Chicopee Archives Online

Olive Leaf September 16,1843

One of the ways we know about the lives and interests of Chicopee factory girls is by reading local newspapers of the time.  In 1843, female workers contributed to a semi-monthly newspaper called The Olive Leaf and Factory Girl’s Repository.  The Olive Leaf was, “devoted to the interests of the Operatives at Cabotville and Chicopee Falls,” and contained articles written by and for mill operatives.  Each edition of The Olive Leaf included articles on history, religion, poetry, and fiction which focused on death & dying, bereavement & loss, and love & romance.

On September 16, 1843, a factory worker named Mary Jane wrote a letter to the editor of The Olive Leaf describing her life working on her family’s farm in New Hampshire prior to working in the mills.  In addition, she writes about learning to read while in Chicopee and her easy access to books.  Mary Jane comments on the respectability of the mill girls by stating, “one and all [factory girls] dressed as neat, clean and looking more tidy than Queen Victoria in all her attire of royalty . . .”