In America, the time from the 1820’s to the 1860’s was called the Antebellum Period, or the time before the Civil War. The Industrial Revolution was just beginning, and factories that made cotton cloth were quickly being built in Waltham, Lowell, and Lawrence. Young girls were leaving the family farms for the first time to work in these textile mills. This was a bold, new experience that would change their lives for the better - and for the worse.
At the same time, women were becoming more involved in the anti-slavery movement. With words from the Bible and the Declaration of Independence ringing in their ears, many women felt it was their duty as Christians and citizens to put an end to slavery. White women, as well as some free black women (think Isabella Baumfree, also known as Sojourner Truth), were experiencing life outside of their homes.
As they worked together with men like William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass, and other women to change factory working conditions and laws to abolish slavery, many women started to think about the “chains” that they wore. Even though they were citizens of the United States, they did not have the same rights as men simply because they were female.
Let’s travel back in time to the 1830’s and meet three incredible women. Sarah Bagley, Harriet Hanson Robinson, and (Lydia) Maria Francis Child lived in and around the city of Medford, Massachusetts. They were reformers, people who worked to right the wrongs that were a part of their world.