Child Labor in America

A History

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About the Book

At the close of the 19th century, more than 2 million American children under age 16—some as young as 4 or 5—were employed on farms, in mills, canneries, factories, mines and offices, or selling newspapers and fruits and vegetables on the streets. The crusaders of the Progressive Era believed child labor was an evil that maimed the children, exploited the poor and suppressed adult wages. The child should be in school till age 16, they demanded, in order to become a good citizen. The battle for and against child labor was fought in the press as well as state and federal legislatures. Several federal efforts to ban child labor were struck down by the Supreme Court and an attempt to amend the Constitution to ban child labor failed to gain enough support. It took the Great Depression and New Deal legislation to pass the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (and receive the support of the Supreme Court). This history of American child labor details the extent to which children worked in various industries, the debate over health and social effects, and the long battle with agricultural and industrial interests to curtail the practice.

About the Author(s)

Psychiatrist Chaim M. Rosenberg is also an American history researcher and writer. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Bibliographic Details

Chaim M. Rosenberg
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 236
Bibliographic Info: 60 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7349-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0272-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents





Acknowledgments  vi


Preface  1


Introduction  3


1. Cotton and Cotton Mills  9


2. Apprenticeship System  31


3. Florence Kelley  45


4. Settlement Houses—Jane Addams, Julia Lathrop and Lillian Wald  58


5. Reformers and Muckrakers  66


6. Tenements  79


7. In the Mines  90


8. On the Farm  100


9. Distributing the News  110


10. City Work  121


11. At Sea  135


12. Bottles, Silk, Meat and Shoes  145


13. Children at War  153


14. Health and Education of Working Children  160


15. National Child Labor Committee and the U.S. Children’s Bureau  169


16. Lewis Wickes Hine, Photographer Extraordinaire  179


17. The Legal Battle  182


18. Frances Perkins and the New Deal  195


19. Child Labor Today  204


Chapter Notes  211


Bibliography  219


Index  223