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Child Labor Resources at the Catherwood Library and the Kheel Center: Farm Workers

Children in the Everglades

"The American families living under these conditions may have been farm owners a few years ago, or respectable farm tenants.  They now have no stability whatever. The children have never known anything but squalor.   They attend school so irregularly that many of them never get beyond first grade."

From:  "Children in the Everglades."  The Child. December 1946, Vol. 11, no. 6, pg. 100.  In:  Consumers' League of New York City. Records, 1896-1962.  #5307, Box 27, Folder 9

Children on the Move

"When we take into account the numbers of school age children in the migratory movement (at least 100,000) and the fact that the services of migratory workers are essential to our national economy, we become increasingly aware that America cannot afford the loss of such potential energies. How can we expect children to develop proper attitudes and responsibilities toward America, when they grow up under such adverse conditions, feel dejected and insecure, and receive such inadequate educational training?"

From:  Migratory Labor Notes, July - September 1959, no. 10, pg. 3. In:  Consumers' League of New York City. Records, 1896-1962.  #5307, Box 27, Folder 2.

Farm Worker Photographs

Louise Boyle’s 1937 photographs document the daily life of tenant farm families in 1937 Arkansas where even young children worked with adults in farm fields.  Included here are photos of the back breaking cotton harvest.  Reliable cotton picking equipment was not available until the mid 1950s, so each harvester walked down the long rows picking cotton balls by hand from within the spiny outer hulls, placing them in large bags and carrying or dragging the sack down the row until full, when it was taken to the wagon, weighed and emptied, then filled again.


Louise Boyle, Photographer. [Source: Southern Tenant Farmers Union Photographs. Collection 5859 P box 2]

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