Slater Mills Renee Ferland - MuseumVisitMGT336

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SLATER MILLS
Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Renee Ferland
HISTORY
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Samuel Slater 1768 – 1835
Wanted to bring British textile to America, although this was against the
law.
Posed as a farmed and came to America with nothing but his papers sewn
into his jacket.
Was employed by company Almy and Brown on the terms he could
recreate British water frames and sewing and spinning machinery from
memory.
In 1793 created Samuel Slater and Company in partnership with fatherin-law Oziel Wilkinson.
LIFE OF FACTORY WORKERS
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Men who worked in Wilkinson factory averaged $2.00 a day.
Women averaged $.75 a day and children $.35 a day.
Each home had its own garden to grow food and herbal remedies.
Made their own clothes from wool from sheep or in summer from flax turned into thread.
The Weasel was the last step in creating flax thread. It was the first standardized measurement,
it would wind thread until it made a pop sound which meant the thread had reached a scein in
length.
Pictures below depict the process of turning flax into thread.
Dried flax.
The process to make retted flax
which had the outer shell broken
off.
Hackles, clean
off outer shell
Spinning flax
fibers into
string.
Weasel
WILKINSON MILL
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Manufactured machine parts and tools for Slater Mill.
Only employed males on first floor where machinery was. Women worked on second
and third floors.
Was powered by Water wheel.
A system of belts hanging from the ceiling powered the machines.
Water wheel and first floor machine shop.
SLATER MILL
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Employed whole families.
Slater was a manager who believed in the welfare of his workers.
Half days Saturdays.
Preacher came to the mill on Sundays.
Tutor came to teach children on Sundays, Slater believed in an educated workforce.
The Slater mill focused on turning cotton shipped from the south into thread.
Many children worked the machines and died, but they were ‘replaceable’.
Slater’s brother in law Smith Wilkinson, 12 years old, was the foreman of the Slater mill.
Cotton Gin to de-seed cotton.
Breaker Card Machine, wire bristles
that combed through clean cotton to
soften and prepare it.
500 lb bale of cotton.
Lap Machine, thinned out
cotton and rolled into a lap to
prepare to turn into thread.
SLATER MILL CONTD.
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Many workers developed white lung from breathing in all of the cotton fibers.
No windows were ever opened due to a breeze.
From the lap machine the fleece went to the roving machine which began to twist the fibers to turn them into string.
From the roving machine the thread went to the bobbin winding-wheel which was operated manually until the bobbin was
wound with thread.
Roving
Machine
Bobbin
Windingwheel
SLATER MILL CONTD.
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Final process in creating the thread ready to be sold was the spinning frame and reel. The
spinning frame had 24 spindles and 12 spindles on each side and would wind yarn onto bobbins
after being reduced in size.
The reel had a multitude of slats on both sides and would wind the yarn onto skeins which were
then ready to be sold.
The reel only had enough room for children to fit under to fix, so when a string would break a
child would have to run and tie it, however they only had 30 seconds because the machine was
moving. To reduce death, the Parents of the children were in charge of the machine. This morbid
management practice actually reduced the death rate on the machine by 80%!
SLATER VS. LOWELL MILLS
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Both mills ran on water power.
Lowell employed farm women, where Slater employed whole families.
Slater mills women spun raw cotton into yarn.
Lowell mills not only spun raw cotton into yarn but also wove it into cloth.
‘Mill girls’lived in boarding houses and were expected to live by a strict moral
code.
Slater’s Rhode Island system, employed whole families which created towns,
where families lived in company owned housing.
The Waltham system had mill girls working 80 hours per week, six days a week.
Women would arrive to work at 5 am and leave at 7 pm.
THE END
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