Abstract: The New England Cotton Textile Manufacturing Community and Workers' Health, c. 1870–1939: Relationships between Investment, Concern, and Profits

Janet Greenlees


During the Progressive Era, public health concerns became entwined with the environments in both public and private buildings. In the New England cotton textile industry, public health concerns that affected the workplace were debated at employers' association meetings and in the trade press. Yet while these papers and technology advertising clearly reflect a concern for operatives' health, to what extent did this affect reality? This paper utilizes business records, employers' records, and the media to take further the argument that the adoption of new workplace health measures was more likely to occur when it made best business sense and to add that it was also more likely to occur when public pressure for reform was high. Consequently, it is understandable why during this period, technology manufacturers incorporated health into their marketing strategy.