Faculty Sponsor

Diana Gildea


This paper explores the connection between child labor, compulsory public education, and the women’s movement of the twentieth century. Child labor was a widespread issue within the United States beginning with the Industrial Revolution. In an effort to protect children the women’s movement of the twentieth century added the issue of child welfare to their platform. In order to overcome the obstacles of child labor laws being struck down, the solution ended up being compulsory public education. Although children were kept out of the factories, this paper argues that the public-school system really just prepares children to be a loyal and obedient workforce. There is an irony in that the very system put in place to take children out of the workforce just ends up preparing them to enter it in the future.