Child Labor, was it in your family?

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FedUpAsp
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10 Dec 2014, 3:04 pm

I was just thinking about my late grandfather and how life was like for him in the 1930s/early 40s. He was a part-time child laborer (he went to school) who worked picking fruit and vegetables for 8 hours and ten cents a day, and at the end of the season they got the green produce that wasn't ripe. I think he was about 12 when he started and he moved out of his parents house for good when he was 14. He was also hanging out in opium dens at 12 or 13!

Life was a lot harsher and adulthood occured a lot sooner than it does now. Did child labor occur in your family tree? The old timers had such interesting stories. I wish my grandpa had lived a little longer. So much I wanted to ask him.



alpineglow
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10 Dec 2014, 9:35 pm

My late great aunt lost her parents at 9 years of age around 1910, and was subsequently taken in by and put to work by her relatives, in her uncle's grocery market.



eric76
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10 Dec 2014, 11:04 pm

Just typical working on the farm. Nothing wrong with that.



DeepHour
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10 Dec 2014, 11:54 pm

My mother started work in the cotton mills at the age of 14 in 1943. This was perfectly standard in working-class families at the time.

Her mother started work in the cotton mill at age 12 in 1914, though she continued to attend school in the mornings. This too was the normal practice at that time.



Skilpadde
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11 Dec 2014, 3:17 am

My maternal grandparents didn't work as children, they started after school. My grandmother took middle school, which wasn't that usual for a girl back then, and my grandfather went to gymnasium (high school) which wasn't that common in those days.

I know little about my paternal family, but my father has said that he started working at 14.


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metaldanielle
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11 Dec 2014, 3:54 am

Everyone who lives on a farm is a child laborer to some extent. It depends on how much they value the child's education over the assistance the kid can provide. My father's family didn't value education much. My dad is very uneducated, he missed the school bus if milking took too long. My grandfather is illiterate. It doesn't help that they have signs of dyslexia.

My mother's side was more about school. She had to help on the farm, but not the extent that her grades suffered. Same for my grandfather as far as I know. My grandmother didn't grow up on a farm, but she was a carhop in her teens. Typical teenage restaurant job.


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11 Dec 2014, 4:24 am

I'd rather physical work than going to school.

But anyway, my grandfather worked in mines as a kid.



blue_bean
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11 Dec 2014, 4:44 am

I have no idea. My granddad on my mum's side was a Telecom linesman.

My dad's dad is a mystery. All my dad has ever told me is that he was a drunk and domestically violent war vet.

My mum started her first job at 15-16 in a cake shop. I'm pretty sure my dad's first job was with the DMR as an accounts clerk, then a "ganger" (ie. manual labourer in road construction), then he went either to Broken Hill (in the BHP plant) or Bundaberg (at the sugar mill emptying cane trolleys or welding/making them, I can't remember), then came to our current hometown to work with the local council as a ganger again.



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11 Dec 2014, 8:31 am

No one's sure who my father was, so I can't speak to that, but.....

As for my mother's family: My grandmother was raised on a reservation, had very little education, and did farm labor. My grandmother died the day after giving birth to my mother, and my mother and her siblings went to an orphanage where they did farm chores. My great-grandfather had very little schooling and did farm labor. My grandfather went to school until the 8th grade (all that was required, I think, in those days), while simultaneously working on the farm. When he was about 16, I think, he started work on the railroad----apparently getting women pregnant, all up and down the line----and stayed there, the rest of his life----well, until retirement. He did, eventually, re-marry, and then my mother and her siblings were able to leave the orphanage and live with him.



eric76
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11 Dec 2014, 12:46 pm

metaldanielle wrote:
Everyone who lives on a farm is a child laborer to some extent.


True, but the term "child labor" itself has rather negative connotations involving the exploitation of the children. I would hardly use the term "exploitation" in reference to working as a kid on the family farm.



FedUpAsp
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11 Dec 2014, 2:01 pm

eric76 wrote:
metaldanielle wrote:
Everyone who lives on a farm is a child laborer to some extent.


True, but the term "child labor" itself has rather negative connotations involving the exploitation of the children. I would hardly use the term "exploitation" in reference to working as a kid on the family farm.


My grandfather didn't grow up on a farm. He went to work for somebody else working long days for a dime. Yeowch.



eric76
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11 Dec 2014, 2:55 pm

FedUpAsp wrote:
eric76 wrote:
metaldanielle wrote:
Everyone who lives on a farm is a child laborer to some extent.


True, but the term "child labor" itself has rather negative connotations involving the exploitation of the children. I would hardly use the term "exploitation" in reference to working as a kid on the family farm.


My grandfather didn't grow up on a farm. He went to work for somebody else working long days for a dime. Yeowch.


Unlike now, a dime then had decent purchasing power.



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11 Dec 2014, 3:05 pm

Both my maternal grandparents left primary school early, because they were needed at home to work on the farms. On my dad’s side of the family, my great, great grandparents were in the same situation. Almost everyone else completed their education, but also worked part time (Farm chores/local businesses)



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11 Dec 2014, 3:50 pm

eric76 wrote:
metaldanielle wrote:
Everyone who lives on a farm is a child laborer to some extent.


True, but the term "child labor" itself has rather negative connotations involving the exploitation of the children. I would hardly use the term "exploitation" in reference to working as a kid on the family farm.


Yeah, I agree----with BOTH. Every kid is doing "child labor"----as in, working hard, long hours, etc., but I don't think it's exploitation, when it's the family farm.



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11 Dec 2014, 4:22 pm

Most of my family were farmers, so I'm sure they all worked on their farms as kids.
One grandmother probably didn't, since her family was rich.


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