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Timeline of Lowell History

1843: Dr. J. C. Ayer opens a lab for patent medicines, soon a major local industry.

1844: Sarah Bagley and the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association fight for a 10-hour workday.

1850: Lowell is home to 40 textile mills, 10,000 looms, and 10,000 millworkers, producing 50,000 miles of cloth a year: largest industrial complex in the U.S., second-largest MA city.

1861: Volunteer militiamen Luther Ladd and Addison Whitney of Lowell are killed in a riot in Baltimore, MD: first Union casualties of the Civil War.

1876: Dr. Augustin Thompson invents Moxie. Marketed initially as a “nerve food,” it outsells Coca-Cola into the 1920s.

1877: Alexander Graham Bell demonstrates his telephone in Lowell. Two years later, Lowell is the first U.S. city to have phone numbers.

1894: Lowell Normal School for teacher education is founded, followed by Lowell Textile School a year later: roots of today’s University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

1900: 43 percent of Lowell’s population is foreign-born (Irish, French Canadian, Scottish, Greek, Polish, Italian, Armenian, Portuguese, Swedish, Lithuanian, Syrian, Lebanese, Russian, and other nationalities).

1908: Bette Davis is born in Lowell.

1912: Lowell’s labor activists organize in sync with the “Bread & Roses” strike downriver in Lawrence, MA.

1920s: Lowell’s textile industry declines, with companies moving to the South. City population peaks at 112,759.

1922: Jack Kerouac is born in Lowell.

1925: Edith Nourse Rogers represents Lowell and surrounding District 5 communities in Congress, serving through 1960: longest continuous congressional service by a woman.

1931: Harper’s Magazine describes Lowell as a “depressed industrial desert.”

1936: A major flood ravages Lowell.

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

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Updated Thursday, October 8th, 2009

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