History of the Industrial Revolution (Members Only)

History of the Industrial Revolution

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Our digital history of the Industrial Revolution focuses on the new manufacturing processes brought to the West between 1760 and 1840. Industry developed from the hand production of cottage industry to machinery and chemical and steel manufacturing processes. Steam power and water power enabled the rise of a mechanized factory system, and textiles became the dominant industry, becoming the first to use modern production methods.

The Industrial Revolution changed daily life was in ways that both worsened the standard of living for city-dwellers and improved it for the general population (though not meaningfully until the late 19th and 20th centuries).

Rapid industrialization first began in Britain, starting with mechanized spinning in the 1780s, and steam power and iron production after 1800. Mechanized textile production spread from Great Britain to continental Europe and the United States in the early 19th century. Important centers of textile manufacturing and iron and coal production arose in Belgium and the United States, and later for textiles in France.

An economic recession from the late 1830s to the early 1840s was caused in part by the production glut brought by the Industrial Revolution’s early innovations. Mechanized spinning and weaving slowed and their markets matured. Transport was revolutionized by locomotives and steamboats. Hot blast iron smelting produced the iron that built industrial society, and the telegraph revolutionized communications. But rapid economic growth did not take hold until after 1870 with the new wave of innovation known as the Second Industrial Revolution. This focused on heavy industry such as steel, mass-production assembly lines, electrical grids, and the manufacture of machine tools and increasingly advanced machinery for steam-powered factories.

Though the cost of the Industrial Revolution in terms of urban misery was great, the greatly increased productivity that resulted from it gave rise to unprecedented population growth and urban opportunity.

That said, here’s our assortment… please enjoy! When you’re done perusing a map, click the ⇠ back arrow link in the upper left of your screen (not the < link), and you’ll be back here. Any problems, please get in touch at [email protected].

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Industrial Revolution Index | SocietyClassCommunitiesLiving Standards • Population | Culture: Science and Technology: New TechnologyChemistryEvolutionInventionsMedicinePhysics | Working Conditions | Second Industrial Revolution: IndustriesProductsGlobal DominanceResultsSpread | Religion | Political Power | Economy: LaborLabor MovementTrade Unions

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