Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Truth about Child Labor???

"Little Lottie, a regular oyster shucker in Alabama Canning Co. She speaks no English. Note the condition of her shoes... - NARA - 523398" by Lewis Hine - U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons -Link

The National Child Labor Committee, an organization dedicated to the abolition of all child labor, was formed in 1904. Photographer Lewis Hine produced much of his work for the organization. You can see his work here. The following is an article written to discredit allegations made by the National Child Labor Committee and the photographs of Lewis Hine.  Much of this work included efforts to keep children in school.

Child Labor Conditions Much Better Than Expected:

Conditions in these places are much better than I expected to find them and everywhere 1 have met the most cordial co-operation and anxiety to do the best that can be accomplished T found these mills in the South generally well lighted and ventilated heated in the winter and cooled in the summer. Generally the employers have been quick to utilize modern inventions such as exhaust systems for the removal of the lint, and cold water sprays, instead of the hot water sprays, in the summer to humidify the atmosphere for manufacturing purposes and the blower system for heating in the winter and cooling the air in the summer.

In spite of the sensational literature that is flooding the country at this time in one form or another much of it garbled a great deal of it written and foisted on the public for purposes of trade I have found the employer in nearly every case a most humane man.

Education Opportunities Afforded

Through the humane instincts of the mill owners, educational opportunities have been secured to the children. Kindergartens and schools are supported in whole or in part by all the operators. The public school system in the South is still in an imperfect condition and furthermore appropriations are insufficient to maintain the schools longer than four months in the year.

For the children who work in the mills there are night classes in arithmetic reading and writing. Frequently half of the children will go to school for a period and then alternate with the other half later on in working the mills. There are libraries supplied by the employers and churches toward the support of which they contribute entirely or in part.

New Laws (in Georgia)
Section 1: That from and after the approval of this Act no child under ten years of age shall be employed to labor in or about any factory or manufacturing establishment within this state under any circumstances.
Sec 2: That on and after January 1, 1907, no child under twelve years of age shall be so employed or allowed to labor, unless such child be an orphan and has no other means of support or unless a widowed mother.

However, many times these laws were ignored and, in most places, factory owners could not be prosecuted unless it could be proven that he knew the child was under age.

Sources: Fuel Magazine: The Coal Operators National Weekly, Volume 7 and other sources

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