Using the evidence
The shift from domestic to factory production had an enormous impact on people's lives and their freedom to control their day to day activities. How far, for example, could they control their own use of time? Evidence and extracts from contemporary sources can show something of this changing world of work.
The next two sections of this learning module explore evidence - in this section of the domestic system and the next section the world of the factory. Work through the extracts, compare them, and answer the questions. This should help you understand some of the main contrasts between the domestic and factory system.
Cornelius Ashworth was an obscure farmer and weaver in the cloth-producing area called the West Riding of Yorkshire (now West Yorkshire). His diary may not make an exciting read but it gives us a fascinating insight into how he could combine work at both the various tasks in agriculture and industry.
Some things had to be done at a particular time. Farming and harvesting had their own requirements and if Cornelius Ashworth needed money then he would need to finish a cloth and sell it. This still left him with freedom to decide what should be done on a particular day. He was able to spread his time between the different requirements of farming, while deciding when to finish and sell his cloth.
It was certainly not an idyllic world. If Cornelius Ashworth wanted to take time off, he would have to make up for it later. But he did enjoy significant control over his time. While reading the text of the diary, look out for any evidence to support this idea of flexibility.