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Esther C. Mack, and "Industrial" Training for Young Women

In 1897, Esther C. Mack's money funded a school to train young women in practical skills they could use to earn a living. What would she do today?

With all the talk these days about the economy, job training, re-training, marketable skills, and all forms of education, it's interesting to thing about some of the solutions offered in the 19th-century.

In Salem, Esther C. Mack was particularly concerned about the daughters of European immigrants who had made their way here to work in the mills. What about these young women who needed to earn a living? Where would they receive training? What would prevent them from a life of "immorality," which upper class Salem women worried about?

In her will, Esther C. Mack bequeathed funds to create the Mack Industrial School where young women received training in all sorts of skills from millinery to gardening. They also learned hygiene and physical fitness. The school opened in 1897, and by 1908 five hundred students were enrolled.

What would she do today? I wonder, but probably something practical and immediate that responded to the underemployed and unemployed in our community!

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Carolyn Costain February 28, 2013 at 11:54 PM
I don't think that this city gives enough recognition of Esther C. Mack, "Ledge Hill" Mack park , was a huge gift to all the people of Salem, "past and future." I went sledding there as a child and so did my children and hopefully someday my future grandchildren will to.
Bonnie Hurd Smith March 01, 2013 at 02:52 AM
I agree! I was up there not long ago and saw, for the first time, the marker that recognizes their gift. In their day, the place was quite something. It still is, but it really was then!
Carolyn Costain March 01, 2013 at 03:03 AM
I wish the rock with the placard, was more visible to new comers up there or if there was something to indicate where it is, so people can read it. I loved Mack park as a kid and still do. i never knew the history of it, until recently looking at elevation maps I started digging up info on it and then walking with my sister, we found the rock.

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