WebQuest: Child Labor in the Progressive Era

Beginning in the late 1800's and lasting through the early 1900's, the Progressive era was a period of reform. The reform movement hit nearly every sector of life; from political changes such as the 18th amendment which allowed women to vote to social changes such as the prohibition. Many of the movements from the Progressive era can still be seen today. For example, there are women's rights groups and groups such as MADD which attempt to change legislation on drunk driving. This webquest will focus on one particular reform movement: child labor.

Timeline of the Era
In preparation for the Child Labor aspect of the Progressive era, it might be a good idea to visit this timeline to orient yourself. It is a list of the key events of the Progressive Era.

Key Figures
Since the Industrial Revolution, child labor was rampant in the United States. Britain had the same problem in the 19th century but was ended later through legislation.

In 1892, Illinois governor John Peter Altgeld was one of the first to enact legislation to control labor. Describe how he does so in the text box below.

He later hired Florence Kelley, a national figure against child labor. Describe her role in Illinois.

Lewis Hine, the National Child Labor Committee's primary investigator and photographer starting in 1908, felt that his work was essential to cleaning the evil of child labor.  Choose two pictures on this page and write down your first impressions.

Many of the children worked in an unsafe environment. Alice Hamilton, the chief researcher of the Occupational Disease Commission, had a primary role in uncovering the perils that the children were exposed to. Read about it here and describe the process that Alice Hamilton had gone through.

Appeal to Reason, a socialist journal of the Progressive Era, was dedicated to describing the conditions of society. There was one article in particular on the death of Roselie Randazzo by Kate Richards O'Hare.  Find it and reflect below.

Education (or there lack of)
Many of the children of early 1900's worked in the coalfields. Read this article by Mary Lou Hawse and highlight the controversy between historians and contemporary writers on the rigors of immigrant children attending school in the U.S.

The End of Child Labor
Although child labor didn't end in the period of time that we typically define as the Progressive era, child labor did end. Do your own search on the web for Frances Perkins's role in the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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