Cover of the Lowell Offering magazine featuring a mill girl

Young women from all over New England started coming to Lowell in the late 1820s to work in the textile factories. Known as “mill girls,” these women operated machines in the mills, lived in company boardinghouses, and experienced new and exciting cultural opportunities in Lowell.

Choose Your Own Mill Girl Adventure

Eliza Paige just arrived in Lowell from her family farm. What will she face in this new industrial city? You will be challenged with a series of decisions that will decide Eliza's future. You can play multiple times and make different choices for Eliza.

Living in a Boardinghouse

This short video ("A Day in the Boardinghouse") explores what life was like for the mill girls who lived in company boardinghouses during the mid-19th century. The boardinghouse became a home away from home for the young women who lived there.

Mill Girls’ Letters Home

Many mill workers sent letters home during their time in Lowell, leaving us with many valuable resources to learn about their lives. Mary Paul was a young woman who left her home in Vermont in November 1845 to become a mill girl in Lowell. [This link goes the Center for Lowell History’s website.]

  • In the letter dated April 12, 1846, Mary tells her father about working and living in Lowell. At some point in the next two years she left the mill, returning in November 1848.
  • The first two paragraphs of the letter dated November 5th, 1848 tell a different story from her time in Lowell two years earlier.

Mill Girl Images

These images are two of the very few period images of early mill workers. [The links goes to the Center for Lowell History’s website.]

  • The first is a drawing by Winslow Homer, titled “The Bobbin Girl” by Winslow Homer of a girl making yard on a spinning frame.
  • The second is one of the first know photographs of a mill girl at a loom where she is weaving threads into cloth. (

Lowell: The Continuing Revolution

Lowell National Historical Park tells the story of an industrial city and the people who worked in its mills. Explore the history of Lowell through this short introductory film. [This link goes to Lowell National Historical Park’s website.]

We have created two activities for use with the film.
Writing Prompt Activity: Newspaper Writing
Writing Prompt Activity: Immigration