Another major source of textile laborers was the
major immigrant groups that moved to the United States in the
19th and 20th centuries. Some of these major immigrant groups
included the Irish, Germans, French Canadians, Polish and Russians.
Because of their status as minorities and other barriers such
as language, many immigrants were relegated to the more menial
types of work in textile mills. Often life in a mill town offered
a sense of community by creating neighborhoods or entire towns
that consisted of one immigrant group.
Inside Mill No. 1,
Norwich, ca. 1913
Photo CD: 0539
The man and woman
mill workers in this photograph are most likely French Canadian
immigrants. Due to a strike of the Irish mill workers in at Ponemah
Mills in 1875 there was a large influx of French Canadian immigrants.
By the 1930s ninety percent of Taftvilles population was
American Thread Company
Photo CD: 1458
The history of
the workers of the American Thread Company shows how over time
different immigrant groups moved into and out of the textile industry.
The Irish were the first group of immigrants to dominate Willimantics
mills. Next came the French Canadians and then the Polish and
Russians until a strike in 1925. Often different immigrant groups
were in conflict with each other because of religion, culture
and competition for jobs.
Forty to Fifty Year Service
Employees of Cheney Brothers,
Photo CD: 0538
The names inscribed
on the back of this photograph contain both Irish and German surnames.
These people would have begun their employment at the Cheney factories
in 1870s and 1880s. During this time the Irish and the Germans
were two of the major immigrant groups in the America.
The Textile Industry in Connecticut Early
History of Textiles in Connecticut
for Factory Workers
of Textile Processing
for further reading