1) Courtauld Silk Mill Workforce:
Samuel Courtauld built a silk mill in 1825 in Halstead, Essex (South East England).
Before the Industrial Revolution, Halstead was an agricultural community with a cottage industry producing woolen cloth. In Halstead, as elsewhere in England, unemployment among depressed farming households and former wool workers forced people to find work outside the home. Because their labor was cheap, women more than men were recruited into the textile factories that sprang up all over Britain in the 19th century. This is a chart of the Courtauld workforce in 1860. The wages are in British schillings.
2) Evidence of Textile Workers in Wilson's Mill, Nottingham:
Hannah Goode: "I work at Mr. Wilson's mill. I think the youngest child is about 7. I daresay there are 20 under 9 years. It is about half past five by our clock at home when we go in....We come out at seven by the mill. We never stop to take our meals, except at dinner.
William Crookes is overlooker in our room. He is cross-tempered sometimes. He does not beat me; he beats the little children if they do not do their work right....I have sometimes seen the little children drop asleep or so, but not lately. If they are catched asleep they get the strap. They are always very tired at night....I can read a little; I can't write. I used to go to school before I went to the mill; I have since I am sixteen."
Mrs. Smith: "I have three children working in Wilson's mill; one 11, one 13, and the other 14. They work regular hours there. We don't complain. If they go to drop the hours, I don't know what poor people will do. We have hard work to live as it is. ...My husband is of the same mind about it...last summer my husband was 6 weeks ill; we pledged almost all our things to live; the things are not all out of pawn yet. ...We complain of nothing but short wages...My children have been in the mill three years. I have no complaint to make of their being beaten...I would rather they were beaten than fined."
[Source; Factory Inquiry Commission, Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers, 1833. Found in Hellerstein, Hume & Offen, Victorian Women: A Documentary Accounts of Women's Lives in Nineteenth-Century England, France and the United States, Stanford University Press]
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Women in World History Curriculum