The Glass House Boys of Pittsburgh
Law, Technology, and Child Labor
Publication Year: 2009
Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press
Preface and Acknowledgments
Because Progressive Era child labor reform was quintessentially based on the power of law, this work is fundamentally a legal history.1 Any historical research project can encounter myriad challenges in terms of the availability and quality of primary source materials, challenges that can produce both excitement and frustration. One particular challenge that arose during ...
1. Child Labor Reforms and the National Child Labor Committee
In1913, Michael J. Owens, a principal figure in the American glass industry, received an unsolicited letter from a “special agent” of the National Child Labor Committee (NCLC). The contents were startling. The NCLC had, since its founding nearly ten years earlier, devoted itself almost exclusively to ending industrial child labor in America ...
2. Progressive Reform and Child Labor in the Pennsylvania Glass Industry
Despite the health dangers, the low pay, and the abusive working conditions, the late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century glass houses seemed to draw young boys into their confines with a power that even Progressive Era reformers characterized as nothing short of magical. As one progressive noted, using the flowery language of a fairy ...
3. Glass House Owners and the Politics of Glass
The early twentieth century was a time of great change and uncertainty for the glass-bottle producers in western Pennsylvania. Their position of dominance in the glass industry, which had developed over the previous fifty years, was diminishing. Natural gas fields producing cheap and clean fuel for glass furnaces were ...
4. The Pittsburgh Glass Workers and the Glass Bottle Union
Glassmaking, along with the related crafts of ceramics and metal work, were once known as the “black arts” because of the soot associated with the wood or coal fire that produced the in-tense heat required to create the end product and because many elements of the production processes were shrouded in mystery.1 The secrets of ...
5. School Law and Compulsory Education in Pennsylvania
Many social progressives, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, valued formal, public school–based education for the children of the working classes. They worried that a child who received only work-based training might be relegated to a lifetime of low wages, menial labor, and poverty, and the reformers wanted to provide educational ...
6. Child Labor Laws in Pennsylvania
In 1905, the Pennsylvania legislature passed a child labor law that would have far-reaching consequences. This law contained a night employment provision that, together with an important qualification thereto, became both central to the continued existence of the Pittsburgh glass-bottle factories and the focus of nearly ten years of rancorous ...
Page Count: 248
Illustrations: 20 b&w Illustrations
Publication Year: 2009
OCLC Number: 794702163
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