The Workers

Lawrence Strike, Strikers, 1912.

Many of the workers in the woolen mills of Lawrence and in the textile industry elsewhere were young girls. Young women were recruited for employment by mill owners, many of whom believed that girls and women would provide a malleable workforce and were naturally disposed to textile work.

Mill owners wrongly predicted a quick end to the Strike. They were shocked when they learned that enraged Italian women who had happened upon a lone police officer on an icy bridge stripped him of his gun, club, and badge, sliced the officer’s suspenders, took off his pants, and dangled the officer over the freezing river. Lawrence's district attorney lamented, “One policeman can handle 10 men, while it takes 10 policemen to handle one woman.” A horrified boss, described women activists as full of “lots of cunning and also lots of bad temper. They’re everywhere, and it’s getting worse all the time.”