Mill Workers at Boarding House circa 1860's
Construction of boarding houses at Chicopee Falls for Chicopee Manufacturing Company in the 1830's created housing for over 500 girls (and 200 men) from neighboring towns.
Boarding houses were run by matrons who strictly enforced the rules of the house including a 10pm curfew, temperance, and weekly church attendance. Mill girls were charged approximately $1.25 per week to live in overcrowded boarding houses with as many as six girls per room, which permitted virtually no privacy. Female operatives worked twelve hours a day and earned $3-$5.40 dollars per week. Many of these young women sent their wages home to their families, but some simply saved their earnings for their future nuptuals and household neccessities. For recreation, the factory girls attended reading and writing classes offered specifically for them, joined reading circles, knit, and went shopping.
Photograph courtesy of Chicopee Historical Society