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MGC 2020: Origins & Destinations

Tsongas Industrial History Center

The Saturday programs ends with everyone moving to the Tsongas Industrial History Center for a variety of hands on activities to experience how the American Industrial Revolution impacted our ancestors who worked in mills not only in Lowell but throughout New England. 


Everyone can participate in one of three hands on activities:

  • Bale to Bolt:   After an introduction to the mechanics of manual cloth production, we will weave on hand looms and learn about how advances in technology impacted changes in weaving.

  • Workers on the Line:  During the Industrial Revolution, the new factory system changed the nature of work and the relationships between workers and management. In this high-energy program, we’ll examine how workers fought, and continue to fight, for their rights in a corporate system. We’ll immerse ourselves in printing “cloth” on an assembly line and experience dramatic fluctuations in work conditions.  We’ll also have to decide whether to join a union to gain power in the corporate workplace and engage in collective bargaining with mill management.


  • Power to Production:  At the start of the Industrial Revolution, water from the Merrimack River powered mechanical systems that allowed Lowell’s machines to produce cloth faster than ever before. As engineers and scientists, we’ll test for solutions to the problem of how to harness water-power by testing waterwheels speed and strength, designing and building a functioning mill-and-canal system, and exploring how energy was transferred from water to loom.

Lastly, we’ll step back in time to the 1850s to see what life was like for mill girls living in one of the Boott Cotton Mills Boarding Houses, restored by the National Park Service.  We’ll learn about the work schedule these women kept, what they ate, how they spent their leisure hours, and what is was like to come from a small farm to suddenly be sharing a room with others from vary different social and ethnic backgrounds.


Logistics:  Up to 25 people can participate in each of the activities at any time which last about 45 minutes.  Each activity will be offered twice--at 3:45 pm and 4:45 pm.  When not engaged in one of the hands on activities, you will be able to visit the mill girls boarding house.

As you have register to attend the Seminar on Saturday, April 4th, you will asked to specify the hands on activity session in which you’d like to participate.

Join our social media stream by using this hashtag:   #Origins2020MGC

Walking Map to the Tsongas Center

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