Child Labor in Vermont

Should children be allowed to work in factories?

In 1845, a fifteen year old Vermonter named Mary Paul went to Lowell, Massachusetts, to work in the textile mills(factories that make cloth). She wrote letters to her family telling them about her work. She was excited to have a job and make money to buy clothes. Here is a quote from her letter asking for permission to get a job in a factory:

I want you to consent to let me go to Lowell if you can. I think it would be much better for me than to stay about here. I could earn much more to begin with than I can anywhere about here.

By 1910, some people in the United States thought that children should not be working in factories or other dangerous places. Lewis Hine took photographs of children at work to help fight against child labor.

He came to Vermont and took photographs in textile mills in North Pownal, Bennington, Burlington and Winooski. He found children doing other jobs in Barre and Rutland. He took their photographs, too. The photos are saved at the Library of Congress.

Look carefully at the photographs below. How old is the child? Where is the child working? What do their clothes tell you about their jobs?

The book Counting on Grace was inspired by the photograph of Addie Card. In the fictional story, the girl who works in the factory is called Grace. She gets her photograph taken by Lewis Hine. Make up your own story about the children in these photographs.

Copy and paste this citation to show where you did your research.

Vermont Historical Society. "Child Labor in Vermont." Vermont History Explorer. Accessed April 12, 2021. https://vermonthistoryexplorer.org/child-labor-in-vermont

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