By the author of
"Luke Darrell, The Chicago Newsboy."
- Students will recognize sewing as a work opportunity for women.
- Students will andalyze teh hardships faced by women trying to survive
as a sewing girl
- Students will recognize and understand some dynamics of the economy
Connections to Massachusetts Frameworks
1. Core Knowledge: The United States -- 6B, 6C, 6D
2. Learning Standards:
- History: 2 -- Hisorical Understanding; 3 -- Research, Evidence, and
Point of View
- Econonmics: 11 -- Fundamental Economic Concepts
Read the table of contents.
- Identify the titles that indicate hardship, economic situation (stagnation
or mobility?), the role of a working woman in society (dependant or independant?),
social class (where does Mabel fit in comparison to other characters mentioned?),
indications of a change in society (hints of the women's movement), and
the role religion may play (Is Mabel religious? why/how would religion
influence her whether she was or not?).
- Discuss possible contents of each chapter.
- Can you determine a turning point after reading the contents? Where
might it be and why?
Read the Introduction.
- Explain the author's purpose.
- Describe the life of a sewing girl and identify the factors that contribute
to her "thorny path."
- What sort of sewing-girl experiences may have been left out? (Hint:
Think about the labor reforms and unions in the late nineteenth and early
twentieth century. What were their goals? How were the working conditions,
- Do you think the story may have been more effective with more "colored"
experiences included? Would the story have been as believable? Would it
have been more effective with accounts of extreme situations in the story
even if they were based on fact? Why?
- Why did the author write a story about the "thorny path"
of a sewing girl? What opinons might the author have about sewing girls
and the social system in which they fit? Could the sewing girl represent
the postition of girls with other occupations (working class women in general)?
How else might women be employed in the mid-1800's?
- Where do sewing girls and other women fit into the Industrial Revolution?
How might the Industrial Revolution provide opportunities for improvement
or act as a barrier, socially, economically, and politically?
Look at the pictures.
- Divide the class into four groups and give each group a sketch. Each
group should identify the people and any objects in the sketch. The students
should create a story/skit to go along with the sketch. The story/skit
should include events prior to this moment, the exchange that might have
occurred during the sketch and an outcome (remember the contents and the
- In-class writing: Have each student choose a picture and write about
what the picture says about women, acceptable activites (is she looking
up or down? Why?), behavior/ apparel in public and with men, the Industrial
Revolution (or lack of), visual signs of social class.