At one time the state of Rhode Island was the world's leader in the textile industry.
So it's fitting that the Rhode Island city of Woonsocket is the home of the Museum of Work and Culture, a museum dedicated to recounting the history of the region's textile manufacturing history.
The textile industry expanded in Rhode Island beginning in the mid-1800s, when immigrant laborers were drawn to the newly opening mills. The work was hard—often including twelve hour days—and working in the textile mills could be dirty and dangerous. But the work was steady and it did not require any special training. Both factors were a big plus for a workforce that tended to be lightly educated and often spoke very little English.
The Museum of Work and Culture recounts the stories of these immigrants using a variety of multi-media presentations. The museum also boasts an impressive collection of objects and materials donated by families who worked in the local textile mills. The result is an exhibit that really gives visitors an idea of what it was like to work in such a hard-driving environment.
Woonsocket is located near the Massachusetts border and it's not a far drive from Boston or other area hotspots. If you're in the area, the Museum of Work and Culture is a family-friendly trip that will be a treat for history buffs.