Before moving to places like Lowell, young women played a significant role in household production on their family homestead. That work happened both indoors and outdoors and was organized according to natural rhythms, the rising and setting of the sun, the needs of livestock, as well as the vagaries of weather and seasonal cycles. In the mills, however, the work day was ordered by hourly bells while impersonal overseers and indifferent machines established the work pace. Likewise, industrial labor was typically dull, repetitive, and (mostly) unchanging throughout the year.
What time did mill operatives begin and end their work day? When did they take breaks? How did these hours change throughout the year? Why did they change?