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It is a common myth in modern American culture that women first entered the workforce following the second wave of feminism in the middle of the twentieth century To refute this myth one need only go to the Lowell Mills National Parks in Lowell MA which I recently visited These museums paint a vivid picture of life for their nineteenth century working class laborers the majority of whom were women Both the Boott Mill and dormitory exhibits speak to the early days of urbanization and industrialization in the United States particularly surrounding issues of labor laws and raceThe first thing which I noticed about the Boott Mill on this trip happened as I was still in the gift shop getting my entrance ticket I heard the THUNK THUNK of the looms I immediately flashed back to my seventh grade trip to Lowell where my friend thought the looms were unbelievably loud and I thought they were just a little loud It then came out that my group had been given earplugs and hers had not Entering the loom room in 2012 it was loud Really really loud The idea of women working for hours on end in that noise is striking This noise was just one of the many other problems and potential workplace injuries which the workers faced As such it is not a surprise that there was a large amount of labor organizing in the Lowell Mills In terms of general Nineteenth century policy the life of the Lowell mill girls narrative is a microcosm of the United States policy at that time The mill girls were mainly lower-class women seeking economic opportunity for their families Lowell a The employment of these women was a perfect fit for factory owners as the women had few options to make money the owners could pay them little Jansson 2012 However this
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