Child Labor In The Progressive Era

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The industrial revolution was a time of immense progress. It marked an era of technological advancements and a changing society, yet also a period smeared with unfair and unsafe working conditions. The history is filled with stories of people suffering, being injured, and even dying, all in the process of creating goods for the changing consumer culture. Thousands looked past the suffering, condoled themselves with the goods they purchased at economical prices all at the expense of the working class, a class that had no other choice than to work in the dark, dangerous factories to feed their family. While the consumer culture in this time could look past the anguish of those in the working class, progressives could not. They watched children…show more content…
During the first period, 1900-1920, progressives pushed for child labor reform, laws that would regulate child labor. This political campaign prompted historians to write about child labor at the turn of the nineteenth century. The connection between the political action of the progressive reformers and the academics of the historians is clear. These historical articles and books tend to be extremely persuasive either pushing for or against the reform. After the reform passed, historians lost interest in the subject, instead, choosing to write about the politics of labor of the industrial revolution, unionism and union politics, or the change in marketing and consumerism. Then in the last decades of the twentieth century, interest rose again. This may have been prompted by the new generation that emerged in 1980 in the United States. During this time society went through a drastic change, women found their voice and African-Americans had a new place in society. People began to question fairness and equality. This change brought forth new perspective for historians who began to look more at the lived-experience, the social history, of the past. Instead of focusing on the causes and effects of the industrial revolution, academics began to focus on the people of the industrial revolution; the plight of women, of struggles of immigrants, and the life of…show more content…
Each has their own goal and theses. Often working in pairs they have unraveled the under-researched world of child labor. The first economist discussed is Hugh Cunningham. He is at the forefront of his field having published several books and articles about child labor. In 2000, he wrote the article, “The Decline of Child Labour: Labour Markets and Family Economies in Europe and North America Since 1830” published in The Economic History Review. His article discussed child labor in the western economies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He argued that in the 1830s and beyond, children played a crucial role in key industries in the more advanced economies, most notably in textiles and coal
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