Educational Reform and Manufacturing Development in Mid-Nineteenth Century Massachusetts

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Economic History Association / Cambridge University Press


This dissertation attempts the following: first, to outline and document the precise dimensions of the historical coincidence between the rise of the factory system and the development of mass public schooling ln mid-nineteenth century Massachusetts; second, to set forth hypotheses explaining and relating these two developments; and finally, to evaluate these various propositions through the analysis of documentary: and statistical materials. During the middle of the nineteenth century the Massachusetts economy experienced a major shift out of the agricultural sector into manufacturing, and within manufacturing, out ·of home and putting out organizations into mechanized and · non-mechanized factories. Census data indicate that agricultural employment as a share of the labor force fell from forty percent in 1840 to fifteen percent in 1850. This shift out of agriculture was complemented by expanding production within the manufacturing sector, in particular within the cotton textile, woolen textile, and boot and shoe industries; all three of these industries (among others) were increasingly characterized by factory production. An economy, which in 1820 had been oriented primarily toward agriculture with production for subsistence or local markets, was by the middle of the nineteenth century dominated by large-scale manufacturing for national and international markets.