In 1845, a fifteen year old Vermonter named Mary Paul went to Lowell, Massachusetts, to work in the textile mills. She wrote letters to her family telling them about her work. She was excited to have a job and make money to buy clothes.
By 1910, some people in the United States thought that children should not be working in factories or other dangerous places. Lewis Hine took photographs of children at work to help fight against child labor. He came to Vermont and took photographs in textile mills in North Pownal, Bennington, Burlington and Winooski. He found children doing other jobs in Barre and Rutland. He took their photographs, too.
Look at these photographs. How old is the child? Where is the child working?
What do their clothes tell you about their jobs?
The book Counting on Grace was inspired by the photograph of Addie Card. In the fictional story, the girl who works in the factory is called Grace. She gets her photograph taken by Lewis Hine.
Make up your own story about the children in these photographs.
Teachers & Parents: Child Labor in Vermont Lesson Plans
|Green Mountaineer articles about child labor in Vermont|
|Vermont Then & Now, A Century Ago|
|Read Mary Paul's letter from September 13, 1845 (PDF)|
|Lowell Mill Girl (outside link)
Pretend you are going to Lowell to work in the mid 1800s
|Read other letters by Mary Paul (outside link)|
|Read Counting on Grace|
|Learn how Elizabeth Winthrop, author of Counting on Grace, discovered Addie Card, the girl in the Lewis Hine photograph (outside link, PDF)|