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New Lesson Plan: Injuries and Disability in 19th Century Industry

Published on Sat, 03/17/2018

A boy squints in bright sunlight, his dark jacket held closed by his right hand across his chest, showing his thumb, pointer, and pinky fingers with the scar between them where two fingers are missing.
Boy who lost two fingers in cotton mill accident, 1912.

Incurring a disability at work was a common occurrence of the Industrial Revolution. In this lesson, students will explore how such injuries impacted the lives of workers in an era before many public and private supports that we take for granted today. This lesson integrates disability history into a much larger 14-day unit on the Industrial Revolution. The lesson plan provides a series of activities that highlight the importance of children and adults with disabilities in 19th century workplaces, and the ways primary source photographs provide information and inspire critical questions. Resources for the teacher include:

  • Primary source photos and documents with writing prompts
  • Graphic organizer for semantic mapping of vocabulary and sample lesson vocabulary list
  • Universal Design for Learning chart and instructions for leading lesson activities

Download or access the lesson plan online. Emerging America brings this lesson to you thanks to the resources of the Library of Congress. Aligned to Common Core and Massachusetts State History standards. Topics: Immigration, Industrial Revolution, Progressivism, Disability History

Alison Noyes

Manager, Emerging America
Alison Noyes is the manager of the Emerging America program at the Collaborative for Educational Services, where she leads the English Learner Collaborations project funded by a Library of Congress grant to the Massachusetts Council for the Social Studies.