The first location at the Museum was where the Mill Girls lived. They slept in the same bed and they had a housekeeper and one of the keeper’s names was Mrs. Matthews. A display of all the food prepared for each of their 3 meals was displayed on a wall. The Mill Girls woke each morning, very early, to bells from the mill and returned home at the end of a very long day, 14 hours or more. The girls own room had one fireplace, some windows, and some candles. It was very dark in there.
Next we walked, in the rain, to the place where they worked; it was very loud! They used mill machines that were every old looking. The Mill Girls worked fourteen hours+ a day, on one of five floors, with one hundred machines per floor. That’s a lot of noise! Did you know that the machines were so loud that over time the mill workers would often experience severe hearing loss? Also, you could hear all the mills’ machines from up to five miles away.
Our third experience was to participate in a Town Meeting. Should the Irish children have a school, was the focus of our town meeting. We dressed up as citizens of Lowell and we were all provided a name and a job of a real person from 1841. We had a choice of either to provide Irish children with a school or to continue the practice of not providing education to them. There were four selectmen. Half of the class voted for the Irish children have their own school and the other half of the class said the Irish children shouldn’t have there own school. But then we figured out that girls/women could not vote, so that changed the whole subject and the new vote was to not provide a school for the Irish children. Although in, 1841, the Lowell citizens did vote to provide a school for the Irish youth.
Our last experience, was to be ‘immigrants’. We dressed up as immigrants from different countries. We had to get tickets from our teacher, who was also dressed up as the person who tells you where to go for processing, and we sat in a line on the floor by country. We waited for our guide to show us what to do next. There were bags full of things that immigrants and their family would bring with them like dolls, pots and pans, crosses, bibles, and clothes, based upon their country of origin. We talked together, within our group to decide why it was brought and how each item was used. We displayed the items, for other students, to see the types of objects people would bring from different countries.
Below is our brief interview with Mrs. Atkinson and Mrs. Shammas about bringing students on field trips, specifically to the Tsongas Museum.
Reported by: Schuyler, Thanos and Vanya