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Industrial Revolution Resources List

From Farm to Factory Resource List


* Denotes resource funded by the Massachusetts Library System.


  • In the Past Lane: Your Highway to History
    Excellent material in this informative and wonderfully written blog from Professor Edward O'Donnell of Holy Cross College.
  • American Artifacts: Old Sturbridge Village 
    American History TV visits Old Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts, a “living history” museum that depicts early New England life from 1790 to 1840. Now, we hear from costumed historians who present what is was like to live and work in 19th-century New England. 
    Curator Tom Kelleher serves as our guide.




The New England Craftsmen
Travel back in time to colonial New England and see for yourself the importance of the artisans in this society. Background information on the culture and rules of the society is presented to give you an idea of how people live. Different types of artisans and their trades are discussed and defined. Try the lesson activities and see how good you are at making creations similar to the colonial artisans!

Artisans English BR


An 18th-Century Trades Sampler
Take a look at 18th century trades in this colonial trades sampler. Although the economy was agriculturally-based, over 100 different occupations existed outside of agriculture. As goods and services became increasingly specialized, 25% of the people became apothecaries, blacksmiths, founders, harnessmakers, milliners, printers, shoemakers, wigmakers, silversmiths, and craftsmen. Discover the role of the apothecary, the work of the blacksmith, the tools made by the founder, the leatherwork of the harnessmaker, and the fashionable cloth of the milliner. Investigate the printer's presses, the shoemaker's work, the silversmith's challenges, and the wigmaker's queues.

North America--History--Colonial period, ca. 1600-1775, Artisans English 1420




Early Industrialization
The earliest settlers to Ohio worked in agriculture but by the 19th century, industrialization began to creep into Ohio. The earliest factories processed agricultural products like tobacco, wool, and pork or manufactured farming machinery like reapers and mowers. Industrial production expanded as paved roads, turnpikes, steamboats, railroads, and canals facilitated transportation of products to markets. Steamboats increased the need for coal mining. Learn about Ohio's iron industry. Study working conditions during early industrialization and how they necessitated the rise of labor organizations. Evaluate the consequences of industrialization and identify the industrial centers of Ohio.

Industrialization English 1180


Industrialization and Its Consequences
Industrialization led to political, economic, technological, cultural, and environmental changes in the 19th century. Wood was replaced by fossil fuels. The human population doubled in a little over a century. Mass production was applied to textiles, food processing, metallurgy, and chemical industries. European migrants flocked to the Americas by steamship and railroads to find familiar temperate climates. These immigrants outnumbered the indigenous people and exploited natural resources. African migrants were brought as slaves, and Asian migrants often came as indentured servants. Democracy gained power, but so did colonial empires. People died in famines as grain was exported for profit.

Industrial revolution, Industrialization, World history--19th century, Colonization English 1290


Impact of Industrialism
The development of new machines and factories revolutionized the economy in the middle of the 19th century. Mass production became typical while transcontinental railroads provided a way to get goods to new markets. The population shifted toward urban areas in search of jobs but many found employer exploitation, insufficient housing, and other urban problems. Find out how industrialization impacted family life and the average standard of living. Analyze other changes that came with industrialization and urbanization.

Industrialization English 1200


Plain and Neat: Cabinetmakers Preserve Colonial Craftsmanship
Originally published in Colonial Williamsburg: The Journal of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, this article describes the work of Mack Headley, Jr., master cabinetmaker at Colonial Williamsburg and the history of the cabinetwork industry, particularly in Colonial Virginia. Included are links to video clip excerpts (available via QuickTime) from a video titled The Art and Mystery of the Cabinetmaker Crafting a Card Table, links to related articles published in the journal, and images of craftsmen at work in Colonial Williamsburg.

Cabinetwork, Virginia--History English 1060


Business, Labor, and Technology in the Gilded Age (1868-1922)
Called captains of industry, entrepreneurs like Carnegie and Rockefeller were also known as robber barons. These business tycoons built monopolistic corporations based on ruthless competition. Yet, they contributed millions to philanthropy. They were part of the Gilded Age in industry and railroads, a Second Industrial Revolution that shaped American business and economics. Ida Tarbell, an investigative journalist, revealed the monopolistic tactics of Standard Oil and was called a muckraker. Carnegie sought to undersell his competitors at all costs. Investigate the tyranny of company stores, the use of child labor, and the rise of labor unions.

Industrial revolution, Industrialization, Industrialists, Monopolies English 660


Jay Gould
Railroad baron, Jay Gould, amassed a personal fortune working in transportation and communication in the United States in the late 19th century. The self-proclaimed most hated man in the world was often seen as a manipulator of the government and an inconsiderate employer. Learn more about his fight with Commodore Vanderbilt for control of the Erie Railroad and the ensuing scandals. Although remembered as a speculator, Gould did contribute to the success of Western Union.

Gould, Jay,--1836-1892 English 1090


36b. The New Tycoons: John D. Rockefeller
It took vision and drive to become the first billionaire in the United States and John D. Rockefeller had both. Read about the richest person in America at the turn of the century and decide for yourself if he was a robber baron or a captain of industry. Biographical facts at this web site include notes about his family, his early business experiences and his leadership of the Standard Oil Company. A photo and related links are included at the site.

Rockefeller, John D.--(John Davison),--1839-1937, Capitalism English 1000


John D. Rockefeller
Founder of the Standard Oil Company, John D. Rockefeller was an American industrialist and philanthropist. Rockefeller's life is examined at this web site from Biography.com. Discover how ones of the world's most wealthy men made his money and spent his money. See how he got his start in the oil business and how the Standard Oil Company began. There are details about Standard Oil as a near monopoly in the United States and about laws prohibiting monopolies.

Rockefeller, John D.--(John Davison),--1839-1937, Philanthropists, Monopolies English 1240


Ruthless in Manhattan
Although considered clever and daring, business tycoons are also assumed to be corrupt and exploit workers. Some capitalists use philanthropy to try to improve their reputation, but Cornelius Vanderbilt didn't worry about what people thought of him. The richest man in 19th century America, he didn't apologize for his wealth. He thought people should be grateful for the steamships, railroads, and Grand Central Terminal he provided. Vanderbilt was respected and resented as a ruthless entrepreneur who started with one small vessel and built nearly a monopoly.

Vanderbilt, Cornelius,--1794-1877 English 1160


America Unbridled: The Iron Horse and Manifest Destiny
Railroads made it possible to travel long distances in comfort as they broke through geographic barriers. The quest for a transcontinental railroad and the concept of Manifest Destiny developed side by side. Manifest Destiny is the idea that American control of the continent from sea to shining sea was inevitable and divinely planned. It served as a moral justification for expansion as the United States displaced Native Americans and Mexicans. Discover how the railroads expedited immigration, hastened the destruction of natural resources, and exploited employees.

Railroads--History, United States--Territorial expansion, Manifest Destiny (Westward expansion) English BR


The Gilded Age
The Gilded Age was characterized by corrupt politics and unrestrained capitalism. In a time of monopolies and government corruption, Blue Laws and prohibition attempted to legislate morality. Discover how Chester Arthur combated government corruption and instituted reform, even at the cost of members of his own political party being prosecuted. While Andrew Jackson introduced the spoils system to American government, Chester Arthur devised the merit system. Explore differences between the Democratic and Republican parties of the late 19th century. Read about the presidential race of 1884 and Grover Cleveland's policies.

United States--Politics and government--1865-1900, United States--History--1865-1898, Political corruption English 1240


The Gilded Age
You might think the term gilded refers to something very beautiful and ornate. Mark Twain, however, used the term gilded age to indicate an era he viewed as sparkling on the outside, but tarnished on the inside. Learn more about America's Gilded Age when you visit the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History web site. The site offers many links to primary source documents from this period, guided readings, study aids, and other resources. Despite its excesses and corruption, it is an era that helped to move America from its agricultural past toward the nation it is today.

United States--History--1865-1898 English 1290


The Britannica Guide to Inventions that Changed the Modern World

Call #: 609 BRI edited by Robert Curley.
Turning points in history
Published 2010

Dictionary of American History

Call #: REF 973.03 DIC v.1 - v. 10
Published 2003
Detailed resource with in-depth coverage. Ex. Haymarket Riot article -> see also Anarchists; Chicago; Labor; Wages and Salaries; Work; and picture (overleaf)

The Progressive Era: Primary Documents on Events from 1890 to 1914 

Call #: 973.8 BUR Burt, Elizabeth V., 1943-
Debating historical issues in the media of the time
Published 2004

Workers Unite! The American Labor Movement 

Call #: 331.88 HIL Hillstrom, Kevin, 1963-
Defining moments
Published 2011
Outstanding resource of background information using primary source material.
Ex. "Whether you work by the piece or work by the day, Decreasing the hours increases the pay."
Nineteenth-century labor slogan penned by Mary Steward, the wife of a Boston machinist and union organizer.

The Industrial Revolution's Workers and Their Lives

Call #: 331.09 NAR Nardo, Don, 1947-
The Lucent library of historical eras
Published 2009

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