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Historical Pictures of Child Labour In USA (19 pictures)

As hard as things might seem right now for high school or university students entering the job market, it’s probably nothing compared to what these kids had to go through in early 1900s America. This photo series, archived by the Library of Congress, shows what conditions were like for child laborers before child labor was largely eliminated in 1938.


The photo series, taken by photographer Lewis Hine on behalf of the National Child Labor Committee, illustrates the dangers and hardships working children were subject to, especially in dangerous work where the modern safety equipment we’re used to was not yet available. The kids, some as young as 4, worked in factories, mines, plantations and textile mills. Children in coal mines inhaled damaging dust daily, while those working in canneries or textile mills could lose fingers. Many skipped school or didn’t do their homework so that they could work.

Today, child labor is largely a thing of the past in the U.S., although exceptions do remain allowing for children to work in agriculture, show business, and for their parents. It has been largely eliminated elsewhere in the world as well, although child labor, primarily through the children’s parents, still has a high rate of occurrence in the developing world. With photos like these, it kind of makes me feel bad about complaining when my mom made me sweep the house or take out the garbage.

Source: The U.S. Library of Congress

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