Industrial Revolution WebQuest:
Was Life Better as a Result?

Introduction Task Process Resources Final Product Assessment


The Industrial Revolution had a profound effect on all levels of society in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. How people lived and worked changed significantly during this time. You will explore the resources, answer questions from the viewpoints of business tycoons and muckrakers, and learn about the lives of workers. In the end, you will answer the big question:

  • Was life better or worse as a result of the Industrial Revoulution?


Part One: Some of you will be a tycoon or entrepreneur while others of you will be a muckraker.

Tycoons or Entrepreneurs will answer the following questions:
1. What part did you play in the Industrial Revolution?
2. What business practices did you use?
3. What changes did you bring about?
4. What were the positve effects of what you did?
5. Who benefitted from your work?


Muckrakers will answer the following questions:
1. Explain what a muckraker was and what they did.
2. What issues concerned you the most regarding big business and tycoons?
3. What changes did you bring about?
4. What were the positive effects of your work?
5. Who benefitted from your work?
Connect to Today: Read the news article concerning big business today. Write a summary of the article and use what you learned about business practices during the Industrial Revolution to make a comparison.

Part Two: Each of you will examine the lives of workers during the Industrial Revolution. You will research primary source documents to answer the questions below. Use S.O.A.P.S. to examine the documents.

What were the living conditions of workers during the Industrial Revolution?

S= Subject

O= Occasion

A= Audience

P= Purpose

S= Speaker

1. What were the working conditions of men, women and children during
the Industrial Revolution?
2. How did women's roles change during this time period?
3. What were the health and sanitation conditions during the Industrail Revolution?
4. What educational opportunities were available to workers and their families during the Industrial Revolution?
5. What laws were enacted with regard to these topics for the betterment of the workers?

Sample Primary Source Document:
Patience Kershaw, age 17, Halifax: I go to pit at 5 o'clock in the morning and come out at 5 in the evening; I get my breakfast, porridge and milk, first; I take my dinner with me, a cake, and eat it as I go; I do not stop or rest at any time for the purpose, I get nothing else until I get home, and then have potatoes and meat, not every day meat.

From Great Britain, Parliamentary Papers, 1842, Vol. XV, p. 84, and ibid., Vol. XVII, p. 108.

Next,the creative letter: When your research is completed and your questions answered, you will write and share a creative letter. In it you will pretend that you are worker during the Industrial Revolution. You are writing this letter home to your family including details from your research showing the positive and negative experiences you are having as a worker.

Part Three: Write an editorial. Comment on who benefited from the Industrial Revolution, on whether the Industrial Revolution improved life for the people and suggest ways to address the problems created by it.



Provide a brief introduction to the Industrial era from 1750-1830, and state whether you think the overall effects of the Industrial Revolution on society were mostly positive, mostly negative, or mixed.

Positive Effects: Include a paragraph that explains the positive effects of the Industrial Revolution on individuals and/or society.

Negative Effects: Include a paragraph that explains the negative effects of the Industrial Revolution on individuals and/or society.

Your thoughts: Include a paragraph or section that explains your recommendations about how you would address the negative effects of the Industrial Revolution.

* Include a drawing, graph, quote or cartoon that illustrates one of the main ideas of the editorial.
* Include references to at least 6 different aspects of the Industrial Revolution.

Mechanics: Make your editorial about 2 pages in length, typed and double-spaced.

Links to Information, Primary Source Documents, and Letter Format

News Article on Current Day Business Practices
Use NewsBank to find the following articles. Choose 1 for your summary and comparison. Be sure to cite the article you use.
1. No Way Out
Competition to make products for Western companies has revived an old form of abuse: debt bondage.

2. Wake up consumers? Nike's brash CEO dares to just do it

3. Pinning indictments on bigwigs difficult

4. Fast living, quick riches filled Enron exec's days

How to Write an Editorial: Use this site for general guidelines but be sure to review the editorial outline for this assignment.
Noodlebib - a net-based service for creating bibliographies (cool! they do it all for you)

Keep in mind the central question:
"Was life better or worse for people of this time?"


Written by: Michelle Powers and Callen Taylor
Date Last Revised: September 26, 2003