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Women worked hard in local mills

A lecture by Deborah Pickman Clifford titled Vermont Mill Girls will be held at the Henry Sheldon Museum on Thursday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m.

Beginning in the 1820s many young, unmarried Vermont farm women headed south to work in the numerous textile mills that had sprung up in Lowell and other southern New England towns. Still other young women stayed closer to home and worked in textile factories in towns around the state, including Middlebury.

In this talk, Clifford will discuss both groups of textile workers. Among those who stayed near home are the two Ford sisters from Granville, Addison County, VT, who worked for more than a decade in the 1830s-1840s as weavers in the Davenport and Turner woolen factory near the falls in Middlebury.

Deborah Pickman Clifford is an independent scholar. A graduate of Radcliffe College, she has an M.A. in American history from the University of Vermont. Clifford is the author of three published biographies. She was also associate editor of Historic Roots: a Magazine of Vermont History from 1995-2000.

At various times Clifford has taught courses at Middlebury College, the University of Vermont and Vermont College. In addition she has been active writing and speaking about Vermont history. Back in the early 1980s she served as the first woman president of both the Vermont Historical Society and the Henry Sheldon Museum in Middlebury.

Clifford is currently at work on a book of brief biographies of notable Vermont women born before 1920.

There is no charge for the lecture. This lecture is part of the Vermont Reads Counting on Grace program co-sponsored by the Vermont Humanities Council. The Henry Sheldon Museum is located at 1 Park St. in downtown Middlebury across from the Ilsley Public Library. For more information, call the museum at 388-2117.

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