Lowell Offering

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Lowell Offering  
Lowell Offering 1.jpg
Cover of the Lowell Offering, Series 1, No. 1
DisciplineLiterary journal
Edited byHarriot Curtis, Harriet Farley et al.
Publication details
Publication history
1840-1845, succeeded by New England Offering
Standard abbreviations
Lowell Offer.

The Lowell Offering was a monthly periodical collected contributed works of poetry and non-fiction by the female textile workers (young women [age 15-35] known as the Lowell Mill Girls) of the Lowell, Massachusetts textile mills of the early American industrial revolution. It began in 1840 and lasted until 1845.


The Offering was initially organized in 1840 by the Reverend Abel Charles Thomas (1807-1880) pastor of the Second[1] Universalist Church. From October 1840 to March 1841, it consisted of articles from many of the local improvement circles or literary societies. Later, it became broader in scope and received more spontaneous contributions from Lowell's female textile workers; the Offering had hundreds of subscribers and supporters from throughout New England, United States, and among foreign visitors.

As its popularity grew, workers contributed poems, ballads, essays and fiction – often using their characters to report on conditions and situations in their lives;[2] the contents of the magazine alternated between serious and farcical. In the first issue, "A Letter about Old Maids" suggested that "sisters, spinsters, lay-nuns, &c" were an essential component of God's "wise design".[3] Later issues – particularly in the wake of labor unrest in the factories – included an article about the value of organizing and an essay about suicide among the Lowell girls.[4] Among its contributors: Eliza G. Cate, Betsey Guppy Chamberlain, Abba Goddard, Lucy Larcom, Harriet Hanson Robinson,[5][6] and Augusta Harvey Worthen.[7]

Many women who worked in the mills, such as Ellen Collins, were unhappy with the conditions and hours they were forced to work, they did not like the constant noise and bells that they heard during their shifts, and often had the desire to return to their homes to work on farms rather than in the factories.[8]

However, the appeal of education and self-sufficiency drew many young women in, and they used the opportunities they received at the Lowell Mills to learn, they learned to read and write, as well as practicing music and foreign languages.[9]

Harriet Farley, against her family and friends wishes, left Atkinson, New Hampshire in 1838 to work in Lowell's textile mills. In Lowell, although working 11 to 13 hours a day, and living in a crowded company boardinghouse, she felt a sense of freedom to “read, think and write…without restraint.” She was soon contributing articles to the newly formed Lowell Offering, and in 1842 along with Harriot Curtis became its co-editor. The magazine was revived in 1848 as the New England Offering (1848-1850), gathering contribution from working women throughout New England.

Notable people[edit]

Other uses[edit]

The University of Massachusetts Lowell currently uses the title for its student literary magazine as an homage.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Floyd, Benjamin, and Leonard Huntress. The Lowell Directory: Containing Names of the Inhabitants, Their Occupation, Places of Business & Dwelling Houses: : with an Almanac. : City Register, Streets and Corporations, Ward Boundaries, City Officers, Public Offices, Banks, Incorporated Companies, Societies, : and Other Useful Information. Lowell: Leonard Huntress, Printer, 1840, p. 28
  2. ^ Dublin, Thomas (1975). "Women, Work, and Protest in the Early Lowell Mills: 'The Oppressing Hand of Avarice Would Enslave Us'" Archived 2009-02-27 at the Wayback Machine, Labor History. Online at Whole Cloth: Discovering Science and Technology through American History Archived 2009-03-05 at the Wayback Machine. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved on 27 August 2007
  3. ^ "Betsy" (1840). "A Letter about Old Maids". Lowell Offering. Series 1, No. 1. Online at the On-Line Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving and Related Topics. Retrieved on 27 August 2007.
  4. ^ Farley, Harriet (1844). "Editorial: Two Suicides". Lowell Offering. Series 4, No. 9. Online at Primary Sources: Workshops in American History. Retrieved on 27 August 2007.
  5. ^ Robinson, Harriet (1898). Loom and Spindle. Applewood Books. p. 145. ISBN 978-1-4290-4524-7. Retrieved 2012-07-05.
  6. ^ Harriet H. Robinson (December 1889), "Lowell Offering", The New England Magazine
  7. ^ Willard, Frances Elizabeth; Livermore, Mary Ashton Rice (1893). A Woman of the Century: Fourteen Hundred-seventy Biographical Sketches Accompanied by Portraits of Leading American Women in All Walks of Life (Public domain ed.). Moulton.
  8. ^ Miller, Susan (1840). "The Spirit of Discontent". The Lowell Offering.
  9. ^ Eisler, Benita (1977). "Introduction". The Lowell Offering: 29.


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]