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The Power of the Industrial Revolution, 1800-1914
Overview, Key Understandings & Questions

Time Period Key Understandings

  • Advances in technology change economic structures
  • Advances in technology can improve the methods and pace of communication
  • Combining advances in medical science with public policy improves the sanitation and health of populations
  • A symbiotic relationship exists between industry and agriculture
  • The industrial stage that a nation is in impacts its economic viability and global position
  • Property rights impact individuals' desire to remain in an area regardless of cultural ties
  • Steam engines and engines vastly change personal and economic cost of transportation
  • Rapid urbanization can compromise the political and social structures already in place

Key Questions


  • How did the telegraph and the transatlantic cable impact communication? How did this change affect interactions between nations as well as between individuals?
  • Why was everyday life so changed by the use of electricity? How could electricity directly affect individuals' work and free time? How do you think the use of electricity brought about larger cultural changes?
  • Why was the early use of radio limited? What obstacles did radio technology need to overcome before it could become a widespread form of communication and entertainment? How do you think the development of modern media technology might be traced back to early radio?

Beginnings of Modern Medicine

  • How did studies of microorganisms and bacteria contribute to medical knowledge during the 19th century?
  • How did Edward Jenner's work have an impact on the global population of his own day as well as that of today? Why is he seen as such an influential figure in the history of medicine?
  • Why did epidemic diseases spread so quickly in the 19th century? How did new medical knowledge help public health conditions to improve?
  • What long-lasting legacies have the medical developments of the 19th century had for the modern word?

Agricultural Innovations

  • How did the Industrial Revolution change agriculture in Great Britain and the United States?
  • Why was the United States able to lead the way in the transition from an agricultural to an industrial power?
  • How did the mechanization of agriculture affect American society and the lives of ordinary citizens?

The Surge in Emigration

  • Why did so many Europeans leave their homelands for other countries during the 19th century? How do you think the countries they left behind were affected by their departure?
  • How did the adoption of new agricultural methods help drive mass emigration from Europe? Why did poor people make up the majority of European emigrants?
  • Why were places such as the United States and Australia attractive places for immigration? How might goals of immigrants to those nations differ? How do you think the surge of immigrants into 19th-century America influenced that nation's culture and society?

Railroads and Steamships

  • How did steam power improve different aspects of life in the 19th century?
  • Why were railroads so important to the British and U.S. economies?
  • How did the use of the steam engine differ from that of the internal combustion engine? How did the internal combustion engine change transportation?

Automobile Industry

  • Why do you think so many different inventors and engineers were developing early automobiles at about the same time?
  • Why did the internal combustion engine win out over other methods of powering automobiles?
  • Why did the United States become the leader of the world's automobile industry? Why was mass production such a successful method of building cars?
  • How did automobiles change the growth of cities? What changes did they bring to people's everyday lives?

Growth of the Cities

  • Why did so many people move from rural areas to cities in the 19th and early 20th centuries? What role did the Industrial Revolution play in this shift?
  • Why was increased urbanization tied to so many challenges for city-dwellers and authorities? Why would families choose to live in cities despite such problems?
  • Why did life in cities gradually improve? What is the legacy of such changes for today's cities?

MLA Citation

"The Power of the Industrial Revolution, 1800-1914." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/2156983. Accessed 21 Apr. 2019.

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Entry ID: 2156983

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