Child Labor in Textile Mills

Exploited without regard to their tender years, countless youngsters were working under conditions constantly fraught with danger to life and limb. Accidents occurred among them about three times as often as among adult workers. Many of those lucky enough to escape mortal injury sustained crippling disabilities and telltale scars for the rest of their lives.

The blight of child labor was widely prevalent, in dust-laden textile mills and pitch-black coal mines, in sweltering glass factories and fetid sweat-shop lofts, in filthy canneries and blazing hot tobacco fields. No industry, no region was without its "tiny hostages to rapacious capitalism."

Child labor had persisted throughout the nation's industrial growth, but the public at large remained only dimly aware of its extent and its cruelties until the National Child Labor Committee began to publicize the unsavory facts that awakened the conscience of the country. The accompany photographs by Lewis Hine, an ex-teacher, were taken for the committee between 1904 and 1910.

Source: American Labor, A Pictorial Social History by M.B. Schnapper, Copyright 1972
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