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Transcript of Child Labor
It was common for children in the workforce to be beaten and intentionally denied an education.
Child labor was a staple for many different jobs
In 1900, 18 percent of all American workers were under the age of 16, and the number of children under the age of 15 who worked in industrial jobs for wages climbed from 1.5 million in 1890 to 2 million in 1910.
children were more difficult to organize into unions
child labor could also be paid lower wages making such labor more profitable for the employer
Child labor was also the product of struggling families who relied on all members producing an income to survive
Many felt strongly about the slavery of children. Groups such as the Consumers’ Leagues and Working Women’s Societies generated the National Consumers’ League in 1899 and the National Child Labor Committee in 1904, both wanting to end child labor.
Albert Beveridge was the first person to introduce legislation on child labor.
The Beginnings of Child Labor
Child labor in the form of the servant and apprentice began as an accepted part of an agricultural and handicraft economy
Child labor reaches new extremes with the coming of the Industrial Revolution
Their size allowed them to work in places in factories and mines adults were to large to work in
Children were easier to control
Children could be paid less than adults.
Influx of immigrants (Irish-1840s, Southern and Eastern Europe-1880s)provided a vast pool to draw child labor from
Faces of Lost Youth: Furman Owens, 12-years-old. Can't read. Doesn't know his A,B,C's. Said, "Yes I want to learn but can't when I work all the time." Been in the mills 4 years, 3 years in the Olympia Mill. Columbia, South Carolina. (original caption by photographer Lewis W Hine)
The beginnings of child labor: field and farm work
The Factory: Some of the young knitters in London Hosiery Mills. London, Tennessee.(original caption by photographer Lewis W. Hine)
The Keating-Owen Act was the most influential child labor laws, developing the important standards on child labor.
Child laborers were often seriously injured in the harsh working conditions, yet given no break or compensation. Most would still have to work with the injury.They suffered from stunted growth and curvature of the spine due to cramped working conditions. Many contracted lung diseases such as bronchitis and tuberculosis due to the air quality in their working areas (most commonly seen among those in coal mines and cotton mines). This boy lost his arm running the saw in a box factory.
Children as young as two took up work in the home assembling and sorting products. Many began work in factories at age 5.
The children would sometimes be required to live at the work site and their jobs were more dangerous to them because of their size.Large, heavy, and dangerous equipment was very common for children to be using or working near. Many accidents occurred injuring or killing children on the job. This was because they didn't have any safety concerns or regulations.
The Mill: One of the spinners in Whitnel Cotton Mill. She was 51 inches high. Has been in the mill one year. Sometimes works at night. Runs 4 sides - 48 cents a day. When asked how old she was, she hesitated, then said, "I don't remember," then added confidentially, "I'm not old enough to work, but do just the same." Out of 50 employees, there were ten children about her size. Whitnel, North Carolina. (original caption by photographer Lewis W Hines.
This is a general view of a spinning room. Children were used in mills for their small hands that could more easily access the tight spaces of the looms. Many were so small they had to climb the looms in order to change the spools.
Newsies and Messenger Boys
Newsies were young newspaper sellers (usually small boys) who peddled their wares on the streets, often in terrible conditions.
Newsies: Tony Casale, age 11, been selling 4 years. Sells sometimes until 10 p.m. His paper told me the boy had shown him the marks on his arm where his father had bitten him for not selling more papers. He (the boy) said, "Drunken men say bad words to us." Hartford, Connecticut. (original caption by photographer Lewis W Hine) Tony Casale's story also brings forward the motivation behind child labor; many child laborers came from struggling and abusive households in which the parents forced them to work.
One newsie sleeps on the streets with his newspaper.
Newsies: Francis Lance, 5 years old, 41 inches high. He jumps on and off moving trolley cars at the risk of his life. St. Louis, Missouri.(original caption by photographer Lewis W Hine)
Newsies typically earned 30 cents a day
Messenger boys were also of high demand, earning slightly higher wages.
Richard Pierce, age 14, a Western Union Telegraph Co. messenger. Nine months in service, works from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Smokes and visits houses of prostitution. Wilmington, Delaware.(original caption by photographer Lewis W Hine)
The nature of the messenger boy's work often brought them to red light districts and often exposed them to many shady influences.
Messenger boys delivered telegrams, often by bicicyle.
Miners: View of the Ewen Breaker of the Pennsylvania Coal Co. The dust was so dense at times as to obscure the view. This dust penetrated the utmost recesses of the boys' lungs. A kind of slave-driver sometimes stands over the boys, prodding or kicking them into obedience. South Pittston, Pennsylvania.(original caption by Lewis W Hine)
Many miner boys contracted tuberculosis and bronchitis due to the dust.
Miners: At the close of day. Waiting for the cage to go up. The cage is entirely open on two sides and not very well protected on the other two, and is usually crowded like this. The small boy in front is Jo Puma. South Pittston, Pennsylvania.
Most child labor in the mines worked as breaker boys. Breaker boys were expected to separate impurities from the coal by hand in coal breakers.
Child labor was common in many different factories. The factory pictured produces glass.
The Factory: A boy making melon baskets in a basket factory. Evansville, Indiana.(original caption by photographer Lewis W Hine)
The Factory: Rob Kidd, one of the young workers in a glass factory. Alexandria, Virginia.(original caption by photographer Lewis W Hine)
Factory jobs were low paying, time intensive, and often overseen by harsh factory owners.
Seafood, Field and Farm
Seafood Workers: Oyster shuckers working in a canning factory. All but the very smallest babies work. Began work at 3:30 a.m. and expected to work until 5 p.m. The little girl in the center was working. Her mother said she is "a real help to me." Dunbar, Louisiana.(original caption by photographer Lewis W Hine)
Seafood Workers: Manuel the young shrimp picker, age 5, and a mountain of child labor oyster shells behind him. He worked last year. Understands not a word of English. Biloxi, Mississippi.(original caption by photographer Lewis W Hine)
Seafood Workers: Hiram Pulk, age 9, working in a canning company. "I ain't very fast only about 5 boxes a day. They pay about 5 cents a box," he said. Eastport, Maine.(original caption by photographer Lewis W Hine)
Cotton picking was a common form of child labor in agriculture.
Field and Farm Work: Six-year-old Warren Frakes. Mother said he picked 41 pounds yesterday "An I don't make him pick; he picked some last year." Has about 20 pounds in his bag. Comanche County, Oklahoma.(original caption by photographer Lewis W Hine)
Field and Farm Work: Eight-year-old Jack driving a horse rake. A small boy has difficulty keeping his seat on rough ground and this work is more or less dangerous. Western Massachusetts.(original caption by photographer Lewis W Hine)
A family working in the Tifton Cotton Mill. Four smallest children not working yet. The mother said she earns $4.50 a week and all the children earn $4.50 a week. Husband died and left her with 11 children. Two of them went off and got married. The family left the farm two years ago to work in the mill. Tifton, Georgia. (original caption by Lewiw W Hine)
The Social Gospel Movement- this movement applied Christian ethics to social issues such as child labor. As early as 1900, reformers such as Lillian Wald and Florence Kelley began calling for a federal agency to help children working under terrible conditions in factories, mines, and fields. Their goal was to abolish child labor.
Factory machines were the latest technology, and factory owners were anxious to get their machines up and running. Safety was not a major concern. Dangerous parts of machines were not screened off. Machines were not equipped with features to make them shut off in case of an accident.
Children hired as scavengers had to crawl under the machines to retrieve loose bits of cotton. Slightly older children hired as piecers had to step up onto the machines to tie loose threads back together. Injuries to these workers were frequent.
Workers in the factories developed medical problems, too. The pollution and dust that were constantly in the air led to the illness known as mill fever. It was a dreaded disease, and it took many lives.
How to Fix this...
Pass the Keating-Owen act in congress
by prohibiting the sale of in interstate commerce of goods produced by factories that employe children under fourteen, mines that employe children younger than sixteen, and any facility where children under sixteen work at night or more than eight hours daily.
Let us make the Fair Labor Standards Act. It will fix minimum ages of 16 for work during school hours, 14 for certain jobs after school, and 18 for dangerous work.
For the children!
These young boys are hard at work for a lumber company.Child laborers worked long hours for little pay, much to their employer's profits. Groups who opposed child labor as going against their ideologies stated that the profitable nature of child labor did not justify the harsh treatment and conditions the children worked in.
A Bowery boot black.
"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
One dangerous technology was the breaker box. This was a box in which coal was sorted through by hand by child laborers. The sorters were called "breaker boys" and forced to work without gloves resulting in numerous cuts.
The coal was often washed, creating sulphuric acid that burned their fingers. Inhaling the coal dust resulted in tuberculosis and bronchitis. Many lost fingers, arms, or legs to the moving conveyer belts, and some were crushed to death, their bodies retrieved at the end of the day from the gears of the machine.