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Women's lives were transformed by the sewing machines Isaac Singer built - though he himself had no interest in driving social change.

Women's lives were transformed by sewing machines, which made a "never-ending, ever-beginning task" far less arduous and time-consuming. But Isaac Singer, who made his fortune from these devices, was far from a champion of women's rights. Tim Harford tells a story of how self-interest can sometimes be a powerful driver for social change.

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10 minutes

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Mon 16 Dec 2019 04:50GMT

Image credit

Advert for Singer's Patent Sewing Machine, 1899. Photograph by The Montague Studio, Brooklyn (Credit: The New York Historical Society/Getty Images)

Sources

We Believe: The Best Men Can Be | Gillette (Short Film)

Woke Capitalism: Big Business Pushing Social Justice Issues

Declaration of Sentiments

Singer and the Sewing Machine: A Capitalist Romance. Ruth Brandon, 1977. Barrie & Jenkins Ltd: London. p21, p41, p42, p44 and p45

The rise and fall of the first American patent thicket: The sewing machine war of the 1850s. Adam Mossoff, 2009. Arizona Law Review Vol 53:165

THE STORY OF THE SEWING-MACHINE.; Its Invention Improvements Social, Industrial and Commercial Importance.

Singer and the Sewing Machine: A Capitalist Romance. Ruth Brandon, 1977. Barrie & Jenkins Ltd: London.p120 - p121, p124, p125 and p127

From the American System to Mass Production – 1800-1932. David A Hounshell, 1984. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore. Ch 2.

Selling the Sewing Machine Around the World: Singer’s International Marketing Strategies, 1850–1920. Andrew Godley, March 2006. Enterprise and Society 7(2)

Godey’s Lady’s Book and Magazine, 1860, Godey Company, Volume 61, page 77.

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