Industrialization Introduction

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August 24, 2020

Be a Historian! 

You have been asked to assist the staff at the Grout Museum of History & Science in Waterloo, Iowa in researching information for a display called Iowa’s Early Industrial Development.

Your job will be to tell the story of industrialization in Iowa and specifically in Waterloo as the city was developing in the 1800s and early 1900s.

Your research assignment is to show how factories, food processing industries, and railroads were connected to each other.

WATERLOO Population 23,000 The City of Factories 22 miles of Paved Streets Artesian Water 11 Bank and Trust Companies THE BEST CITY IN IOWA

By 1870, Iowa was no longer considered a frontier area. Nearly all of the land suitable for farming had been purchased and developed.

By 1900, buying an Iowa farm required a considerable amount of money. The price of Iowa farm land, livestock, and machinery made farming too expensive for many new immigrants.

For new immigrants who could not afford to purchase land, jobs in meat packing or other agricultural-related industries were available. Some immigrants also found work with the railroad.

Illinois Central Railroad Locomotive Workers, circa 1920

To begin your research, follow these steps:

Step 1: Key Thinking Questions

Key Thinking Questions: What were the names of some early factories in Waterloo? What was manufactured in the factories? Why were these products needed? Who worked in the factories? How did the products get shipped to other parts of America?

Start by considering Key Thinking Questions which will guide you as you begin your research on industrialization.

Step 2: Get the Facts

Check out the quick facts about early industries in Waterloo in Activity 2.

Step 3: Research Activities

Complete the research activities below to learn about the development of factories and why agriculture encouraged early industrial development.

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