The childhood of the kids in the early 1900s was not anything like today.  I read Factory Girl by Barbara Greenwood.

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In the early 1900s, many families were very poor. While the parents were working, there was usually not enough money coming in to support the family. So many of the kids had to drop out of school at a young age, and find a job to help get money. Filthy factories were usually the only place kids under the legal working age could get a job.

Young boys are risking their toes to replace to spools

If the Inspector of the factory found out about this, he would shut down the factory, and the children would lose their jobs. In factories it was very dangerous. The men that worked there were allowed to smoke, and that was dangerous because there were flammable scraps all over the place. If there were a fire, it would be hard to get out because of the many people there, but also because the windows were boarded up. Young boys would usually go to the dump to look for things that they could sell, or use for their family, like a tea-pot that is in good shape. Sometimes, when the boys earned enough money, they bought as many newspapers as they could, and sold them on the street to make even more money, but if some papers were not sold, it was a waste. Little children sometimes went out scavenging coal for their families to use, often pushed by an old wagon or baby cart that they found.

For children, there weren’t any playgrounds for them, so they played in the streets. In the streets, there were sometimes dead animals crawling with bugs where the kids played, and it would sometimes be days before it was taken away. The people who had money, had plumbing and running water. The people who didn’t have money have to go to the bathroom in a bucket, and walk sometimes long distances to get some water. For families who lived in alley ways, a room was often turned into a kitchen, and a bedroom.

Living like that was not a good and healthy way, and people died because of it. Now, as you can see what I said was true. Childhood in the early 1900s was harsh compared to now.

http://www.historyplace.com/unitedstates/childlabor/index.html

http://www.continuetolearn.uiowa.edu/laborctr/child_labor/about/us_history.html

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