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The Lowell system was a method of factory management that evolved in the textile mills of Lowell, Massachusetts, owned by the Boston Manufacturing Company. It referst to the enlightened management practices of this premier textile mill initiated by its owner Francis Cabbot Lowell (1775-1817). He hoped that this system would be an alternative to the pernicious practice of child labour which was prevalent at that time.
In 1814, the Boston Company built America's first fully mechanized textile mill in Waltham, Massachusetts. Nine years later, the company built a complex of new mills at East Chelmsford, soon renamed Lowell in honor of the company's founder, Francis Lowell. With the production process fully mechanized, the principal limitation on the firm's output was the availability of labor, and here the company made its second innovation: it began to recruit young farm girls from the surrounding countryside. In order to attract these women and to reassure their families, the owners developed a paternalistic approach to management that became known as the Lowell system.
The mill workers were housed in clean, well-run boardinghouses, were strictly supervised both at work and at home, and were paid unusually good wages. This form of benevolent but firm method of management soon became very popular in the neighbourhood and the farm girls responded with enthusiasm. They soon became renowned as excellent employees, and their lively self-improvement program (including a literary magazine) drew international attention.
Few of the Lowell women worked more than a few years, but for every one who returned home to marry, two new ones appeared. By the 1830s, the Lowell system had become a national symbol of the fact that in America, humanity could go hand in hand with industrial success.
The Lowell System was a plan developed in the early 19th century to promote and expand textile manufacturing. Textile mills relied heavily on a labor force of women and children. It expanded the idea of the factory system. It was all part of the Industrial System.
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