Distressing images show the squalid conditions that children as young as four had to work in order to earn less than half a dollar a day.
Grueling hours, backbreaking work, and no playtime was the painfully grim life many United States’ youngsters suffered in the early 20th century.
Heart-breaking photos show pre-teens smoking whilst rolling cigars in a factory, black-faced children working in dark and dangerous coal mines as ‘breakers’, and four-year-old Mary shucking oysters alongside her mother who is struggling to juggle her work and her new-born child.
This was the reality for many children growing up in the States at the start of the 1900s. They were forced to work in factories, on farms, or mills which left little or no time for school or recreational activities.
Children, often as young as four and five, could spend hours in the gloomy, dust-filled darkness patiently waiting to open trapdoors for mining carts to pass through whilst teachers would teach their lessons to empty desks as absent students toiled away to pick that season’s beet.
The images have been released by the Library of Congress in Washington DC.