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First published in 1978, this classic book, through vivid oral histories and historic photographs, documents the social and cultural impact of the industry during America's rise as a manufacturing power. For nearly a century, the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company was chief architect of the social, ethnic, and economic existence of Manchester, New Hampshire. In the early 1900s, it was the largest textile mill in the world, employing 17,000; its red brick facade stretched for nearly a mile along the Merrimack River and its payroll drew immigrants by the thousands. In their own words, laborers, foremen, managers, and town residents paint a detailed portrait of the mill's nearly feudal dominance of every aspect of their lives and offer their response to this existence, with fierce pride and an unshakable sense of community. When competition, labor unrest, and obsolescence caught up with the mill in 1936, a weaver recalls, "the mills went out and the world stopped for everybody. "
This book is a poignant exploration of a vanishing world. Tamara Hareven integrates historical research with intensive life history interviews to reveal the relationships among family, work, and community in this highly specialized occupation. Hareven uses her knowledge of textile workers' lives in the United States and Western Europe to show how striking similarities in weavers' experiences transcend cultural differences.
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