1800's Child Labor

in Britain, Megan Hamilton

Children's Jobs

  • Young boys were prefered for the job of chimney sweeps and working in coal mines because they're size made it much easier to fit in the tight spaces.
  • Many children, girls and boys, worked long hours in factories. Factory jobs were usually very dangerous, like cleaning the machine WHILE IT'S RUNNING!!
  • Some children worked long hours outside in the hot sun on farms. Eventhough it was the Industrial Revolution agriculture was still important for food, and child labor was a cheap way to get work done on the farms.
  • Rats were a big problem during the Victorian Era so boys, usually aged 5-10, were hired to catch and get rid of the rats. They had no equipment for this, they had to catch them with their bare hands!
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Coal Mine Workers

These young boys are prepared for a long day of work in the coal mines.

Hours, Food, and Working Conditions

  • Children worked longer hours for less pay than adults, often working at least 12-16 hours, 6 days a week.
  • The main food provided was oatcake which lacks in nutritional values. The food tasted bad but they were hungry enough to eat anything.
  • In some factories you had to continue to work while eating, sometimes material would get in the food from working and make it dangerous to eat.
  • Working conditions in the factory were usually unsafe for children. Accidents happened often and usually resulted in serious injury or possibly death.
  • Some working conditions that may be safe for adults may not be safe for children because of physical differences.

Accidents that often Happened

  • Children in factories working machines could be easily injured from one simple mistake. One hospital in the 1800's reported it treated nearly a 1,000 people every year for injuries caused by machines.
  • Most accidents involved the lose of a limb, or severe damage to muscle and skin.
  • Accidents were most likely to occur at the very beginning or end of the day when the children were most tired and more likely to make mistakes and get caught in the machines.
  • And not only did children working in factories face injuries, children working on farms, working as chimney sweeps, etc. also faced possibility of accidents that could result in serious harm or death.
  • Chimney sweeps often suffered from twisted spines and kneecaps, and deformed ankles from being stuck in tight spaces. many also had eye inflammations and respiratory illnesses from the soot.

Serious Injury

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This boy has lost a leg, it probably got caught in a machine he was running.

Punishments Children Faced

  • If the child wasn't meeting the requirements of production they were usually beaten with a strap to make them increase speed and in some factories children were dipped head first into the water cistern if they became too tired to keep up with production.
  • Children would also be beaten with a strap for showing up late to work (even if only by a few minutes) and for talking to the other children workers.
  • Children were beaten until their bodies were covered with bruises and lumps. Some were even beaten to death
  • Children that ran away from work could be put in prison, and children they suspected might run away were placed in irons to keep them from running away.
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Punished in Prison

This is Thomas Savage in Wandsworth Prison for running away.

Efforts to Improve/Stop Child Labour

  • Parliament passed the Cotton Factories Regulation Act of 1819, which set the minimum working age at 9 and maximum working hours at 12
  • The Regulation of Child Labor Law of 1833 established paid inspectors to enforce the laws to protect child laborers
  • Parliament also passed the Ten Hours Bill of 1847, which limited working hours to 10 for children and women
  • In 1876 the Working Men’s Party proposed banning the employment of children under the age of 14.

Child Labor is Wrong!

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Laws and groups were made to help children like this poor girl, and eventually child labor was stopped!