Text Only Cases: Wise Practice Database (items to be linked by iu in blue) Case Lesson Topic

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Text Only Cases: Wise Practice Database

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Case Lesson
Topic: Industrial Revolution – Illustrated Timeline

Persistent Issue: What, if anything, should be done to promote a more fair, just society?

Central Question: Did the Industrial Revolution improve or diminish the quality of life for British citizens?

Grade Level: 9th, World History

Case Type: Text Only
Physical Location (URL) of Folder containing Lesson Files:


Existing Location on PIH Network:


Lesson Summary and Narrative: (extract from materials on PIH Network; use blue for items IU needs to link)

NOTE: Narrative also provided as separate MS Word doc – links are active in both.

Step 1: Turn your blank sheet sideways and split it down the middle. Label the mark farthest left 1700 and the farthest right 1825.




Agr Rev

Step 2: Add the remaining dates (top of the next page) under the line (write small and neatly)
Step 3: quickly re-read the following introduction

Civilization was made possible by agriculture (growing plants/crops), and in every civilization from Mesopotamia through the Middle Ages agriculture was the main source of wealth. This began to change as an economy based on agriculture was being replaced by an economy that used machines to produce goods in large quantities by big industries. This Industrial Revolution began in the late 1700s in Britain’s textile (clothing) mills and it spread to other countries during the 1800s. It was given a huge boost by the invention of the steam engine (to power the machines) which led to the invention of the train and steamship, both of which could move manufactured goods long distances more quickly and cheaper than ever before.

The Industrial Revolution was made possible by technology which is different from science. Science is the study of the basic principles of how the world works. Technologies are the tools that put scientific knowledge to use, tools such as the steam engine and electrical motors. Therefore, it was the Scientific Revolution that paved the way for the Industrial Revolution that followed.

The Industrial Revolution had both positive and negative consequences. Factories could produce goods more cheaply than hand labor which meant people could buy more goods, resulting in a higher standard of living. But, factories also put many craftsmen (skilled workers who made things by hand) out of work. Factories required large numbers of workers which caused huge migrations (movement) of people from the countryside to the city where they often worked long hours for low wages while living in crowded and unsanitary (unclean) conditions. Small children worked as much as sixteen hours a day becoming so tired that they fell into machinery and were crippled or killed. The Industrial Revolution was a huge technological, economic and social upheaval.

Step 4: Click on the link to the timeline website below. Spend a few minutes familiarizing yourself with the “big picture” of the Industrial Revolution.


Step 5: Click on each link under “Eventsin order (next page) and read. Once you understand the item, event, or idea, brainstorm a simple illustration. Ask yourself: “what is the significance of this event/invention in relation to the Industrial Revolution?” Illustrate the significance, not the event/invention itself.


Around 1700 - Agricultural Revolution

1708 - Tull’s seed drill

1764 - Spinning Jenny

1775 - Steam Engine

1776 - Smith writes “Wealth of Nations”

1792 – Cotton Gin

1807 – Steamboat

1820 – MacAdam’s roads

1825 - Steam Locomotive/Railways
Background for timeline items:

Railroad (Steam Locomotive) and Steamboat:


The Newcomen and Watt Steam Engines

Thomas Newcomen (1663-1729) was an English blacksmith (metal crafter), who invented an atmospheric engine. Steam was admitted to a cylinder, condensed by a jet of cold water, and the vacuum created on the inside of the cylinder allowed atmospheric pressure to operate a piston, which was forced downward on its working stroke…Newcomen engines were slow and inefficient, but they were better than any other device yet invented for pumping water out of mines.

The steam engine (click link for picture) envisioned by James Watt (1736-1819) was suggested by a model Newcomen engine given to him to repair as part of his instrument-making duties for the University of Glasgow (Scotland) in 1765. His solution to the inefficiency of the Newcomen engine was to fit it with a separate condenser which could be connected to the cylinder by a valve. The condenser would be kept cool, while the cylinder would be kept hot (something not achieved by Newcomen). Although Watt patented his separate condenser in 1769, it was some years before he was to have a practical operating engine…Watt's engines were originally used for pumping out mine shafts, but within two decades they were powering many other machines. To a large extent Watt's engine was responsible for many of the improvements in life brought about by the Industrial Revolution.

Click here to return to “Event” list.

The Steam Locomotive and the Steamboat

Watt's patent for the separate condenser (on the steam engine) covered the use of high pressure steam, but since he was fearful of boiler explosions and bursting pipes he refused to develop such an engine…When Watt's patent expired in 1800, there were other inventors in England and the United States who wanted to develop the use of high pressure steam. Richard Trevithick (1771-1833) had gained his experience around steam engines in the Cornish (England) mines. By 1801, he had perfected his designs for a cylindrical boiler and high pressure engine and built several full size steam carriages which were patented and run on the English roads. During the first decade of the l9th Century, he built several more steam carriages, known as locomotives (click link for picture), which were used for hauling coal and ore out of the mines.

Railways had existed in Britain for about two centuries. They had first been wooden trackways along which horses hauled coal wagons to the nearest water transport. With the improvement in iron, wooden track was replaced by iron edged rails. Watt had thought the idea of placing a steam engine on wheels to be highly irresponsible, but by 1825, people like Trevithick and George Stephenson (1781-1848), the leading figure among the early locomotive builders, had accomplished the seemingly impossible. Who would have believed that a fire burning steam engine would be able to propel a boxlike affair on wheels, carrying cargo many times its own weight? The first public railway in the world was opened in 1825 on the Stockton and Darlington line (England) and was worked by a Stephenson locomotive. From then on it was only a matter of time until improvements were made in engines and tracks/rails, especially by Stephenson's son, Robert. During the l9th Century, steam locomotives were exported (sold) from England to many countries of the world. These locomotives were one of the most important elements in reducing transportation time and costs and in allowing trade to grow where there were no rivers.

Click here to return to “Event” list.

The idea of the steam-powered boat (click link for picture) had many proponents (people who wanted to see it become a reality) during the 18th Century. Inventors/businessmen in different parts of the world arrived at different solutions to the problems caused by floating a steam engine and using it to propel itself through water. After he returned to America, Robert Fulton (1765-1815), who had built an experimental steamboat in France, constructed the "Clermont," with side paddles and powered by a Boulton and Watt steam engine. It began operations by carrying paying passengers on the Hudson River in 1807…they made a profit! Within decades steam-powered boats were making transatlantic (from the U.S. to Europe) crossings, providing businesses with increased ability to exchange their products for foreign resources ($ or other products).

Cotton Gin


Eli Whitney was the inventor of the cotton gin (click link for picture) and a pioneer in the mass production of cotton. Whitney was born in Westboro, Massachusetts on December 8, 1765 and died on January 8, 1825. He graduated from Yale College in 1792. By April 1793, Whitney had designed and constructed the cotton gin, a machine that automated the separation of cottonseed from the short-staple cotton fiber.

Advantages of Eli Whitney's Cotton Gin

Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin completely changed the cotton industry in the United States. Before his invention, farming cotton required hundreds of man-hours to separate the cotton seeds from the cotton. Simple seed-removing devices have been around for centuries, however, Eli Whitney's invention automated the seed separation process. His machine could generate up to fifty pounds of cleaned cotton daily, making cotton production profitable for the southern states.

Click here to return to “Event” list.

Spinning Jenny


Several inventions in textile machinery occurred in a relatively short time period during the industrial revolution: the flying shuttle, spinning jenny, spinning frame, and cotton gin. These inventions facilitated the handling of large quantities of harvested cotton. In 1764, a British carpenter and weaver named James Hargreaves invented an improved spinning jenny (click link for picture), a hand-powered multiple spinning machine that was the first machine to improve upon the spinning wheel.

James Hargreaves was born in Oswaldtwistle, England in 1720, he received no formal education and was never taught how to read or write. He worked as a carpenter and a weaver. Legend has it that Hargreaves' daughter Jenny knocked over a spinning wheel and as Hargreaves watched the spindle roll across the floor the idea for the spinning jenny came to him. However, that story is just a legend. Jenny was rumored to have been the name of Hargreaves' wife and that he named his invention after her. 

The original spinning jenny used eight spindles instead of the one found on the spinning wheel. A single wheel on the spinning jenny controlled eight spindles which created a weave using eight threads spun from a corresponding set of rovings (look at the picture to make sense of this). 

Hargreaves patented a sixteen spindle spinning jenny on July 12, 1770…The labor saving devices threatened workers (it would replace them and they would lose their jobs) and in 1768 a group of spinners broke into Hargreaves' house and destroyed his spinning jenny machines…James Hargreaves' invention did in fact decrease the need for labor.

Click here to return to “Event” list.

Agricultural Revolution


The Enclosure Movement

English farmers had raised crops and grazed their animals on open fields for centuries. However, during the late 17th century, English landowners began buying up village lands and fencing them in. They then charged people for the use of the land. This was known as enclosure (closing in the land with fences). The farmers were not happy. Suddenly, they had to make a little land do as much as possible.

Charles Townshend

For centuries the chief way to keep a field fertile (able to grow plants) had been to let it lie fallow (fallow = don’t grow anything on it) every two or three years. This let the dirt recover some of its natural minerals that helped plants grow.

Charles Townshend expiremented and found the secret was just to rotate the crops. This was done by planting a different crop each year. While wheat or corn would wear out the land, turnips or clover (a type of grass) would give back to the soil what wheat or corn took out as they grew. Not surprisingly, he was nicknamed “Turnip Townshend” in honor of his favorite crop. The result: Hooray! Farmers could use their fields each year without letting them lie fallow. That meant they could get more crops from each field. So what happened next?

Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull was one of the first scientific farmers. He realized that the usual way of sowing seeds by scattering them on the ground was wasteful. Many seeds did not take root. The seed drill, (click link for picture) which he invented in 1701, allowed the farmers to sow seeds in well-spaced rows at specific depths. When his invention was used, a larger share of the seed germinated (actually grew). As a result, crop yields increased even more. Before this you might get 50% of the seeds you planted to grow. Now you could get

The Textile Revolution

Suddenly, farms were producing bigger crops. One of the most important of these crops was cotton. Cotton was used for everything from clothing to sails for ships. Now that there was more cotton, people wanted to find ways to turn it into useful products more quickly.

Click here to return to “Event” list.

Adam Smith – “The Wealth of Nations”


This Scottish economist was the most influential thinker in the history of capitalist economics, a fact that is all the more remarkable in that he was writing during the earliest phases of the industrial revolution. He is still cited as in support of arguments for an unregulated economy: the less government interferes with business the more prosperous the nation will be, runs this theory.


In 1776, a Scottish philosopher (thinker-scholar) named Adam Smith published an important book that is still studied and quoted today. In The Wealth of Nations, Smith said that society would work best if government did not interfere in business. According to Smith, the economy is best controlled by the “invisible hand” of supply and demand in a free market. This economic philosophy came to be known as laissez faire (LES-ay-fair), which is French for “leave it alone.” Companies compete with each other and this guarantees that a product will be well made and reasonably priced…or you’d by a better and cheaper product from someone else. Today this is know as “Capitalism”.

Before this book the exact opposite was done: governments allowed or even granted monopolies (one person or company controlled a product or market completely – imagine if there was only one cell phone company…they could charge whatever they wanted and we’d have to pay it!) and gave subsidies ($) to protect their own businessmen, farmers and manufacturers against 'unfair' competition. The businesses had heavy local control: workers of one town were prevented from travelling to another to find work. Laws made the use of new, labor-saving machinery illegal (so that skilled hand-workers wouldn’t lose their jobs). Poverty was accepted as the common, natural, and unavoidable situation for most people.
Adam Smith argued against this restrictive, regulated, 'mercantilist' system, and showed convincingly how the principles of free trade, competition, and choice would cause economic development, reduce poverty, and bring about the social and moral improvement of humankind. To illustrate his concepts, he searched the world for examples of how the current system (lots of government involvement and “protection”) was hurting more than helping: from the diamond mines of Golconda to the price of Chinese silver in Peru; from the fisheries of Holland to the plight of Irish prostitutes in London. And so convincing were his arguments that they not only provided the world with a new understanding of the wealth-creating process; they laid the intellectual foundation for the great era of free trade and economic expansion that dominated the Nineteenth Century (1800’s).

Click here to return to “Event” list.

MacAdam’s new roads


John MacAdam was born in Scotland in 1756. When he was fourteen he moved to New York and made his fortune working at his uncle's counting-house. On his return to Scotland in 1783 MacAdam…started experimenting with a new method of road construction (click link for picture). When he was appointed surveyor to the Bristol Turnpike Trust in 1816 he remade the roads under his control with crushed stone bound with gravel on a firm base of large stones. A camber, making the road slightly convex, ensured the rainwater rapidly drained off the road and did not penetrate the foundations. This way of building roads later became known as the Macadamized system…By the end of the 19th century, most of the main roads in Europe were built in this way. John MacAdam died in 1836.

Click here to return to “Event” list.

Lesson Materials: (list items in order of use here; title clearly; provide electronic copy)

  1. (Lesson narrative with clickable links – above.)

  2. Timeline Model – World War II (.pdf)

Student Work Samples: (list items if available; provide electronic version or photo)

Case Background
Teacher Biography: (cases in which one teacher was main creator: write or extract from PIH Network)

Additional Materials: (link to unit related materials)

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