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Dobson Mill Factory Gates
early 1870s

Controlling the workforce
These 19th-century iron gates once provided an entrance to the Dobson Mill in Philadelphia, PA. They were hung on an arched entrance tunnel between two mill buildings. The mill's owner, John Dobson, first began manufacturing cotton yarn in the city about 1846, and 25 years later--about the time the gates were installed--it employed several hundred workers. Factory owners like Dobson erected gates and fences not just to protect property but also to establish greater control over the factory workforce. Gates and fences caught late arrivals and kept employees on the property during the workday.

126" high x 65" wide (each pair)
Made of iron, probably by a blacksmith

Learn more!
· History of Dobson Mill
· Factory Life in 19th-Century America
· "Communities in a Changing Nation: The Promise of 19th-Century America," an NMAH Exhibition
· "Factory Girl," From Tipple, Loom, & Rail
· "Let Them Wear Their Watches Fine," From American Industrial Ballads

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