Over 150 years ago, on March 18, 1859, Martha Constantine was registered to work in the No. 2 Weaving Room of the Salmon Falls Manufacturing Company in Salmon Falls, N.H. (Salmon Falls Village was part of present-day Rollinsford, N.H., just across the river from South Berwick, Maine.) The Salmon Falls Manufacturing Company was incorporated in 1822 to make woolen cloth; after a fire in 1834, the mill was rebuilt and the company turned to the manufacture of cotton cloth. The company continued under the Salmon Falls name for over 100 years until 1929, when its name changed to the Tire Fabric Corp., as tire fabric had become the company’s chief product. The company finally stopped production in 1936.
When Martha was registered to work, she was probably given a copy of the notice published here: the General Regulations of the company. The Osborne Library holds a number of the work regulations of various companies, and the language is startling similar in many of them, indicating that these were system wide rules. These were the rules laid out for employees, starting with the regulations to be followed by the overseers (the supervisors) who were “to be punctually in their rooms at the starting of the mills, and not to be absent unnecessarily during working hours” and who “may grant leave of absence to those employed under them, when there are spare hands in the room to supply their places; otherwise they are not to grant leave of absence, except in cases of absolute necessity.”