Jamie Eves is the Executive Director of the Windham Textile and History Museum, a.k.a. the Mill Museum, a small-to-middle-sized history museum in Willimantic, CT. He has an M.A. in History from the University of Maine and a Ph.D. in History from the University of Connecticut. He has been the E.D. at the Mill Museum since 2011, and a volunteer at the Museum since 2004. He has taught U. S. History, World and European History, and the History of Connecticut and New England as adjunct faculty at Eastern Connecticut State University, the University of Connecticut, Three Rivers Community College, the University of Saint Joseph, Albertus Magnus College, the University of Bridgeport, and Central Connecticut State University.
People often ask me why the Mill Museum does what it does, and the people who work here do what we do. Like school teachers, museum professionals work long hours for little pay. (And our volunteers don’t get paid at all!) So, a few years ago, I wrote this. It’s why I work here. No one should be forgotten.
Please don’t forget me.
I worked. I worked in the mills. I worked at home on hand looms and spinning wheels. I worked on the railroad. I was a laborer. I cleaned other people’s houses. I operated a sewing machine in a shop. I sewed by hand. I processed chickens, made capacitors, and wound cables. I worked….
I was Yankee, Irish, English, Scottish, French Canadian, Polish, German, Italian, Russian, Syrian, Puerto Rican, Mexican, Guatemalan, Chinese, Indian, and many other ethnicities and cultures. I was Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and Muslim. I was a person….
I started working when I was 10 years old. I was a doffer, a spinner, a weaver, a carder, and a winder. I was an engineer, a dye master, a foreman, a machinist, and a manager. I worked in the print shop, machine shop, testing department, and box shop. I was a carpenter, a teamster, and a railroad hand. I worked at home. I was useful….
I worked eight, ten, and twelve hours a day. I lost fingers and hands in the machines. My lungs filled with fibers. My hearing was made faint by the noise of the machines. My eyesight dimmed. But I persevered….
I sent my children to school. I sent them to college. I wanted them to grow up to be foremen and managers. I wanted them to own stores, be police officers, fire fighters, teachers, bank clerks, farmers, and skilled workers. I wanted them to vote and hold office. I wanted them to have more than I had. I wanted them to be somebody….
I built the mills and mill towns of Connecticut.
Please don’t let them forget me.