Lowell, Mass. [Printed by Joel Taylor for] Misses Curtis & Farley. Boston: Jordan & Wiley, 1845. Tall 8vo. , 284. Complete in the ORIGINAL 12 PARTS (Jan. 1845 - Dec. 1845), original illustrated wrappers (lacking in Parts 2, 6, 11), each wrapper with DIFFERENT texts by the editors on verso of front wrapper and recto / verso of back wrappers (chipping, some tears with loss, partial defects). Preserved in a protective cloth case. Item #3289
THE FIRST WRITINGS BY AND ABOUT AMERICAN BLUE-COLLAR WOMEN. The "Lowell Offering" ran from 1840-1845. Our copy of vol. 5 (1845) is complete in itself and is preserved in the 12 parts, with most of the original wrappers present. NB: the text on these wrappers were written by the two women editors and to our knowledge HAVE NEVER BEEN REPUBLISHED.
The significance of "Lowell Offering" cannot be overestimated: the journal was written exclusively by females who worked 72 hours a week in the oppressive Lowell, MA fabric mills, barely surviving in the cramped and grimy company boardinghouses. After work, these remarkable mill workers still found time and energy to write about their lives and aspirations in their own literary magazine, namely THIS ONE: the "Lowell Offering."
The journal was edited by Harriet Curtis and Harriet Farley -- both of whom had worked in the mills for nearly a decade. "The bleakly impoverished beginnings of these young women further validated their editorial claim: unlike other factory magazines, edited and written FOR the operatives by male entrepreneurs, the new 'Offering' was reborn female and grass roots. [...] A careful reading of 'Offering' editorials reveals that they did not ignore deteriorating conditions in the mills and boardinghouses." (SOURCE: The Lowell Offering: Writings by New England Mill Women 1840-1845, ed. Benita Eisler, 1997).
The "Offering" presents material for an important chapter in the history of American industry and economics. It became an influential advocate of woman's right to independence of thought and action, and its literary quality and social significance did not go unnoticed by Charles Dickens. "Dickens immediately perceived how relatively free the 'Offering' was of the gentility and materialist fairy tales that characterized most of the popular women's literature of the time, whether written for mill girls or duchesses. Not only were 'many of its tales of the mills and those who work in them' but, even more impressive, he found that there was 'scant allusion to fine clothes, fine marriages, fine house or fine life.'" (Eisler).
Scarce in original parts. Our copy of vol. 5 in parts may be identical with that which sold at Merwin Clayton Sales Company in 1914 (Catalogue of an Interesting Collection of Americana) lot 434.
NOT to be confused with the book publication "Mind amongst the Spindles: a Selection from the Lowell Offering ... by factory girls of an American city" (London, 1844 and Boston, 1845). Nor is it to be confused with the 1970 Greenwood Reprint, to which was added "Names and noms de plume of the writers in the Lowell Offering, compiled and corrected by Harriet Hanson Robinson, September 1902."