Public Program Season Starts with Historic Performance

Kate Carney. Photo © Susan WilsonThis Thursday evening at 7 p.m., we will start our fall series of public programs with a one-woman play called Lowell Mills Boardinghouse Keeper. Kate Carney wrote and performs this presentation about Mrs. Lois Larcom (1786-1868), who kept a boardinghouse for female factory workers in the 1840s. Her daughter, Lucy Larcom (1824-1893), became a poet, writer, and editor of some influence in the nineteenth century. She described her mother and the boardinghouse she ran in her memoir, New England Girlhood, Outlined from Memory.

Lois Larcom began running a boardinghouse in Lowell in 1835 after the death of her husband, Benjamin. As she needed to find some way to support their ten children, she left her rural home in Beverly, Massachusetts, to live in the rapidly growing community on the Merrimack River.  Lowell was then an inspirational experiment in industrialization attracting many young women from throughout the New England countryside to work in the new cotton mills. Most of the young women who boarded with Larcom came from rural Vermont and New Hampshire. In addition to painting a dramatic portrait of Mrs. Larcom, the play on Thursday evening will also explore the social dynamics of the Lowell community and the evolving role of women in nineteenth-century society.

1847

“Lowell.” (1847)

Kate Carney is a professional actor and director who has directed plays on Broadway, performed in Boston and New York theaters, toured nationally and internationally, and appeared in films and on network TV.  Since 1993, she has been bringing history alive at museums, libraries, schools, and First Nights throughout the Northeast with Heroic Women You Can Talk To, interactive theater pieces. Carney has taught and directed at Brandeis, Smith, and other colleges and trained theater companies in France and Israel. For more information on Kate visit her website.

The American Antiquarian Society has a great many imprints connected to the Lowell experiment and to the works of Lucy Larcom, some of which will be on display Thursday evening. These include complete holdings of the Lowell Offering, and first editions of Lucy Larcom’s Poems and New England Girlhood, among many others.

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