Home / General / Mapping Child Labor, 1933

Mapping Child Labor, 1933


The Department of Labor provided some useful maps in 1933 of the United States’ patchwork regulations on child labor. One map.

Seems to me that Arkansas was infringing on the freedom of 8 year olds to work given that 4th grade requirement.

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  • Schadenboner

    See? Wisconsin used to be one of the good states. Honest!

    • postmodulator

      You’ve got the nation’s only socialist NFL franchise, one of the better party schools in the country, and the Violent Femmes. Hold your head high.

      • Manju

        You’ve got the nation’s only socialist NFL franchise


        • Schadenboner

          Packers uber alles?

          (…Next season.)

  • Halloween Jack

    Ah, 1933, when everyone used the fill tool in MacPaint with a vengeance. (At least they didn’t use five different fonts.)

  • Stop giving the Conservatives any ideas!

    They look back on those good old days, and sigh…

    • I’m sure The Heritage Foundation is already looking at this and going “Hey! That just might work!”

    • Please note that, as a home schooling family in New Mexico, this is the same degree of regulation we are subject to today.

      If we chose to use a limited curriculum that stopped math at ‘If Daniel has 5 sheep and Rachel’s father wants 10 as her dowry, how many ewes need to lamb before they can marry?’, that’d be fine too.

      The key takeaway on my home state, though, is that we have a legislature that works for per-diem, 45 days a year on average. The rest of the months they’re insurance salesmen and schoolteachers. So we have about as many laws as you’d expect after 100 years of a rather hands-off style of regulation development.

      Not sure how many other states with no regulation on this map that’s true of.

  • Derelict

    It’s worth noting which states had no lower age limit for child labor. Those are the same states that today boast about their lack of regulations making them “business friendly.” I guess making life bearable for your citizens is not a part of what elected office entails in those states.

    And with Texas, of course, you get the added bonus of the occasional unregulated fertilizer business going “boom!” Gives new meaning to the term “boom town.”

  • Malaclypse

    Christ almighty, Utah was one of the good states.

    • LeeEsq

      Utah also wanted to be the decisive vote in repealing Prohibition. For some reason it was very important to them that they be the state whose vote placed the repeal amendment into the Constitution.

  • rea

    What is the point of having kids if you don’t make a profit on them?

  • Schadenboner

    So, what interests me is the prevalence of fairly substantial difference across borders, especially in later-settled states in the upper Midwest (e.g. South Dakota and Wyoming and Idaho have no requirements while Montana/North Dakota/Minnesota have 8th grade requirements).

    Is this because of differences in the perceived suitability of young workers for the prevalent industry in the state? Abilities of organized (or semi- or informally-organized) labor to bargain up wages by excluding young workers? Remnants of The Grange?

    • wengler

      Those states were settled by more socialist and labor-minded central and northern Europeans.

      Today the Republican spiteful shitshow has dug in there same as everywhere else with lots of white people.

      • Schadenboner

        Ok, but why North Dakota and not South Dakota (which was, as far as I know, settled by a similar generation and sort of settler)?

        • Don K

          I believe SD was settled more by Americans moving west, while ND was settled by Scandinavians and Germans. ND also experimented with state-level soshulism such as a state bank and IIRC a system of state-owned grain elevators.

          A lot of the states with higher minimum education requirements had either a strong radical undercurrent in their politics (WA, ND, MN with the Farmer-Labor party) or else were big on Progressive Republicanism (CA, WI). One wonders what NE, KS, IN, and OH were doing in that camp.

          Finally, note that, even then, NH was the outlier in New England.

  • Any chance we’ll see Southern Republicans try to reclaim the proud heritage of no labor restrictions?

    • DrDick

      They are working on it as we speak.

  • Anon21

    Interesting. Does the grade cutoff suggest that full-time work was allowed for children above that grade? My (not very detailed or informed) understanding of today’s labor laws is that below a certain age, you can’t hire a child at all, but obviously at a certain age teenagers are allowed to work part-time. In 1933, did any states have graduated systems like that in place?

  • Despite correlation not demonstrating causation, the red/blue map ‘overlay’, if set on top of this 80 year old map, would be provocative..

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