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Industrial Revolution

Glossary and Terms

History >> Industrial Revolution

Breaker boy - A worker in a coal mine whose job was to break up the coal into similar size pieces and to remove any impurities from the coal. Many of these workers were young boys between the ages of 9 and 12.

Bessemer process - A process that enabled the mass-production of inexpensive steel. It was invented by Henry Bessemer.

Child labor - During the Industrial Revolution poor children were often put to work in factories. They worked long hours under dangerous conditions and made low wages. Child labor wasn't outlawed in the U.S. until 1938.

Cottage industry - An industry where the manufacture of products is primarily in homes by people using their own tools and equipment.

Cotton gin - A device that separates the seeds from cotton fiber. Eli Whitney invented a version of the cotton gin that could clean short-staple cotton.

Division of labor - When each worker has a specific task or role they perform.

Factory System - A new method of manufacturing goods developed during the Industrial Revolution where products were made in large factories using division of labor and machinery.

First Industrial Revolution - The First Industrial Revolution lasted from the late 1700s to the mid-1800s. This period saw manufacturing of products like textiles move from the home to factories.

Interchangeable parts - This is when a product is made up of parts that are all built to exact specifications. This way parts can be easily replaced or repaired.

Labor union - An organization of workers, usually in the same trade or profession, that is formed to protect the workers' rights.

Lowell girls - Lowell girls were women who worked in the textile mills in Lowell, Massachusetts. The majority of the workers in these mills were women.

Luddites - The Luddites were a group of textile workers in England who felt their jobs were threatened by textile machines and factories. They broke into factories and destroyed the machines.

Rural - An area or region outside of town or in the countryside.

Second Industrial Revolution - A period of the Industrial Revolution that took place from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s. It was a period of technical advancement and movement to the mass-production of goods.

Spinning jenny - A machine that allowed a worker to spin multiple spools of yarn at the same time. It was invented by James Hargreaves.

Steam engine - An engine that uses steam to produce power. James Watt invented a practical and efficient version of the steam engine in 1781.

Strike - When a large group of workers refuses to work. Going on strike was mostly illegal during the Industrial Revolution.

Textile - A textile is a type of cloth or woven fabric.

Telegraph - A way of transmitting messages along a wire using electrical signals. It was invented by Samuel Morse.

Urban - Referring to town or the city.

Working class - A group of people that work for wages, usually in factories or doing manual labor.

More on the Industrial Revolution:

How it Began in the United States

Alexander Graham Bell
Andrew Carnegie
Thomas Edison
Henry Ford
Robert Fulton
John D. Rockefeller
Eli Whitney
Inventions and Technology
Steam Engine
Factory System
Erie Canal

Labor Unions
Working Conditions
Child Labor
Breaker Boys, Matchgirls, and Newsies
Women During the Industrial Revolution

Works Cited

History >> Industrial Revolution

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