Select Page

An address to the Visitors
of the School of Industry

1814 — To the Board of the School of Industry, established for indigent girls of the North End of Boston MA



We have now fully completed the year, since we met and organized ourselves as a society for promoting the cause of industry, humanity, and benevolence by taking under our care a number of destitute female children however enlarged our view may have been, our beginning, has been so small, it has called very little attention from the publick. It has become almost a universal custom to celebrate the anniversary of every benevolent society. by prayer an address on the nature of the institution we have agreed to, made one years trial of our plan.

I now congratulate your Ladies that on trial we can take a retrospect of the past year with pleasure. the progress and improvement of the Children has exceeded our most sanguine expectation. and we have indeed been highly favoured by heaven in having our health and lives continued. Let me remark not one of the visitors has been detained from duty by any alarming complaint and of two hundred and fifty subscribers but one has died and our school mistress has not been detained from duty one single day; and out of fifty six Children not only has died and of twenty six Young Ladies that teach the reading and spelling not one has been detained from duty by sickness We Surely have reason to sing of mercy. and must view the hand of a gracious providence. in so far blessing this institution. We have every reason to be encouraged and persevere with energy and ardour in the same cause of well doing:

We must all be fully convinced of the utility of such an institution. I think every one of this association must think themselves richly paid, for devoting a small part of their time to instructing and improving the mind of the destitute Children of this district. paid indeed. When we see the Children gently led into the path of virtue under our fostering care. To the young Ladies of the vicinity we are greatly indebted for the improvement they have mad[e] in reading and spelling. which has exceeded our highest expectation. Accept now Young Ladies the United thanks of the Visitors. being myself an old native inhabitant of this district I feel more particularly interested for the rising generation. As by reason of years my usefulness in society must soon end. I wish to impress on the mind of my young friends. that by energy and attention this institution may become a great blessing to this part of the town and many poor Children as well as your own may have reason To bless you for establishing such an institution.

Surely it can be no disparagement to any Lady to lay her hand to the distaff, or teach any other to put her hand to the spindle, We find the Mother of Sprig Lemuel recommending such a woman as fit for a [unreadable word] or wife for her son. as you will find proverbs 31 chap: 19, 20 verse She not only layeth her hand to the spindle, but She stretcheth out her hand to the poor. Yea She reacheth forth her hand to the needy. She not only reacheth. out her benevolent hand to give them for their present necessity. but she puts forth. her hand to teach them the use of the needle, spindle and the distaff. and her husband shall arise and bless her; for so doing—

To you my dear friends whose parents resided in this district and some of your ansestors [sic] was among the first settlers of this part of the town. Let me entreat you to be zealous in the good works we have commenced let it continue and remain a monument in honour of the memory of your departed lives: for they taught us first to love and show mercy. Let us then with humility follow their laudable example. We have commenced a good work let me say persevere therein to the end. . .

every association for benevolent purposes has a happy effect on society at large. In some respects I think this institution has the advantage of many others in this respect the industry of the school will soon support its own establishment  and the Children taught in the school may become valuable members of society. and by their own exertion will earn a good living. To you my children let me Say. Shew your gratitude to your patrons and teachers. by meetting [sic] their wishes. Which is that you may grow wise and good by their instruction. You must be honest faithful industrious and virtuous, and your benefactors will reap all the reward they wish: or expect from you.

To you Ladies may next ardent wish is, that many of you may live to realize the fruit of your labours. attended with the divine blessing.  and generations yet unborn may have reason to bless the founding and supporters of such an institution.


By Prudencia A Matron (pen name of Hannah Mather Crocker)




Source: Massachusetts Historical Society, William Jenks Papers, 1673-1942 (Boston MA). Currently filed in January-June 1819 folder.


Also: “Ascending the Rostrum: Hannah Mather Crocker and Women’s Political Oratory,” by Eileen Hunt Botting, The Journal of Politics, Vol. 74, No. 4 (Oct., 2012), Appendix B.