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Transcript for Interview with Mr.

Tyler Anbinder Interviewer: How old is the history of Child Labor in the United States? Tyler Anbinder: Well, I think children have been working in most of the world for most of recorded history so, children working in the United States was just a continuation of that centuries old tradition and probably what’s more significant is how child labor stops rath er than the fact that we had it at all. Interviewer: What kinds of hardships were faced by the children working at that time? Were they physical or emotional? Tyler Anbinder: Well, there were kind of two hardships faced by children in terms of work. One would be children being overworked and being asked to do things that maybe they weren’t physically capable of doing or were emotionally mature enough to do. The other would be when you know as Industrialization starts and children are given jobs in factories. Typically those would be jobs that adults were physically too large to do them so, the factory-owners would find children with small hands who could get their fingers in and out of the machinery easily than large people. So, when children in the second half of the nineteenth century

started doing those jobs and especially in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, that’s when child labor conditions got especially bad. Also what happens is as poor immigrants start coming to the United States in the late nineteenth century, there are jobs available for them and their children that had not existed before, these industrial jobs and now for the first time in the American history you have children who are doing work not under the supervision of their

parents which is going to be psychologically easier for the children, but instead doing work with total strangers and that made it much harder for them and more dangerous. Interviewer: Were there any laws protecting the children from the evil of Child Labor? Tyler Anbinder: In the nineteenth century, there were basically no laws protecting any workers, children, or anybody. People thought of work as a contractual relationship between a single employer and a single employee and if the person didn’t like the working conditions, they could leave and so as a result it was believed and it was a period of “Laissez Faire” economics meaning that people thought that the government should stay out of economic relations and so as a result there was no interest in the government on any level in regulating labor or labor practices, not till the very end of the nineteenth century when for the first time you started having people saying that, you know, because labor has changed so much for the children that now it is being done not with their parents, but being done in much more dangerous industrial situations. It was then when for the first time people started talking about regulating and limiting child labor. Interviewer: Why didn’t the government take any actions to stop Child Labor? Were there no laws to protect them or were they just not being implemented? Tyler Anbinder: Well, it is not that they couldn’t, it is that it was believed that they shouldn’t and it started with the Progressive Period. In the Progressive Era people started saying that you know industrialization has gotten so big that we should get away from the Laissez Faire, that means that we should have the government play a role in regulating the relationship between workers and their employers and that’s when the first regulations come in and think in terms of

limiting the number of hours people could work and then during the Progressive era laws that were made that limited the number of hours women could work and then there was this big movement for ending child labor which was not very successful nationally until the 1930s, but there were some local regulations before 1938.