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Child Labor During the Industrial Revolution

During the Industrial Revolution, some children in the United States and Britain were forced to go to work to help support their families. Instead of going to school, these children worked long hours in coal mines or factories for low wages. Children who worked in these jobs were often treated cruelly, such as not being provided enough food or beaten for minor infractions of workplace rules. Their work was dangerous and accidents were commonplace. Although child labor in both countries is severely restricted today, children still work at dangerous and hard jobs in much of the developing world.

In this mini unit, you can read about the history of child labor in the United States and Britain (including first-hand accounts of child workers in Britain), explore an interactive site with games about working children in England, view a gallery of today’s child workers in developing countries and work on a variety of activities based upon historic photos of child labor in the United States.



Child Labor in Britain

Child Labor in the United States



Interactive Learning Unit on Children at Work in Victorian Britain (click on the “work” section)

Child Labor Today in Developing Countries



Photographs of Lewis Hine: Documentation of Child Labor

Teaching Activities for the Lewis Hine Collection (above)


Recommended Resource

Kids at Work: Lewis Hine and the Crusade Against Child Labor

Using the photographer's work throughout, Freedman provides a documentary account of child labor in America during the early 1900s and the role Lewis Hine played in the crusade against it. He offers a look at the man behind the camera, his involvement with the National Child Labor Committee, and the dangers he faced trying to document unjust labor conditions. Solemn-faced children, some as young as three years old, are shown tending looms in cotton mills or coated with coal dust in the arresting photos that accompany the explanations of the economics and industries of the time. Both Freedman's words and quotes from Hine add impact to the photos, explaining to contemporary children the risky or fatiguing tasks depicted. (School Library Journal)

Author: Russell Freeman

Amazon Price: $9.95

Learning Through History - The Industrial Revolution
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