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Industry in Ohio

Module Overview

  • Topic: Industry in Ohio
  • Time Period: Early 1900s-1940s
  • Keyword(s): Industry, labor, factories, production, consumption, technology, workforce, resources, inventions
  • Grade Level(s): Grades 4-12
  • Learning Standard(s):
    • Kindergarten, Production and Consumption (Goods and services)
    • Grade 4.4 and 4.5: The economic development of the United States continues to influence and be influenced by agriculture, industry and natural resources in Ohio. Many technological innovations that originated in Ohio benefited the United States.
    • Grade 7: The economic development of the United States continues to influence and be influenced by agriculture, industry and natural resources in Ohio. Many technological innovations that originated in Ohio benefited the United States.
    • High School History 2 & 3: The rise of corporations, heavy industry, mechanized farming and technological innovations transformed the American economy from an agrarian to an increasingly urban industrial society. The rise of industrialization led to a rapidly expanding workforce. Labor organizations grew amidst unregulated working conditions, laissez-faire policies toward big business, and violence toward supporters of organized labor.

Ohio boasts a very rich innovative history and has been a forerunner in advancing the technology of the times. In the 20th century, it was a leader in iron and steel production.

While the Great Depression dented factory production, Ohio’s industrial corporations were resilient by making modifications, being frugal and thinking outside the box. Many products born in Ohio have set the course for the invention of others. For example, the invention of the cash register eventually led to the creation of barcode scanners.

This primary source set takes you through the decades in Ohio’s factories and corporations headquartered in Ohio and culminates with their current successes. It also covers the improved treatment of factory employees over time and includes organizations who represent workers’ rights. Consumer needs are also evident in the evolution of the products. This primary source set can also serve as a career discovery tool as students can gain insight on jobs from both the management perspective and blue-collar.

After the primary source items, you will find an Additional Resources list and a Teaching Guide that includes discussion questions and classroom activities.

Industry In Ohio Set Sections And Materials

Raw Materials & Pieces/Parts

Ohio Iron and Steel Industry

Contributed by Ohio History Connection

Youngstown Steel and Tube - spindles

Contributed by Ohio History Connection

Unloading ore at Ashtabula docks

Contributed by Ohio History Connection

Firestone Spark Plug Factory production line

Contributed by Ohio History Connection

Finished Products

Women at work at the William Shoe Company in Portsmouth, Ohio

Contributed by Ohio History Connection

Finished Jeep at the end of the assembly line

Contributed by Toledo Lucas County Public Library

Libbey Glass Company Plant - hand painting

Contributed by Ohio History Connection

Robbins & Myers Company assembly line

Contributed by Ohio History Connection

National Cash Register Toolmaking Department

Contributed by Ohio History Connection

Labor and Working Conditions

Additional Resources

  1. Ohio Safety and Health Administration, Workers’ Rights Booklet (PDF) – A PDF pamphlet from the website of the Ohio Safety and Health Administration, United States Department of Labor. It specifies how an employee is protected by OSHA. The website covers safety regulations that protect both employees and consumers.
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Midwest Division, Ohio – Website of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Department of Labor. Many demographics on employment can be found here, such as wage amounts by occupation and geographic area, employment levels, labor turnover rates and more.
  3. Procter & Gamble – Website of Procter & Gamble, which is headquartered in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Procter & Gamble produces many popular brands of consumer health and hygiene such as Tide, Crest, and Pampers, just to name a few. It was founded in 1837 by a pair of brothers-in-law who made candles and soaps as their trades.
  4. Goodyear Tire Company – Corporate website of Goodyear Tire, whose headquarters are in Akron, Ohio. Goodyear has been making tires for cars since Henry Ford’s Model T. The new global headquarters office was built in Akron, Ohio, in 2013.
  5. Libbey Glass Company – Website of Libbey Glass. Toledo, Ohio became known as the “Glass City” after Edward Drummond Libbey founded Libbey Glass in 1892, an off-shoot of the New England Glass Company. Libbey Glass boasts many accomplished “firsts,” including innovating techniques for stemware and blown glass.
  6. Marathon Petroleum Company – Website of Marathon Petroleum Company, which is headquartered in Findlay, Ohio (Hancock County). Marathon stems from the Ohio Oil Company, formed in 1887 in Lima, Ohio. It’s now the largest petroleum refinery operator in the United States.
  7. Wilson – Website of the Wilson factory in Ada, Ohio, which produces all of the NFL’s footballs, among other sports. All balls are handmade.
  8. Ohio-made Products, July 2017 (PDF) – Ohio Development Service Agency (an affiliate of the U.S. Census Bureau). This PDF document sorts Ohio-made products by company, county, region, and brand name.
  9. Jeep – Website of Jeep. Jeep has been headquartered in Toledo, Ohio since 1945.
  10. Kraft Heinz – The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette wrote an extensive article about how Heinz ketchup is made at a facility in Fremont, Ohio (Sandusky County), which is the world’s largest producer of Heinz ketchup.
  11. Whirlpool Corporation – While the world headquarters of Whirlpool Corporation is in Michigan, four of the nine manufacturing facilities are in the state of Ohio (Ottawa, Clyde, Marion and Greenville), more than any other state. All together, Whirlpool employs 26,000 employees.
  12. Smuckers Fiscal Year 2020 Spotlight – An interactive booklet about Smuckers. Smuckers, which originally produced fruit jams, began in Orrville, Ohio, in 1897. It now produces products for widely-known brands like JIF, Crisco and Folgers, to name a few.
  13. Kroger – Kroger began with a small grocery store in downtown Cincinnati. Today, Kroger stores have become a one-stop shop boasting pharmacies, florists and bakers and gas stations.

Teaching Guide

This guide will serve to outline some possible ways to interact with the digital content and has suggestions to have students pull information from the examples listed above.

Discussion Questions

  1. Have you ever been on a factory tour? What were they making and what was your favorite part of the tour? What did you learn?
  2. Provide some examples of how Ohio’s factories show that workers’ conditions have improved since the dawn of industrialization.
  3. What are some of the resources that Ohio’s factories used to make their products?

Download Discussion Questions (PDF)

Classroom Activities

  1. Choose one company that was founded in Ohio and write a 2-4 page summarized report of your chosen company.
  2. Using facts you find from the additional resources and source set examples, create a timeline of products that were developed in Ohio from 1900 to the present.
  3. Make a map of the corporations that were founded in Ohio. See if they tend to gather around the larger cities of Ohio.
  4. Break the students into small groups of four or more to create a project using an assembly line concept.

Download Classroom Activities (PDF)