Working Conditions

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Washington Mill Carpenter Shop, 1911.

“A considerable number of the boys and girls die within the first two or three years after beginning work,” wrote Dr. Elizabeth Shapleigh, a Lawrence physician. “Thirty-six of every 100 of all men and women who work in the mills die before or by the time they are 25 years of age.”

Spinners worked in extremely damp and humid rooms and were vulnerable to tuberculosis and pneumonia. In the years before the 1912 strike, one third of Lawrence’s spinners would die before they had worked ten years, and half of these would never reach the age of 25.