This report by George A. Hall, Secretary of the New York Child Labor Committee, was published in Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science in the July 1911 issue.
In 1902, in New York, Florence Kelley, the head of the National Consumers League and a former resident of Hull House, joined with Lillian Wald, the founder of Henry Street Settlement, to influence the Association of Neighborhood Workers to appoint a child labor committee to investigate the problem of child labor in New York. Others on this committee were Robert Hunter and Mary Simkhovitch. In November 1902, this committee was organized as the New York Child Labor Committee.
In the program of restrictive legislation with respect to the employment of young children, attention seems to have been first directed toward the condition of children working in factories. As the public conscience became aroused and more intelligent, it was learned that the children working in mercantile establishments were also seriously in need of the law’s protection. As a result, remedial legislation has followed in many of our states. Although more than thirty years have passed since the enactment of the first child labor law, the attempt to regulate street trading by children, is comparatively recent, as the passage of the first law specifically relating to newspaper selling, by the New York legislature, in 1903, indicates.
In view of the conditions surrounding newsboy life in our larger cities, uncovered during recent years, it is surprising that social workers, particularly, have been so tardy in recognizing the need of seeking protection for the street trader. Among those with firsthand knowledge of conditions, many claim that the evil effect upon young boys of street trading, is more serious by far than the effect of factory or mercantile occupations. In spite of this situation, only three states in the country — New York, Massachusetts and Wisconsin — and but a few scattering cities, including Washington, D. C, Cincinnati and Newark, have provided regulation.(more…)