Share Your Stories Of Woonsocket's Mill History

Tell us your family's stories from the city's mill life.


While most people see Labor Day as a nicely-timed Monday off to end the summer, the holiday was begun to honor the efforts of millions of factory and mill workers — including the thousands who worked at Woonsocket companies.

The U.S. Department of Labor's website on the history of Labor Day explains that the first recorded Labor Day occurred on a Tuesday — Sept. 5, 1882, organized by members of the Central Labor Union in New York City, NY.


After changing the annual date to the first Monday of September, labor organizations continued to honor the holiday — and several state enacted laws approving it — until 1894, when Congress made Labor Day an official national holiday.

In Woonsocket, generations of laborers worked in the mills that sprang up in the 1800s and 1900s, including the . 

Did you or anyone you know work at one of the mills in Woonsocket? What are your memories of working in Woonsocket's factories?

Tell us in the comments — and share your stories with our readers.

John Ward Jr. September 03, 2012 at 05:28 PM
My ancestors worked in Woonsocket's mills,as managers and supervisors.
Russell Archambault September 03, 2012 at 06:10 PM
JWJ As we all know all the mills left. Now is daddy working on the city, for the same outcome? Im taking the next bus to the south. hows alabama? See you there !
John Ward Jr. September 03, 2012 at 10:11 PM
Memere September 03, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Perhaps that's why all the mills closed and moved south. Now daddy works for the city and many people want to leave Woonsocket. Is anyone seeing a pattern here?????????
Christopher September 03, 2012 at 11:07 PM
First, can you all just get along for two damn minutes? At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if any of you had something to do with them burning down. As for the mills, what I am most interested to know is if anybody had gone into these buildings recently with a good DSLR camera and snapped some photographs of the interiors and exteriors of these buildings? As much of an eyesore as some of them were, there were part of our history and I would like to think that somebody had the good sense to document them well :\
Russell Archambault September 03, 2012 at 11:16 PM
Christopher;i AGREE why didnt you do it ! Ihave original pictures of that mill and im not sharing them with nobody or anybody.
Russell Archambault September 03, 2012 at 11:18 PM
memere where were you on those nights!
Memere September 04, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Home, rocking my babies to sleep.
Greg Czarnowski September 04, 2012 at 01:20 PM
Russell - the Plastics Group of America in Woonsocket is restoring the Jules Desurmont mill complex and would love to see any of the images that you have from years past - call me at 781-893-3389 if you'd be willing to share them with us and we will attribute them to you if/when we use them.
jde September 04, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Mr Czarnowski. The Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission also has some interior photographs of the Desurmont Mill taken a few years ago when it was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
jde September 04, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Christopher, Some of them (Hamlet, French Worsted, Desurmont) have been documented fairly recently. Photos of those three are at the Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission. There are also photos of others which are gone available on the Historic American Buildings Survey website. Go to http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/habs_haer/ and type Woonsocket in the search box. There's some good stuff there. Someone is even selling prints of those photos on eBay (not that you can't download the images and print them yourself).
Russell Archambault September 04, 2012 at 03:41 PM
JDE; I am not a computor person. my dream would be to have one complete site where every picture known would be listed somhow one one website. I have hundreds of pictures, that i would love to post. Also documents for anyone to use as research, and thousands of artifacts as far as the early 1800's this is a large task. There is a website, littlerhodybottleclub.org that has an online bottle book on rhode island bottles there are maybe a hundred bottles listed from my woonsocket collecdtion. We are now compiling information on milk farms in rhode . there were about 2500 farms whith most farms having their own bottles. also another project that I have a small part in, is rhode island stoneware its businesses and use .
jde September 05, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Hi Mr Archambeault. Ray Bacon, at the Museum of Work and Culture, is always on the lookout for good old photos of the City. He typically scans them. You two might be able to forge a mutually beneficial relationship.
Russell Archambault September 05, 2012 at 07:48 PM
jde ; mr bacon and i have a long relationship, but i did not know he was doing that.thanks
Uncle Ben September 06, 2012 at 12:01 AM
John Ward, you are an Ancestor, OLD and need to move on, they should ban you from commenting its like a conflict of interest, and noone is interested in a Corrupt City Official Bologna, so keep the peace homie.
la_mouffette September 06, 2012 at 01:27 AM
Will, that's not really John Ward. It's a regular poster who uses the name "John Ward jr." for kinda satirical posts.


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