Poor families relied upon child labor in order
to attain basic necessities and living
essentials. The jobs allocated to children
depended on their age and whether they were boys
or girls. Farm work could be hard, but
working conditions were not dangerous and at
least allowed kids to breath the fresh air.
use of child labor, and the risks and working
conditions of children, underwent a enormous
change in the 1800's. Industry developed on an extensive scale
and the mechanization of industry resulted in
the abuse of children who were forced to work in
terrible conditions in factories, mines and
1800's Child Labor in America for kids: Causes of Child Labor in the 1800's
Many factors and causes contributed to the
Child Labor in America during the 1800's. Enormous
wealth was accumulated due to the Mines and the Mining Industry and
the establishment of the Factories and the Factory System.
The rise of Big Business and
Corporations saw the emergence of the ruthless Robber Barons who
motivated by greed and money, exploited workers and used child labor
to increase production and profits. The causes of child labor in
America during the 1800's include the following:
Inventions and new technology of the
The Process of
Industrialization and the mechanization of industry that
led to the building of factories and the factory system
Rise of Big Business and Corporations
and the emergence of the ruthless
Robber Barons whose unethical, uncaring working
practices led to mass production and the
depersonalization of workers
for cheap labor - the power driven machines could be
operated by children
Urbanization, the movement of millions of people from
rural locations to the cities made possible by new
- children were forced to work to help their families
Labor Shortages -
the massive influx of immigration in the 1800's fed the
demand for labor including the extensive employment of
Lack of government
regulation to enforce safety standards, working
conditions and working hours. A variety of laws differed
from state to state
The opposition to
Labor Unions prevented workers from protecting children
and making it more difficult to improve labor standards
and living standards in order to eliminate child labor.
who worked to abolish child labor, did not emerge until
the 1890's with the start of the
1800's Child Labor in America for kids: Wages and Hours of Work
During the period of Industrialization child labor was the norm.
Child labor made up 20% of the workforce. Their parents had no
choice to send them to work as their meager wages helped to support
the families. The working children had no time to play or go to
school, and little time to rest. The prevalence of child labor in
America meant that the poor could not receive an education to enable
them to get better, skilled jobs. Children were deprived of a decent education and entered the
spiral of poverty from which there was no escape for the growing
number of unskilled and
How long did children work and
what were they paid? The typical hours of work lasted from
sunrise to sunset, 11 or 12 hours per day, six days a week. They
had less than one hour break in their working day.
How much did they earn?
They earned an average weekly
wage of one dollar.
How old were the children? Some
were employed in child labor as young as five years old and were
paid low wages until they reached the age of sixteen
According to the 1900 US Census,
a total of 1,752,187 (about 1 in every 6) children between the
ages of 5 and 10 were engaged in "gainful occupations" in the
United States of America.
1800's Child Labor in America for kids: Deaths and Injuries
The children worked
in dangerous conditions. According to statistics in
1900 there were 25,000 - 35,000 deaths and 1 million
injuries occurred on industrial jobs, many of these
victims would have been children.
higher rates of injury and death at work than
adults and over 50% of child labor was involved
in hazardous and dangerous work.
Many worked in
confined spaces and underground in unhealthy
They were exposed
to extreme heat and cold.
There was no
government regulations for health and safety and
no state safety regulations existed.
There were some
safety instructions on factory machines but as
most workers were completely illiterate these
were as good as useless.
The causes of the
most deaths were fires, explosions, cave-ins and
The main causes
of injuries were the factory machines and sharp
tools. Children lost fingers, hands were mangled
and some were scalped when hair that got caught
in the machinery.
were killed when they fell asleep and fell into
loads caused lifelong deformities and handicaps.
Children not only
suffered from physical stress they were also
subjected to mental stress due to appalling
The health of
children suffered working in back-breaking jobs
in dark, gloomy environments with poor
ventilation. They suffered from lung, ear and
eye infections and unsanitary conditions led to
terrible diseases and illnesses such as cholera,
bronchitis and tuberculosis
Child Labor Laws in America for kids: Progressive Reforms
1916 Keating-Owen Child Labor Act was a federal
law passed limiting how many hours children were
allowed to work, prohibiting the employment of
children under the age of fourteen in factories
producing goods for interstate commerce.