Lowell mills and the cult of true womanhood
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Lowell Mills and the Cult of True Womanhood. Advanced Placement U.S. History. During the period 1820-1860 the U.S. was undergoing rapid and dramatic change. This caused a great deal of fear among many Americans that felt society itself was at risk. THE PROBLEM. Changes taking place….

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Lowell Mills and the Cult of True Womanhood

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Lowell mills and the cult of true womanhood

Lowell Mills and the Cult of True Womanhood

Advanced Placement

U.S. History


The problem

During the period 1820-1860 the U.S. was undergoing rapid and dramatic change. This caused a great deal of fear among many Americans that felt society itself was at risk.

THE PROBLEM


Changes taking place

Changes taking place…

  • New alignment of political parties

  • The westward frontier was expanding

  • Educational standards were rising

  • Questions about society were being raised by reformers, especially over the issues of abolition and temperance.

  • Economic modernization was bringing about:

    • Expanded transportation networks

    • Growth of capital formation

    • Urbanization

    • The factory system was changing the nature of work


Results of changes

Results of changes

The disintegration of the family

The changes in women’s roles

The endangerment of society itself


Repulican motherhood

REPULICAN MOTHERHOOD

Women would take on the important task of raising children to be responsible citizens who possessed civic virtue and other virtues necessary for success in the newly independent nation.

The result of this was to reduce the variety of roles open to women and to limit the proper place of women to the home


Cult of true womanhood

CULT OF TRUE WOMANHOOD

  • A “true woman” was:

    • Pious-more naturally religious than men; real men might occasionally swear, but “real women” never did; should not seek education lest it cause her to stray from the teachings of the Bible; responsibility of being the spiritual up-lifters of men.

    • Pure-this was absolute: whereas a man might “sow a few wild oats” and be saved by the love of a “true woman,” a “fallen woman” could never be redeemed.


True womanhood cont

True Womanhood cont…

  • Submissive: a “true woman” should be like a “perpetual child,” who is always “timid, doubtful and clingingly dependent.

  • Domestic: create a pleasant, cheerful home where men could escape from their worldly struggles and be fed, clothed and comforted; use her natural talents of sewing, cooking, cleaning and flower arranging to create a pleasant refuge.


Women s place

As a new economy created demand for more workers and many of these workers were women, what would happen to the place of women in society?

If a young, unmarried woman went to work in a factory far away from her parents’ farm, would she still be respectable?

Where would she live?

Who would protect her?

Women’s place


Prescriptive literature

Prescriptive Literature

  • Written work that is intended to tell (women) how to think and feel and behave and how not to behave. (Included: magazines, ettiquette books, sermons, religious writing, short stories and novels)

    • While reading the documents, ASK:

      • What message is being conveyed?

      • Who is sending the message?

      • Why is it being sent?

      • For whom is it intended?


Re read between the lines

Re-read “Between the lines”

  • What was it really like for these girls working at Lowell?

  • To what degree and in what ways might these girls have deviated from the expected image of the “True Woman?”

  • Could these girls have achieved the goal of “true womanhood” while working at Lowell?

  • Did these girls really care whether or not they were perceived as “true women?”


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