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The Murder of Mary Bean

Factory Island, Saco, ca. 1840

Factory Island, Saco, ca. 1840

Item 28931 info
Dyer Library Archives / Saco Museum

In 19th-century New England, the growth of textile factories propelled the industrial revolution. Beginning in the 1830s, mill managers recruited young women to leave their homes and work in the factories.

Young women -- native born, single, and in their late teens to early twenties -- comprised the majority of the labor force in the textile mills from the 1830s to the 1850s.

Worried parents were assured their daughters would be safe far from home, housed in company-owned boarding houses under the watchful eye of an older woman, often a widow, who ran the boardinghouse.

Strict rules and curfews would keep these daughters of New England safe from harm.