Worst Jobs Industrial revolution

Match Makers

Match makers were required to dip little wooden sticks into yellow phosphorus to create the match head. This job causes a lot of suffering of young women as this chemical was one that could cause a lot of damage to the human body.


The main candidates for the job as a match maker were the young women. Mainly between 13 and 16. They had little hands which were best for holding the little sticks. Children were also cheaper labour and didn't take away stronger, fully grown adults that would be better for the more labouring jobs. There were also some older women (see above), who were no longer capable for the more labouring jobs.


Fire was a crucial element to surviving in the industrial revolution. Without fire, they wouldn't be able to burn coal, cook food or run machinery. There were people that wanted to make fire accessible for all. Fire lit lamps and candles were a main source of light and they needed to be lit somehow. That is why matches were made. They were also cheap and quick to make so businesses had much profit, especially when using child labour.


When dipping, the workers were exposed to dangerous amounts of phosphorous. These chemicals made them sick and caused many of the girls to lose their teeth. This was called Phossy Jaw by the girls who worked in the industry. Here is a quote for the symptoms of Phossy Jaw.

Images of effects Phossy Jaw had

'This chemical caused yellowing of the teeth, hair loss, and phossy jaw, a type of bone cancer. It also made teeth rot and even caused workers to die from breathing it into their lungs' - Children in Matchmaking.


Making matches was a very cheap process. All that was required was small children, wooden sticks and bowls and bowls of phosphorous. These were all fairly cheap, the phosphorous had some cost but in large quantities it was more efficient and saved money. These three cheap items helped the business owners turn a large profit for matches were widely wanted and they could be made in large quantities very quickly, for bulk buying. So the people that benefit were basically everyone except for the workers. The business people more because they got the money. The workers not at all because they ended up with Phossy Jaw.

Still used?

Match making is still widely used and needed. They have become more and more popular but modern occupational hygiene practices have been put in place to remove the hazards that came from match making in the industrial revolution. Living in the 21st century, matches are used for everyday life and are taken for granted as a simple tool. It is very simple but very effective for creating fire, light and heat and lighting cigarettes.

Video - watch from 34:22


Ducksters 2016, TSI, accessed 12 March 2017 <http://www.ducksters.com/history/us_1800s/breaker_boys_matchgirls_newsies.php>.

History of Matches 2016, accessed 10 March 2017, <http://www.historyofmatches.com/>.


"Industrial Revolution." Industrial Revolution. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2012. <http://www.nettlesworth.durham.sch.uk/time/victorian/vindust.html>.

Phossy Jaw 2016, accessed 11 March 2017, <https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phossy_jaw>.

"Spartacus Educational." Spartacus Educational. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2012. <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/TUmatchgirls.htm>.

Vera, J 2016, Industrial Revolution and Colonisation, accessed 7 March 2017, <http://tirac.weebly.com/child-labor-in-the-match-factory.html>.


Created with images by poogood - "industrial old factory sunshine"

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