Lowell, Massachusetts was the site of the first textile mills constructed in the United States in the first half of the 19th century. The Lowell National Historic Site offers a tour of the history and the mills using original sources and photographs to tell the tale of industrial development and the important roles assigned to women and immigrants in this story. The site is affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Graduate School of Education and the Tsongas Industrial History Center.
To acquaint students with the origins of industrialization in the United States. To explain the role of immigrants and women in the development of the textile industry. To compare and contrast industrialization in the textile industry of the United States with England. To describe the living and working conditions of factory workers in 19th century United States.
Target Student Population:
Middle School, High School, College.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Type of Material:
To supplement a course on United States History, Immigrant History, Women's History.
Flash Movie and Flash Player needed for some segments.
Evaluation and Observation
The History segment on the web site offers a detailed set of icons explaining the development of Lowell from colonial times to the present day. The majority of the icons focus on the development of the textile industry. Specific segments include: Industrial Revolution, Canals, Making Textiles, Waltham-Lowell System, Mill Girls, Boarding Houses, Immigrants, and Working Conditions. There is a good bibliography and there is a list of additional web sites to consider. Photo images are offered of the buildings at the Lowell Historic site.
The content quality would be enhanced if more detail was provided. The site is geared to grades three to twelve. College educators would need to review suggested readings and other web links for additional material (as needed). The site should offer illustrations and photographs from the 19th century on site to illustrate the written history segments. Direct connections to archives for newspaper articles, 19th century publications, city directories would expand the site content potential for a wider audience.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The site's strength is the variety of materials designed for teachers. In addition to a reading list and a list of addtional web sites, curriculum materials are provided on line for download. Suggested educational activities are identified but most are geared to middle and high school audiences. School programs are offered for grades 3-12 and there are teacher workshops as well. Overall the site is easy to use.
The site should consider expanding its offereing for college survey courses and even upper level course work in history. The material is available and could be put on line. The site has a limited bibliography. There is no video or sound, which would enhance the understanding of the mill workplace.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
The site is divided into the following categories: Home, History, Visiting, Education, Bookstore and Site Index. It is easy to navigate within each category. Flash Movie and Flash Player are needed for some history segments. The site is easy to use in the classroom. The photographs complement the text.
It was difficult to go back from Bookstore and Education to the homepage. Site developers need to made the site more accessible to move back and forth from section to section.
Other Issues and Comments:
This is not strictly a history site, but rather a NPS site. However it does have some great information about the Lowell mills.