Petition from the Michigan State Federation of Women's Clubs recommending a study of child labor
Michigan State Federation
GENERAL FEDERATION SECRETARY
March 16 1906
Madam President:— Senator Burrows
The industrial situation before us today demanding the most earnest attention of club women is that of Child Labor. There is a pronounced increase of Child Labor, not alone in the cotton industries of the South, but in the textile mills of the northern and middle states; and where legislation has been enacted to correct and nullify this evil, enforcement has been found most defective. "There is need of a vigorous and imperative public sentiment in favor of the enforcement of the laws, for without the pressure of public sentiment, the best laws remain dead letters."
It is authoritatively stated that this piteous army of child laborers is steadily increasing and now numbers 2,000,000. The children are huried from the cradle into the factories, with no childhood, no sweet memories of playtime or of home, nothing for them but soil from morning until night, and only fifteen minutes in which to eat a cold lunch; their frail bodies are often twisted and misshapen, the intellect obscured, the will paralyzed. These little white slaves of the 20th century are mostly American children. In this free land they are toiling under the glorious flag of liberty to satisfy the greed of commercialism.
Your committee, therefore, recommends the study of Child Labor, as a means to an end, in the abolishment of this national evil; that standing committee be appointed; that one or more programs on the study of Child Labor be presented, and that local conditions be investigated and reported to the Chairman of this committee.
A census taker informed the Chairman of your committee that two of the large factories in the state refused admission to him on the ground that only children were employed not eligible to the census, that he observed these children going and coming and thought some of them were under twelve.
It is not the purpose of the committee to interfere in any way with the work of inspectors or public officials, but to co-operate with them in a matter so near to our hearts.
The National Child Labor Committee will furnish material, at net cost, to clubs writing S. M. Lindsey, 105 E. 22nd St., New York City.
One of our state factory inspectors requests the co-operation of women in securing the appointment of one notary public in every town or city where Child Labor is employed; many notaries are not familiar with the law and really don't care whether the child be fourteen or whether they can read or not.
There is no law in Michigan for the protection of the newsboy. After four o'clock children may sell papers until late at night. Myron E. Adams writes that with the demand for more effective restriction of Child Labor and with compulsory education laws, the fact has become obvious that the laborer on the street is one of the chief offenders against these laws. Investigations conducted by persons familiar with the problems have disclosed the fact that while street trading offers temptations to which the newsboy is particularly susceptible, there has been little or no attempt to regulate and improve existing conditions. These dangers are not limted to our great cities, but are equally true of cities and towns throughout the country. Committees desiring a bibliography of Child Labor will please address
JULIET S. GOODENOW,Chairman Industrial Committee,
Michigan State Federation of Women's Clubs.
CARRIE A. BARRE, Hillsdale,
CLARA VAN FOSSEN, Ypsilanti,
ANNA S. JENNE, Eaton Rapids,
MRS. JAMES P. LANGLEY, Detroit,
Other members of committee.