This project was a quantitative historical study of manufacturing firms and their products, and investigated the impact of (1) technological changes associated with industrialization, (2) sectoral differences between industries, and (3) economic climate and business cycles on the work lives of men, women and children in Indianapolis from 1850 to 1930. Using data from the Federal Census of Manufacturers for Marion County, as well as published tables from a special study of Working Women in Large Cities conducted in 1888, this study examined of the following issues: How did technological change (e.g. the shift from artisan workshops to sweatshops and factories; the shift from hand and water power to steam power) influence general working conditions (e.g. wages, hours worked per day, labor force participation) of men, women and children in Indianapolis. What was the effect of technological changes on productivity and profitability of firms? What implications did technological change have for the segregation of women, men and children into different industrial sectors and types of jobs? Which types of industries and firms prospered in nineteenth century Indianapolis and which failed? Which industries presented the most favorable working conditions for women, men and children?
The primary data source was the Federal Census Manufacturers for Marion County for 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880; all information for firms that exceeded $500 in annual products was collected. From the original census schedules information on the amount of capital invested in the company, the raw materials used in production, the type of motive power, the number of male and female and child laborers, the average monthly wage of male and female labor, and the type, amount and value of the product produced was reconstructed for computer data entry. In the population of manufacturers that was obtained, there were 181 firms in 1850, 106 firms in 1860, 837 firms in 1870 and 892 firms in 1880. In addition to the data from the Census of Manufacturers for Marion County, published tables from manufacturers censuses from 1820 to 1930 and from a special study of Working Women in Large Cities conducted in 1888 were also used.
This study was supported by funding from the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University-Bloomington.