First Industrial Revolution (1750 to 1850 CE)

We can really divide the Industrial Revolution(s) into two distinct phases: the First Industrial Revolution (1750 to 1850 CE), and the Second Industrial Revolution (1850 to 1910 CE).  The first phase of the Industrial Revolution(s) is, in some ways, primarily a transition to factory production and the development of the necessary infrastructure to make moving goods to market easier.  So for this task, we’re just going to look at two major areas of transformation: textiles and transportation.

1.  Innovations in Textile Production.

For this part of the task, you will need to use your Google-fu to find out some information about the following textile innovations that developed during the First Industrial Revolution.  I would suggest that you use the Advanced Search option in order to make sure that your results are as specific and reliable as possible.  In your packet, you will find a chart listing each of these inventions.  You will need to discover the name of the inventor of each of these technologies, as well as their purpose and long-term effects.  I have included a video of the technology being used so that you can better visualize the purpose and use of each.

  1. Flying shuttle. Video illustration: 
  2. Cotton gin.  Video illustration: 
  3. Spinning jenny. Video illustration: 
  4. Jacquard loom.  Video illustration: 
  5. Water frame.  Video illustration: 
  6. Spinning mule.  Video illustration: 
  7. Power loom. Video illustration: 

Once you’ve completed your chart, try your hand at becoming an industrialist: play the Who Wants to Be a Cotton Millionaire? Game on the BBC history site.


2.  Moving Goods and People.

As you might have noticed in Task Two, Great Britain had a number of significant natural advantages to assist in the transportation of goods to market, mostly in the form of natural waterways and harbors.  In order to allow for even greater ease of transportation, the United Kingdom saw an increase in canal construction between 1750 and 1800 CE.  Please read the article “History of canals in Great Britain” located at the website for the London Canal Museum, and then answer the associated questions in your packet.

Then, watch this AWESOME NEW CRASH COURSE VIDEO on trains!  (Seriously, you don’t know how excited I am about this one.  John Green published this video, like, the day before I wrote this, so I’m somewhat concerned that he somehow knows what I’m teaching all the time. Mr. Green, if you’re reading this, I would really like you to do a video on women’s suffrage and the intersection of race and civil rights on a global basis, yeah?)  At any rate.  Use the information from the following video to answer the questions in your packet.

And– just for fun– if you’d like an idea of what the first passenger locomotive looked like, you can watch a little of the following silent film, called “Our Hospitality,” which was made in 1923.  They created a model of the 1829 “Rocket” locomotive designed by George Stephenson, and you can get a sense of how much the early railroads borrowed from the existing stage-coach system:


3.  Reactions Against the First Industrial Revolution.

Not everyone was particularly thrilled with these transformations to the textile industry and transportation.  So let’s talk about some of the conflicts which developed as a result of these rapid changes to production methods.

First, listen to the first 10 minutes and 42 seconds of the “Luddite Podcast” from Stuff You Missed in History Class (which is an awesome podcast, and I totally recommend that you subscribe to it on iTunes).  Then, using the information you’ve learned from the podcast, answer the questions you find in your packet.

Then, listen to the ballad “General Ludd’s Triumph,” a song from the Luddite period about the supposed founder of the machine-breaking movement.   The lyrics are found here, if you’d like to read along while you listen.

Once you’ve listened to the song, please answer the questions on the ballad you’ll find in your packet.

Next, examine the cartoon below.  How has the term “Luddite” be transformed in modern culture?  What does the word mean today?



Once you have completed all of the activities on this page, please move on to Task Four: The Second Industrial Revolution.

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