for Women and Children during the Industrial Revolution was
quite different to the way they can live today. This page
looks at some of the things that women and children were expected
to do during the industrial revolution and provides source
material to show what people thought of this at the time.
during the Industrial Revolution.
the start of the industrial Revolution there was no legislation
about working conditions in mills, factories or othe industrial
plants. They simply had not been needed before. As factories
spread rapidly the owners of mills, mines and other forms
of industry needed large numbers of workers and they didn't
want to have to pay them a high wage. Children were the ideal
employees therefore! They were cheap, weren't big nough or
educated enoguh to argue or complain and were small enough
to fit between tight fitting machinery that adults couldn't
get between. Children soon ended up working in all types of
may wonder why these children were not at school, this is
simply because education in the early 19th century was not
compulsory and in the majority of cases schools were expensive
to send a child to, so working class families couldn't afford
to send children there. Parents were quite willing to let
children work in mills and factories as it provided the family
with a higher income: one consequence of this was a high birth
lots of children have Saturday jobs or part time work after
school. They might work as shop assistants, have paper round
or even work in creative
jobs and design jobs. these jobs are carefully controlled
and the government has made laws saying how long children
can work for, what types of job they can and cannot do and
what the minimum age for working is. Consider the evidence
below to see how modern conditions compare with the working
conditions of the early 19th century.
There was no restriction on the age of workers, nor on the
number of hours that they could work. This led to children
as young as 8 or 9 being required to work 12 or more hours
The records of the Felling Colliery disaster show that many
of the victms of the explosion were children. Look at the
Several children are recorded simply as being 'a boy'. These
children are not accounted for on the above table. The chart
does not account for all types of employee at the colliery.
Alexander Gray, a pump boy aged 10 years old. reported in
1842 Royal Commision into working conditions, said: "I
pump out the water in the under bottom of the pit to keep
the mens room 9coal face) dry. I am obliged to pump fast or
the water would cover me. I had to run away a few weeks ago
as the water came up so fast that Icould not pump at all.
The water frequently covers my legs. I have been two years
at the pump. I am paid 10d (old pence) a day. No holiday but
the Sabbath (Sunday). I go down at three, sometimes five in
the morning, and come up at six or seven at night.
during the Industrial Revolution
faced different demands during the industrial age to those
that they face today. Women of the working classes would usually
be expected to go out to work, often in the mills or mines.
As with the children and men the hours were long and conditions
were hard. Some examples of work specifically done by Women
can be found amongst the links at the foot of this page.
who were fortunate may have become maids for wealthier families,
others may have worked as governesses for rich children. The
less fortunate may have been forced to work in shocking conditions
during the day and then have to return home to conduct the
households domestic needs (Washing, Cookng and looking after
also faced the added burden of societies demand for children.
The industrial age led to a rapid increase in birth rates
which clearly has an impact upon the physical strength of
the mothers. It was not uncommon for families to have more
than 10 children as a result of this demand: and the woman
would often have to work right up to and straight after the
day of the childs birth for finanical reasons, leaving the
care of the new born child to older relatives.
to sites offering greater detail on aspects of this topic.
section of the fabulous Spartacus Encyclopedia looks at the
History of Womens Emancipation (Freedom). Plenty of pages
within this extensive unit covering a variety of aspects of
life in the period 1750-1920.
Matcchgirls Strike. This page looks at the conditions faced
by women working in the Match factory and shows how action
was taken by a numbe of people to try and force reform on
behalf of these women.