Back to All Events

A Great Turnout: Factory Girls and Maine's First Labor Strike

  • Parsonsfield-Porter Historical Society's History House 92 Main Street Porter, ME 04047 (map)

Event Description: Professor of History at the Univ. of New England, Dr. Elizabeth de Wolfe will be presenting this little-known tale of ordinary women mill workers who took extraordinary measures to demand just treatment. In 1841, nearly 500 female factory workers walked out of Saco’s York Manufacturing Company and paraded up Main Street, chanting and singing. They gathered in a local church, formed a committee, and sent the factory owner a document articulating their complaints about wages, housing, and paternalistic rules. In this illustrated talk, we’ll explore the life of New England “factory girls,” the opportunities mill work brought, and the challenges of this difficult labor. We’ll examine the tense days that followed the “turn-out” and see how a strike in one Maine town connected to national agitation for women’s rights, including suffrage.