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Factory under the Elms 9780262010313

Factory under the Elms

A History of Harrisburg, New Hampshire, 1774-1969

ISBN-10: 0262010313
ISBN-13: 9780262010313
AUTHOR:
PUBLISHER: MIT Press
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Note: Not guaranteed to come with supplemental materials (access codes, CDs, DVDs)
Product Description: This is a detailed history of one instance of a vanishing phenomenon, the small New England textile town. Source materials such as company records, public records, newspapers, personal interviews, and indeed the town itself, which survives very largely as it was a century ago, were examined with assiduous scholarship. The resulting history is colorful and lively, its rich detail making it good reading as well as careful history. Harrisville is located in the rugged highlands of southwestern New Hampshire. Although the original settlement of this area antedated the Revolution, it was early in the nineteenth century that Harrisville was brought into existence by the harnessing of an excellent fall of water for the manufacture of woolen cloth. In one important respect, the history of this mill town has been atypical. It never became an industrial slum, a ghost town, or the fief of some outside industrial overlord. Today, the town's economy rests on its numerous summer residents and on the up-to-date woolen mill still owned and operated by the same family that came there in the 1850s to compete with the Harrises. The mill village is well acquainted with hard times, but it remains neat, harmonious, and businesslike, an unusual place where the historic past merges indefinably into the active present and where the faded bricks laid down a century and a half ago continue to serve a living community. The survival of the nineteenth-century mill village also suggest Harrisville's real significance: it has adapted to change without destroying its past. The patina on this mill town affirms that the machine is man's servant, not his master, and that its end product can be, not the millennium, but comfort, order, beauty, and community. In tracing this story of two centuries of New England life, Professor Armstrong provides us with a detailed description of not only the growth of the towns and its mills but also of everyday life, disease and medical care, temperance and intemperance, modes of transportation, recreation, schools and churches, conflicts between mill owners, between farmers and mill population, between natives and immigrants, and through it all, the slow growth of a sense of community. Maps and photographs of the town, past and present, complement the text, and there are tables on wage rates, vital statistics, elections, population, town budgets, property valuations, and the schools. This very broad focus, together with scholarly treatment and careful organization of fact, will make this book a valuable addition to social history and a model for the writing of local history. John Borden Armstrong is Associate Professor of History at Boston University.

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PUBLICATION DATE:
xxi, 320
CATEGORY: Technology & Engineering
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