How the Lowell, Mass. Experience Shaped U.S. Company Towns

The mills at Lowell, Mass., built alongside the canal that supplied the water power that drove the looms

I’ll be speaking at the Lowell National Historical Park on Sunday, as part of the Moses Greely Parker lecture series.

Lowell was the first company town in America, and some say its “utopian” model was soon forgotten. Not so, I say: The Lowell model, from its use of young women workers living in dorms to its strict “moral code,” influenced other company towns, from Gary, Indiana, to Oak Ridge, Tennessee. I’ll post my remarks on this blog in days to come.


Out of the Past: A Possible Solution to China’s Labor Woes

Forming up at the Arcade building in Pullman, Ill., the National Guard prepares to confront strikers in 1894.

The history of company towns in the United States featured many labor battles fought over intertwined issues of wages and living conditions. So it was in Pullman, Ill., where in 1894 a strike broke out over wage cuts–and high rents at company-owned housing.

Such incidents out of the American past shed light on last week’s riot at the Foxconn campus in China–and suggest a shrewd move that China-based companies (and China’s government) might pursue to lessen labor strife in the future. To read more, see my just-posted piece on Bloomberg Echoes: