July 18, 2012

Amazing Vintage Photographs of America's Children From the Late 19th Century to the 1930s

Although children had been servants and apprentices throughout most of human history, child labor reached new extremes during the Industrial Revolution. Children often worked long hours in dangerous factory conditions for very little money. Children were useful as laborers because their size allowed them to move in small spaces in factories or mines where adults couldn’t fit, children were easier to manage and control and perhaps most importantly, children could be paid less than adults.

Child laborers often worked to help support their families, but were forced to forgo an education. Nineteenth century reformers and labor organizers sought to restrict child labor and improve working conditions, but it took a market crash to finally sway public opinion. During the Great Depression, Americans wanted all available jobs to go to adults rather than children. Below is a galley of 50 amazing vintage photographs of America's children from between the 1850s and 1930s.


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