Photo-Essay: The Industrial Revolution and the Man

“Economic historians are in agreement that the onset of the Industrial Revolution is the most important event in the history of humanity since the domestication of animals and plants.”
McCloskey, Deidre

The Industrial Revolution as it is popularly understood occupies a portion of time between the mid 18th century and the mid 19th century–perhaps a mere 80 years. The domestication of plants and animals took, in comparison, thousands of years.

The core aspect of this little revolution has to do with manufacturing and production processes. I suppose if we had to sum the entire story up in a word, Pink Floyd says it best: “welcome to the machine…”

Not to oversimplify 80 years of huge technological and social shift involving steam power, chemicals, textiles, iron making, and of course, neck-ties but human society did literally go from manpower to machine-power overnight. How did this affect the role of men in society? What did it do for his family? His identity? His morale? Well, rather than trying to figure out how to write how men went from the barns to the “man-caves” I thought I’d put together a photo essay and let the images speak for themselves.

1700: Homesteads and Farms


17th-century family working together

17th Century Working Man

17th Century Working Man

1700-1800: Artisans and Agrarians

“The Man and His Family”


1850-1900: Industrial Society

Families separated, exploited child labor


Everyone’s left home except the dog.

1950-Present: Post-Industrial Society

Big, immaculate, and empty houses.