A description of factory life by a labor reformer
Now let us examine the nature of the labor itself, and the conditions under
which it is performed. Enter with us into the large rooms, when the looms are
at work. The largest that we saw . . . is four hundred feet long, and about
seventy broad; there are five hundred looms, and twenty-one thousand spindles
in it. The din and clatter of these five hundred looms under full operation,
struck us on first entering as something frightful and infernal, for it seemed
such an atrocious violation of one of the faculties of the human soul, the
sense of hearing. . . .
The young women sleep upon an average six in room; three beds to a room. There
is no privacy, no retirement here; it is almost impossible to read or write
alone, as the parlor is full and so many sleep in the same chamber. A young
woman remarked to us, that if she had a letter to write, she did it on the head
of a band-box, sitting on a trunk, as there was not space for a table. So live
and toil the young women of our country in the boarding-houses and
manufactories, which the rich and influential of our land have built for them.