This timeline shows important developments in child labor advocacy in the United States and around the world.

Timeline of Child Labor Developments in the United States


1832 – The New England Association of Farmers, Mechanics and Other Workingmen officially condemns child labor.

1836 – Massachusetts creates the first state child labor law requiring factory children under 15 to go to school a minimum of 3 months per year.

1836 – Early trade unions at the National Trades’ Union Convention propose requiring state minimum age laws for factory work.

1842 – Massachusetts limits children to working 10 hours per day. Many states do the same but are not consistent in enforcing their laws.

1876 – The Working Men’s Party proposes prohibiting the employment of children younger than 14.

1881 – The American Federation of Labor at their first national convention calls for states to enact legislation barring children under 14 from wage labor.

1883 – The New York labor movement, under the leadership of Samuel Gompers, attempts to end child labor in the cigar industry by successfully sponsoring legislation that bans production in tenements, where many of young children work in the trade.

1889 – Florence Kelley publishes “Our Toiling Children,” which outlines the state of child labor and urges consumers to use their influence to improve working conditions.

1892 – The Democratic Party adopts a plank in their platform, which recommends banning factory employment for children under age 15.

1899 – The National Consumers’ League under the leadership of Florence Kelley launches its “white label” campaign in the women’s garment industry. The white label certified that goods were produced following minimum fair labor standards and were free of child labor.… Read the rest