Economics and Business

Industrial Revolution

How were finished goods produced before the Industrial Revolution?

Before the factory and machine age ushered in by the Industrial Revolution, people made many of their own finished goods, bought them from small-scale producers (who manufactured the goods largely by hand), or bought them from merchants who contracted homeworkers to produce goods. The putting-out system was a production method that was used in New England from the mid-1700s to the early 1800s. It worked this way: Merchants supplied raw materials (cotton, for example) to families, especially women and young girls, who would make partially finished goods (thread) or fully finished goods (cloth) for the merchant. These manufactured goods were then sold by the merchant. Homeworkers, who “put out” goods, provided the needed manufacturing labor of the day.


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