Yes I want to learn but can't when I work all the time


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Furman Owens, 12 years old. Can't read. Doesn't know his A,B,C's. Said, "Yes I want to learn but can't when I work all the time." Been in the mills 4 years, 3 years in the Olympia Mill. Columbia, South Carolina.

  • Furman Owens, 12 years old. Can't read. Doesn't know his A,B,C's. Said, "Yes I want to learn but can't when I work all the time." Been in the mills 4 years, 3 years in the Olympia Mill. Columbia, South Carolina.



Adolescent girls from Bibb Mfg. Co. in Macon, Georgia.

  • Adolescent girls from Bibb Mfg. Co. in Macon, Georgia.



Doffer boys, Macon, Georgia.

  • Doffer boys, Macon, Georgia.





General view of spinning room. Cornell Mill, Fall River, Mass.

  • General view of spinning room. Cornell Mill, Fall River, Mass.



A moments glimpse of the outer world. Said she was 11 years old. Been working over a year. Rhodes Mfg. Co. Lincolnton, North Carolina.

  • A moments glimpse of the outer world. Said she was 11 years old. Been working over a year. Rhodes Mfg. Co. Lincolnton, North Carolina.



Small boys and girls climbed up onto the spinning frame to mend broken threads and to put back the empty bobbins. Bibb Mill No. 1. Macon, Georgia.

  • Small boys and girls climbed up onto the spinning frame to mend broken threads and to put back the empty bobbins. Bibb Mill No. 1. Macon, Georgia.



One of the spinners in Whitnel Cotton Mill. She was 51 inches high. Has been in the mill one year. Sometimes works at night. Runs 4 sides - 48 cents a day. When asked how old she was, she hesitated, then said, "I don't remember," then added confidentially, "I'm not old enough to work, but do just the same." Out of 50 employees, there were ten children about her size. Whitnel, N.C.

  • One of the spinners in Whitnel Cotton Mill. She was 51 inches high. Has been in the mill one year. Sometimes works at night. Runs 4 sides - 48 cents a day. When asked how old she was, she hesitated, then said, "I don't remember," then added confidentially, "I'm not old enough to work, but do just the same." Out of 50 employees, there were ten children about her size. Whitnel, N.C.



The overseer said apologetically, "She just happened in." The mills seem full of youngsters who "just happened in" or "are helping sister." Newberry, S.C.

  • The overseer said apologetically, "She just happened in." The mills seem full of youngsters who "just happened in" or "are helping sister." Newberry, S.C.







A small newsie downtown on a Saturday afternoon. St. Louis, Mo.

  • A small newsie downtown on a Saturday afternoon. St. Louis, Mo.



A group of newsies on Capitol steps. Tony, age 8, Dan, 9, Joseph, 10, and John, age 11. Washington, D.C.

  • A group of newsies on Capitol steps. Tony, age 8, Dan, 9, Joseph, 10, and John, age 11. Washington, D.C.



Tony Casale, age 11. Been selling 4 years. Sells sometimes until 10 p.m. His paper told me the boy had shown him the marks on his arm where his father had bitten him for not selling more papers. He (the boy) said, "Drunken men say bad words to us." Hartford, Conn.

  • Tony Casale, age 11. Been selling 4 years. Sells sometimes until 10 p.m. His paper told me the boy had shown him the marks on his arm where his father had bitten him for not selling more papers. He (the boy) said, "Drunken men say bad words to us." Hartford, Conn.



Out after midnight selling extras. There were many young boys selling very late. Youngest boy in the group is 9 years old. Harry, age 11, Eugene and the rest were a little older. Washington, D.C.

  • Out after midnight selling extras. There were many young boys selling very late. Youngest boy in the group is 9 years old. Harry, age 11, Eugene and the rest were a little older. Washington, D.C.



Michael McNelis, age 8. This boy has just recovered from his second attack of pneumonia. Was found selling papers in a big rain storm. Philadelphia, Pa.

  • Michael McNelis, age 8. This boy has just recovered from his second attack of pneumonia. Was found selling papers in a big rain storm. Philadelphia, Pa.



Francis Lance, 5 years old. 41 inches high. He jumps on and off moving trolley cars at the risk of his life. St. Louis, Mo.

  • Francis Lance, 5 years old. 41 inches high. He jumps on and off moving trolley cars at the risk of his life. St. Louis, Mo.





At the close of the day, waiting for the cage to go up. The cage is entirely open on two sides and not very well protected on the other two, and is usually crowded like this. The small boy in front is Jo Puma. S. Pittston, Pa.

  • At the close of the day, waiting for the cage to go up. The cage is entirely open on two sides and not very well protected on the other two, and is usually crowded like this. The small boy in front is Jo Puma. S. Pittston, Pa.



Ewen Breaker, Penn. Coal Co. The dust was so dense at times as to obscure the view. This dust penetrated the utmost recesses of the boys' lungs. A kind of slave-driver sometimes stands over the boys, prodding or kicking them into obedience. South Pittston, Penn.

  • Ewen Breaker, Penn. Coal Co. The dust was so dense at times as to obscure the view. This dust penetrated the utmost recesses of the boys' lungs. A kind of slave-driver sometimes stands over the boys, prodding or kicking them into obedience. South Pittston, Penn.



Harley Bruce, a young coupling-boy at Indian Mine. He appears to be 12 or 14 years old and says he has been working there about a year. It is hard work and dangerous. Near Jellico, Tenn.

  • Harley Bruce, a young coupling-boy at Indian Mine. He appears to be 12 or 14 years old and says he has been working there about a year. It is hard work and dangerous. Near Jellico, Tenn.



Breaker boys, Hughestown Borough Pa. Coal Co. One of these is James Leonard, another is Stanley Rasmus. Pittston, Pa.

  • Breaker boys, Hughestown Borough Pa. Coal Co. One of these is James Leonard, another is Stanley Rasmus. Pittston, Pa.



A young driver in the Brown mine. Has been driving one year. Works 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Brown West Virginia.

  • A young driver in the Brown mine. Has been driving one year. Works 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Brown West Virginia.



More breaker boys, smallest is Angelo Ross. Pittston, Penn.

  • More breaker boys, smallest is Angelo Ross. Pittston, Penn.





Scotland Mills showing boys who work in mill. Laurinburg, NC

  • Scotland Mills showing boys who work in mill. Laurinburg, NC



9 p.m. in an Indiana Glass Works.

  • 9 p.m. in an Indiana Glass Works.



Some of the young knitters in London Hosiery Mills. London, Tenn.

  • Some of the young knitters in London Hosiery Mills. London, Tenn.



Young cigar makers in Engelhardt & Co. who look under 14. Labor leaders said in busy times many small boys and girls were employed. Youngsters all smoke. Tampa, Fla.

  • Young cigar makers in Engelhardt & Co. who look under 14. Labor leaders said in busy times many small boys and girls were employed. Youngsters all smoke. Tampa, Fla.





Willie, a Polish boy, taking his noon rest in a doffer box at the Quidwick Co. Mill. Anthony, R.I.

  • Willie, a Polish boy, taking his noon rest in a doffer box at the Quidwick Co. Mill. Anthony, R.I.



Day scene. Wheaton Glass Works. Boy is Howard Lee, 15 years old. Has been in glass works two years and some nights. Millville, N.J.

  • Day scene. Wheaton Glass Works. Boy is Howard Lee, 15 years old. Has been in glass works two years and some nights. Millville, N.J.



A boy making melon baskets in a basket factory. Evansville, Ind.

  • A boy making melon baskets in a basket factory. Evansville, Ind.



Rob Kidd, one of the young workers in a glass factory. Alexandria, Va.

  • Rob Kidd, one of the young workers in a glass factory. Alexandria, Va.





Oyster shuckers working in Dunbar, LA, canning factory from 3:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. All but the very smallest work, including girl in center. Her mother said she is "a real help to me."

  • Oyster shuckers working in Dunbar, LA, canning factory from 3:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. All but the very smallest work, including girl in center. Her mother said she is "a real help to me."



Shrimp pickers, including little 8 year old Max on the right. Biloxi, Miss.

  • Shrimp pickers, including little 8 year old Max on the right. Biloxi, Miss.



Johnnie, a 9 year old oyster shucker. The man behind him is a padrone who has brought these people from Baltimore for 4 years. He is their boss. Dunbar, LA.

  • Johnnie, a 9 year old oyster shucker. The man behind him is a padrone who has brought these people from Baltimore for 4 years. He is their boss. Dunbar, LA.



Manuel the young shrimp picker, age 5, with a mountain of child labor oyster shells behind him. He worked last year. Understands not a word of English. Biloxi, Miss.

  • Manuel the young shrimp picker, age 5, with a mountain of child labor oyster shells behind him. He worked last year. Understands not a word of English. Biloxi, Miss.





Hiram Pulk, age 9, working in a canning company. "I ain't very fast only about 5 boxes a day. They pay about 5 cents a box," he said. Eastport, ME.

  • Hiram Pulk, age 9, working in a canning company. "I ain't very fast only about 5 boxes a day. They pay about 5 cents a box," he said. Eastport, ME.





A berry field on Rock Creek. Whites and blacks, old and young, work here from 4:30 a.m. to sunset some days. A long hot day. Rock Creek, Md.

  • A berry field on Rock Creek. Whites and blacks, old and young, work here from 4:30 a.m. to sunset some days. A long hot day. Rock Creek, Md.



Camille Carmo, age 7, and Justine, age 9. The older girl picks about 4 pails a day. Rochester, Mass.

  • Camille Carmo, age 7, and Justine, age 9. The older girl picks about 4 pails a day. Rochester, Mass.



Norris Luvitt. Been picking 3 years in berry fields near Baltimore.

  • Norris Luvitt. Been picking 3 years in berry fields near Baltimore.





After 9 p.m., 7 year old Tommie Nooman demonstrating the advantages of the Ideal Necktie Form in a store window on Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C. His father said, "He is the youngest demonstrator in America. Has been doing it for several years from San Francisco, to New York. We stay a month or six weeks in a place. He works at it off and on." Remarks from the by-standers were not having the best effect on Tommie.

  • After 9 p.m., 7 year old Tommie Nooman demonstrating the advantages of the Ideal Necktie Form in a store window on Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C. His father said, "He is the youngest demonstrator in America. Has been doing it for several years from San Francisco, to New York. We stay a month or six weeks in a place. He works at it off and on." Remarks from the by-standers were not having the best effect on Tommie.



Joseph Severio, peanut vender, age 11. Been pushing a cart 2 years. Out after midnight on May 21, 1910. Ordinarily works 6 hours per day. Works of his own volition. All earnings go to his father. Wilmington, Delaware.

  • Joseph Severio, peanut vender, age 11. Been pushing a cart 2 years. Out after midnight on May 21, 1910. Ordinarily works 6 hours per day. Works of his own volition. All earnings go to his father. Wilmington, Delaware.





A Bowery bootblack in New York.

  • A Bowery bootblack in New York.



Bowling Alley boys. Many of them work setting pins until past midnight. New Haven, Conn.

  • Bowling Alley boys. Many of them work setting pins until past midnight. New Haven, Conn.



George Christopher, Postal Telegraph, age 14. Been at it over 3 years. Does not work nights. Nashville, Tenn.

  • George Christopher, Postal Telegraph, age 14. Been at it over 3 years. Does not work nights. Nashville, Tenn.



A boy carrying hats in New York City.

  • A boy carrying hats in New York City.



Young boys working for Hickok Lumber Co. Burlington, Vermont.

  • Young boys working for Hickok Lumber Co. Burlington, Vermont.



Three young boys with shovels standing in doorway of a Fort Worth & Denver train car.

  • Three young boys with shovels standing in doorway of a Fort Worth & Denver train car.













Teaching the young rider how to start. A common scene in pool rooms. St. Louis, Mo.

  • Teaching the young rider how to start. A common scene in pool rooms. St. Louis, Mo.



Messengers absorbed in their usual game of poker in the "Den of the terrible nine" (the waiting room for Western Union Messengers, Hartford, Conn.). They play for money. Some lose a whole month's wages in a day and then are afraid to go home.

  • Messengers absorbed in their usual game of poker in the "Den of the terrible nine" (the waiting room for Western Union Messengers, Hartford, Conn.). They play for money. Some lose a whole month's wages in a day and then are afraid to go home.



A.D.T. messenger boys. They all smoke. Birmingham, Alabama.

  • A.D.T. messenger boys. They all smoke. Birmingham, Alabama.



A group of newsies playing craps in the jail alley at 10 p.m. Albany, N.Y.

  • A group of newsies playing craps in the jail alley at 10 p.m. Albany, N.Y.



11:00 a.m. Newsies at Skeeter's Branch. They were all smoking. St. Louis, MO.

  • 11:00 a.m. Newsies at Skeeter's Branch. They were all smoking. St. Louis, MO.



Richard Pierce, age 14, a Western Union Telegraph Co. messenger. Nine months in service, works from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Smokes and visits houses of prostitution. Wilmington, Del.

  • Richard Pierce, age 14, a Western Union Telegraph Co. messenger. Nine months in service, works from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Smokes and visits houses of prostitution. Wilmington, Del.





Getting working papers in New York City.

  • Getting working papers in New York City.



Two of the smaller girls with three other sisters work on the night shift and support a big, lazy father who complains he is not well enough to work. He loafs around the country store. The oldest three of these sisters have been in the mill for 7 years, and the two youngest, two years. The latter earns 84 cents a night. Whitnel, N.C.

  • Two of the smaller girls with three other sisters work on the night shift and support a big, lazy father who complains he is not well enough to work. He loafs around the country store. The oldest three of these sisters have been in the mill for 7 years, and the two youngest, two years. The latter earns 84 cents a night. Whitnel, N.C.



Some of the workers in the Farrand Packing Co. Baltimore, Md.

  • Some of the workers in the Farrand Packing Co. Baltimore, Md.



At 5 p.m., boys going home from Monougal Glass Works. One boy remarked, "De place is lousey wid kids." Fairmont, W. Va.

  • At 5 p.m., boys going home from Monougal Glass Works. One boy remarked, "De place is lousey wid kids." Fairmont, W. Va.



A few of the young workers in the Beaumont Mill. Spartenburg, S.C.

  • A few of the young workers in the Beaumont Mill. Spartenburg, S.C.



Fish cutters at a Canning Co in Maine. Ages range from 7 to 12. They live near the factory. The 7 year old boy in front, Byron Hamilton, has a badly cut finger but helps his brother regularly. Behind him is his brother George, age 11, who cut his finger half off while working. Ralph, on the left, displays his knife and also a badly cut finger. They and many youngsters said they were always cutting themselves.

  • Fish cutters at a Canning Co in Maine. Ages range from 7 to 12. They live near the factory. The 7 year old boy in front, Byron Hamilton, has a badly cut finger but helps his brother regularly. Behind him is his brother George, age 11, who cut his finger half off while working. Ralph, on the left, displays his knife and also a badly cut finger. They and many youngsters said they were always cutting themselves.



Adapted from:

  • Adapted from:

  • The History Place http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/childlabor/index.html




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