During the eighteenth and much of the nineteenth centuries, life was primarily rural, and local events had the greatest impact on people’s lives. As Western society became more industrialized and urbanized in the mid-to late-nineteenth century, events outside of the immediate surroundings began to have a pronounced influence on daily existence. Improvements in communications and transportation narrowed distances between peoples and reduced isolation. People were curious and wanted more information about the world outside their own communities. As seeing was equated with knowing, the more people saw, the more they could feel that they possessed knowledge of the world.