How Did Sarah Bagley Contribute to the Ten-Hour Movement in Lowell and How
Did Her Labor Activism Flow into Other Reform Movements, 1836-1870?

Abstract

      Sarah Bagley was an outspoken advocate of shorter workdays for factory workers and campaigned tirelessly to make ten hours of labor per day the maximum in Massachusetts. As Bagley campaigned for this cause, she entered a much broader network of reformers. The documents brought together in this project both illuminate Bagley's activism in the ten-hour movement and demonstrate how early factory employment not only brought women's work out of the home but it provided women a collective experience that supported their participation in the world of broader social reform movements -- such as antislavery, moral reform, peace, labor reform, and women's rights campaigns. Furthermore, the documents reveal that working women, like workingmen in this period, drew initially on republican traditions to defend their rights and interests but ultimately came to justify their concern for social justice on a combination of religious and rationalist grounds, opposing the growing inequality evident in American society and demanding for themselves as workers and as women greater rights and rewards in that society.

   

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