The Struggle Against (Migrant) Child Labour in Historical Perspective, New York City, 1890-1930

Date: 
Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Nina Schneider, GSSC, University of Cologne

This paper explores the struggle against (migrant) child labour in New York City between 1890 and 1930. At the turn of the century, mass immigration to New York City was at its peak, mainly from Europe. Most migrants lived in so-called settlement houses under poor health conditions and were extremely labour-dependent. Due to the massive migrant flow, cheap labour was abundant and employers favoured the most dependent workers: new migrants, single-raising mothers, and children, all with next to no bargaining power. Poverty loomed large and child labour, especially migrant child labour, was the order of the day. This paper aims to offer an introduction into the history of the anti-child labour movement in New York City between 1890 and 1930. Drawing on archival material from the New York Public library (NYPL), Columbia’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library (RBML), and the New York Historical Society’s manuscript department (NYHS), it will elucidate the leading abolitionists, their motives as well as their campaign and policy strategies (propaganda techniques). 

Venue: Internationales Kolleg Morphomata, Weyertal 59, 50937 Köln, 17.45-19.15