Though it may seem a barbaric practice of the past, child labor is still alive and well in the U.S. and around the world, and international efforts to stop abuses of child labor by 2016 are moving slowly.
The U.S. Labor Department this week released a report that found 134 products in 17 countries that may have ties to child or forced labor. Major companies like Chuck E. Cheese have been fined for allegedly violating child labor laws, and popular products, including Hershey chocolate bars, have been accused of having ties to child labor. Thanks to opposition from big agriculture, the White House recently scrapped rules proposed last year that would have prevented minors from performing certain agricultural tasks.
Child labor has long been a part of economic life. In U.S. history, as the Industrial Revolution moved the workplace from farm to factory, employers often preferred child workers because they were less likely to strike and were usually cheaper, according to the Child Labor Public Education Project. Child labor was such a prominent part of factory life that in 1938 the federal government was forced to pass a law to set age minimums and hour limits.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this slideshow incorrectly identified the year of one of the photos. They are all from 1911.
Below, photos of child labor from 1911 offer a look back and a reminder of conditions that persist today:
Fernance Silvia, 7 year old newsie, used to sell papers until 8 p.m. some nights. New Bedford, August 22, 1911.
Shots of the young workers going in to Ayer Mill, 6:30 to 7 A.M., Sept. 11, 1911. Location: Lawrence, Massachusetts.
A group of mill workers in North Adams, Massachusetts in 1911.
Sagamore Manufacturing Company
Young workers leave a mill at Sagamore Manufacturing Company on August 26, 1911 in Fall River, Massachusetts.
A group of children no older than 16 start work after noon on May 19, 1911 in Yazoo City, Mississippi.
Young boys working at a cigarette factory on June 6, 1911 in Danville, Virginia.
Chesapeake Knitting Mills
Children going to work at the Chesapeake Knitting Mills in Berkley, VA on June 15, 1911.
Five-year-old picks shrimp in 1911.
Waiting To Be Smuggled
Children waiting to be smuggled in Winchendon, Massachusetts in 1911.
Stearns Silk Factory
Young workers in the Stearns Silk Factory in Petersburg, Virginia in 1911.
Peerless Oyster Co.
Eight-year-old Emma Kelly picks shrimp from 3 a.m. until 4 p.m. in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi in 1911.
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