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Curriculum - 11th Grade Standards - Kansas History Standards - 1877-1930 (Kansas_Benchmark 1) - Child labor laws (Indicator 4) - Examples of child labor

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Children working in Kansas beet fields

Children working in Kansas beet fields
Date: 1922
This photograph shows children working in a Kansas beet field. According to the notation on the back of the photograph, this image appeared in William H. Cape's thesis, Child Labor in Kansas, completed in 1948.


Daisy L. Gulick to Vicente Villamin

Daisy L. Gulick to Vicente Villamin
Creator: Gulick, Daisy L.
Date: June 27, 1928
This letter by Daisy Gulick, Factory Inspector in the Women's Division of the Kansas Court of Industrial Relations, was written in response to Vicente Villamin's inquiry about a report on child labor in Kansas beet fields that had been written in 1922. Gulick wrote that no copies of this report were left, but that from her personal experience she could confidently state that there was no exploitation of child labor during the beet harvest. Children in Kansas over ten years old could be excused from school for two weeks during the harvest, provided that they made up the schoolwork that they missed.


Emma Grimm to Arthur Capper

Emma Grimm to Arthur Capper
Creator: Kansas. Governor (1915-1919: Capper)
Date: November 27, 1917
Emma Grimm of Sabetha, Nemaha County, wrote this letter to Governor Arthur Capper regarding the child labor law that prohibits the employment of children under the age of 14 in any mercantile establishment. Grimm believes that if children do not learn the value of work at a young age, "then they get stubern and want there own way and that does not work good." Her son Theodore had recently been let go from his job as a grocery delivery boy, which apparently upset him greatly. Theodore was mentioned by name in a letter by another Sabetha citizen, Ralph Tennal, dated December 2, 1917, and in Commissioner P.J. McBride's letter, dated December 8, 1917.


Part I: Child Labor in Sixth Annual Report of the Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics

Part I: Child Labor in Sixth Annual Report of the Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics
Creator: Kansas. Dept. of Labor and Industry
Date: January 1, 1891
Part I of this government report addresses the problem of child labor in Kansas, which appeared to be increasing. Most of the report focuses on existing child labor laws in Kansas, statistics about child employment (broken down by county, child's age, ethnic background, etc…), and the industries that employed children. The report also addresses school attendance and truancy laws (which would effectively curb the unlawful employment of children) and includes the results of interviews with school superintendents and questionnaires filed out by those known to employ children in their businesses. School superintendents were overwhelmingly in favor of compulsory education, and most employers believed that it was important for children to understand the value of hard work (although some did speak about the benefits of school).


P. J. McBride to Arthur Capper

P. J. McBride to Arthur Capper
Creator: Kansas. Governor (1915-1919: Capper)
Date: December 12, 1917
This letter by P. J. McBride, Commissioner of Labor and Industry, informed the governor of Kansas about the enforcement of child labor laws in Sabetha, Nemaha County. Edith Enderton, an agent of the Department of Labor and Industry, had visited Sabetha in order to enforce compliance with the child labor law, and she found "a considerable number of children employed in violation" of this law. McBride specifically mentions a 10-year old boy, Teddy Grimm, who delivered groceries and sometimes worked 14 or 15 hours lifting heavy boxes and sacks of flour. While McBride acknowledges that Enderton may "have possibly been a little over-zealous in the application of the law where children are employed by their own parents"—which was not the case with Teddy Grimm—McBride agrees that young children should not be required to work outside the home.


P. J. McBride to Emma Grimm

P. J. McBride to Emma Grimm
Creator: Kansas. Governor (1929-1931 : Reed)
Date: December 12, 1917
In this letter P. J. McBride, the commissioner of labor and industry, responds to Emma Grimm's letter to Governor Arthur Capper dated November 27, 1917. Grimm had expressed her displeasure with the enforcement of the child labor law in her hometown of Sabetha, which had forced her 10-year old son Theodore to leave his job as a grocery delivery boy. McBride informed her that, because the Legislature passed this law, the governor could not make any exceptions. McBride also emphasized that "play and recreation" were an important element in children's development and that after schoolwork and household chores had been completed, children should have unstructured time to play. McBride refers to the 1917 amendment to the Industrial Welfare Act of 1915; this amendment prohibited work at night or for more than 8 hours daily or 48 hours weekly and required that school superintendents issue work permits to eligible students prior to the students' employment. Also, children could not be employed until they had completed elementary school.


P. J. McBride to Roy Hennigh

P. J. McBride to Roy Hennigh
Creator: Kansas. Governor (1915-1919: Capper)
Date: December 12, 1917
This letter was written in response to Roy Hennigh's earlier letter (dated November 21) to Gov. Arthur Capper, which had been referred to P. J. McBride, the Commissioner of Labor and Industry. In it, McBride responds to Hennigh's complaint that a welfare inspector prevented Hennigh from employing his two daughters in his grocery store. McBride referred him to the child labor law that "prohibited the employment of any child under 14 years of age in mercantile establishments." No one could make any exception to this law because, according to McBride, some of the worst cases of abuse had occurred at the hands of parents. This law did not affect children's work within the home, but it did mandate that children under 14 could not be assigned regular duties for a specific period of time in a place of business. McBride emphasized that "it is not the purpose of this department to split hairs," but that his inspectors were bound to ensure that the law was applied fairly and equally to all.


Ralph Tennal to Arthur Capper

Ralph Tennal to Arthur Capper
Creator: Tennal, Ralph
Date: November 22, 1917
Ralph Tennal, editor of the Sabetha Herald, wrote this letter to the governor complaining about a recent visit from an inspector who had ordered local merchants to comply with child labor laws. Tennal refers specifically to children who helped run their parents stores on weekends and after school. Tennal believes that "the orders strike me as being out of line with horse sense and out of line with the spirit of the government." He firmly believed that hard work would be of great value to these children. In 1917 the Industrial Welfare Act of 1915 was amended to include these restrictions on child labor: children could not work at night or for more than 8 hours daily or 48 hours weekly, school superintendents were responsible for issuing work permits, and children could not work until they had completed elementary school.


Roy Hennigh to Arthur Capper

Roy Hennigh to Arthur Capper
Creator: Hennigh, Roy
Date: November 21, 1917
Roy Hennigh, owner of a grocery store in Sabetha, Nemaha County, wrote this letter to the governor concerning a recent visit to his store by a female deputy factory inspector. According to Hennigh, this inspector informed him that his two teenage daughters could not work in his store on the weekends according to the child labor laws. Hennigh argues that he does not officially employ his children, or any other children, because "they help me just as anybody's children should." He believes it is "very poor judgement to enact a law which forbids parents to use the help of their own children." He also takes issue with the fact that a female inspector evaluated his business. P. J. McBride, Commissioner of Labor and Industry, replied to this letter on December 12, 1917.


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