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Hopedale - Local Town Pages

Hopedale project seeks Draper stories for digital archive and new book

Ernest Q. Hixon working at a Draper shuttle bench. He is the grandfather of Linda Hixon who is currently collecting photos and stories abouta men and women who worked at the Draper Mill. Source: www.hopedalewomen.org

By Theresa Knapp
The Hopedale Women’s History Project is seeking photographs and stories about women and men who worked for the Draper Corporation. 
Linda Hixon grew up in Hopedale and her grandfather worked at the Draper Mill. She founded the project.
“Our current project on the workers of Drapers - the people who made the company great - is being laid out now. But I am hoping that more people will reach out and we’ll need to do a second volume,” said Hixon. “We’re always looking for more stories and photos for future projects.” 
Hixon, who has a master’s degree in history and wrote her thesis on the Hopedale Women’s Sewing Circle (1848-1862, during the Adin Ballou years), started the Hopedale project after conducting similar community group efforts while teaching at Worcester State University. While working with local communities on those projects, she realized they can also make great book projects. This is her third such project. 
Hixon’s other books include Following the Threads: The Hopedale Sewing Circle 1874-1924; The Grip: The 1918 Pandemic and a City Under Siege; and Symbol of Progress: A Photographic History of the Draper Corporation. 
“I work with volunteers to try and find the forgotten history of Hopedale - not just women’s history, but all of the town’s history,” said Hixon from her home in Worcester. “Hopedale was one of the most successful communal living experiments to come of the 1840s, and Drapers was the largest manufacturer of automatic textile machinery and the largest employer in Central MA during parts of its history. And some of the innovations to come out of that company changed the textile world forever. Those are facts that should not only be remembered, but be celebrated and learned.”
In June, Hixon and many of her volunteers held a Draper Scanning Day at the the Little Red Shop Museum where the public could have their private photos scanned into the Hopedale Digital Archive. Hixon says the event was well attended but they continue to seek additional photos for the archive.
To contribute photos or stories, and to learn more about its many projects, visit hopedalewomen.org or email [email protected] Books are available at online bookstores, the Little Red Shop, and will be available at Day in the Park on Sept. 17. 
Note: The Hopedale Women’s History Project is a registered nonprofit; all proceeds from the sale of its books go to history and educational projects.