A History of World Societies, Sixth Edition|
The Industrial Revolution in Europe
The industrial revolution in Europe
that occurred in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries dramatically
reshaped world history. As McKay, A History of World Societies
Edition) states, "Perhaps only the development of agriculture during
Neolithic times had a similar impact and significance.
" Like the
agricultural revolution several thousand years before, the industrial revolution
began as a major shift in the way items were produced. The items themselves
were not new, only the means of production. Specifically, industrialization
allowed for the mass production of manufactured items through the use of new
machines and technology. The steam engine was the major technological breakthrough.
During this time period, entrepreneurs and inventors used the steam engine
to revolutionize the manufacturing of textiles and iron. They also used these
engines to profoundly alter modes of transportation. These changes restructured
the everyday lives of millions of people and posed new problems and possibilities
for governments and philosophers. The following Internet activities will explore
this transformation in production and its consequences for the societies it
- You may want to begin by printing this page. As
you explore different sites, use the printout to refer back to the instructions
and questions detailed in each activity.
- On many web sites you can increase the size of
the images by clicking on them. Whenever possible, use the larger images
to examine fine details in photographs.
- Go to The
Miner's Friend. Study the text and images on this page, and then click
on the hyperlinked section "To the Gentlemen Adventurers in the Mines
of England" and read that text. Also click on the word "Description"
at the bottom and review that site. This web page is a sales brochure. What
is its author, Thomas Savory, marketing? Why does he call it "the engine
for raising water by fire"? Who is his audience? What is his strategy
to convince these people that they need his product? Thomas Savery was marketing
a machine that could pump water out of coal mines, and he was one of many
engineers who contributed to this process.
- Besides coal and iron, another area of the British
economy that steam engines revolutionized was textile manufacturing. Go
Rise of the Factory System and read the section on "Domestic Manufacture," which discusses what is commonly known as the "putting-out system." Before the introduction of steam, how and where were most
cotton textiles produced in Great Britain? Summarize your answer in one
paragraph. Review Chapter 22 of McKay, A History of World Societies
(Sixth Edition) and make a list of the technological developments during
the eighteenth century, before the introduction of the steam engine to the
textile industry, that increased the productivity of workers in the cottage
industry. These technological advancements transformed the British
textile industry, and toward the end of the eighteenth century, Britain
was one of the world's leading producers of textiles.
- Steam engines revolutionized - or completely
altered - the British textile sector. Steam disrupted the cottage industry
and led to the birth of the factory system. To explore this process, read
History Sourcebook: Richard Guest: The Steam Loom, 1823. After completing these exercises,
write a brief essay explaining how steam engines revolutionized the
production of cotton textiles. Did steam change the nature of what was produced
or how it was produced?
- The steam engine also led to the development of
whole new enterprises, particularly in transportation. For example, engineers
began fastening steam engines to ships. Some British engineers used the
steam engine to develop the railroad locomotive, a whole new form of transportation.
To understand this process better, read Development
of the Steam Locomotive (make sure to click on the "Click here
to continue" links to open subsequent pages of the essay). For further
information on The Rocket, the first passenger train, see The
Rocket. How did these engineers take advantage of technological developments
in the past century? In other words, what role did the steam engine and
improved iron production and coal mining play in the development of locomotives?
What impact did the growth of railroads have on factory owners such as in
the textile industry? What impact did it have on ordinary people?
- The processes that altered the British economy quickly
spread to continental Europe and the United States in the nineteenth century
and changed the lives of millions of people. For some this change increased
their wealth and prestige; for others it ruined their livelihoods and destroyed
their lifestyles. This activity and the next two will explore these varied
- Read the excerpt at Modern
History Sourcebook: Observations on the Loss of Woollen Spinning, 1794.
This essay examines the transition from the cottage industry to the factory
system in the production of textiles. Who, according to this author, benefited?
Who was harmed? What impact did this transition have on families in the
English countryside? How does the author describe conditions in the new
factories for those who worked there? Do you believe this author welcomes
the new era or fears it? Why or why not?
- Women and children were especially vulnerable to the
problems identified in Activity Five. Go to Women
in World History Curriculum:Textile Workers and examine the chart presented
here. What kinds of jobs in textile factories did women hold? Why do you
think, as the chart demonstrates, their pay was so much lower than that
of male workers? Now go to Women
in World History Curriculum: The Coal Mines. Study the images at this
site and read the quotes from women and children who worked the coal mines.
Why did coal mine owners employ so many women and children? Were there any
safety laws protecting them? Why do you believe that so many women and children
were susceptible to this kind of exploitation? For some clues, read the
essay Child Labor.
- These women and children that you've examined were part
of the growing working class in Great Britain in the nineteenth century.
To explore the whole concept of class during the industrial era, read the
essay Social Class.
How does this site define the working class? What other classes emerged
in this time period? Essentially, class involved occupation. Those who worked
for wages in factories were part of the working class, and those who owned
the factories or helped manage them were the upper and middle classes. There
was wide stratification within each group.
- From our current outlook, it was the working class that
received the fewest benefits from industrialism. This conventional wisdom,
however, was not as evident to observers at the time. For example, read
the account at Modern
History Sourcebook: Andrew Ure: The Philosophy of the Manufacturers, 1835.
List several reasons Ure views the growth of the factory system positively.
Why does he argue that the growth of the factory system was beneficial to
the working class? For another view read The Physical Deterioration
of the Textile Workers. How does this account contradict Ure's argument?
Now review the section "The New Factory Workers" on pages 749-750
in McKay, A History of World Societies (Sixth Edition). According
to the authors of your text, which assessment is more accurate, or is there
truth to both? Summarize your answer in 1-3 paragraphs.
- Although the impact of industrialization varied among
Europeans, for millions it represented progress and hope for a better life.
Railroads in particular expanded people's horizons and aspirations. Railroad
construction across the continent boomed, as the charts at Modern
History Sourcebook: Spread of Railways in 19th Century demonstrate.
Railroads meant increased ability to travel, merchandize products, and exchange
goods and peoples with distant places.
- The authors of McKay, A History of World Societies
(Sixth Edition) describe the train stations erected in the urban eras as
"the cathedrals of the industrial age." To explore this analogy,
read the passages and study the images at Gare
d'Austerlitz and Gare
du Nord. (Be sure to enlarge the images by double-clicking on them.)
Do you agree with the authors? Do these two train stations in Paris resemble
cathedrals? How do they symbolize the industrial era? What materials were
used to build them? Why else is the analogy to cathedrals relevant? Do many
people congregate there? For what purpose? If these train stations are cathedrals,
what "god" are they exalting?