About Lucy

– Lucy Larcom (1824 – 1893)
– American Poet / Author / Teacher
– Ninth of Ten Children
– Worked the cotton mills in Lowell Massachusetts & devoted a number of published songs, poems and letters describing life at the mill
– Served as a model for the change in women’s roles in society.

Excerpt From Larcom’s 1889 Memoir A New England Girlhood.
“My sister Emilie became acquainted with a family of bright girls, near neighbors of ours, who proposed that we should join with them, and form a little society for writing and discussion, to meet fortnightly at their house. [We] named ourselves “The Improvement Circle.” If I remember rightly, my sister was our first president. The older ones talked and wrote on many subjects quite above me. I was shrinkingly bashful, as half-grown girls usually are, but I wrote my little essays and read them, and listened to the rest, and enjoyed it all exceedingly. Out of this little “Improvement Circle” grew the larger one whence issued the “Lowell Offering,” a year or two later.

When a Philadelphia paper copied one of my little poems, suggesting some verbal improvements, and predicting recognition for me in the future, I felt for the first time that there might be such a thing as public opinion worth caring for, in addition to doing one’s best for its own sake.

It was an event to me, and to my immediate friends among the mill-girls, when the poet Whittier came to Lowell to stay awhile. When we assembled at the “Improvement Circle,” he was there. Mr. Whittier’s visit to Lowell had some political bearing upon the antislavery cause. If the vote of the mill-girls had been taken, it would doubtless have been unanimous on the antislavery side. But those were also the days when a woman was not expected to give, or even to have, an opinion on subjects of public interest.
We learned no theories about “the dignity of labor,” but we were taught to work almost as if it were a religion; to keep at work, expecting nothing else. It was our inheritance, banded down from the outcasts of Eden. And for us, as for them, there was a blessing hidden in the curse. I am glad that I grew up under these wholesome Puritanic influences, as glad as I am that I was born a New Englander; and I surely should have chosen New England for my birthplace before any region under the sun.”

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