Social Environments


  cotton mill
Late 19th century cotton mill
How America Changed in the Late 1800s

  • Three major changes that affected people's lives in the late 1800s:
    a. a population moved from rural areas to urban cities.
    b. an increase of the economic middle class population.
    c. an increase in the size and interdependency of the economy.
  • People who had serious problems because of these changes are those who worked on farms and in factories.


The Formation of New Economic Classes

  • Two economic classes existed during 1700s: wealthy and self-sufficient.
  • Self-sufficient means being able to grow and make everything needed for survival.

Growth of Cities

  Rural Areas (farms or small towns) Urban Areas (cities)
1880 80% of the U.S. population 20% of the U.S. population
1890 60% of the U.S. population 40% of the U.S. population
  • New York City, Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Cleveland are the cities that developed large ethnic neighborhoods.


Middle class

  • People in the middle class worked as professionals (engineers, accountants, doctors, and lawyers), business owners, or owners of larger farms.
  • Middle-class workers were called "white collar workers" because many workers dressed up for their jobs by wearing white shirts and ties.
  • Workers who did physical work outside of offices were called "blue collar workers" because they often wore blue denim work shirts.
  • Blue collar workers with jobs that require special training and skills (machinists, electricians, etc.) are considered middle-class.


Working class

  • Blue collar or working class workers had jobs that required few skills (digging in mines, putting parts on assembly line products, or laying railroad tracks).
  • Low-skilled workers earned poor wages because businesses could find them easily. Farmers who had only small farms or farmed land that belong to someone else didn't earn enough money to live comfortably.
  • Three economic classes in the late 1800s:
    a. The wealthy
    b. The middle class
    c. The lower class
  • The economy had grown interdependent because each geographic region affected another part of the country.