By Wendy M. Gordon
A comparative historical past of unmarried women's self sustaining migration to the cloth towns of Preston, England; Lowell, Massachusetts; and Paisley, Scotland.
Read or Download Mill Girls and Strangers: Single Women's Independent Migration in England, Scotland, and the United States, 1850-1881 PDF
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Additional info for Mill Girls and Strangers: Single Women's Independent Migration in England, Scotland, and the United States, 1850-1881
The crisis was exacerbated by a glutted cotton export market at the beginning of the decade. 2 Recent independent migrants in the single population. Preston, 1851–1881. Source: Data derived from Census of Great Britain, 1851 and Census of England and Wales, 1861–1881, Preston Borough, microﬁlm, and Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. 3 Volume of recent independent migrants. Preston, 1851–1881. Source: Data derived from Census of Great Britain, 1851 and Census of England and Wales, 1861–1881, Preston Borough, microﬁlm, and Genealogical Society of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Economic troubles for Preston’s middle classes, which depended on the health of the cotton trade for their prosperity, affected the demand for domestic servants and hence the impetus for migrants to choose Preston over other destinations. Through the 1870s the supply of servants began to catch up with demand. The number of registries in Preston decreased, and the number of unemployed servants advertising for positions increased. Other types of employment were also on the rise. In 1875 Lancashire mills were actually advertising for throstle spinners, reelers and cop winders, predominantly female positions, which is a sign that the traditional modes of recruiting were no longer meeting their needs.
The advertisements for servants hint at what features, in addition to room, board, and a cash wage, attracted women to particular positions (or at least what the advertisers thought should attract them). The most common additional feature mentioned in the advertisements was family composition, including the number of children. To this was most often added other servants kept, particularly if a Cook or Housekeeper could expect to have a girl or two under her or if a nurse would relieve a general servant of any child care.