Reflections on World History

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Ch.17 Industrialization

Here are a few questions that I hope will inspire reflection as you consider this week’s primary sources.

How do these documents and images help you undertstand the experience of class during the early industrial age? What were the markers of class status? How might members of the working class have responded to Marx’s ideas? How might middle-class readers have responded to the Communist Manifesto?



  1. Matthew C. says:

    In visual source 17.4, I noticed a lot of female children working alongside with the boys. I’m amazed that they let girls work at this time, because often they would be at home tending home needs. Also, the children in the factory work all day and do not go to school. This surprised me because I they worked on weekends or holidays, but they work all the time. In the picture, I notice the man standing in the middle of the children. This man most likely disciplined all the children to work and not to slack off, and punished them when something was not done right. At this age, most children should not be working but should be learning in school for a better job than a factory job. Lastly, I also noticed the work place they worked in is very dirty and all of them sit on baskets. I am surprised that the children were not in a specific type of class themselves seeing that they worked in factories all day and everyday.

  2. Sidney Nelson says:

    Elizabeth’s testimony tells us a lot about child labor. The conditions under which children worked in industrial factories were very harsh. They would work very long hours if busy, from 5am to 9 pm. They were allowed to eat for 40 minutes at lunch time, but didn’t have much time for breakfast nor drinking. The children were on their feet nonstop all day. Also, if they worked too slow or arrived late to work, they would get struck. Even little girls who got struck sometimes were left with black marks on their bodies. Unfortunately, their parents couldn’t do much about it because they were afraid of losing their job. The children were covered with dust and were forbidden to eat anything at all in the factory. I think these conditions are really harsh for little kids around the age of 6 to abide by. That is such a young age for little kids to work in such strict factories. In a way I think they were treated as slaves.
    – Sidney N.

  3. R.Hunter says:

    In the middle of the nineteenth century, Great Britain was at its Indrustralization peak. Britain often held exhibits of their newest technology derived from this industrial revolutionary era. These exhibits would attract about 6 million visitors to its facilities. In the image source 17.1, there is a sketch of the Machinery Department Exhibit at Crystal Place. There is a railing seperating the people from the display as they look on at the magical machine. The people looking at the equipment seemed to be upper class because of their elegant clothing and accesories. That is then when I realized, at this time, the upper class was benefiting most from technology. There doesn’t seem to be a middle-class or lower-class person in the sketch. The machine represents human achievement because it shows how far people have come from making things by hand. They were building things that people never even thought about.

  4. JoslynP says:

    With the Industrial Revolution came much upheaval from the working class. Document 17.1 gives us insight on what caused these protest and demands for change. Elizabeth was a factory worker who started at the age of six. She described her working day, stating that work days would be as long as ten hours, from 5am to 9pm. Elizabeth even testified that if not working up to the owner’s standards, they would be physically punished. For most, there wasn’t even enough time for a meal and even sometimes, time to go back home in order to be back for the next days work. All of these harsh conditions seemed to be of no concern to the owner; all he cared for was the production of his business and money. He was not in favor of reducing work hours, due to a possible loss of 1/6 of production of his business. The working class were almost considered slaves when compared to the history in the past chapters. The markers for class status were quite simple. It was either you were rich or poor. In Visual Document 17.5, the image illustrates just how the classes were defined and basically how the working/laboring class weren’t too much seen as regular, equal human beings, but as tools of commercial profit.

  5. Arian Amiri says:

    The Testimony of Elizabeth Bentley (Document 17.1) shows how young children, male and female, were expected to work in dangerous environments for long hours. Also known as child labor, factory owners had no care for the children put to work in their factories. With low pay and and only 40 minutes to eat in the factory at noon, this honestly brings the idea of slavery to my mind. Other than these factory workers being payed (VERY LITTLE), they still are treated poorly, barely fed, kept dehydrated, and even whipped if working to slow, they basically are slaves to the factory owners. Common guys, a penny an hour? This is pretty much working for free, I don’t care if its 1832. Elizabeth stated she began working in the factory from the age of 6. This is jaw-dropping to me. Rather than focusing on an education, the factory owners do not care one bit, only caring about profiting off child labor rather than the health, education, and well being of individuals, let alone young children. I could not imagine being six years old and knowing no better than taking orders from factory owners and being beaten if not done promptly or correctly. Thanks to her testimony, in 1833 legislation limited the hours of employment for children and women.

  6. Document 17.1, The Testimony of Elizabeth Bentley, gives the experience of an English factory worker who was twenty-three. She worked in a flax mill cleaning machines. In her telling, the conditions were terrible as she worked between thirteen and eighteen hours a day for just pennies a day. During these long hours she only received a forty minute lunch break, which was to no avail, as by the time she got to her food she stored in the mill, the food would be covered in dust. When work was not at expected levels workers would be beaten. This gives an account for the women and children in the working class, who after working extreme hours in harsh condition barely had money enough to get by in life, while people of higher classes made loads from the nearly free labor.
    G. Jones

  7. Rashundra Martin says:

    During the Industrial Revolution, factories became more prevelent and the need of workers rose drasically. Children were even put to work within these factories. They were small and agile and more likely to work more hours without having to take breaks frequently. Elizabeth Bentley’s Testimony (Document 17.1) shines light on how children and other workers as well were treated in the factory. These factory workers workers long hours for very little pay and barely any breaks. They were mistreated by the factory owners and were even abused if productivity was not up to par according to the owner. These factory workers were like slaves in a sense. They had to obey the “rules” of the owners otherwise it would result in punishhment. THe factory owners did not care about the education, health, or overall well-being of the workers. The production was more important than anything. The statuses were very clear; it was the rich and the poor. The poor made the rich richer as they ultimately suffered. In the Visual Source entitiled “Inside the Factory:Lewis Hine, CHild Labor, 1912” it depicts how factory owners oversaw their workers, standing over them and watching them. The factory workers both children and adults knew their place among the owners and never strayed from that position. -Rashundra M.

  8. Carina says:

    In visual source 17.4, Inside the Factory by Lewis Hine, there are women and children working alongside each other whilst doing the same work despite the age difference. There is obviously a lack of elbow space and the workers are cramped together while under the supervision of the head worker, a man. Back then, there were no laws preventing inhumane child labor and many young kids were forced to go to work despite their age which they should be going to school or playing amongst other children. Working intolerable hours, these kids toiled in the hot factories for very little pay. Visual source 17.5 also allows audiences to see the difference between the wealthy and the poor. There was no middle, just the two extremes. In the early modern ages, women and children were not allowed to work yet in this period of time, they were forced to work. The times have surely changed and the stark contrast between the two classes are shocking.

  9. Jamison H says:

    In Document 17.3 Samuel Smiles starts off writing about the industrial revolution and all the ways Great Britain’s economy was benefiting from it. He talks about how the banks are “gorged with gold” and how there has never been more money and food in the empire. At first glance you would think this is an article supporting England’s transformation into a manufacturing based economy, and in some ways it is, but if you read further you can see that Smiles is actually trying to bring attention to the rampant poverty throughout England’s working class. He believes that the greed of the aristocracy, and somewhat the middle class as well, led England’s working class to become what he refers to as animals just “earning increased wages in the gratification of his grosser appetite.” He is implying that the working class has no sense of saving for tomorrow, rather they just live off what they have today. I found this interesting because it mostly conflicts with all of Marx’s ideas on the next page. Marx want centralization of all banks and money, Smiles would’ve opposed this as well because the working class would still have no sense off saving, therefore still being what he looks at as savage and primitive. I think that although Smiles was pushing for some sort of socialism when he calls out the wealthy for being greedy and ignorant with their money, he was not pushing for the same socialist economy that Marx was advertising. Smiles wanted the working class to become more self aware so they would stray away from the “thriftlessness, drunkenness, and improvidence” and he thought that could only be achieved by teaching them the ways of the economics and how money and saving actually worked. I believe some of his words might have been a bit offensive to the middle class, but it was a much needed wake up call for England to stop the selfishness of money and help the poverty stricken working class.

  10. mina-s says:

    Document 17.3 is titled “A Middle-Class Understanding of the Industrial Poor,” by Samuel Smiles. Based on his perspective, it seems the middle-class is very critical of the working class. He does not consider their positions of working and does not understand why the working class, is stuck in this position, of working. He questions why this class does not save some of their earnings to aspire to live a more comfortable life. He also blames them for the “social degradation of the artisan”, which unfortunately happens with industrializing, but this is not necessarily what the working class has taken from the middle-class, but rather something that inevitably happened through this economic cycle. With minimal wage, may come minimal effort, but this so-called degradation, was not planned or pursued for. I find this primary source rather depressing if this is what a large part of the middle-class understood the working class to be.

    • mina-s says:

      to edit this post.. I mistakenly put the section title as the title of this document.. the real title of the document is “Thrift”

  11. Jessica says:

    Visual Source 17.4 stood out to me the most just by reading the title of it: “Child Labor”. In this image, Hine creates a message to his audience by including numerous women and children working in the factory. I believe Hine wished to show everyone that if people could see for themselves the harsh abuses and injustices of child labor, they would strongly demand laws to end those cruelties. By the look of their faces, I could only imagine the difficulties they faced such as high accidental problems because of both physical and mental fatigue caused by the hard work and long hours. Clearly, this picture also makes the viewer think about how much the children are missing out on such as education and a chance to prepare themselves for a brighter future.

    Jessica H.

  12. Garrett Mitchell says:

    Many of these documents show the beginnings of the division of classes, or rather the much more noticeable and defined social class structure. This is mostly depicted in the art work, particularly visual source 17.5. This picture seems to resemble many of the other pieces of art during this time. The recurring theme of the lower and working classes being underneath and supporting those of higher status shows the shared belief of society at that time. With imagery such as that being so predominant, it’s no wonder the lower classes started to take action, whether that be unions or the bolshevik revolution.

  13. Devin Northcutt says:

    Visual source 17.4 really got to me the most, even the title (Child Labor) painted a picture in my head. This picture showed a lot of women and young children working in the factory, which is shocking because most children would usually worked at home and took care of the household needs. This picture really gets to you emotionally because these children look tired and worn. Hines clearly depicted how rough the life of children working in factories were, which would help get the child labor laws passed. These children clearly would rather be at school learning instead of working like adults. Hines showed a man standing over the women and children who would probably discipline them in a very bad way if they slacked off or did not work hard enough. Hines wanted to show that the lives that these children were living were not the lives that they had chose. These children could not even enjoy their lives at a young age.

  14. Jose F says:

    The Industrial Revolution was not only a sign of progress and technological advancement, but also a sign of superiority for those who relished in it – particularly Great Britain. Visual Source 17.1 depicts the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851 which perfectly captures this superiority and innovation accomplished by the British early on in the industrial revolution. The painting aims to further glorify Britain by showing only the well-dressed and fashionable upper class. However by doing this, the painting also acknowledges the growing gaps between the classes that the Industrial Revolution produced. In this painting, only those whom benefited the most from the industrial revolution are shown, since showing the growing labor class would be not be conducive to the general theme of the painting.
    – Jose F

  15. Jazzzmin says:

    The image of 17.4 is interesting due to that fact that it debunks the myth that only men worked during the industrial revolution. It seems as though both women and small children are hard at work in a vegetable cannery. You can tell by the way that their heads are bent down in concentration. It also looks as though the children are very young. The image is also interesting because before this time women and children stayed in the home cooking and cleaning but during these times they too went to work in order to make a wage, neglecting the home.

  16. Levon Austin (Jay-T) says:

    Document 17.2 gives more of an insight on the lifestyle of weavers. In document 17.1. Elizabeth Bentley touched on how cruel workers were treated and how men, women, and children were all treated the same. No type of sympathy was shown. 17.2 describes how weavers were treated just as bad and the conditions were no better for them than factory workers. 17.1 and 17.2 both reveal that the lower class is taken advantage of by those of higher class with more money. Those with money could get the factory workers and weavers to work for anything simply because they know the employees need whatever income they can get to survive.

  17. Anna B says:

    In Document 17.1, Elizabeth Weaver confesses the horrors of working in the factories during the early stages of the industrial revolution. The conditions described in this document are astonishing, even those the children worked in. Child labor was nothing new for Europe, as they had worked in fields and artisan shops. Those forms of working conditions were not near the extent of the ones in the factories, for children had to work are heavy, dangerous machinery, breath in smut and dust all day long, and work unreasonable hours under the watch of strict mangers. This type of environment would be an extreme health hazard to a child; especially one who was small and in poor health, which I am sure was common on account of Elizabeth Weaver’s recollection of the time provided to eat. In Elizabeth’s testimony, the interrogator asks multiple questions about the differences in treatment between boys and girls. In society, women are expected to appear proper, tidy, and overall put together. They are the more “fragile” of the sexes by societies account and bear children, so women who are battered and malnourished would be unfit to carry a child. This would create sympathy for the case Elizabeth Weaver was testifying for. If William Harter, the mill owner, was to read Elizabeth Weaver’s testimony I am sure he would perceive her account as dramatic. He would simply say this was a woman who could not handle the work in the factories, and more than likely emphasize the fact that it is coming from a woman. In his testimony, he focused entirely on how reducing the number of hours employees worked would negatively impact his businesses output. Not once on the positive it could bring to the workers themselves. This attitude was one that was probably common amongst many mill or factory owners, for the early years of industrialization was a race for wealth and who could come out on top that. Competition was high and having a profitable, efficient business was the main focus.

  18. ajones188 says:

    Upon reviewing the information provided from Document 17.4, the concept of everyone working from the moment they have proper motor functions is reinforced. The interview/photographer that took the photo had asked a few children about their lives working. Someone said that she was too young, but she worked anyway. A boy said that he wanted an education, but he couldn’t obtain one while he worked. Apparently, the photographs taken by Hine have influenced the passing of child labor laws in America. It seems unimaginable for tons of children to be out of school when now it’s basically required.

    -Anastasia Jones

  19. dzdavidson says:

    Many of you commented on child labor, and how shocking both the text and the image that touched on that theme seems to our eyes. One thing to keep in mind, though: child labor was nothing new. Children had always worked as soon as they were physically able, assisting their parents with whatever work they did, whether farming or producing goods, or both. What was new with industrialization was that children were being taken out of that familial setting to work outside the home or family shop, and now being supervised, beaten, etc., by strangers. It would take a long hard fight for children to be recognized as beings with the right to be nurtured and cared for (and preferably not beaten) and educated. And there are still places in the world where child labor is common, where children are viewed as the property of their parents to treat as they wish.

  20. Marcusmvg says:

    In Elizabeth’s Testimony, she speaks on her discusses the harsh realities of child labor. Children working was nothing new, children had been working in fields with their parents or helping raise cattle for as long as they were physically able to do so. Industrialization changed how children were used in the workforce. During this era, more children were now working in factories doing adult labor. They were now being supervised by sweatshop mangers in dangerous environments. It would take many years before child labor laws would go into existence and even in some third-world countries child labor is still an ongoing issue.

  21. Simbuilder5 says:

    In Mahatma Gandhi’s “Indian Home Rule”, he explores the repercussion’s of industrialization and it’s effect on India and Britain. His take is interesting because he speaks about how industrialization affects people in the context of god. Civilization as England practices, is godless and teaches immorality. Gandhi also doesn’t blame India’s condition on England. Instead he takes a rather enlightened approach and notices the bigger picture of industrialization as an entity, a “monster” as he calls it. Gandhi also explains why civilization is not incurable in India. He claims that India is solid at the core and that it’s people don’t like change. Gandhi recognizes that as an advantage rather than a charge and states that morality can be obtained through knowing one’s self and their minds and passions. Gandhi’s religious approach is appealing to me because he isn’t violent and he does not place blame. Instead he looks to the bigger picture of civilization itself and explains how it affects people in India and in England where it began! What do you think about Gandhi’s points?

    Winston S.

  22. Kameron H says:

    In document 17.2 shows a song sung by the unemployed weavers of the early 1860’s. The song called “Only a Weaver” is a song that describes the life of a weaver or artisan during the Industrial Revolution. The song blames the “political economy for the plight of the weavers. “Political economy now must sway and say when a man shall work or play.”This line emphasizes the fact the workers were at the mercy of the economy of that time. The poem provides a tone that would make one want to sympathize with the weaver. The line “Hes only a weaver that no one owns” indicates that the weavers were never temporarily employed in the factories meaning that the Weavers moved from factory to factory in search of work during this time of great struggle.

  23. Samuel says:

    It is interesting to me that not many Americans were interested in the communist manifesto. The reason I say that is because working conditions in American factories was harsh and the pay was low. In fact the conditions in these factories remained bad until unions were firmly implanted in the first half of the 20th century. However, during the early part of American industrialization, approx. 1875-1881 many riots broke out among workers and factory owners forcing President Rutherford B. Hayes to intervene on the behalf of the factory owners forcing an end to the worker strikes which were causing many of the riots. A communist agenda would seem appealing to workers working for low pay and in harsh environments, somewhat forcibly.

  24. Shanakay W says:

    The document that I found most interesting is document 17.4. This image that’s presented was taken inside a vegetable cannery factory in 1912 by Lewis W. Hines. Lewis Hines was a photographer and a teacher. The picture was taken to inform the public about child labor with the intentions of probably putting an end to child labor itself. Hines tries to convey the message that child labor is unjust and children should be in school learning instead of being forced to perform harsh labor. While documenting “Child Labor and Factory Life,” Hines spoke to children to gain an insight into their lives as a factory worker. During the interview process he came across a twelve year old who stated “I want to learn, but can’t when I have to work all the time.” This quote is significant because parents were under the impression that their child was better off working to make ends meet instead of being educated.

    – Shanakay W

  25. Ashley McCall says:

    Visual Source 17.2

    Shows a family traveling back home, they don’t appear to be in lower class due to the toys having their own seat. It appears that the children had a good time but don’t want to go home but they were glad to be going home. This image is showing off the industrialization of the train.

  26. DHarris says:

    In visual source 17.4, the artist depicts female and male children working in a factory. It was interesting to see females in the factory because they would often be at home doing things around the house. Also, the children in the factory work all day and do not go to school. The children were treated like animals and would make them work long hours and they would get disciplined harshly if they didn’t work hard. At this age, most children should not be working but should instead be learning in school. The work conditions were very dirty and all of the children sat on baskets.

  27. Krys M. says:

    Visual source 17.4 was a photograph titled: “Inside the factory” by Lewis Hine, a well known photographer of the early 1900s. This photograph shows women and children hard at work in a factory. There is one man that stands above all the workers in a top hat or a bowling hat, in nice business casual attire with a pipe in his mouth. The workers are sitting on buckets with their heads bowed while placing items into buckets. They are wearing ragged and soiled clothing. Most of the workers appear to not be wearing footwear and so their legs are feet are also as dirt filled as their clothing. The expression on all the workers faces both women and children are just utterly sad. Not one worker seems to be smiling or happy to be in the factory/cannery.The fact that clothing and skin of the workers were soiled only shows the inhospitable conditions of the work environment they were placed in and no doubt had to be in everyday. The dust alone could have caused serious respiratory problems. The man who oversees the workers seem to be the only one content with being in this cannery. He gets paid just watch others and does not engage in the hard work himself as can be deduced from his clean upper class clothing and the fact that he can afford a pipe to smoke. Even though there are windows, the cannery still seems to be a dark and saddening place.

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