As I came across a historical portal, I discovered a dress of a young girl no older than 6 years of age. I placed hands on the small and delicate dress that is from approximately 200 years ago, and couldn’t make out its color under all the brown and black stains that appears to be a mix of what could be dirt and coal dust. As I reflected about the jobs in which children partook in the time of the British Industrial Revolution, I identified this girl’s job as a coal trapper. This artifact has earned its place in the British Museum as it represents a major change in the role of females in the workplace and their living conditions. As this dress implies that a young female has forcefully partaken in the act of child labor, we can identify the change in which women of this generation, would not be allowed to work at this age according to law.
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Due to the recognition of the harsh treatment of young females in this time period, there was a major change in the working conditions which positively impacted the older women today. In relation to the roles of women in the workplace, in today’s society women have to be a certain age to start working by law, with their own rights, and the choice of what job they would like to participate in due to their preferences and/or talent. Due to the difference between the lives of young girls in this time period to today, we can see the dramatic change through full time education instead of labor. Education teaches children life lessons whilst sets them up for the future, and therefore this change due to the Industrial Revolution, is evident.
Life from the girl’s perspective was a cold, black pit 10 to 14 hours a day, six days a week because their families were usually too poor to afford candles. Coal trappers started at 2a.m, were down the pit by 3a.m and did not return until after 8p.m. They spent the time minding a door as they were not strong enough to pull or push the tubs. Trappers anticipated the hurries to approach, and would open the trapdoors to allow the harrier and their cargo through. Between her hours, she would have slept as her job required full attention to avoid danger, which meant she would rarely enjoy the company of her family. Sundays was their day off and usually meant a trip to church, as children did not attend school. From observing the dress’ condition, the bottom of the dress is teared, worn out and discolored which implies flooding, a frequent danger, was experienced as trappers had to work in water up to their thighs at times whilst underground.
In theory, this dress represents one of the biggest changes in the history of the working industry and it allows us to reflect upon a time which influenced the life we live today.