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Internet Lessons for Learning About Labor
and Industry in America Lessons

Building America's Industrial Revolution:
The Boott Cotton Mills of Lowell, Massachusetts

Boott Cotton Mills' buildings (c. 1835) were products of the earliest large-scale industrial planning project in America and were developed by the same industrialists who founded the city of Lowell. Among the planners was Kirk Boott, first agent of the initial textile company in Lowell, for whom the Boott Mills are named. The Boott millyard illustrates the development of a single textile company in the early years of America's Industrial Revolution and how it paralleled the rise and decline of the Northern textile industry. Using primary material from the Teaching with Historic Places site, you will hold a town meeting about building the mill, analyze a primary source about the mill system, and explore the industrial history of your town or city. Standards 8.6.1 and 8.12.1

Mill Village and Factory
Here are two methods for understanding the American Industrial Revolution in a more complete manner. First read the description of a mill village and the poem "Textile Life" on the American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1940 exhibit at the American Memory website from the Library of Congress. (Link to the American Life Histories http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/wpaintro/wpahome.html. Then search for the exact phrase "Textile Life" and ask the search engine to match those words only.) What parts of the poem seem to apply to the experiences that the mill workers on this website described? How did mill villages differ from community to community? What would have been the best and worst aspects of living in a mill village? How might a poem about textile life written by a textile mill owner be different? Secondly, look at the documents and information about life in the 19th century at the textile mills in Lowell, Massachusetts found on Liberty Rhetoric and the Nineteenth-Century American Woman website at the City University of New York http://www.library.csi.cuny.edu/dept/americanstudies/lavender/lowell.html. How did the lives of mill workers in the 20th century South compare to the lives of working women in Lowell? Standards 8.12.6 and 11.2.1

Child Labor in America
Children have always worked, often exploited and under less than healthy conditions. Industrialization, the Great Depression and the vast influx of poor immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries, made it easy to justify the work of young children. To gain a true understanding of child labor, both as an historical and social issue, students should examine the worlds of real working children. This unit asks students to critically examine, respond to and report on photographs as historical evidence. Students will discover the work of reformer/photographer Lewis Hine, whose photographs give the issue of child labor a dramatic personal relevance and illustrate the impact of photojournalism in the course of American history. Standards 8.12.6 and 11.2.1

Early Industrialization
This unit of study by the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center has as set of lessons and articles on the invention of the cotton gin, pollution issues, and comparing factory and plantation life of laborers. Standard 8.6.1, 8.7.2, and 8.12.6

Pullman Strike of 1894
The Pullman Strike is remembered as one of the turning points in American labor history. You decide: "Did the federal government behave properly in using force to end the Pullman Strike?" Get inside the actions and motivations of the various parties in the strike by role-playing commissioners who examined different groups involved. You will read and act out expert testimony to the commission as a worker, manager, or resident of Chicago. You will need Acrobat Reader for this pdf lesson but do not need an Internet hook-up in class. Standards 8.12.6, 11.2.1, and 12.4.1 economics

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> Labor in America Resources