Less than 100 years ago, children your age would have had to go to work all day rather than school. Kids had to stay outside all day no matter the weather selling newspapers to make pennies or worked in glass factories where the heat and glass were daily threats or worked in candy factories where even the smell of caramel would make a cry rather than smile. When they could attend school (it had been required since 18xx), children often collapsed in exhaustion.
Progressive reformers called for a "right to childhood"--yes, a right to go to school, to play, to explore. In 1903, the labor agitator Mother Jones even led of march of children who had to work in the mills to publicize their plight and to call on President Theodore Roosevelt (who refused to see them). It was not until the Fair Labor Standard Act became law in 1937 that most child labor was prohibited although children of farm workers still were not protected.
Discover the past! Child labor, the stockyards, Mother Jones, and other important labor people, and events such as Haymarket and Pullman.
The ILHS office holds a vast library and mini-museum and archives that include primary sources (books, pamphlets, posters, recorded interviews, and artifacts) and secondary sources (books, journals, scholarly articles, interviews). We are strongest in history related to the Packinghouse Workers Union. Interviews are available, by appointment preferred.