Early Work on Electricity / Magnetism (~1800 – 1820)
Set to highlight the early 1800’s, this section of the museum looks at the elementary nature of everyday living, entertainment and communication being experienced by rural citizens of Northern Alabama, which was also typical for many parts of the country. It also introduces the contrasting concept of an increasing stir in explorations into electricity and magnetism by innovative scientists and engineers around the world.
In the 1800’s, the majority of the common populous were living on farms or in small towns and villages. Many families resided in log cabins or small houses and worked hard at manual labor from sunup to sundown. When there was free time, people entertained themselves and others by reading, telling stories, singing or maybe playing music with banjos and fiddles, for example. Communication with other people any distance away was very slow and accomplished through written letters delivered by foot or on horseback.
In large U.S. cities, meanwhile, the Industrial Revolution was gathering momentum, driven in part by development of the steam engine. More machines were being created, and the impact would soon trickle throughout smaller towns and farms across the country. Globally, batteries and electric currents were being investigated in scientific laboratories. A fervor of inventive activity would soon spark an explosion of developments related to the first practical applications of electromagnetism.