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Slater Companies Collection
Catalog Record
Mss 442 1793-1926 S631

Samuel Slater established the first American spinning mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, in 1790. Together with his brother John, he expanded the business into a series of cotton and woolen mills in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, which were continued by their descendants. The Slater Companies Collection contains more than 1300 volumes of business records of almost twenty textile mills in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, owned by the Slater family from 1793 to 1926. It does not include records of the Connecticut mills. This extraordinarily rich and long-running collection provides materials regarding key transitions in labor practices of the textile industry, specifically with respect to the hiring of families and women.

The mills contracted labor on the British family system, hiring families instead of individual workers. In contrast, other early Massachusetts textile mills initially built their labor forces by contracting with individual New England farm girls. The records of the Slater mills provide material on family structure and child labor as well as women's wages, household accounts with company stores, and tenement housing records. Labor contracts in the records of Slater & Kimball illustrate how this labor system reinforced patriarchal family structure: in March, 1829, Abel Dudley contracted to work himself, along with his two daughters, Mary and Caroline, who were to "have the privilege of going to School two months each--one at a time." By the mid-nineteenth century, the records show a shift away from the family-based labor system.

The collection provides some insight, as well, into the family that owned the mills, in the form of estate records of various members of the Slater family. The collection includes an inventory of the personal estate of Elizabeth Slater (d. prior to 1875), widow of Horatio N. Slater, which shows such items as "Dutchess Lace" and an "Ermine Muff."

Wage and time accounting
Webster Woolen Mill -- Weavers' books, by name, including detailed accounts on amounts and kind of cloth produced (1865-1867): volumes 45-53, 55; receipts for wages (1837-1851): volumes 72-74

Slater Woolen Company -- Weavers' books, by name (1876-1881): volumes 54-55; timetable and payrolls (1867-1874, 1876-1880): volumes 124-31

Slater & Tiffany -- Production and labor, some include family accounts (1812-1836): volumes 73-101

Phoenix Thread Mill -- Wage receipts (1828-1850): volumes 31-33, box 37

Union Mills -- Production, with names (1937-1844 and 1852-1857): volumes 79-80, 82; labor on North Farm (1843-1846): volume 103; settlement labor (1846): volume 112; time books and wage receipts (1836-1868): volumes 144-176; payrolls (1848-1863): boxes 192-194

Sutton Manufacturing Company -- Weaving books (1839-1840, 1949-1867): volumes 37 and 39; payrolls and time books (1842, 1840-1848, 1851-1869): volumes 29, 41-44

Steam Cotton Manufacturing Company -- Weaving book with black marks against weavers (1829-1834): volume 10; time books (1828-1836): volumes 16-18

Slater, Wardwell and Company (store) -- Wage receipts (1824-1831): volume 11

S. & J. Slater -- Weavers' book with names (1837-1841): volume 14

John and William Slater -- Payrolls (1856-1958, 1867-1869): volumes 2 and 3

W.S. Slater -- Payrolls (1976-1878): volumes 2 and 3

J.W. Slater -- Payroll (1887-1888): volume 8

S. Slater & Sons, Inc. -- Payroll (1913-1926): volume 2

Slater & Robinson -- Time books (1852-1863): volumes 1-14

Company reports and registers; office records
Union Mills -- Lists of workers and families of workers (1861, 1866): volumes 95-96

Company Patronage
Webster Woolen Mill -- Charges against help: volume 75

Union Mills -- Rent books (1849-1872): volumes 87- 94; Worker advances, expenses (1851, 1864-1865); South Village census returns (1842-1907): box 195

Slater & Robinson -- Boarding house (1859-1862): volumes 19-22

Family and financial records
H.N. Slater Mills -- Trustees Accounts of the estate of H. N. Slater, inventory of the personal estate of Elizabeth V. Slater: Boxes 32 and 35

S. & J. Slater -- Information on the estate of John Slater, Sarah Slater, joint administratrix (1838-1843): volumes 2, 15

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