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Styal Mill - Study sources A, B, C and D. Which of these sources would a historian find most useful if he/she was studying nineteenth century factory conditions?

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Introduction

Question2 - Study sources A, B, C and D. Which of these sources would a historian find most useful if he/she was studying nineteenth century factory conditions? Source A is an extract from an interview between the superintendents, George and Elizabeth, and the government official checking on how apprentice children were treated. It took place in 1836 and the government was checking up on the 1833 factory act to see if factories were sticking to the rules. Source A is useful because it mentions that apprentices are used in the mills and that they work 10 and half hours during the day. George and Elizabeth probably didn't know that they were getting their boss in trouble because they may not have known that the children were not supposed to work more than 9 hours per day. When George and Elizabeth were asked how many people had been ill during the past year, they did not answer the question properly, by saying "We have very little sickness" It may suggest that quite a lot of people had been ill, but they just want to keep it quiet and also because they work for Samuel Greg, they would rather protect him by using answers like what they used. ...read more.

Middle

A use of the source is that it tells us apprentices as young as 7 were working at the mill, and I would suggest that a lot of the apprentices were sent away from the family, and we know that tom was sent to Manchester, where-as his mother stayed in London to work. Source C is an extract from an account written by Robert Hyde Greg, Samuels son. It was written in 1836, 3 years after the factory act came into place. Robert was being interviewed about two apprentices, Esther Price and Lucy Garner, who had both ran away and were punished. Robert tells us that Lucy and Esther ran away and came back on the following Thursday and the next Tuesday. He mentions that if any body else ran away, then he would go back to the old punishment of cutting all of their hair off. Robert says 'old' punishment, which implies that the punishment carried on in other 19th century mill and that there at styal they had stopped doing it. A limitation of the source us that Robert is Sam's son, so therefore, the account of what happened is most probably biased as we are not sure what the two girls account of what happened is. ...read more.

Conclusion

A limitation of the source is that he says, "I was no in a position to ask the workers what they really thought, since Greg was present." From this, he was unable to find out what the conditions were like there, because if Greg was there with them, they would have most probably only said good things about him as they did not want to get into trouble. Friedrich becomes quite sarcastic in some ways, as he is making out that Greg put on a show, as he never showed unhealthy people, which back then it was quite known that mills always had ill people working. In conclusion, I would argue that source D would be the most reliable source to use if a historian was studying nineteenth century factory conditions. This is because in source D, it not only talks about the conditions in Greg's mill, but is also comparing with other mills in and around Manchester and therefore we have a rough idea as to what the conditions were like in other mills. Friedrich Engels was a man who had visited many mills and because of this, his account of the mill would be the most reliable and also because he was a socialist, he would tell the truth if something was bad or good. ...read more.

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