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"On This Date in History" Calendar

1846: Sarah G. Bagley became first female telegrapher.

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

21 February 1846: Sarah G. Bagley became the first female telegrapher. (Lowell, MA). She was also an activist for labor nearly a century before unions were legal and started working in a textile mill in 1835. She also wrote and contributed articles to the "Lowell Offering."

Sarah George Bagley represents many women and men in the mid 19th century, who were committed to improving health care, working conditions, and education for women and men and children. She believed that it was through the political process of passing laws that society would improve the working conditions and the quality of life for woman and all oppressed or enslaved people.

In 1846, a new business of sending messages along wires called the magnetic telegraph had just opened an office in Lowell, and they hired Sarah as the first female telegrapher in the United States. Not only did she tap out messages, but since she was a writer (and published author) she helped people write their messages and letters. Early in 1847, Sarah was contracted to run the magnetic telegraph office in Springfield, Massachusetts where she was very unhappy to discover that she earned only two-thirds as much as the man she replaced. She wrote to a friend of her growing commitment to human equality and the rights of women.


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