www.blog.museumonmainstreet.org > The Way We Worked: Child Labor

Imagine this: It is 1912. You are 11 years old. Your father works in a shoe factory, and your mother sews shirts at home. What is your job? Children traditionally helped with chores in the home or on the family farm. But in the 1800s, many American children also worked in factories, mines, and mills. Employers liked to hire children because they could pay them low wages. Small fingers could reach into looms when fibers were stuck. Small bodies could squeeze into tight spaces in mines. Many jobs were dangerous, but many families needed the money desperately. Minimum age rules for child workers were finally set by the Fair Labor Standards Act in 1938. Lewis Hine photographed children at work around the country for the National Child Labor Committee. Children’s advocates used Hine’s photographs to end dangerous and abusive child labor practices.

Children string beans at a packing company
Young loom workers at Bibb Mill No. 1 in Macon, Georgia
A "newsie," St. Louis, Missouri
Boys picking over garbage on the "dumps."