Lessons for Teachers Made Available by the Tsongas Industrial History Center

Boott Mill Weave Room, Lowell, Mass.
Schoolchildren get an up-close look at the Boott Mill Weave Room at Lowell National Historical Park as part of the Tsongas Industrial History Center's educational programs.


Media contacts: Emily Gowdey-Backus, director of media relations and Nancy Cicco, assistant director of media relations
New educator-focused history lessons and resources developed by the Tsongas Industrial History Center aim to teach high school students across the country about Lowell’s textile economy of the 1800s and its ties to slave labor before the U.S. Civil War. 
“Unbroken Bonds: The Meaning of Slavery and Abolition in a Northern Textile City,” is a suite of educational tools to launch in 2024 that includes a teacher workshop, virtual field trip and online resources focused on connections between Lowell’s cotton textile industry and Southern cotton plantations from 1832 to 1860. The curriculum is funded by a $9,500 grant from the Expand Mass Stories initiative of Mass Humanities.
A partnership between UMass Lowell’s School of Education and the National Park Service at Lowell National Historical Park, the Tsongas Industrial History Center has taught nearly 1.5 million K-12 students and teachers across the country, through lessons offered both online and in person at the Boott Cotton Mills Museum in Lowell, and environmental education programs along the Merrimack River. 
The organization’s most recent project exemplifies the center’s mission to pair experiential learning with Lowell’s rich history to help learners explore the city’s role as a birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, as well as examine the impacts of industrialization on society and on the environment. The goal is to inspire learners’ curiosity, critical thinking skills and desire to take action, according to Sheila Kirschbaum, the center’s director. 
“‘Unbroken Bonds’ will provide educators and students with resources to examine the complex relationships – not only in Lowell but throughout Massachusetts – between Southern cotton producers and Northern industrialists, enslaved labor and free workers, and a range of anti-slavery activists of the mid-1800s,” she said. “We are grateful to Mass Humanities for funding an initiative that will build understanding about the legacy of Antebellum Lowell’s relationship to the institution of slavery and the movement to abolish it.”
The center is located inside Lowell National Historical Park’s Boott Mill No. 6 in Lowell. For more about its mission and programs, visit www.uml.edu/tsongas.
Alongside funding provided to the Tsongas Industrial History Center, Mass Humanities recently announced grants to 42 cultural nonprofits for projects that include exhibits, documentary films, oral histories, and public events. Totaling $751,424, the grants will help reimagine the story of Massachusetts.