We learned a lot during our chat with Jamie. He went to a couple different parts of the exhibit
to show us about the mills. He first showed us the hand loom which was used during the cottage industry. Families would spin their own cotton to make cloth using the loom and it took a lot of effort. The children would prepare the cotton by straightening it with wire brushes. Then the mother put it on the loom for the father to weave it. It could usually take weeks to make a single piece of cloth. Soon the water frame was created and it was crucial in the transition from the cottage industry to the factory system. It spun multiple threads at a time and was used in mills to make multiple peices of cloth much faster than the hand loom. A lot of people got jobs at the mills, including children, to support their families with money and to fuel the high demand of cotton. However, with the cramped conditions in the mills, there were definitely downsides to this. Without proper ventilation there was a lot of cotton dust in the air that workers would breathe in everyday and it would eventually build up in their lungs. Illness could spread very easily with workers all touching the same machinery that others did. It was very loud in the mills with all the looms going and would cause workers' hearing to deteriorate overtime. There were also many accidents that happened all the time in the factories due to all different kinds of things like getting caught in a machine or being in the way of a large moving piece. Some were just as simple as slipping and falling. The mill owners didn't care very much about the conditions of their workers and fatalities because they really just cared about their profits. They even used orphans as workers so they wouldn't have to pay them. All they had to do was feed them and give them a place to sleep. Eventually in the early 1900s, they had children going to school for a couple hours each day to get educations.
|Picture of the machines packed tightly in the mills|
I liked doing a chat with an outside expert who knows so much about what we are learning about. It definitely helped to see the machinery that was used and to be able to ask him any questions we weren't sure of to help get a better understanding. It wasn't too hard to take notes while he was talking I was able to pick out the most important information he shared. I got a couple pictures of what he showed us that are somewhat clear. Sometimes the quality of the video wasn't great and it was hard to make out what he was saying becuase it was repeatedly freezing for a couple seconds but that didn't take away from the overall experience and issues like that didn't last long. I would like to do something like this later in the school year with other topics we learn about.