The Social Waste of Child Labor, October 4, 1902 (excerpt)



Miss Addams Gives Illinois a Precedence She Deplores.

Miss Jane Addams of Hull House addressed the Chicago Political Equality League yesterday afternoon on "The Social Waste of Child Labor." The meeting was held in the clubrooms in the Fine Arts building. Miss Addams made reference to the new bill drafted by a conference committee of the Illinois State Federation of Women's Clubs and the Chicago collegiate alumnae to amend present laws governing child labor. The new measure prohibits night work of children under 16 years of age; requires a simple test of the children's knowledge of reading and writing, and insures the professed age of the child by requiring [endorsement] of the parent's affidavit by teachers and school superintendents in the districts in which children live.

The speaker reviewed the arguments of the advocates of child labor. She said that frequently it was urged that the child was the sole support of a widowed mother, but that she knew of a district where out of 3,500 children working illegally in the mills only sixty-six were children of widows, and of these few not more than half came from families where there were not other members working.

"Talk about endowments of universities," said Miss Addams. "Why not let some of this wealth be used in endowing a system of education for these children of poverty? In Illinois the number of children employed in factories is increasing more than in any other state of the Union."