This Cotton Mills from Differing Perspectives: Critically Analyzing Primary Documents lesson plan also includes:
The working conditions in the cotton mills at the turn of the 20th century are the focus of a series of activities that ask learners to examine primary source documents written from different perspectives. In the first activity, groups study a pamphlet published by the National Child Labor Committee. The included photographs document the use of children as young as eight years of age and reveal the conditions in the mills. For the second activity, groups look at a weekly newsletter published by the mill owners. Finally, the class listens to oral histories narrated by mill workers. After a whole class discussion, individuals craft a critical analysis of the documents, identifying the intended audience, the author’s purpose and the central arguments of each document. The activities would fit nicely into a study of the Industrial Revolution and the development of labor laws.