work forces of coal and metal mines as they did the factories, they were obviously not a dying breed that disappeared by 1850.
Future research on the role of women and children during the Industrial Revolution must recognize that as laborers they were not synonymous. Large numbers of women and children worked in the textile factories, some worked together and others worked independently side by side. In the spinning department, children helped women as "piecers" and "doffers." Women spun on the improved spinning jennies, the small hand mules, and the automated throstle frame. They depended upon the nimble fingers and quickness of their young assistants to increase the quality and amount of thread they could spin. In all the other departments, however, women, children and youths performed identical tasks -- in preparing the raw material, in spinning on the self-actor and in weaving on the power-loom. Similarly, the relationship between women and children working in mining included instances where they were complements and others where they were substitutes. On the surface of metal mines, women, children and youths had distinct, but interconnected, tasks. The amount of ore women isolated by hammering and crushing depended on how carefully the valuable portions of rock had been separated from the waste by the children and youths. Although the productivity of the women "spallers" depended upon the carefulness and thoroughness of the child "pickers" and "riddlers," their wages were not connected. Typically "dressers" were paid by the day or month by a surface tributer or contractor based on age and ability, not output.
The situation underground in coal mines was quite different. Women were hired to execute similar tasks as the children and youths performed. In the districts of England and Scotland where women worked underground, they loaded and hauled the coal from the hewer to the shafts. As long as human asses were used for transporting coal underground, these female "drawers" had the same responsibilities as the children and youths who worked as "hurriers," "putters" and "trammers." Women and children were close substitutes because while women could pull or carry heavier loads, children and youths could make more trips and could maneuver in smaller passageways. Furthermore, the employment of women and children in these occupation continued despite technological advances and restrictive legislation. The 1842 Mines Regulation Act tried to put an end to the employment of women, girls and young children underground but was only moderately successful by 1850. Women and young children were still working as haulers in coal mines in Wales and Scotland in 1850.
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Publication information: Book title: Hard at Work in Factories and Mines:The Economics of Child Labor during the British Industrial Revolution. Contributors: Carolyn Tuttle - Author. Publisher: Westview Press. Place of publication: Boulder, CO. Publication year: 1999. Page number: 210.
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