HARRIET FARLEY (1817
Struggling to support a large, sickly
family, Reverend Stephen and
Lucy Farley relied on their older children to find work to keep the family
afloat. Harriet Farley, the sixth of ten children, worked as a young woman in
various menial jobs and taught school. Though teaching was the respected
profession for a young woman who needed to earn an income, she rejected a
career as a school mistress and traveled instead to
to labor in the newly built textile mills.
Many of the mill workers were like Harriet – rural
young women eager for social mobility – so they organized and attended
"Improvement Circles" for intellectual and social growth. In 1841
one of these groups began to publish a monthly periodical, the Lowell Offering, for which Harriet
Farley soon took responsibility as editor, publisher, and proprietor. Read
widely both in the
and abroad, the paper satisfied readers' curiosity about these young women
who left home to work thirteen-hour factory shifts. As many workers began to
demand better hours, wages, and conditions from factory owners, the
popularity of both the Offering and
of Harriet Farley herself declined, for she claimed that factory life was
"emancipating" and defended management policies.
In addition to the Offering,
Harriet Farley also published novels and stories and edited her father's book
on theology. She married inventor John Donlevy in 1854, and, as he
disapproved of her continuing her career, she spent the remainder of her life
as a wife and mother in
Another portrait appears in:
The American Phrenological Journal, vol. 17 (Jan., 1853), p. 6.
Abner D. Jones. The American Portrait Gallery (New York, 1855), p. .