Presentation Notes: 2007-2008

Industrial History of Dennis and the Role of Women

Presented by Nancy Thacher Reid - April 9, 2008

Notes by Jeanne Carley

Women worked outside as well as in the home during the history of Dennis, said Nancy Thacher Reid, author and Dennis historian. From the earliest days of home industry when women kept sheep for food and wool, raised flax, taught their daughters to spin wool and their sons to weave and knit, they had jobs in the villages of Dennis.

Later, according to Ms Reid, the author of Dennis, Cape Cod, From Firstcomers to Newcomers 1639-1993 (available in the CCGS Genealogy Room Library), women were involved in several industries. When the cranberry bogs became a viable business, women were among the pickers along with men and children. When their fishermen-husbands were away at sea, many women tended their family farms. Women were also the first teachers until replaced by male teachers with better credentials.

In the later part of the 19th century, many small factories where women worked starting making straw hats, shoes and overalls. It was a woman, Eleanor Baxter Young, who started the Red Star Overall Factory producing flannel and khaki shirts and overalls. Many local ladies were employed in their homes using sewing machines provided by the companies When tourism began to flourish in the early 20th century, women, too, played a major role.

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