns where shoemaking occurred in    the early 19th century) to explore the ways in which the railroad’s presence impacted the growth or decline of the trade. Links shoe industry’s success to positive relationship between town and railroad.

Cochran, Thomas C. Frontiers of Change: Early Industrialism in America. New York: Oxford University Press, 1981.

            A useful survey of the Industrial Revolution in the United States.

Cushing, Elizabeth Hope. The Lynn Album: A Pictorial History. Virginia Beach, VA: The Donning Co., 1990.

            Based on photographic evidence. Wonderful visuals.

Dalzell, Robert F. Jr. Enterprising Elite: The Boston Associates and the World They Made.  Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990.

            Details the individuals involved in financing New England mills—esp. in Lowell.             Explores their process and impact.

Dawley, Alan. Class and Community: The Industrial Revolution in Lynn. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.

Seminal book. A portrait of Lynn during the rise of industrialization in the early 19th  century through the post-bellum years. Offers insights and interpretations useful for understanding the relationship between the personal and communal transformation that took place in industrial town after industrial town throughout the 19th century as a work, workers, and a community shifted from small scale to large scale production.

Deitch, Joanne Weissman ed. The Lowell Mill Girls: Life in the Factory. Perspectives on History Series. Carlisle, MA, 1998.

Useful as an introduction to the topic, this slim volume incorporates scholarly research in a readable fashion and while written for a general audience, it is appropriate for middle and high school reading levels. 

Dublin, Thomas. Women at Work. The Transformation of Work and Community in Lowell, Massachusetts, 1826-1860. New York: Columbia University Press, 1979.

Classic and important study of the earliest generation of women operatives in Lowell and the changes that factory work brought to their lives and their communities.  A “must-read.” Details the ways in which rural values and ways of life shaped and were changed by work in Lowell’s factories (and life in Lowell’s boardinghouses). Helps de-romanticize a view of Lowell’s early years and illuminates the impact of industrialization on working women’s lives and relationships. Finally, Dublin discusses the shift, by the 1840s, to employing immigrant workers in the factories.

“Step Forward, Step Back”. Special issue of the Essex Institute Historical Collections (April 1991) vol 127 No.2

This exhibition catalog features essays on American footware from the 1690s to the 1990s.  In “Following the Footprints of the Past: The Shoe Collection of the Essex Institute,” Paula Richter curator at Peabody Essex Museum, traces the history of American shoe production into the mid-20th century using the rich holdings in the Museum collections.  In “Simply Stupendous: A Century of Exposition Shoes, 1839 – 1939, Jeffrey Butterworth explores the popularity of expositions.  Of note here is the   importance of showcasing the latest innovations and designs at these events, where people would certainly compare the achievements of different artists, craftsmen, and manufacturers from different regions or nations.  The discussion reinforces the significance of manufacturing both in the Essex County region and in America generally, and helps to link “local” and “national” trends.  Finally, Nancy Rexford’s discussion raises important issues and considerations for examining objects with an eye to interpreting them as historical evidence.  Some issues include: how to examine shoes and the central importance of interpretation, categorization, understanding consumption choices made and choices available, methods and evidence, “asking the right questions.” 

Gutman, Herbert. “Work Culture and Society in Industrializing America, 1815-1919.” In Gutman, Work Culture and Society in Industrializing America: Essays in American Working Class History (Vintage: New York, 1976)

Classic work of labor history. Explores workers’ lives in contexts other than merely the workplace and explains the ways in which workers’ lives outside the workplace impacted their lives/work within. Established the baseline for “new” labor history and historians.

Hensley, Paul B. “Time, Work, and Social Context in New England.” New England Quarterly 1992 65(4):531-559.

Contrary to much common thought, this article argues that at the advent of industrialization, New Englanders were already accustomed to thinking of time as a   quantity to be measured, saved, and used to good ends; therefore, they had little trouble adjusting to the demands of wage and factory work. 

Hounshell, David A. From the American System to Mass Production, 1800-1932: The Development of Manufacturing Technology in the United States. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984.

A classic and informative work on the technological changes that led to and accompanied industrial growth in the United States.

Laurie, Bruce. Artisans into Workers: Labor in 19th Century America. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1997.

This study of labor movements describes the transition from household to factory work over the course of the 19th century.

MCaulay, David. Mill. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1983.

Fictional account of the construction and working of a mill. Illustrations are wonderful.  

National Park Serivce. Lowell: The Story of an Industrial City. Washington DC: US Department of the Interior.

Official guide and overview of the Lowell National Historic Site. Offers a valuable  perspective on the industrialization of America beginning the early 19th century. This    generously illustrated handbook by historian Thomas Dublin takes a close look at the   industrial capitalists and the workers - both Yankee women and immigrant families - who produced millions of yards of cloth through cycles of prosperity and decline.

Porter, Susan ed. Women of the Commonwealth: Work, Family and Social Change in Nineteenth Century Massachusetts. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1996.

Essays explore a range of topics related to women’s labor/work in the 19th century.

Prude, Jonathan. The Coming of Industrial Order: Town and Factory Life in Rural Massachusetts, 1810-1860. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

Highly celebrated book which explores complexities between town and factory, class conflicts, and the lives and resistance of non-unionized workers in New England’s textile industry. Adds to the studies of Dublin and Dawley. New edition in 1999.

Rivard,  Paul E. A New Order of Things: How the Textile Industry Transformed New England. Hanover & London: University Press of New England, 2002.

A vast and accessible overview of the rise and collapse of the textile industry in New England written by the former curator at Lowell MA’s American Textile History Museum. Based on oral histories and archeological documents, this book is also lavishly illustrates with photographs from museum collections.

Rothenberg, Winifred Barr. “The Invention of American Capitalism: The Economy of New England in the Federal Period” Temin, Peter ed. Engines of Enterprise: An Economic History of New England. Cambridge, MA  and London: Harvard University Press, 2000.

Places specific changes in New England into a broader discussion of the economic   revolution that took place in New England in the same years as the American Revolution. Discusses the growth of markets in the early national period and explores the ways in which they established the basis for even greater growth in the years to come. Highlights the transition of people from jacks-of-all-trades to specialists and participants in a market economy

Thomson, Ross. The Path to Mechanized Shoe Production in the United States. Chapel Hill:  University of North Carolina Press, 1989.

Tucker, Barbara. Samuel Slater and the Origins of the American Textile Industry, 1790-1860. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984.

Readable and useful history of the textile industry which began in R.I. where Samuel Slater introduced an integrated operation after which many later factories/industries were  patterned. 

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Primary Sources – Print

Dublin, Thomas ed. Farm to Factory: Women’s Letters, 1830-1860. New York: Columbia University Press, 1981; second ed., 1993.

Excellent set of published primary sources by one of the country’s leading scholars. Suggest the challenges, excitement, and transformations that accompanied women from their rural homes to the nation’s early industrial centers.

Eisler, Benita. The Lowell Offering: Writings by New England Mill Women (1840-1845). Philadelphia: Lippencott, 1977.

Accessible compilation of writings by Lowell’s first generation of “mill girls.” The Lowell Offering was a compilation of letters, short stories, poems and essays written by   the mill girls, often about their experiences.

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Websites and Web Resources
Compiled and annotated by SALEM in History staff

History Matters: The History Survey Course on the Web

A superb and highly-respected resource for teachers and students in U.S. History survey courses; offers not only primary sources but source analysis tutorials and a rich set of links. Includes three centrally important sections: WWW. History offers a searchable list of and annotations for over 700 high quality websites; Many Pasts which contains over 1,000 primary sources covering the broad sweep of American History and represents a range of source types and Making Sense of Evidence which offers detailed, in depth, and interactive explorations into how historians analyze, interpret, and various types of sources including maps, letters, films and oral history. Of particular interest for this topic is an engraving entitled “Shoemakers in a ‘ten-footer’ shop” (

Historic Cost-of-Living Calculator

Calculate the purchasing power of money in any year from 1665 to 2003.

American Centuries - Memorial Hall Museum

This highly-acclaimed website makes available digital versions of over 1,800 historical objects and documents from the collection of the Memorial Hall Museum in Deerfield, MA. Although the focus of the collections is on New England, the materials tell broad and significant stories about American History more broadly conceived. The sources are searchable in a number of ways and all are annotated. There is also a feature "My Collection" which allows visitors to create their own online collection of objects and documents. Of particular interest for this topic are photographs and a logbook from Deerfield-area industries, which can be browsed in the category “Work.”

Center for Lowell History
University of Massachusetts - Lowell

The University of Massachusetts Lowell, Center for Lowell History was established in 1971 to assure the safekeeping, preservation, and availability for study and research of materials in unique subject areas, particularly those related to the Greater Lowell Area and the University of Massachusetts Lowell.  Located downtown in the Patrick J. Mogan Cultural Center, the Center is committed to the design and implementation of historical, educational, and cultural programs that link the University and the community in developing an economically strong and multi-culturally rich region. The website includes bibliography, some primary sources and a finding aide to the Center’s manuscript collection.

A Curriculum of United States Labor History for Teachers
Illinois Labor History Society

Timelines, handouts and supplementary material for teachers on labor history, including the industrial revolution. Developed by the Illinois Labor History Society.

Liberty Rhetoric and 19th Century American Women

A website with primary sources and analysis on the Lowell mill girls.

Lowell Offering (selected articles)
University of Massachusetts – Lowell

Links to selected articles from the Lowell Offering, a journal published by Lowell’s “mill girls” in the 1840s.

"Metzeliger Demonstrates Revolutionary Machine"
Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities
Mass Moments

In 1885, Jan Matzeliger demonstrated a machine that revolutionized the shoemaking industry. This Mass Moments website includes a brief biography (in print and audio) of Matseliger and details of his invention. Includes links to primary sources related to this Massachusetts Moments

"Mill Girl Writer Lucy Larcom Dies"
Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities
Mass Moments

Lucy Larcom, one of Lowell’s “mill girls,” was also a poet and wrote for the Lowell Offering, published by the “mill girls.” She is best remembered for her autobiography, A New England Girlhood. (1889)  The Mass Moments website includes a brief biography (in print and audio) of Larcom and links to additional sources/resources related to her life. Excerpts from A New England Girlhood by Lucy Larcom can be found online at:

Modernizing Cotton in New England - Lesson Plan

This lesson plan includes an oral history document from one of the Lowell millworkers which details her feelings and experiences. The activity allows students to see one person's experience in the context of the larger historical time period; i.e. the use of greater technology in manufacturing.

New England Economic Adventure
Federal Reserve Bank of Boston

The educational website for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston includes online exhibits on aspects of New England’s economic history, easy-to-read publications on economic history and profiles of family life throughout history. Also includes links to lesson plans on the economics of the Lowell mills, the technological roots of the industrial revolution and other topics at the intersection of history and economics.

Old Sturbridge Village Lesson Plans

The “Learning Lab” portion of the Old Sturbridge Village website includes lesson plans relating to early 19th century New England family life and economics.

Teaching with Historical Places - Lesson Plans
National Park Service

This website includes lesson plans tied to the Boott Cotton Mills of Lowell and the Saugus Iron Works. Select “Labor History” from list of thematic options and scroll down.

Tsongas Industrial History Center

The Tsongas Center (a collaboration between the UMASS Lowell School of Education and the Lowell Natl. Historical Park) is a hands-on history center for studentsto learn about the American Industrial Revolution and a curriculum resource for teachers to teach about the same. Website offers downloadable curriculum packets and downloadable classroom activities on a range of topics from water power to economics to the nature of factory work.

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Related Archives and Collections
Compiled and annotated by SALEM in History staff

Essex Heritage Area

The “Educators Resource Guide” includes bibliographies and information on educational programs at the Essex National Heritage Area sites including sites in Lynn and Lawrence

Lowell National Historic Park

The history of America's Industrial Revolution is commemorated in Lowell. The Boott Cotton Mills Museum with its operating weave room of 88 power looms, "mill girl" boardinghouses, the Suffolk Mill Turbine Exhibit and guided tours tell the story of the transition from farm to factory, chronicle immigrant and labor history and trace industrial technology. The park includes textile mills, worker housing, 5.6 miles of canals, and 19th-century commercial buildings. The Tsongas Industrial History Center offers student programs and teacher professional development.

Lynn Museum & Historical Society

Museum documenting the history of Lynn. Educational programs offered.

Immigrant City Archives
Lawrence History Center

These archives, available to researchers, document the history of this city at the heart of the industrial revolution in photographs, oral histories, business papers, newspapers and other primary source material. Museum exhibits place Lawrence in broader historical context.

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Compiled and annotated by SALEM in History staff

Children’s Books/ Books For Classroom Use

Burton, Virginia Lee. The Little House. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1978. (originally             published 1942)

Burton, Virginia Lee. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1939.

Deitch, Joanne Weissman ed. The Lowell Mill Girls: Life in the Factory. Perspectives on History Series. Carlisle, MA, 1998.

Useful as an introduction to the topic, this slim volume incorporates scholarly research in a readable fashion and while written for a general audience, it is appropriate for middle and high school reading levels.

MCaulay, David. Mill. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 1983.

Fictional account of the construction and working of a mill. Illustrations are wonderful.  

Mc Cormick, Anita Louise. The Industrial Revolution in American History. In American History Series. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers Inc., 1998.

This book is written for upper elementary and middle school students. It traces the development of American industry from its roots in 18th century England through to its decline around WWII. Well organized, clear prose, includes illustrations. 

Patterson, Katherine. Lyddie.

Award-winning, fantastic upper-elementary level fictional account of a young teenager (Lyddie) who leaves her Vt. farm in the 1840s to work in the Lowell textile mills.

Cobblestone (September 1981) “America at Work: The Industrial Revolution”

This magazine focuses on topics in American history and is appropriate for students in grades 4 through junior high school.


Published Lesson Plans


Magazine of History. Volume19, Number 3 May 2005. (“Market Revolution”)

Like all volumes of the Magazine of History (published for teachers by The Organization of American Historians) this volume (devoted to the Market Revolution in the US) contains historical and historiographic essays on the topic by leading scholars along with primary source-based lesson plans and website reviews. Lesson Plans in this volume include the following:  “What’s a Body to Do?: A Series of Personal Dilemmas” [exploring the various options/choices to be made by a Journeyman, a Mill Girl, a Squatter and  a Slaveholder];  “The ‘Monster Bank’ Game” [exploring the role/importance of banking in/to the market revolution]; a guided exploration of correspondence related to Robert Fulton’s contribution to the transportation revolution. For information about subscribing to the magazine or ordering single copies of this volume see the Magazine of History portion of the OAH website at:


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