** working boys clothing country trends America United States work area mine mining








United States Child Labor: Work Area--Mines


Figure 1.--We do not have much information about child labor used un mines in general, but the photographic record shows that large numbers of boys were employed in coal mines as late as the ealy 20th century. Here we see tipple boys and drivers at the Maryland Coal Co. mine, near Sand Lick, Grafton, West Virginia. The photograph was taken by Lewis Hine (October 1908). The boy with mule was afraid to be in the pictureat first. Another boy said he feared we might make him go to school.

We do not have much information about child labor used un mines in general, but the photographic record shows that large numbers of boys were employed in coal mines as late as the ealy 20th century. We note boys working in anthracite coal minds in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia. The younger boys by the early 20th century were often employed as breaker boys or tippler boys. By this time it was increasingly being seen as child abuse. Congressioinal investigations were conducted during the Theodore Roosevely administration. Social photographers documented the use of boys. Only boys woked in mines. The images produced had a powerful impact on the American public. Coal mining was especially dangerous work. And even the jobs assigned to the boys, such as the breaker boys, could cause serious injuries. Coal minds in the 19th and early 20th century were underground and thus could not be seen from the surface. The structure at the mine mine or "pit head" that could be seen was the "tipple" and at a few mines, the "head frame." These surface mine structures were normally constructed along side a railway siding to facilitte the loading of the coal on rail hopper cars. The head frame was a a destinctive vertical structure which could be quite tall. There were large wheels at the top through which cables from a large winch were run into the mine. The cables inside the mind ran the "cage" or elevator which transport the miners down into the mine and lifted the mined coal from the workings to the surface. The mines varied in depth. Some coal seems ran at an angle toward the surface and thus did not need the large head frame structure and elevators required by deeper minds. The coal and waste rock was carried the surface in mine cars. The coal mind tipple was the large building that usually included a rotary dumper for emptying the mine cars for processing and the waste rock into skag piles. The coal was moved on conveyors to screens where it could be sorted, both by size and quality. Waist rock was removed by hand on a picking table. This process was normally done by boys, older men, and injured miners no longer capable of doing actual mine work.

Coal Mine Industry

Coal fueled the indtrial revolution whic began in America during the early 19th century. It was used as the fuel for the steam engenies in factories, train locomotives, and ships. It also became the fuel for heating homes. It was no longer possible with the growth of cities to supply adeuate quantities of wood. In addition the smoke created from wood fires was a problem. Demand for coal declined after World War I as oil began to replace coal in industry. The Depression further reduced demand. Mine owners sought to prevent miners from organizing. Violent tactics were used against the miners whonin many cases resorted to violence themselves. The New Deal aided unions attempting to organize. John L. Lewis led the United Mine Workers (UMW) nsuceeded in organizing the miners (1930s). He succeeded in gaining high wages and improving working conditions. This further reduced employmentv as mine owners mechanized the minining process.

Coal Mines

We do not have much information about child labor used in mines in general, but the photographic record shows that large numbers of boys were employed in coal mines as late as the ealy 20th century. We note boys working in anthracite coal minds in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and West Virginia. We are not entirely sure why the social photographers of the day ficused almost entirely on coal mines. There were of course other mines. But we believe that probanly coal was mined in greater quantities than other minerals. Thus there were more coal mines than other types of mines.

Social Issue

By this time it was increasingly being seen as child abuse. Congressioinal investigations were conducted during the Theodore Roosevely administration. Social photographers documented the use of boys. Only boys woked in mines. The images produced had a powerful impact on the American public. Coal mining was especially dangerous work. And even the jobs assigned to the boys, such as the breaker boys, could cause serious injuries.

Mining Technology

Coal minds in the 19th and early 20th century were underground and thus could not be seen from the surface. The structure at the mine mine or "pit head" that could be seen was the "tipple" and at a few mines, the "head frame." These surface mine structures were normally constructed along side a railway siding to facilitte the loading of the coal on rail hopper cars. The head frame was a a destinctive vertical structure which could be quite tall. There were large wheels at the top through which cables from a large winch were run into the mine. The cables inside the mind ran the "cage" or elevator which transport the miners down into the mine and lifted the mined coal from the workings to the surface. The mines varied in depth. Some coal seems ran at an angle toward the surface and thus did not need the large head frame structure and elevators required by deeper minds. The coal and waste rock was carried the surface in mine cars. The coal mind tipple was the large building that usually included a rotary dumper for emptying the mine cars for processing and the waste rock into skag piles. The coal was moved on conveyors to screens where it could be sorted, both by size and quality. Waist rock was removed by hand on a picking table.

Jobs for Boys

The younger boys by the early 20th century were often employed as breaker boys or tippler boys. These were two terms for the same job. Other boys were employed as trapper boys. The breaker boys separated slate rock from the coal after it had been brought out of the shaft. Older men and injured miners might also be employed here. The breaker boys might work shifts as long as 14 to 16 hours a day. This sorting process was normally done by boys, older men, and injured miners no longer capable of doing actual mine work. Boys did not have the physical strength or endurance needed for some of the underground operations. They could be employed for lower wages. Also their smaller more nimble hands were ideally suited for sorting. Younger boys might be stationed along the elongation oi the belt to pick out the smaller bits of nferior coal, shale, or pyrite. [Hawes, p. 256.] It was, however, a dangerous job and many boys sustained a range of injuries, especially working as breaker boys who might injure their fingers and hands. The job also exposed the boys to coal dust which they breathed in damaging their lungs. Just as there were no child labor laws. Workmen's compensation did not yet exist. Other boys working in the mines were trapper boys. These were boys who opperated the various trap doors in the mines. The trap doors help maintain areas where outside air was pumped ito the mines into area where the miners wrre working. This kept them supplied with fresh air as well as keeping gases building up in other areas a way from the miners. Trap doors had to be kept must be kept closed to keep the fresh air in the areas where the miners were working rather than disappating. Boys were usually employed to man the trap doors, opening and closing them as required. This was necessary as the miners filled coal carts which then had to be moved through the mine to the surface through areas or chambers where the fresh air was not supplied.

Sources

Hawes, G.A. "Murton colliery, Durham: Coal scrubbing and washing arrangements," in Mining: A Journal Devoted to the Interests of Mines and Mining Students (1895), pp 256-257.

Lovejoy, Owen R. "Child Labor in the Coal Mines," Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 27, Child Labor (March, 1906), pp. 35-41.







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Created: 2:23 AM 1/6/2008
Last updated: 7:06 AM 10/11/2009