In 1841, nearly 500 female factory workers walked out of York Manufacturing Company

The Great Turn-Out: Factory Girls and Maine’s First Labor Strike

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On Tuesday, May 19, at 6 p.m., the Camden Public Library welcomes Dr. Elizabeth DeWolfe, professor of history at the University of New England, for an illustrated online talk exploring the life of New England “factory girls.”

The program will be conducted via the Zoom platform. Email to request a link to attend.

In 1841, nearly 500 female factory workers walked out of Saco’s York Manufacturing Company and paraded up Main Street, chanting and singing, according to CPL, in a news release. They gathered in a local church, formed a committee, and sent the factory owner a document articulating their complaints about wages, housing, and paternalistic rules. 

DeWolfe will talk about the opportunities mill work brought and the challenges of this difficult labor. She’ll examine the tense days that followed the “turn-out” and see how a strike in one Maine town connected to national agitation for women’s rights, including suffrage.

This program is being presented as part of the Camden Public Library’s commemoration of the Suffrage Centennial.

DeWolfe received her doctorate in American and New England Studies from Boston University and is the award-winning author of several works of history including The Murder of Mary Bean and Other Stories, about the short life and tragic death of a New England textile operative. DeWolfe’s research focuses on the stories of ordinary women whose lives would otherwise be forgotten, and she brings her archives-based research into the classroom in courses on women’s history, historical research methods, and American culture. 

For more information on this online program and others offered by the Camden Public Library, visit

Event Date: 

Tue, 05/19/2020 - 6:00pm

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Camden Public Library

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