Chamberlain College of Nursing HUMN303 Introduction to Humanities Professor Catherine Coan June 12, 2011
The Impact of the Invention of the Sewing Machine on America
The large number of practical and useful inventions brought forward during the time leading up to and including the period known as the Industrial Revolution had a significant impact on both American society and the world. The transition that took place resulted in reliance on mechanical sources of power/energy rather than the traditional human or animal sources to produce the products needed (Hackett, 1992). One of those inventions, the sewing machine, dramatically changed the lives of women across the world during the mid to late 1800’s (Kramarae, 2005). Prior to the invention of the sewing machine, women homemakers were responsible for making almost all of the family’s clothing. Even with help, creating and repairing family garments by hand usually consumed a large part of a women’s daily routine. As the sewing machine evolved and became more suited to home use, women had more options available to them with regard to management of household duties as well as adding to the household income by working as a seamstress either inside our outside of the home (Kramarae, 2005). Even so, there were both benefits and burdens that resulted from this all-important invention. Evidence of the basic sewing function goes back as far as the Ice Age where needles were made of bone and animal sinew was used for thread (Bellis, 2011). During the 18th and 19th centuries, several attempts were made by inventors to mechanically reproduce the hand sewing performed by small tailor shops and women in the home. In 1755, Karl Weisenthal, a German inventor, came up with the first sewing machine needle, but did not produce the actual machine. Most of the early...
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