The Great Transformation: Understanding Industrialization in the Early 19th-century Southern New England Countryside
Jonathan Prude, Ph.D.
What did industrialization really mean to the rural townships of early 19th-century southern New England? The answer resounds in the solid factory mill buildings and in the familiar story of how economic growth recast this part of the Northeast and provided vital building blocks for America’s emergence as a manufacturing powerhouse. However, it was a far-reaching and complex transformation brimming with implications. Industrialization introduced difficulties and disquiet as well as solutions and satisfactions: it had different meanings.
This talk will illuminate the diverse ramifications of industrialization by considering what it meant on the ground. It will place the rise of the mills alongside other forms of rural industrialization and explore what industrialization meant to farm families and mill workers in the southern New England hinterland. This perspective will point to how historians can collaborate with preservationists—how “preservation works”—to retain and interpret the heritage of this vital chapter in American history.
Dr. Jonathan Prude is Associate Professor of History and American Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, where he specializes in 19th-century American social, labor, and cultural history. His book, The Coming of Industrial Order: Town and Factory Life in Rural Massachusetts, 1810-1860, was published in 1983 and reissued in 1999. He co-edited The Countryside in the Age of Capitalist Transformation: Essays in the Social History of Rural America (1985). In 2008, Dr. Prude was one of six scholars who studied nationally significant resources in the Blackstone River Valley and recommended the creation of a National Park. His current book project is “The Appearance of Class: The Visual Presence of American Working People from the Revolution to World War I.”
Dr. Prude graduated summa cum laude from Amherst College and received his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Harvard University.The Keynote Address is sponsored by Roger Williams University.