Helen Augusta Whittier (1846-1925)
Helen Whittier was the first woman to a run a mill in Lowell. Her father, Moses Whittier, was an overseer in the dressing room at the Merrimack Mills, and later at the Boot Mills. In 1852 he started his own business manufacturing loom harnesses and twine. The company was successful, and in 1878 the Whittier Mills were erected on Stackpole Street. Moses Whittier died in 1884 and his son who had assisted him in the business died in 1888. At that time Helen left her position as an art teacher, became treasurer of the company, and took over management of the mill and supervision of its 70 employees. About five years later the mill fell victim to a downturn in the national economy and was forced to close. Helen returned to teaching and became active in women’s activities in Lowell. She was instrumental in the founding of the Middlesex Women’s Club in 1894. In 19093 Helen moved to Boston where she died in 1925, mourned by her friends in Lowell, as well as members of the State Federation of Women’s Clubs, of which she had served as president.