Kids on Strike!

Kids on Strike!

by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Reaching the early 1900s, almost two million children were employed in the United States—sorting coal in Pennsylvania, milling cotton in New England, or selling newspapers in New York City. But children had to work long hours every day under stunningly difficult and inhumane conditions and had to resign most of their earnings to their fathers. In this book, easily read by someone of any age, we see numerous examples of children organizing and making demands for better wages, fairer housing, and safer working environments. Some strikes led by young people were successful; most were not. In all cases though, they laid the groundwork for future struggle and justice in the labor movement. The ten year old bituminous coal sifters in Lattimer, PA decided their boss was mean so they went swimming instead of going to work. When he came to put them back to work they dunked him repeatedly until they got a new boss. Many young girls who worked were forced to go to church and live in housing owned by the boss just to keep their jobs. This led to price fixing and rarely any profits at all from the labor. The future labor leaders are illustrated here as well in their humble beginnings - seeking justice in their own workplace. Mother Jones leads a walking group of young strikers from Pennsylvania to New York City to demonstrate their unjust conditions. Some stories are shocking, some are heartbreaking, and many are inspiring — all are testimony to the strength of mind and spirit of the children who helped build American industry. This book is worth it for the archival photos on nearly every page from child labor photographer Lewis Hine. Beautiful accounts of expressions, struggle, and hardship. Highly recommended and entertaining.