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Prior to the Industrial Revolution (a period of technological development in Europe that began in the mid-1800s), people either made their own finished goods or bought them from skilled craftsmen or merchants. The merchants contracted home workers to produce goods in what were called cottage industries. For instance, a merchant would supply raw materials to the home workers, who were often women or girls. The workers would make such items as thread, cloth, or clothing, which the merchant would then sell.
Further Information: "Cottage Industry." MSN Encarta. [Online] Available http://www.encarta.msn.com/find/Concise.asp?z=1&pg=2&ti=761586502, October 30, 2000; "Industrial Revolution." Encyclopedia Britannica. [Online] Available http://www.britannica.com/bcom/eb/article/3/0,5716,43323+1+42370,00.html? query=handicraft%20economy, October 30, 2000; Wilkinson, Philip, and Michael Pollard. The Industrial Revolution. New York: Chelsea House, 1995.
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