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Young Female Factory Workers, Union Mills, Hudson, NY, 1912

Men's underwear factory: water closets
New York State Archives, NYSA_A3029-78_B4_F4
 
Document Description
New York State Factory Investigation Commission visits Union Mills a men's underwear factory on Fulton St. in Hudson, New York. At the right are the doors to the toilets, which an investigator described as "filthy, foul-smelling water closets." The investigator also noted that "the young girl in the cage at the left works within five feet of these closets all day," 1912.
 
Questions
If these children worked all day, when did they go to school?
What are some community wide problems that could arise from children not attending school?
Children today tend to seem silly and carefree. What do you think these children were like? How do you think they felt?
 
Historical Challenges
Research the life of a child laborer. Use the book Lewis W. Hine by Vicki Goldberg.
 
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: If a child made half of what a woman made in one week and a woman made $2.78 a week, how much did the child make? If a man made 4 times what the child made, how much did he make that week?
Science: Why is it unhealthy for children to work long hours?
ELA: Pretend you are a child laborer. Write a journal entry listing what you would rather be doing than working in a factory.
 
Resources
Goldberg, Vicki. Lewis W. Hine: Children at Work. Prestel Publishing, September 1999. ISBN: 3791321560
Kielburger, Craig and Kevin Major. Free The Children: A Young Man Fights Against Child Labor and Proves that Children Can Change the World. HarperCollins Publishers, January 2000. ISBN: 0060930659
McCully, Emily Arnold. The Bobbin Girl. Dial, April 1996. ISBN: 0803718276
Harlow, Joan Hiatt. Joshua's Song. Aladdin Paperbacks, March 2003. ISBN: 0689855427
 

Historical Context
The girl in the picture on the left works all day in a factory next to the toilets, which are on the right. When the Factory Investigating Commission came to inspect the factory in 1912, the agent described the toilets as "filthy, foul-smelling water closets."

Children who illegally worked in factories were as young as six years old. Their parents, many who were new immigrants to the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries, were desperate for the additional money. Orphans were treated pretty much as slaves, working 19-hour days for what their overseers justified as compensation for room and board. Children would work anywhere from 12 to 19 hours a day with only a one-hour break. Children often worked near or with large, dangerous, and dirty machines and often were hurt or killed. The youngest children were assigned as assistants to the older workers. The older workers often physically or verbally abused the children. Sometimes, boys were forced to leave their clothes at work and sent to and from work naked so they would not be tardy.

 
Essential Question
Hoe does industrialization change a society?
 
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and evaluate the impact of industrialization on this individual.