Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2008 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412963992 | Print ISBN: 9781412906784 | Online ISBN: 9781412963992| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
By the end of the nineteenth century, industrialization had swept the United States and the employment of children had become an increasingly visible practice and a controversial problem, as an estimated 2 million children toiled in factories, mines, and offices around the country. Frequently, countless children no older than six or seven found themselves thrust into factory work that destroyed their health, stunted their social development, and left them prepared only for a life of more of the same. Working at jobs that were solitary and incessant, they were constantly tired and depressed, were denied the natural expression of childish joy and excitement, and soon began to feel and look prematurely old. For decades, church and government officials struggled to outlaw the worst excesses of the child labor system, but only the combination of protective legislation and compulsory education instituted by the end of World War I began to loosen ...