Heartbreaking Pictures Of American Child Laborers In The Early 1900s

Child Laborer

Photo: Library of Congress

For most of the 19th century into the early 20th century, children as young as five worked as shrimp pickers, factory workers and even in dangerous lumber yards.In 1842, Massachusetts limited work days for children to 10 hours per day, but that was hardly doing them a favour. 

A law was passed to enforce a minimum working age in 1916 and 1918, but those efforts were declared unconstitutional on both occasions.

Finally, the Fair labour Standards Act in 1938 enforced minimum working ages and hours under federal law and child labour was officially ended.

Photographer Lewis Wickes Hine captured the harsh conditions children endured in the early 1900s before strict labour laws. The images come from the Library Of Congress

Sidney Ashcraft, 10, was a bundle carrier in Cincinnati in 1908.

These twin workers from Spartanburg, S.C. made 44 cents a day for their widowed mother.

This boy did not have an easy time making beds.

Joey Stubeck was a five-year-old oyster shucker in Pass Christian, Miss.

This girl carried heavy loads of tags in Roxbury, Mass. in August 1912.

This boy used a hammer to make melon baskets in Evansville, Ind. in 1912.

Annie Fedele knitted underwear in this dirty backyard in Somerville, Mass.

These four stock boys took a break behind Dey Bros. & Co Dept. Store in Syracuse, N.Y.

A group photo from a packing company in Maryland circa July 1909.

Vincenzie, 14, Jovannina, 9, and Michael, 5, toiled in a garment factory on Manhattan's East Side.

These boys worked hard for Hickock Lumber in Burlington, Vt. in 1910.

Glenn Dungey, 11, worked at a bakery in Oklahoma City, Okla. in 1917.

Manuel is a five-year-old shrimp picker in Biloxi, Miss. Notice the mountain of oyster shells behind him.

See another scary chapter of American history

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