Industrialization Clare Mielczarek

The 1800s and 1900s were a time of development in new class structures, family dynamics, gender roles, urbanization, and city life in industrialized countries.

Class Structures

  • Middle class began to emerge in industrial cities towards the end of the 19th century
  • Before - two major classes - Aristocrats: born into wealth and privilege - Commoners: born in working classes
  • Working class made up about 80% of population
  • New urban industries required more "white-collared" jobs - business people, shopkeepers, doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc.
  • 300 retail shops in 1875 ... 2,600 shops by 1890 - proof of growing middle class and idea of capitalism (country's industry is controlled by private owners for profit, rather than the state)
  • Middle class could afford to hire servants - from 1851 to 1871, number of domestic servants increased from 900,000 to 1.4 million
  • Wages for British workers doubled in fifty years between 1850 and 1906
  • Food was the largest budgetary item
  • Most middle class families rented rather than owned houses; contained tiny rooms on the top floor for servants
  • The working class consisted of people who made their living by physical labor and did not employ domestic servants
  • The highest level were construction bosses and factory foremen
  • The unskilled were day laborers such as longshoremen, teamsters, and "helpers", and domestic servants; teenagers would have these jobs
  • In Britain in 1911, one in seven employed persons was a domestic servant; most were women aged between 15 and 20.

Family Dynamics

"I have had twelve children altogether. I thought you were asking only of those who worked at the mill. There were five that died before they were a quarter of a year old. . . . " - Jane Goode, a working-class mother, testified before the British Factory Commission in 1833. Her life shows the unfortunately common death rate of infants.
  • Work and home life separated - men earned money for their families, while women took care of the home
  • Many factory workers were initially women, but most of them were young and would quit when they married.
  • Children often worked to earn some income for the family. Many began work by age 10 or 12 .
  • Beginning of the 19th century - most male children stayed in the same occupations their fathers were in.
  • Later in the century - the family decided what trade would be best.
  • When the father was unemployed, family roles would be reversed - the wife and children would bring home wages while the husband tended to the household.
"The children began to grow up. The house prospered - we then had a small business selling food and drinks. The mother and daughters took care of that. In 1907, my two sons began to work with me . . . From this time on, we emerged little by little from our former poverty" -JOSEPH VOISIN, A FRENCH CARPENTER

Synthesis - National Consumers’ League (1899) and the National Child Labor Committee (1904) - shared goals of challenging child labor, including anti-sweatshop campaigns. The National Child Labor Committee worked to end child labor and to provide free, obligatory education for all children. It peaked in the passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938, which set federal standards for child labor.

Gender Roles

Jobs for Women

  • A seamstress was the most highly respected job a woman at the time could obtain (could help to better her marriage prospects).
  • Seamstresses often worked out of their own homes, and had great freedom over their work - could choose which assignments to take, and when to work.
  • Negative side of being a seamstress - work was the least well paid of all the options open to women, and it could be sporadic
  • Also has to undergo a two year apprenticeship, during which the woman is not paid
  • Second most respected option was to work as a domestic servant
  • Many domestic servants used the opportunity to study and learn upper class manners and behavior
  • Factory work was the best paying job a woman could obtain

Synthesis - March 25, 1911 - the Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory in New York City burned down, killing 145 workers. Most of the deaths were preventable because many of the victims died as a result of ignored safety features and locked doors within the factory building. Attention was brought to the sweatshop-like conditions of factories. The tragedy led to the development of a series of laws and regulations that protected the safety of workers.

Victor Hugo's book, Les Miserables, depicts small glimpses of life in factories women worked in.

Jobs for Men

  • Migrant workers were men who engaged in construction related trade.
  • Cottage industry typically involved an entire family, with the man being in charge of the means of production. All the labor would take place in the home, with families often working from morning till night.
  • Typical cottage industry could be a weaver who worked at home and then sold his wares to a middle man.
  • Opportunities as skilled artisans declined due to industrialization trends. Most skilled artisans had a long period of unpaid apprenticeship, ranging from years to months.
  • Also worked in factories
  • Railroads produced thousands of jobs and strengthened/grew other industries (coal, cotton, lumber, steel, etc.)

Synthesis - The Liverpool and Manchester Railway Company in Great Britain brought locomotives to the United States. In the past, to get from coast to coast, there were two routes. The first was a six-month sea voyage from New York around the tip of South America to San Diego or San Francisco. The second route brought travelers over the Oregon-California Trail in covered wagons over rugged terrain and wild territory. This journey also averaged six months. In 1850, the Panama Railway, the world's first transcontinental railroad, was constructed. It eventually instigated the California Gold Rush in the mid-19th century.

Urbanization and City Life

  • Cities needed cheap homes as the Industrial Revolution continued to grow
  • Building regulations were frequently ignored
  • Start of back-to-back terrace housing - no garden and the front was the only part not connected to another house
  • Homes were built without bathrooms, toilets or running water
  • Sanitation and hygiene barely existed; great fear was a cholera, typhus or typhoid epidemic
  • Toilets were cesspits; had to be emptied and dumped in a local river
  • 40 houses would have possibly 6 toilets
  • Drainage systems would have changed all this but they cost money; poor were not able afford drainage systems and the wealthier members of a city were not willing to pay
  • By 1830, 50% of Manchester had no drainage system
“Whole streets, unpaved and without drains or main sewers, are worn into deep ruts and holes in which water constantly stagnates, and are so covered with refuse and excrement as to be impassable from depth of mud and intolerable stench.” - Doctor in Manchester
  • Fresh water was also very difficult to get in the poor areas
  • Some areas had access to a well with a pump but there was always the chance that the water could have been contaminated with sewage from a leaking cesspit.
  • Some bosses tried to ensure that their workers lived decent lives – Richard Arkwright was one.
  • Arkwright built decent homes for his workers. He believed that a healthy workforce would benefit him.
  • In Nottingham, the Trent Water Company supplied 36,000 people with fresh water.
Contaminated River Thames
Richard Arkwright-houses that still stand today

Works Cited

"Industrialization - Family." Gender, Poverty, Theory, Children, and Women. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2017. <>.

"Life in Industrial Towns." History Learning Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2017. <>.

"Mr. Cobbett's Discovery." Life of Ninteenth-Century Workers. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2017. <>.

"Primary Sources." Smithsonian Source. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2017. <>.

"Rich." Rich. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2017. <>.

"Social Changes during Industrial Revolution." Online Homework Help SchoolWorkHelper. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2017. <>.

"Untitled Document." Untitled Document. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2017. <>.

"Working Class Family Life and Structure." Working Class Family Life and Structure. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2017. <>.

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