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Child Labor in U.S. History

Discussion in 'Government Offices and Programs' started by Addy, Aug 17, 2012.

  1. Addy

    Addy Democrat Chick

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    This information makes me sad.. all those kids in hard labor.. w/o a childhood. Pitiful times and hardships for these children .. was wondering to myself.. if todays' kids could handle the demands and hardships put upon these kids..
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    Child Labor in U.S. History http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2012/08/16/158925367/child-labor-in-america-1920

    snip -
    So I was looking through an old Census report and I found a chapter entitled "Children in Gainful Occupations."
    Turns out, about 1 million children age 10 to 15 were working in America in 1920 (out of a total population of 12 million kids in that age range). About half worked on family farms. The rest did everything else, working in factories, trained as apprentices, and served as messengers.
    As late as 1940, the average American had only a ninth-grade education, and the first enduring, federal child-labor law wasn't passed until 1938.
    Anyway, here are two graphics showing what a million kids did for work back in 1920.



    Excerpt: http://www.continuetolearn.uiowa.edu/laborctr/child_labor/about/us_history.html
    Forms of child labor, including indentured servitude and child slavery, have existed throughout American history. As industrialization moved workers from farms and home workshops into urban areas and factory work, children were often preferred, because factory owners viewed them as more manageable, cheaper, and less likely to strike. Growing opposition to child labor in the North caused many factories to move to the South. By 1900, states varied considerably in whether they had child labor standards and in their content and degree of enforcement. By then, American children worked in large numbers in mines, glass factories, textiles, agriculture, canneries, home industries, and as newsboys, messengers, bootblacks, and peddler
     
  2. Craig

    Craig Senator Supporting Member

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    I began collecting the novels of Horatio Alger many years ago. Sorta give it up years ago as well...but I have about 50 of them. Written during reconstruction mostly...they focus on the plight of troubled youth. While many are set in NYC, many aren't. Even in the light prose of the day, he paints a bleak picture of the times such kids faced.
     
  3. Addy

    Addy Democrat Chick

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    That would make sense as to why that generation aged so quickly.. made old people out of them before their time..
    Thanks for your reply, Craig!
     
  4. Craig

    Craig Senator Supporting Member

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    It was tough times. The famous Alger book is Ragged Dick. The protagonist is a 14 year old boy forced to live on the streets of NY. They are all moral tales meant to inspire boys to work hard...but the twist in the novels is that a major stroke of luck is a factor in the plot. Sure...one can be an ethical bootblack, but what are the chances of you rescuing the weak child of a millionaire?

    Still...it made me aware that my Leave it to Beaver babyboomer childhood was not one to cause personal distress...and to recognize how far we have come as a society.
     

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