Monday, September 29, 2014

The Ups and Downs of Life at the Mills

     Young women and girls from across America begged their parents for permission to go to cities like Lowell Massachusetts to become mill girls. Some stories describe horrid accidents and terrible living and working conditions caused by the mills, so why would anyone want to work there?

     Farming was a major source of income during this time. It was often a struggle to produce a good harvest, therefore there was a very small income. Every extra amount of money helped. Mill workers could earn up to six dollars per month. Families were attracted to this wage because their daughters could send money home. The girls themselves liked the thought of this because after paying boarding dues and sending money home they still had a tiny bit of spending money for things like new shoes and dresses. Another reason young women were attracted to the life of a mill worker was because that had the opportunity to "see the world." The girls felt as though they had more independence in the city than they'd have at home on the farm with their fathers. The mill life appealed to many girls because of the money and freedom. 

     The girls who thought it would be a great idea to leave home may have changed their minds after working in the mills for a little while. Though there were great benefits, there was also some costs to the lifestyle they chose. The girls worked long, tiring hours in the dangerous mills where they put their health and safety on the line everyday. When they returned to the boarding house for the night, they were to follow very strict rules. Life at the mills wasn't always as wonderful as the girls assumed it would be.

     The life of a mill girl had it's ups and downs, but their work helped change the attitude people had towards women in the 1800's. After many girls bravely left home at a young age to work, people no longer thought girls were meant to stay at home with their fathers until marriage. After the girls boycotted for increased wages they had more of a political position in society. People in the 1800's started to see women as the brave, strong, and independent people they truly are.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Mangled in the Mills

Who would have ever thought that video chatting would become popular for not only talking to friends but for education too? In class this week we had a live video chat with Jamie, a museum curator at the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) in Manchester, England. This was a fun class activity that we did a lot of prep work for. We did a web investigation in which we took notes about what we learned from textile gallery on the museum's website. From this activity I learned that the water frame was the first water powered spinning machine, Platt Bros. was once the leading manufacturer of textile machines, and World War II effected the production of designers' work. To prepare we also watched a video of Jamie explaining the spinning process from start to finish. During the video we wrote down new vocabulary and later used google keyword searches to find their definitions. To finish off our preparation for the live video chat we drafted some questions about the textile process, the impact on families, and museum curating.

I found the whole chat to be exciting and interesting, but I was really drawn in by what Jamie told us about the children in the mills and the accidents they faced. Before the factory act in 1933, children started working in the mills as young as five years old. Jamie told us that many mills purchased children from orphanages to do tough labor and dangerous jobs, such as cleaning the machines. In the chat he explained that the smallest children were chosen the climb under the thread on a working machine to wipe off oil and dust. This job was extremely dangerous because it moved very quickly. Another one of the other dangers Jamie explained to us involved the environment they worked in. The fibers from the cotton filled the air and were breathed in. The fibers would get in your lungs and cause diseases. The most interesting and slightly terrifying accident Jamie told us about was due to the leather straps that went through the machines and up to the ceiling. If those needed to be fixed, metal pieces were added to the straps. People would get caught on the metal tabs and carried to the ceiling where they were mangled in the machine. Jamie's stories about mill accidents were very graphic but also very intriguing.

I really enjoyed having a live discussion with an expert. I thought it was especially cool that Jamie was not from the United States. I learned a lot from this activity because I found it easier to focus and stay engaged in the activity than it is to read an article. I think it would be great to do this with other xperts throughout the year. Though, I enjoyed it, I found it confusing sometimes due to the slow camera. Sometimes it was hard to follow what he was talking about or explaining because we couldn't see what he was looking at. Overall I think this was a fun way to learn about the mills.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Were Poor Living and Working Conditions Inevitable?

Every morning I wake up at 6:30, I get dressed and eat breakfast. Then, I’m off to school, followed by volleyball practice, and dance. After my activities are completed for the day I head home to relax and enjoy my evening before heading to bed by 10. In Great Britain and the United States during the Industrial revolution, children my age and younger had a drastic difference in their daily schedules. They would wake up hours earlier than I do and head to work at the mills for 13-15 hours per day with little to no free time. Mill workers suffered with inevitably poor living and working conditions. Bad weather, abuse, overworking and bad health all contributed to these harsh living and working conditions they had to overcome.

Mary Paul was a young lady who worked in the mills for four years. In letters she wrote to her father back home in Vermont we learn about some of the contributions to why living and working conditions were inevitably poor. The New England Weather habits caused harm on the workers. Mary wrote on December 21, 1845, “Last Thursday one girl fell down and broke her neck which caused instant death. She was going in or coming out of the mill and slipped down it being very icy.” (Doc. C) Having to face situations like this at such a young age would be frightening. Many young girls and a few boys worked in the mills. There was a risk that they might all slip on the ice. Icy environments do not contribute to good working conditions. Later on in her career at the mill Ms. Paul wrote on July 1, 1849, “I thought then that it would be impossible for me to work through the hot weather… I have not been able to do much, although I have worked very hard.” (Doc. C) Ice wasn’t the only natural harm on their working conditions. New England summers are very hot, and were a major reason for poor working conditions. Mary stated that she hadn’t be able to do much work because it had been so warm. The young mill workers spent endless hours working during those unbearably hot summer days.

Most young children spend their days at school having fun with their friends. In the 1830’s kids stopped going to school. Instead they left home and were overworked in mills making a small wage. Hannah Goode tells us, “I can read a little: I can’t write. I used to go to school before I went to the mill:” (Doc. D)  Rather than go to school Hannah works at a mill where they never stop to take their meals. (Doc. D) They work while they eat, except for dinner. “Bobbin girls” were young girls that also worked non stop. These girls set the bobbins on a spinning wheel. This was done every minute without intermission. (Doc. B) Working constantly does not lead to good living or working conditions.

Abuse was another contribution to inevitably bad working conditions. Children naturally get tired very easily. Working for more than 12 hours per day puts a strain on your body and would make any person, child or adult, very sleepy. In Hannah Goode’s testimony she wrote, “he (William Crookes) beats the little children if they do not do their work right.” (Doc. D) It is very difficult to do work properly when you’re overtired. It was hard enough to do the work correctly, let alone stay awake! With only about 7 hours of sleep per night and then working all day it is no surprise that some of these young mill workers would occasionally doze off while on the job. What’s surprising is the way they were treated if they were caught. Hannah Goode also wrote in her testimony, “If they are catched asleep they get the strap…” (Doc. D) Abusive overseers would most definitely not be a part of a good working environment. The working conditions in the mills were inevitably poor due to abusive overseers like William Crookes.

In addition to abuse, bad weather, and overworking, bad health also contributed to the inevitable poor working and living conditions found at the mills. Charles Dickens may have claimed that many of the girls were “healthy in appearance,” (Doc. A) but were they really as healthy as they seemed? Mary Paul wrote to her father saying her health had been “pretty good.” Truthfully, “it had been failing for 3 years.” (Doc. C) Mary had to miss long periods of work because of her poor health. Poor living and working conditions due to health were inevitable because of the overpopulation in the cities. The overpopulation was a main cause for poor sanitation. If you are sick, you need rest to get better, but the people working in mills did not rest. Poor living and working conditions were inevitable because of bad health.

When I go to school, I go for 6 hours in the heat when its cold and with fans when it’s hot. If I’m sick I stay home to rest and at school we are not beaten if we are tired. My living and working conditions are much better than those of the mill workers in the 1800s. They suffered with inevitably poor living and working conditions caused by abuse, overworking, bad weather, and bad health.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Capturing the Currator Experience

The analysis process started by looking at the source, then taking notes on its author, location, date and importance to the exhibit. The analysis process is an important part of curating because it helps make sure that you're sharing accurate information to the viewers of your exhibit. My group analyzed many sources such as a Canals Map of Great Britain, a steam engine diagram and an image called Cutting a Railroad Line. All four of those sources were images. The Canals Map of Great Britain showed the canal routes in 1800. The steam engine diagram showed the basic parts of a steam engine and helped give a greater understanding of how they work. Cutting a railroad Line by JC Bourne depicts the early stages of a railroad when it was first built. All three of these images contribute to the main idea of our exhibit, which was the evolution of transportation. We also analyzed a letter Robert Fulton wrote about his experiences on the first steam boat ride and an argument between Samuel Smiles and William Wordsworth about whether or not railroads were a good invention. These sources also helped show the evolution of transportation. The last source we analyzed showed the evolution the most. This was a transportation timeline that showed transportation between 1790 and 1850. We tied all the sources to that main idea, because we wanted those who visit our exhibit to learn about transportation over time. To create the exhibit's title, Thomas Takes Great Britain: How did he get to the Island of Sodor?, we thought of something the audience could relate to. Thomas the Tank Engine is a steam engine that most people have heard of, so we tied him into our main idea of evolution. Our title makes people wonder where tank or steam engines started. There would be no Thomas the Tank Engine if it hadn't been for the evolution of transportation and the invention of the steam engine.

The other four exhibits created by my classmates were very intriguing. I saw many unique titles and creative designs. The first exhibit I saw was called, More Cotton More Slaves Less Freedom. This exhibit covered the issue of increased slave population due to an increase in cotton production. This exhibit had many charts that I found surprising because they showed that between 1834 and 1858 there were over 2 million slaves in the United States. The next exhibit was, From Spinning Wheels to Power Looms, which was about the evolution of spinning. At this exhibit I learned from a chart that the city population increased by millions because the spinners who were replaced by things such as the spinning Jenny had to move into the city to find new work. Living in Filth was the next exhibit I went to. This one was about the negative effects the mills had on the environment. An article on this exhibit called, Observation on the Filth of the Thames, was interesting to me because one line said that the beautiful Thames River was an opague pale brown due to the mills nearby. The last exhibit I observed was the Broken Children exhibit about child labor. In this exhibit there were pictures by Lewis Hine that showed many young children working in factories in 1909. These images caught my attention because the children looked so young and they were working large machinery. I learned a lot from these four exhibits!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Why was the industrial revolution so revolutionary?

In class on Thurday we used our textbooks to study the ingredients of the industrial revolution; resources, technology, transportation, and people. We discussed how each ingredient was revolutionary to industrialization. Revolutionary describes new and groundbreaking innovations toward a cause.

Resources was an important ingredient to the revolution due to iron, cotton and coal. Iron was used to create many new machines and steam boats. These inventions using iron were a revolutionary advance to this time period. Coal was a great resource that powered many of the machines created by iron. Cotton, which was shipped from India, was woven by peasants and dyed by artisans. The slow process of weaving and dying lead to new spinning tools such as the flying shuttle and the spinning jenny. Resources such as iron and cotton which lead to great inventions help support why resources is a revolutionary ingredient!

Transportation is another ingredient that greatly affected the industrial revolution. As mentioned before iron was used to make steam boats. The invention of steam boats was revolutionary because it sped up the travel of goods by water therefore goods could be sent to more places at a quicker pace! During the industrial revolution steam locomotives were also created. Steam locomotives are steam powered trains that pull carriages along tracks. Due this revolutionary invention goods could be brought to locations that were unreachable by water!

"Spinning « Trowbridge Museum."Trowbridge Museum RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Sept. 2014. <

"The Steamboat Era Museum - Irvington, Virginia - Potomac Pilot House." The Steamboat Era Museum - Irvington, Virginia - Potomac Pilot House. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 Sept. 2014. <

Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Google a Day Keeps The False Information Away

     A Google a Day is a website that helps students learn about proper researching techniques. In class on Tuesday we experimented with this helpful learning tool! What I learned on a google a day will be really helpful in the future!

     When you pull up a google a day, you see 3 images with text descriptions. These images and descriptions explain the game. After you click the "start playing" button below the text and images you are asked a couple of questions which you ar then to go research the answer to. If you research successfully you advance to the next question and the process repeats until you have correctly answered all the questions. I found that this website was fun because I was researching topics I had never even heard of! It was also frustrating at times because the site took a long time to load. From the website's "tips and tricks" page I learned that to find information about an exact word rather than a synonym or plural form of the word you can add a plus sign in front of the word. This trick will really help to narrow down the search results when I'm researching later on this year.

     In addition to the tricks I learned for A Google A Day accuracy, authenticity, and reliability are very important to keep in mind during the research process. Authenticity is the quality of being real and original. Accuracy is the state of being true and correct, and reliability is used to describe how trustworthy and dependable the source is. It is important to know these words so that you can avoid finding false information. In class we looked at the website for the pacific northwest tree octopus Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. This site failed to be accurate, authentic, and reliable. The information on the page was not accurate, and there was no evidence of who created the website, therefore it is unreliable. Websites like this should not be used as a source in schools.