Child Labor - Victorian Era

Tamiyah Braswell

Child Labor During the Victorian Era

  • 1800s
  • No child protective services
  • Family couldn't support itself with working children
  • By 1840, 20% of children had schooling
  • By 1860, half of the children between 5-15 had some sort of day school
  • Trade workers worked 64 hour weeks in summer; 52 in winter
  • Short Time Committees - efforts by textile workers to help restrict labor laws through parliament (John Hobhouse)
  • STC - demanded in 1833, children 11-18 work no more than 12 hours per day; 9-11 8 hour days; >9 no work at all
  • Children started as early as 3
  • Most died before or around 25


  • Coal Mines
  • Chimney Sweep
  • Factory Worker
  • Farm Worker
  • Pottery Making
  • Textile Mill
  • Prostitution
  • Rail Station

Coal Mines/Working Conditions in Mines

  • Steam - major source of energy during the Victorian Era
  • Steam = water + heat; heat = coal
  • Children worked 12 to 18 hour days
  • Loud Constant noise
  • Lack of Proper Ventilation because of thick coal dust
  • Rats; carried all kinds of diseases
  • Children developed permanent spine deformities
  • Explosions and cave ins were constant
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Laws and Safety

  • 1833 - Factory act: banned children from working in textile factories >9
  • 1836 - Registration of Births, deaths and marriages: factories had to inspect children's ages
  • 1842 - Mines act: banned employment under the age of 10; no one under the age of 15 could work machinery
  • 1847 - 10 hour act: sliced hours of women >18 to 10 hours per day and 58 hours per week
  • 1850: 10 hour act: work day for ALL workers = 10 1/2 hours

Chimney Sweeps

  • Young as 3
  • Their tiny sizes made going down chimneys easy
  • When first sent down chimneys, children's skin was rubbed raw. Their bosses just flushed their wounds with salt water and sent them back to work
  • Falling was a big danger
  • Constant breathing in of soot caused permanent lung damage
  • Children got stuck in chimneys without anyone's knowledge
  • Life expectancy was less than middle age
  • Orphans were sometimes put into slavery until they got to big; they would then be thrown out onto streets
  • Bosses starved kids so they could be skinny enough

Chimney Sweep Acts

  • Chimney Sweeper Act of 1788: no children under 8 could work, bosses had to provide proper clothing, decent living conditions, and time off on sundays for church
  • Chimney Sweepers and Regulation Act of 1840: stated that it was illegal to have someone under 21 go up into a chimney to clean it
  • Chimney Sweepers Act of 1875: stated that all chimney sweeps had to be registered with police with supervision

Factories and Textile Mills

  • Children worked for a fraction of what adults made;
  • You would find more children working in a factory than adults
  • Children had no rights and were given the lowest jobs
  • Children were beaten for falling asleep, messing up or being late


Cody, David. "Child Labor." The Victorian Web. 10 Dec. 2008. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.

Griffin, Emma. "Child Labour." British Library. N.D. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.

Paxton, Price. "Victorian Child Labor and the Conditions They Worked In." Victorian Web. 2 Mar. 2013. Web. 15 Mar. 2015.

Simkin, John. "Short Time Committees ." Spartacus Educational. Sept 1997. Web. 2 Mar. 2015.