23 Disturbing Pictures From When Child Labor Was Legal In America

While apprenticeship and family work have existed since the beginning of American industry, the Industrial Revolution brought forth an entirely new set of workplace hazards which often led to the injury and death of children employed in factories and mines. Still, child laborers were often preferred in these working environments due to their small size and inability to effectively organize against their employers.

An exhausted newsboy sleeps on a pile of newspapers in a stairwell in Jersey City, New Jersey, circa 1912.

A sign outside of the N.Y. Button Works factory in New York City reads: “Wanted, Small Boys,” circa 1916.

A group of young girls on a break from their jobs as oyster shuckers at a seafood canning company in Port Royal, South Carolina, in 1911. From left to right: Josie (6 years old), Bertha (6 years old), and Sophie (10 years old).

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