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A Diary of a Worker’s Day in The 19th Century

Based on the historical content of the conditions in work factories in the 19th century, here’s a diary account of a worker’s typical working day.

“ Maaaaammmmiiii” I heard Dora-the youngest of my three children crying. I got out of my straw mattress and looked over the 2 mattresses. Poor Dora! She is so poorly and none of us know what we can do. She has caught a disease from her siblings in the factory but the thing is, her siblings luckily recovered and left her all alone, ill. She cannot possibly hear what we are saying. I walked towards our cupboard where all our food is stored. We live in the cellar and our house is actually short of almost everything. We are short of money, so whatever we get is always greatly appreciated.


I soothed Dora by singing her a lullaby, that’s the only way to keep her feeling fine.


Well, I guess I need to introduce myself first. I am Jane and I have 3 children Kate who is 11, Mick who is 8, and Dora the baby, who is just about to turn 1.  We live in the Parish of Manchester and we share our home with 4 other families. We live in the cellar. We don’t really have furniture except for a small broken table, 3 wooden old chairs, a cupboard for all our food and one last thing which is the most precious to us a single bed. Because we live in the cellar, so it is particularly dark and damp. My children get scared sometimes of the dark, to be honest, it can really become pitch black at midnight. Not to mention rats and lice, don’t get scared, but I found out the other day, that we have a ditch which was full of rats under our cupboard.

Due to the short supply of money, all of us needed to work except for Dora but I guess she needed to be one of them as soon as she turns 5. We work in Freddy’s Fun Fantastic Factory of Cotton. Kate and I work in the spinning Jennies and Mick would pick up bits of cotton wool on the floor. That’s our job.  


It is still 4:30 and I need to start make breakfast for my children. Kate and Mick- the elder ones have already woken up to help me with the breakfast. Kate is eleven years old and she’s already working in Freddy’s Fun Fantastic Factory of Cotton in Richmond Street in Manchester. For breakfast, we eat porridge which is salt and water. They absolutely love it, I know what you might think, but it’s good enough for them. I haven’t told them about what other rich and posh children might have eaten. I really wish we were a rich family with nice dresses and clean decent food. If only we were…

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