Common CoreAssignment on the Industrial Revolution


Read the following documents then answer the questions at the end.


Factory Life

Document A: Dr. Ward (Modified)


Michael Ward was a doctor in Manchester for 30 years. His practice treated

several children who worked in Manchester factories. He was interviewed about

the health of textile factory workers on March 25, 1819, by the House of Lords

Committee. The exchange below is an excerpt from the interview.


Question: Give the committee information on your knowledge of the

health of workers in cotton-factories.

Answer: I have had frequent opportunities of seeing people coming

out from the factories and occasionally attending as patients. Last

summer I visited three cotton factories with Dr. Clough of Preston and

Mr. Barker of Manchester, and we could not remain ten minutes in

the factory without gasping for breath…

Question: What was your opinion of the relative state of health

between cotton-factory children and children in other employments?

Answer: The state of the health of the cotton-factory children is much

worse than that of children employed in other manufactories.

Question: Have you any further information to give to the


Answer: Cotton factories are highly unfavourable, both to the health

and morals of those employed in them. They are really nurseries of

disease and vice.

Question: Have you observed that children in the factories have

particular accidents?

Answer: When I was a surgeon in the infirmary, accidents were very

often admitted to the infirmary, through the children's hands and arms

having being caught in the machinery; in many instances the

muscles, and the skin is stripped down to the bone, and in some

instances a finger or two might be lost. Last summer I visited Lever

Street School. The number of children at that time in the school, who

were employed in factories, was 106. The number of children who

had received injuries from the machinery amounted to very nearly

one half. There were forty-seven injured in this way.

Source: House of Lords Committee (Interviewer) & Michael, W. (Interviewee).




Document B: Dr. Holme (Modified)


Edward Holme was a physician who lived in Manchester England during the first

half of the nineteenth century. He was an active member various academic

societies and associations and a well-regarded doctor. In 1818, he was

interviewed by the House of Lord’s Committee about health conditions of

factories. The exchange below is an excerpt from the interview.


Question: How long have you practiced as a physician in


Answer: Twenty-four years…

Question: Has that given you opportunities of observing the state of

the children who are ordinarily employed in the cotton-factories?

Answer: It has.

Question: In what state of health did you find the persons employed?

Answer: They were in good health generally. I can give you

particulars, if desired, of Mr. Pooley’s factory. He employs 401

persons; and, of the persons examined in 1796, 22 were found to be

of delicate appearances, 2 were entered as sickly, 3 in bad health,

one subject to convulsions, 8 cases of scrofula (tuberculosis): in good

health, 363.

Question: Am I to understand you, from your investigations in 1796,

you formed rather a favourable opinion of the health of persons

employed in cotton-factories?

Answer: Yes.

Question: Have you had any occasion to change that opinion since?

Answer: None whatever. They are as healthy as any other part of the

working classes of the community….

Question: Who applied to you to undertake the examining of these

children in Mr. Pooley’s factory?

Answer: Mr. Pooley.

Source: House of Lords Committee (Interviewer) & Holmes, E. (Interviewee).



Document C: John Birley (Modified)


John Birley was born in London in 1805. He lost both his parents by the age of 5,

and he was sent to the Bethnal Green Workhouse. He soon began working at the

Cressbrook factory. John was interviewed about his experiences as a child

worker at the Mill in 1849. An article on his life was published in the newspaper,

the Ashton Chronicle in May 1849. Below is an excerpt from the article.


Our regular (working time) time was from five in the morning till nine

or ten at night; and on Saturday, till eleven, and often twelve o'clock

at night, and then we were sent to clean the machinery on the

Sunday. No time was allowed for breakfast and no sitting for dinner

and no time for tea. We went to the mill at five o'clock and worked till

about eight or nine when they brought us our breakfast, which

consisted of water-porridge, with oatcake in it and onions to flavour

it... We then worked till nine or ten at night…

Mr. Needham, the master, had five sons: Frank, Charles, Samuel,

Robert and John. The sons and a man named Swann, the

overlooker, used to go up and down the mill with sticks. Frank once

beat me till he frightened himself. He thought he had killed me. He

had struck me on the temples and knocked me dateless. He once

knocked me down and threatened me with a stick. To save my head I

raised my arm, which he then hit with all his might. My elbow was

broken. I bear the marks, and suffer pain from it to this day, and

always shall as long as I live…

I was determined to let the gentleman of the Bethnal Green parish

know the treatment we had, and I wrote a letter put it into the Post

Office… Sometime after this three gentlemen came down from

London. But before we were examined we were washed and cleaned

up and ordered to tell them we liked working at the mill and were well

treated. Needham and his sons were in the room at the time. They

asked us questions about our treatment, which we answered as we

had been told, not daring to do any other, knowing what would

happen if we told them the truth

Source: Birley, J. (19 May 1849). The Ashton Chronicle.


Document D: Edward Baines (Modified)


Edward Baines was a newspaper journalist and editor for the Leeds Mercury

Newspaper. In the 1830s, he was elected to Parliament, and served there as a

political liberal. Although Baines supported the end of slavery and various

political reforms, he opposed legislation regulating factories and extending voting

rights to the English working class. These are excerpts from his book History of

the Cotton Manufacture in Great Britain.


Above all, it is alleged that the children who labor in mills are

often cruelly beaten by overlookers, that their feeble limbs become

distorted by continual standing and stooping, that in many mills they

are forced to work thirteen, fourteen, or fifteen hours per day, and that

they have not time either for play or for education.

Factory Inspectors who have visited nearly every mill in the

country have proved that views mentioned above of labor in factory

mills contain a very small portion of truth. It is definitely true that

there have been instances of abuse and cruelty in some factories.

But abuse is the exception, not the rule. Factory labor is far less

injurious than many of the most common jobs of civilized life.

The human frame is liable to an endless variety of diseases.

Many of the children who are born into the world, and attain the age

of ten or twelve years are so weak, that under any circumstances

they would die early. Such children would sink under factory labor, as

they would under any other kind of labor, or even without labor.

I am not saying that factories are the most agreeable and

healthy places, or that there have not been abuses in them, which

required exposure and correction. It must be admitted that the hours

of labor in cotton mills are long, being twelve hours a day on five days

a week, and nine hours on Saturday. But the work is light, and

requires very little muscular exertion. It is scarcely possible for any

job to be lighter. The position of the body is not injurious: the children

walk about, and have opportunity to sit down frequently if they want

to. On visiting mills, I have noticed the coolness and calmness of the

work-people, even of the children, whose attitudes are positive and

not anxious or gloomy.

Source: Baines, E. (1835). History of the Cotton Manufacture in Great Britain.


Answer these questions in your notebook. Write the questions and the answers. Each answer must have at least 3 sentences.


Document A: Dr. Ward

1) (Sourcing) Why is Dr. Ward being interviewed by the House of Lords Committee?

2) (Close Reading) What does he mean when he refers to factories as “nurseries of

disease and vice”?

3) (Close Reading) What evidence does Dr. Ward use to back his claim that factories

were unhealthy and unsafe for children? Use quotes from the reading to support your answer.


Document B: Dr. Holme

1) (Sourcing/Corroboration) How is the source information for this document similar to

and different from document A? Compare and contrast (you can make a Venn diagram if you want).

2) (Close reading) What evidence does Dr. Holme use to back his claim about the health

of children in factories? Do you think this is convincing evidence? Use at least 2 quotes to support your argument.

3) (Close reading) Why might it matter that Mr. Pooley asked Dr. Holme to examine the

children at his factory? Explain.

4) Which document, A or B, do you think is more trustworthy? Why?


Document C: John Birley

1. (Sourcing) What type of document is this? When was it written?

2. (Sourcing) How old was John Birley when this account was published? Why or why not is that important?

3. (Corroboration) Which document, A or B, does this account more closely match?


4. (Close reading) Why did John Birley not tell the truth about life working in the mill to

the inspectors?


Document D: Edward Baines

1. (Sourcing) Who wrote this article? When was it written?

2. (Sourcing) Why did Baines write this article? Explain.

3. (Close reading) What does he mean in the second paragraph, when he states, “But

abuse is the exception not the rule”?

4. (Close reading) What is Baines’ main point in the final paragraph?

5. (Corroboration) Which document, A or B, does this account more closely match?


6. Who do you think is a more trustworthy source, Birley or Baines? Why?


Making a Claim:

Do you think that English textile factories were bad for the health of working class


Answer this question below or in your notebook.Write a paragraph in the space below, using evidence from the documents to support your claims.