Wetherill and Brothers' white lead manufactory and chemical works. Corner of 12th and Cherry Streets, Philadelphia, PA, 1831.
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Exterior lithograph of the works.

Credit: Courtesy of the Library Company of Philadelphia

During the 1820s to 1830s, Samuel Wetherill’s White Lead Factory in Philadelphia was one of the largest work places that were beginning to replace traditional small shops. Before the large textile factories that would rise along the banks of the Schuylkill River a few years later, Wetherill’s factory still blended the older world of horse-drawn wagons, wooden containers that were rolled through town, and wood fireplaces. Many labor tasks were still completed outdoors and the workday at Wetherill’s manufactory varied from twelve to fourteen hours a day, amidst noxious fumes and dangerous conditions that the Pennsylvania labor movement would begin agitating against during this era.

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