by Sahid Fawaz

Anti-union, anti-regulation types always speak about the utopia that allegedly exists in a free market. Well, over a hundred years ago an unregulated workplace existed in America and it wasn't pretty. And children were among the most innocent of victims of free market greed run amok. These eleven pictures capture that era when children were often sent to work as young 5 years old, with many never getting a chance at education or a normal childhood. It's a good thing that unions and progressives were around to champion the interests of those who couldn't stand up for themselves and finally put an end to child labor for those under 12 years old with the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. 













0 #16 fran 2017-08-28 23:26
I don't think kids under 12 should be out there working but I do think now that all of the farms are gone the kids now expect life to be handed to them. Kid should have to work for thier parents or should have to work from 12 untill out of school. It will either keep them in school or will give them direction on what they would like to be when they grow up.
-2 #15 Paul Burchstead 2015-12-24 12:04
The presumption of child labor is that the children would be going to school if they weren't working. There was no free public education back then. Nor is there free public education in most of the Third World. So, are the children really better off if they don't work and spend the day unsupervised? They at least earn a little money to ease their family's plight.
0 #14 Edwin Cohen 2015-12-23 08:55
In my mind I'm going to Carolina, is this what James Taylor was singing about?
0 #13 Deanna Long 2015-12-21 21:13
Tell the Foxconn jumpers that China is "winning"
0 #12 Pritesh 2015-01-13 21:21
I guess proper credit should be given to Lewis Wickes Hine for his amazing photography even with limited resources.

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0 #11 bill 2014-12-31 08:46
Future republican jobs bill....
-1 #10 Jack 2014-12-30 17:59
This is what the Paul Ryan and the Republican Party.want to back to.
+1 #9 Roscoe. T 2014-09-03 01:24
And they probably got whipped several times a day whether they needed it or not ~ Those days were barbaric & only a greedy, thoughtless, money hungry Mongrel would want to see this exploitation of Children return,
+1 #8 Michele 2014-09-01 05:03
I believe these photos are all by Lewis Wickes Hine, who worked tirelessly for decades to document the horrors of child labor. You should have mentioned his name.
0 #7 Kathryn Sanderson 2014-08-31 19:23
It would be nice to have captions to indicate where these kids worked when, and how old they were. I can tell that some of these kids worked in textile mills (7th, 8th, and 11th from the top), and the kids in the 5th picture from the top were probably "breaker boys" in a coal mine, whose job was separating the coal from slate. Looks like 2nd and 9th from the top worked in tobacco fields. But what did the girls in the first picture and they boys in the 3rd, 4th and 6th pictures do? The pictures by themselves are haunting, but it would tell us so much more if we at least knew what these children did for a living. (Not to mention how old they were and how long they'd been working and why... I understand all this information wasn't necessarily documented, but it seems that the nature of the children's work at least would have been. That said, thanks for publishing these photos.

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