An APUSH SAQ — The Lowell Mill Girls

Peter Paccone
3 min readMar 19, 2021


Ten questions designed to help students review for the annual exam and that relate to the young females who came to work in a textile mill located in Lowell, Massachusetts during America's First Industrial Revolution.

The Lowell Mill Girls

“One of the first strikes of cotton-factory operatives that ever took place in this country was that in Lowell, in October 1836. When it was announced that the wages were to be cut down, great indignation was felt, and it was decided to strike, en masse [as a whole]. This was done. The mills were shut down, and the girls went in procession from their several corporations . . . and listened to ‘incendiary’ [radical] speeches from early labor reformers.

One of the girls stood on a pump, and gave vent to the feelings of her companions in a neat speech, declaring that it was their duty to resist all attempts at cutting down the wages. This was the first time a woman had spoken in public in Lowell, and the event caused surprise and consternation among her audience.”

— Harriet Hanson Robinson, later recollections of a strike in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1836, published in Loom and Spindle or Life Among the Early Mill Girls

  1. Briefly describe one point of view of the excerpt.
  2. Briefly explain one purpose of the excerpt.
  3. Briefly explain one historical development illustrated by the excerpt.
  4. At the time of the Lowell Mill Strike, legislation and judicial systems supported the development of roads, canals, and railroads, which extended and enlarged markets and helped foster regional interdependence. Name and describe a specific road that was built at this time? Also, a specific canal was built at this time. And a specific railroad.
  5. The story of the Lowel Mill Girls takes place during American’s first Industrial Revolution (approximately 1800-World War I). During this period of time, increasing numbers of Americans, especially women and men working in factories, no longer relied on semi-subsistence agriculture; instead they supported themselves producing goods for distant markets. What is meant by the term “semi-subsistence agriculture?”
  6. The Lowell Mills Girls worked at a time when many Americans still embraced something called “the Cult of Domesticity? What’s that?
  7. Most of the original Lowell Mill Girls were laid off and replaced by immigrants by 1850. Immigrants from what part of Europe most likely were hired to replace the Lowell Mill Girls?
  8. In 1850, when most of the Lowel Mill Girls were laid off, what could they have spent their savings on that only became available to most women after the 1800s and that would have benefited them greatly?
  9. Less than twenty years after the Lowell Mills Girls went on strike, another all-important historical event occurred relating to women. Name and briefly describe that event. And about one hundred years after the Lowell Mills Strike, yet another all-important historical event occurred relating to women. Name and briefly describe that event.
  10. Briefly describe one major similarity and one major difference between The Lowell Mill Girls and the girls that identified with Rosie the Riveter.



Peter Paccone

San Marino High School social studies teacher. Also the Community Outreach Manager for Class Companion and a member of the CB's AI in AP Advisory Committee.