Babies in the Mill
Mill Work: One of the spinners
“One of the spinnners in Whitnel Cotton Mill,
Hine said, “She was 51 inches high. Has been in the mill one year. Sometimes works at night. Runs 4 sides - 48 cents a day. When asked how old she was, she hesitated, then said ‘I don't remember,’ then added confidentially, ‘I'm not old enough to work, but do just the same.’ Out of 50 employees, there were ten children about her size.” Lewis Hine, Photographer. [Source: International Ladies Garment Workers Union Photographs Collection 5780 P
“[… Home work frequently goes on in filthy and insanitary rooms; […] the workers themselves or others in the family sometimes are suffering from contagious diseases; […] little children five years old and upwards are at work; […] home work means long hours and night as well as Saturday and Sunday work.”
From: ”What the United States Government Says about Child Labor in Tenements” extracts from a report of the US Bureau of Labor compiled by George Hall, Secretary of the New York Child Labor Committee, pg.2.
Oral History: Abraham Plotkin
Abraham Plotkin was born in 1892 in Russia. Around the turn of the century, he and his family immigrated to the United States. He grew up in Philadelphia and New York City where, until he was 15, he attended school and worked a string of miserable jobs. Plotkin’s interest in the labor movement grew. As a young adult, he joined the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and remained a prominent figure in the organization for most of his adulthood. He died in May of 1988, at age 96.
The excerpts provided in the guide are drawn from: Abraham Plotkin Oral History, 5780 OH #19
Excerpt: Garment Work
At the age of 15, Plotkin was discontented working in a knit goods sweatshop. He decided to go to work full time to support himself and ease his family’s financial burdens. [2 min. 26 sec.]
Source: International Ladies Garment Workers Union Oral History Collection 5780 OH #19