Bagley, Sarah G.

Bagley, Sarah G. (George)

(1806–?48) labor leader; born in Candia, N.H. Daughter of a cotton mill operator, she herself went to work in the mills as a young woman. By 1837 she was employed as a weaver in one of the early mills in Lowell, Mass., where she also contributed to The Lowell Offering, a literary magazine published by the mill women. In 1844, however, increasingly unhappy with the severe conditions under which the women were working, she helped found the Lowell Female Reform Association. In 1845 she took on the editorship of the Voice of Industry, the weekly newspaper of the New England Workingmen's Association. Her major crusade, however, was the so-called Ten Hours Movement—dedicated to limiting the work day to ten hours—and she was regarded as one of the most forceful speakers and writers on behalf of this cause. She also spoke out on the need for reform in other areas of society. But somewhere during 1847, it seems she dropped her crusading activities (perhaps due to illness) and by 1848 she was back working in the mills; when she returned to New Hampshire on her father's death, she vanishes from recorded history.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.