MassMoments reminds us that writer Lucy Larcom – one of Lowell’s iconic Mill Girls in her youth, died on this day April 17, 1893. In her autobiography A New England Girlhood, Lucy Larcom wrote: “From the beginning Lowell had a high reputation for good order, morality, piety, and all that was dear to the old-fashioned New Englander’s heart.” Larcom not only tells her story but the story of Lowell – of those who funded, founded, built and worked the factories – the story of the “Lowell experiment.” Lucy Larcom also reflected on the role of women ~ “We might all place ourselves in one of two ranks the women who do something, and the women who do nothing; the first being of course the only creditable place to occupy.”
…in 1893, Lucy Larcom died. A popular poet during her lifetime, she would be forgotten today except for a work of prose that she wrote in 1889. Her autobiography, A New England Girlhood, tells the story of her early childhood in the coastal village of Beverly and her move to Lowell, the mill town on the Merrimack River, where she lived and worked for more than a decade. She was a regular contributor to the Lowell Offering. The magazine was published by a group of “mill girls,” as the young women who made up the great majority of workers in Massachusetts textile factories were called. Larcom’s reputation as a poet soon faded, but A New England Girlhood remains an American classic.