Child labor in Factories During the Industrial Revolution

The opponents of child labor then sought a constitutional amendment authorizing federal child labor legislation. Congress passed such an amendment in 1924, but the conservative political climate of the 1920s, together with opposition from some church groups and farm organizations that feared a possible increase of federal power in areas related to children, prevented many states from ratifying it.

Usually the cause of child labor is poverty in families and the had limited access to education.

The educational reformers of the mid-nineteenth century convinced many among the native-born population that primary school education was a necessity for both personal fulfillment and the advancement of the nation. This led several states to establish a minimum wage for labor and minimal requirements for school attendance. These laws had many loopholes, however, and were in place in only some states where they were laxly enforced. In addition, the influx of immigrants, beginning with the Irish in the 1840s and continuing after 1880 with groups from southern and eastern Europe, provided a new pool of child workers. Many of these immigrants came from a rural background, and they had much the same attitude toward child labor as Americans had in the eighteenth century.


Child Labor and The Industrial revolution

Worldwide 60 percent of all child laborers in the age group 5- 17 years work in agriculture.

The new supply of child workers was matched by a tremendous expansion of American industry in the last quarter of the nineteenth century that increased the jobs suitable for children. The two factors led to a rise in the percentage of children ten to fifteen years of age who were gainfully employed. Although the official figure of 1.75 million significantly understates the true number, it indicates that at least 18 percent of these children were employed in 1900. In southern cotton mills, 25 percent of the employees were below the age of fifteen, with half of these children below age twelve. In addition, the horrendous conditions of work for many child laborers brought the issue to public attention.


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Although child labor has been substantially eliminated, it still poses a problem in a few areas of the economy. Violations of the child labor laws continue among economically impoverished migrant agricultural workers. Employers in the garment industry in have turned to the children of illegal immigrants in an effort to compete with imports from low-wage nations. The recent liberalization of the federal government’s rules concerning work done at home also increases the likelihood of illegal child labor. Finally, despite the existing laws limiting the number of hours of work for those still attending school, some children continue to labor an excessive number of hours or hold prohibited jobs. Effectiveness in enforcement varies from state to state. Clearly, the United States has not yet eliminated all the abuses and violations, but it has met the objective of the child labor reformers and determined by law and general practice that children shall not be full-time workers.

Factory Workers in the British Industrial Revolution

Other factors also contributed in a major way to the decline of child labor. New types of machinery cut into the use of children in two ways. Many simple tasks done by children were mechanized, and semiskilled adults became necessary for the most efficient use of the equipment. In addition, jobs of all sorts increasingly required higher educational levels. The states responded by increasing the number of years of schooling required, lengthening the school year, and enforcing truancy laws more effectively. The need for education was so clear that Congress in 1949 amended the child labor law to include businesses not covered in 1938, principally commercial agriculture, transportation, communications, and public utilities.

Women Workers in the British Industrial Revolution

(1874-1940)was an American sociologist and photographer, best known for his imagesof child labor. His pictures were instrumental in reforming child laborlaws in the United States.