Mechanics’ Hall, originally called the Maine Charitable Mechanic Association, has deep roots in the story of Maine labor. As beloved historian Charlie Scontras wrote, “The MCMA was the state’s first expression of collective consciousness among workers, and its members left no doubt of its importance and value to society.” In honor of this history, we are launching a new labor series. Join us for this latest installment: The Great Turn-Out: Factory Girls and Maine’s First Labor Strike.
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,
Dr. Elizabeth DeWolfe is Professor of History at the University of New England. She received her Ph.D. in American and New England Studies from Boston University and is the award-winning author of several works of history including The Murder of Mary Bean and Other Stories, about the short life and tragic death of a New England textile operative. DeWolfe’s research focuses on the stories of ordinary women whose lives would otherwise be forgotten and she brings her archives-based research into theclassroom in courses on women’s history, historical research methods, and American culture. You can read more about DeWolfe’s research and teaching at www.elizabethdewolfe.com
This event is in partnership with the Maine Humanities Council “World In Your Library” series and is free and open for all. Seating is limited, so reservations are required for this event; register through Eventbrite to reserve your spot.