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Florence Kelley’s Description Of Child Labor And Sweatshops

2204 words - 9 pages

In Chicago, around the eighteen-hundreds, there was the desire for cheap labor. Consumer demand for clothes and manufactured products played a big part in this issue. The desire for manufacturers to meet the increasing consumer demand ultimately led to the hiring of children and other individuals. To reduce expenditures, working conditions did not play a major concern in the factory owners’ decisions. These factories were not very safe and sanitation was poor. Oftentimes many of these sweatshop workers were found working many hours a day for a long period of time with very little, if any pay. Florence Kelley was a factory inspector who fought against child labor and the existence of sweatshops. Through her experiences and descriptions, we now have better working conditions and children are allowed to be children. I plan to explain some of the extensive information she has provided about these two major problems.
Manufacturers would hire the people who owned these sweatshops to produce the merchandise (“The Sweating” 51). Competition in such an opportunity was bound to arise between these shopkeepers. Therefore each would go to great magnitudes to save as much money in the production process as possible; this would consequently lower the price to an amount the manufacturer would want to pay (“The Sweating” 51). One can conclude that these sweatshops came about because of a great necessity people had to make money at the time and the great urgency these sweaters, the owners of the sweatshops, had to make agreements with manufacturers.
The sweatshops did not discriminate so much on the foundation of gender or age (Wheeler, Bruce, Becker 119). Most of the employees were immigrants, which would explain why they were so desperate to find work (Wheeler, Bruce, Becker 119). Florence Kelley found that immigrants working at these sweatshops were from a diversity of places, but she did notice that there was not a single Native American at any of these factories (Wheeler, Bruce, Becker 119). Also, since age was not problematic in the hiring process, children would oftentimes be found at sweatshops of all types (Wheeler, Bruce, Becker 121). Many times the pure reason children worked in sweatshops was that one, or both of their parents were dependent on the child, this even happened if the parents were relatively young (Wheeler, Bruce, Becker 121).
Florence Fitch Kelley is the reason why so much in depth information about sweatshops exists. Kelley graduated from the University of Zurich, the only university that at the time admitted women (Fee and Brown 50). Kelley was a journalist for many years and eventually became an agent of the Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics where she was assigned to investigate these sweatshops during the Progressive Era (Fee and Brown 50; Kelley 228; Wheeler, Bruce, Becker 119). Florence Kelley was so good at what she did that she was appointed Chief Factory Inspector (Fee and Brown 50). As the Chief Factory Inspector,...

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