Learning and earning: schooling, juvenile employment, and the early life course in late nineteenth-century New Haven.
This brought him to a stop. "Now to think of these vagabonds," said he, "attracting the young rabble from a model school...." Phenomenon almost incredible though distinctly seen, what did he then behold but his own metallurgical Louisa peeping with all her might through a hole in a deal board, and his own mathematical Thomas abasing himself on the ground to catch but a hoof of the graceful Tyrolean flower-act!
Dumb with amazement, Mr. Gradgrind crossed to the spot where his family was thus disgraced, laid his hand upon each erring child and said: "Louisa!! Thomas!! ... In the name of wonder, idleness, and folly! ... what do you do here?" "Wanted to see what it was like," returned Louisa, shortly. "What it was like?" "Yes father."
Charles Dickens, Hard Times (1854)
No less than in Dickens' England, from the middle to the end of the nineteenth century in New England, the use of time by children came under increased scrutiny. The passage and enforcement of compulsory education laws during this period, which greatly expanded the proportion of children under the schools' supervision, reformulated children's utility and imposed a roughly uniform course of socialization upon all children.(1) Thus, children's time, in two senses, had become an object of intense social concern: the inculcation in children of an appreciation for the value of time itself, and the creation of an institutional basis for childhood - a time of life - as a period of formal preparation for adulthood. This reformulation of children's utility was accompanied by the now-familiar and much broader cultural movement toward the sentimentalization of children and childhood.(2) This paper will trace the evolution of institutional initiatives to standardize the early life course(3) and explore the extent and forms of resistance to their implementation by working-class families in New Haven, Connecticut over the latter half of the nineteenth century.(4)
Throughout the period from 1850 to 1900 middle- and working-class parents held distinct views of the usefulness of formalized learning and differed accordingly in their use of the schools. These differences derived not only from the demands of the working-class family wage economy but from divergent notions about the significance of the process of emergence into adulthood as well. For middle-class boys and girls the transition to adulthood was becoming more articulated than in working-class families, though not as pronounced as it would become. Childhood in the urban middle-class perspective, we are told, was a protected, increasingly precious, and sentimentalized stage of life.(5) Schooling embodied and reinforced middle-class parental attitudes towards children and youths, particularly in its regard for the span of time before adulthood as years of formal preparation and semiautomony.(6) Accordingly, the training to be obtained in primary and grammar school was thought to inhere as much in attitudes as in the acquisition of skills fundamental to future employment. Schooling was to furnish, according to Mary P. Ryan, a programmatic, "social base for boyhood."(7) The expansion of public schooling and the implementation of compulsory education broadened this social base, not merely for boyhood but for childhood, as middle-class girls and then working-class youngsters were gathered into the schools.
To many working-class parents, however, schooling appeared as a kind of idleness incongruous with the organizing principle of family life in the nineteenth century - what Modell, Furstenberg, and Hershberg in another context have called "timeliness."(8) Timeliness, they say, "consisted of helpful response in times of trouble." And for many families of the working class during the latter half of the nineteenth century times were often troubled - by layoffs, strikes, short time, protracted unemployment, sickness, disability, and death. Indeed, such troubled times required not merely that helpful response be flexible but that such responsiveness be built into the ways in which families managed their resources. Apart from parents' esteem for the value of reading, writing, and arithmetic, schooling - with its own and distinctly alien sense of time and productivity did not figure easily into what John Caldwell has called the "family system of morality": the tacit, mutual understanding of family roles and obligations, which "enjoins children to work hard, demand little, and respect the authority of the old."(9)
Schooling, then, would ultimately introduce into the family wage economy a powerful new element in the socialization of children - for schooling defined and regulated childhood and youth as discrete, sequenced phases of preparation for adulthood.(10) By 1900 the minimum age of school-leaving had been raised to fourteen throughout the northeast, extending by statute the non-working, and thus, "child," status of children across the social structure. In effect, the state sponsored a middle-class version of the early life course that not only militated against the requirements of the working-class family wage economy but challenged parents' ideas about the pedagogical function of juvenile labor. Yet the story of the gradual reining-in of the school age population and of the institutionalization of an emerging middle-class life course with its emphasis upon abstract time over responsiveness to family need was much less certain and more tumultuous than appears in the long perspective of the historiography of education in the United States.
Educators during the middle of the nineteenth century had grave doubts about the commitment of working-class parents to their children's schooling that was matched by a concern - to them equally worrisome - to attract the children of the middle class to the public schools. Efforts to address each of these problems locally resulted in the "grading" of New Haven's common schools and the creation of a city-wide public school system during the 1850s,(11) in the establishment of an annual census to identify "school-age" children later in the same decade, in the state's passage of a compulsory education law in 1872, in the development of a state-wide system of enforcement of compulsory schooling between 1880 and 1900, and finally, in the complementary implementation of a program of child-worker certification by the state board of education in 1911. But historians' attention to educators' success in gathering children into the public schools by the end of the nineteenth century has overshadowed the consequent rearrangement of fundamental understandings of age and obligation between working-class parents and children - conceptions aptly summarized in the notion of timeliness.
Since the sentimentalized child was first cradled in the middle class, historians have necessarily concentrated on the middle-class experience to reconstruct the origins of "sacred" childhood.(12) Yet the question of how children's lengthening stay in school affected working-class parents' perceptions of the relationship of age to obligation in their children has received virtually no attention. While historians have documented steadily rising levels of grade attainment from the middle of the nineteenth century onward, none has linked the role of compulsory schooling to the establishment of a standardized early life course, its effect on the family wage economy, and the rise of the sentimentalized child in the working class.(13) Careful examination of local school reports during the second half of the nineteenth century, however, offer a revealing glimpse of the resistance of working-class parents to the imposition of a standardized early life course. Moreover, local documents also show that while authorities' expectations of increased levels of popular schooling rose continually during the period, the attitudes of working-class parents toward education were often fractious and thus defy easy correlation to the steady climb of grade attainment among children nationally. Continued adherence to the principle of timeliness by working-class parents, in opposition to the institutionalization of sentimentalized childhood, characterized the attendance behavior of many working-class children until the end of the century.
The expansion of popular schooling may be divided into two distinct periods after mid-century: 1852 to 1871 saw the conversion of loosely organized, ungraded common schools into a city-wide system of graded public grammar schools; 1872 to 1911 marked the passage of a compulsory education law and the development of the means to enforce it, including a rising concern with absenteeism, withdrawal rates, truancy, vagrancy, and juvenile labor - all of which were brought under control by the end of the century.(14) While the philosophical bases of grading and compulsory school attendance were complicated by aims both egalitarian and elitist, the effect of grading and compulsory education was to universalize the early life course. The mechanisms for accomplishing this were by-products, however, rather than the ultimate aim of grading and compulsory education. Yet because the standardizing effect of these mechanisms on the transition to adulthood evolved over the whole period and were overlapping, it will be necessary at points to cast both forward and backward in time to render their significance for the survival of timeliness as an organizing force in working-class family life.
"Grading" and the Advent of Public Schooling in New Haven
In 1851 almost 4,000 children were enrolled in schools of any kind in New Haven. Although total registration amounted to almost 85 percent of the city's school-age population(15) - an extraordinarily large ratio for the time - in fact, actual attendance was much lower. In the city's common schools average daily attendance was well under two-thirds of total registration.(16) A narrow majority, 2401 children, were attending the city's private and parochial schools, but this was to change beginning the following year.(17) In 1852 city school officials argued that the patronage of New Haven's middle-class parents was essential to establishing broad-based support for a publicly-financed school system and urged, in turn, that the creation of graded schools was the only means of improving schools that were widely perceived as a kind of "public charity."(18) While opponents of a graded system had argued repeatedly that sorting children by age and achievement was antiegalitarian, school officials countered successfully that grading, by raising the quality of instruction to standardized, graduated levels and thereby winning the "moral support of the community," was the only certain path to ensuring that "the children of the rich and poor will occupy contiguous desks, to the common benefit of both classes and of society at large."(19)
According to reports by educator Henry Barnard in the Connecticut Common School Journal, New Haven had captured the vital center soon after the first of its common schools, Webster, was graded. After visiting the reorganized school in 1854 Barnard observed that its establishment had elicited applications "so numerous that the [school society] committee are put to their wits' end to know what to do ... [P]arents who had before thought the public schools unfit for their children are now hastening to withdraw their children from the private schools and place them in the people's school - the common school."(20) By 1857, when a publicly financed and unified city school system began to operate, three graded schools were in existence and the remaining five "white" schools were slated for grading.(21) While Barnard's national renown as an authority on popular education made him a potent advocate of graded public schools, his assessment of the depth of demand for public education is probably a better gauge of middle-class enthusiasm than a guide to general opinion. For as New Haven educators were to discover, enlarging the enrollment of a rapidly expanding and increasingly socially-stratified, ethnically-diverse population presented a number of problems, the resolution of which were often tangled in contradiction. If the faith of middle-class parents was vital to securing necessary fiscal support, as Barnard proclaimed, the true test of efficacy in a public system lay in the ability of the schools to enroll and retain both middle- and working-class children.(22) This tension, between a demand for low-cost schools that would prepare middle-class youths for entry-level, white-collar employment and the desire to offer practical training to working-class youths while withholding increasing numbers of them from the labor market for lengthening periods of time, characterized every effort to reform the public schools in the city from 1852 until the end of the Great Depression.
Almost as soon as the first of these aims had been realized, New Haven educators turned their attention to the second, seeking to amplify the social mission of the newly-formed public school system. Whereas the common school had been, in the superintendent's own estimation, an unapologetic mechanism for social control, by the 1860s the schools' stance toward the children of the city's working class was loftier and more generous: "The old feeling that a public provision for Common school education was mainly designed to secure the community from the danger and disgrace of a population, any part of which should be wholly uneducated," he reflected in 1862, "has given place to the newer idea, that its proper end is to furnish a thorough elementary education to all youth of the community, irrespective of parental wealth or parental negligence."(23) Yet this "newer idea" set into motion a logic rooted in that "old feeling," and the institutional linchpin in this philosophical shift was attendance.
As long as the common schools were ungraded, episodic absence and even casual attendance - though detrimental to individual progress - were not institutionally disruptive. In the era before graded schools authorities tolerated, if not condoned, for example, the kind of periodic, discreet reliance on child labor by parents that elicited the matter-of-fact observation in 1852 that attendance in one of the city's subdistricts was annually hampered by the withdrawal of children during the winter season "to help in the family industry of oyster opening."(24) No doubt this kind of seasonal absence was understood in terms comparable to the familiar withdrawal of farm children from rural schools during spring planting season and the autumn harvest. Poor attendance at mid-century was not confined to working-class school children, however. It prevailed throughout city schools and was attributed by school visitors to the "extreme indulgence of parents who seemed heedless of the injurious effects upon their own offspring."(25) Among the effects of the general laxity toward attendance school visitors in the same year enumerated the following: "'few of the Schools were commenced at the same time'; 'children were permitted to leave one school and go to another, as whim or fancy dictated, thus breaking down all government and subordination'; 'children were permitted to go from the Schools of one District to those of another, without sufficient reason'; and finally, 'there was little or no discipline exercised over tardy or truant scholars.'"(26)
In the era of the ungraded common school, the individual, internalized sense of a schedule - an age-based timetable of skill acquisition, information mastery, and cognitive development - did not drive the system of promotion, nor did it reflect upon the schools' efficacy. Grading achieved both. For the schools' effectiveness in promoting groups of children through a standardized curriculum became the gauge of success in the effort to routinize graduated training for their pupils. Grading assumed a rough degree of continuity in personnel from one achievement level to the next and in effect, created the peer group.(27) In turn, the peer group operated as a social expression of the individual's internalized sense of a schedule. This developmental schedule, which became more highly articulated after the turn of the century - with the passion for standardized intelligence and achievement testing and the preoccupation with age-grade tables and "retardation" - had its origins in graded public schooling.(28)
As grading was phased in during the 1850s and 1860s, pupils competed with one another for admission to the reorganized schools. This enabled the school district, for the first time, to penalize students for inadequate attendance, and indeed, the board of education soon authorized the suspension of pupils who had accumulated more than ten unexcused absences over a term. In practice, however, the penalty was ineffective. Almost yearly in the period before compulsory schooling instances reflecting a general lack of regard for regular attendance and punctuality were recorded in the Annual Report. For even as the public schools added greater numbers of middle-class youngsters to their rolls, absenteeism and tardiness continued to nag: "If children are frequently late in their attendance," a Gradgrind-like superintendent complained in 1864,
it is because their parents attach a greater importance to something else than to school. Nothing is more common than excuses of this nature - to attend a circus, a menagerie, a fair, or a pic-nic, to go on an errand, to go out of town, to receive music lessons, to attend dancing school, to prepare for a party or, more common than all, an excuse without any reason whatever being assigned.(29)
Although nettled by the low esteem in which many parents held the use of their children's time, school officials were apparently more disturbed by the seeming intractability of parents whose material needs required children's participation in the family economy.
Paradox was the price paid for grading the public schools. For increasingly, the publics served by the city schools were two very different groups of children: those who carried excuses from parents asking teachers to pardon their child's absence to attend a picnic or dancing school and those whose parents asked no pardon at all. The more attractive the public school became for the middle class and the more educators pressed for universal elementary education, the wider the chasm that separated children of the middle and working classes within the rooms of city schools. Grading the common schools was operationally at odds with the rhythms and demands of the working-class family wage economy - a consideration only vaguely understood by educators. Although mindful that poverty prevented an indefinite number of children from enrolling in the schools or if enrolled, precipitated their withdrawal, educators often blamed parents for their poverty even as they occasionally recognized the impersonal causes of individual financial misfortune. In prosperous years parents of working children were deemed greedy and exploitative. During depressions family reliance on child labor was said to testify to parents' lack of foresight and self-discipline.
At least since the middle of the nineteenth century in the United States war and depression have been two of the most powerful levers on schooling and juvenile employment. Indeed, during the Civil War a booming economy drew many of New Haven's children out of school and into the work force. As pupils interrupted their schooling to work, absences mounted, followed by suspensions and withdrawals. By 1864 the superintendent was forced to concede that the school board's suspension policy had been unrealistically rigid, since its intent had been to encourage punctuality and attendance short of pushing children out of the schools. Absolute enforcement of the rule, he concluded, "had been found to involve occasional hardship to the children of very poor parents.... The extreme poverty which exists in cities, furnishes frequent illustration of the difficulty with which a strict rule of this kind can be complied with," for the unintended effect of suspension was that it might "do great injustice to the least fortunate among us" and turn children into the streets, who, but for "the exercise of a little good sense and feeling ... [could] ... be saved as useful members of society."(30) Yet the line between "extreme poverty" and the kind of chronic privation that caused parents to rely on their children's labor was ordinarily visible to school officials only in extraordinary times. Just a decade later, one year into what would become a lengthy economic downturn, the same school official remarked that,
As New Haven becomes more and more a manufacturing community, we add to our stable and permanent population ... [others] ... who, saving nothing when work is plenty and prices remunerative, become dependent upon ... charity the moment the factories diminish the hours of work and the numbers they employ The heedlessness and shiftlessness of ... [these parents] ... extends to their children, and makes it almost impossible for [them] to become amenable to the rules and requirements of efficient public schools.(31)
Throughout the 1860s withdrawal rates at several of the city's schools exceeded 50 percent of enrollment. Overall, close to 30 percent of children enrolled at any time during the year eventually withdrew.(32) Parents of working children sincerely wanted them to be educated, the superintendent urged, "only their desire is so feeble that it is useless to expect from them much beyond a passive acquiescence in what others may do for their children."(33) School officials' frustration at enforcing attendance in the face of such high withdrawal rates undoubtedly drew them closer to the conviction that attendance must be compulsory if a public, graded school system were to succeed.
By 1871, in anticipation of a state-sponsored compulsory education law, New Haven authorities began to consider creating a truant school to house the habitually absent and, in the superintendent's words, the "roving, idle, mischievous boys out of whom in time come the chief recruits to the criminal classes of society."(34) The mandate of compulsory education, at once coercive and altruistic, invasive and disinterested, fearful and idealistic, triangulated the interests of society, the child, and parent. Suspended between desires equally sincere - to form a literate and numerate citizenry, and to confine and supervise the unruly progeny of the "dangerous classes" - New Haven's civic leaders and educators juggled what were often conflicting philosophical and pedagogical ends, so deeply ambivalent were they over the implications of coercing parents to send their children to school. On the one hand, they regarded relations between parents and children and the authority of the parent as "more sacred than human law" and reasoned, moreover, that the preservation of personal and parental rights constituted the "foundation of a free government." On the other hand, the "natural" authority of parents could abrade the civil right of children (as defined by the state) to receive "adequate instruction," in which case it was held that the state's authority superseded that of the parent.(35) As city school officials approached endorsing compulsory schooling, however, they persuaded themselves that the state possessed a firmer conception of the child's best interests than parents in the grip of poverty.
Compulsory Schooling and Children's Utility
In 1872 the Connecticut General Assembly passed a compulsory education law requiring all children between the ages of eight and fourteen to attend school for three months of the year, six weeks of which were to be consecutive.(36) Enforcement of the statute would necessarily draw increasing numbers of "ignorant and vicious" children into city classrooms, New Haven's superintendent allowed, presenting a "practical difficulty" in fulfilling the mission of the public schools: "Two theories of public education are in constant tension," he observed,
One theory ... is that [our public schools] ... are specially and emphatically designed for the benefit of those who would otherwise grow up ignorant and vicious ... The other theory is, that the good of the great body of children is chiefly to be consulted, and that everything that detracts from the general good ... should be removed, so that even fastidious parents may find nothing of which to complain.(37)
The purpose of public schooling, he concluded, must be to embrace both ends without compromising either.
Nevertheless, the reconciliation of these two objects, it seems, was not to be obstructed so much by the school district's "fastidious parents" as by those whose children were potentially "ignorant and vicious" - a problem that the superintendent felt was becoming increasingly acute. While the relationship of the authority of the state to that of the parent, he admitted, was still confused and "far from being settled.... Every year it has become more apparent ... that parents [of unschooled children] to a considerable extent are insensible to the wrong they are permitting to be inflicted upon their offspring."(38) Behind the shield of parental authority two perils to the child were sheltered, in his estimation: parental "cupidity and carelessness" and "the excessive and growing demand for the cheapest possible labor" by employers.(39) However, whereas it was granted that employers were driven by market forces to purchase labor at its lowest price, parents of unenrolled children were perceived as deviant, ignorant, or both, in depriving their own of a "fair elementary education."(40)
In the wake of the establishment of compulsory education the former philosophical uneasiness over coerced schooling yielded to concern for the utility of children - the use of children's time. Schooling had implicitly - and traditionally - concerned itself with occupying the time of children in ways that educators considered productive. Thus, the novelty of this particular conception of utility lay in its formalism: it demanded not that children be materially useful and responsive to family need but that they learn to be not idle - to be routinely concerned with organizing and exploiting time. Schooling as a term of preparation for adulthood then was to socialize children to value time for its own sake. This vision was projected within the schools to organize children's school-day routines and also without, to define legitimate and illegitimate juvenile activities. Whereas formerly the schools lacked the apparatus to enforce registration, attendance, and punctuality, with the creation of truant schools and an array of legal tools to punish absenteeism and nonregistration, the activities of unschooled children could be scrutinized and brought under control.
In this new regime children could only lawfully be "in school" or "at work." Every alternative in between was illegitimate and testified to the official contention that parents, either in ignorance or selfish defiance, did not observe the necessity of supervising their children and structuring their time. In part this contention derived rather mechanically from the enforcement of compulsory education and the operation of a graded school system, but it had a philosophical foundation too, which, again, reflected the somewhat contradictory missions of public schooling. While the notion of utility had roots deep in the Anglo-American past, it was also inspired by nascent middle-class patterns of child-rearing, which coalesced in the northeastern United States during the 1830s and 1840s.(41) The petit-bourgeois family, Ryan has argued, imprinted on its children "values ... [such as] ... honesty, industry, frugality, temperance, and preeminently, self-control."(42) Middle-class mothers, she asserts, "conspired to equip children with sensitive consciences ... a kind of portable parent," she says, "that could stay with the child long after he left his mother's side and journeyed beyond the private sphere out into the streets and into the public world."(43) Middle-class children were the first to be submitted to the contrived regimen of a value system necessitated by the enforced idleness of sentimentalized childhood.
Complementary to this mode of socialization was an organization of the school day, which was now also directed at the other public of the public schools - future workers. In 1869 New Haven's superintendent of schools had implemented a detailed course of study designed to consolidate the advances achieved by grading.(44) This first step was followed in 1875 by a second, more elaborate plan, specifying,
what exercises were required, and the number of minutes to be devoted to each, through the day, in order to secure steady and uniform employment to both teachers and pupils. No teacher was at liberty to omit any exercises, nor introduce any other not named in the program. Instruction in Morals and Manners was, likewise, included among the duties of the teachers.(45)
Historians of labor in the industrial era have made much of the application to factory work of values like punctuality, obedience to authority, discipline, and reliability: of efforts to induce workers to internalize the apprehension of time; to inure workers, first, to labor timed by the clock, and then, in E.P. Thompson's phrase, to feel a "sense of conflict between labor and 'passing the time of day' "; and finally, to regard such wiling away of time as "wasteful and lacking in urgency."(46) In tandem, historians of education in the United States have roundly documented a movement by educators in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries to imbue working-class (and increasingly non-English speaking immigrant) children with such "workmanlike traits."(47)
Children's Utility and the Construction of Truancy
As children's utility was recast within the schools and manifested in the minute regimentation of the school day, the same impulse - a growing concern to mold and scrutinize children's activities - led to the definition of truancy and vagrancy as social problems, that is, as categories of deviance relative to school enrollment and attendance. In turn, the creation of these categories prompted an empirical accounting for the whereabouts and activities of children within the city school district, as well as a concern for juvenile "idleness." In 1873 the superintendent calculated that some 41 percent of the city's elementary school-age children were "daily outside of the rooms of the public schools, throughout the year" - a number "still too large for a city provided with the educational facilities furnished by New Haven."(48) Girls formed a disproportionate number of the unschooled in the city: 524 more girls lived in the city's school district than could be found at school or certified as working, it was reported.(49) Commenting upon the variety of ways in which these girls were thought to have occupied themselves, the superintendent noted that "The number of young girls employed in stores, and at light mechanical work in shops, is known to be large ... [and] not a few parents ... keep their children at home to assist in the work of the family, or send them out to light domestic service."(50) Whether girls unaccounted for were being kept at home or unlawfully employed is unclear. What is clear is that whether girls were at home, at work, or in school, no one appeared to notice.(51)
Boys, on the other hand, seem to have presented a vague social nuisance. Once school and civic officials adopted a unified vision of children's utility, youngsters whose activities fit uneasily into either of the sanctioned uses of their time - school or work - were viewed with decreasing tolerance: "The children most difficult to reach," commented the superintendent upon the resistance of groups of children to the city's efforts to enforce the attendance law,
are those who find occasional employment in the shops and who make this an excuse for entire non-attendance at school. They lounge around the factories, and are ever ready with the excuse that they are going to have a job next week. They are not employed, they are not at school; they are simply ready for a short job, and for quarreling, fighting, and a long play spell.(52)
Unlike girls, boys - when unoccupied or unregistered - were regarded as "naturally" given to "roam in the streets." If the city's unschooled girls were "sufferers" in the estimation of city officials for want of formal education, New Haven's vagrant and truant population was, in the words of the superintendent, an "army of boys,"
who found a pleasant excitement during school hours in watching the arrival and departure of the trains, or fishing from the wharves and docks, or playing ball in the outskirts of the city, or hanging around stables, or perching upon fences near the school houses.... (53)
Apart from the "worthy" children of the working poor who aided parents in furnishing food, clothing, and shelter, then, was this group of "neglected, untaught [and] vagrant" children. Beyond the watchful eyes of parents, teachers, and employers they formed a "street school," the superintendent cautioned, "preparing to become criminals hereafter to scourge the community and fill out prisons."(54) He might have called it a boys' school, so exclusive was the contempt reserved for the male half of the city's unenrolled and non-attending youth. No doubt some portion of these boys did take the low road of vandalism and crime to reform school. As Joseph Kett notes, with the intensification of city growth in the United States from the 1830s onward a parallel rise in juvenile delinquency occurred so that increasingly reform schools were turned into "dumping grounds for teenage felons and troublemakers.... high schools for the lower classes, with a concentration of inmates between 14 and 17."(55)
Yet the establishment of "ungraded classes"(56) in New Haven during the 1870s was undertaken as a more hopeful, intermediate institutional alternative to housing the city's truants among the hardened, older inmates of the reform school at nearby Meriden.(57) The ungraded classes - "truant schools" in effect - initially provided a mechanism for dealing with youths whose unoccupied time might eventually land them in trouble. Moreover, in officials' eyes truant schools had the added virtue of imparting a proper appreciation for the use of time. Some boys, offered the superintendent, "gladly embraced" the ungraded classroom, as the "opportunity thus offered to improve them" otherwise would have been "wasted while waiting for work."(58) While school officials eventually concluded that segregating the city's entire population of truants in one or two buildings had simply reinforced their distaste for schooling, at first it was seen as a workable means of disciplining pupils whose irregular attendance was considered so disruptive to the conduct of the graded classrooms.
Truants would gain increased attention as the end of the century neared and the city enlarged its staff of school census-takers and added a second truant officer. Certainly some portion of truant youngsters simply rebelled against the rigor and confinement of school or employment, but it is likely too that some other part of this group were casual workers who tread a path between school and work as family need required. Although truancy declined markedly as the century turned, evidence of youths' lingering persistence in this pattern can be found in the large numbers of students kept back for lack of progress in the course of study during the 1890s.(59) These so-called "laggards" filled the lower grades of the elementary schools, biding their time until they reached legal working age, forsaking the classroom periodically as the opportunity to earn beckoned.(60)
A seminal motive for compulsory schooling in Connecticut seems to have been a deepening concern with the "roving, idle, mischievous boys" whose presence on city streets rose numerically if not in proportion to the doubling of New Haven's population between 1870 and 1900. While the ratio of school-age children in the city not in school declined slowly during this period, their numbers increased absolutely. Moreover, this increase was magnified by the influx of Italian immigrants, whose children were increasingly to supplant Irish and Yankee working-class children in the juvenile workforce.(61) Hugh Cunningham observes of England, in a parallel vein, that it was not an overwhelming sense of pity for the welfare of working children that inspired compulsory schooling in that country during the same period but rather, "concern to structure the time of the idle ... for, in the long term, it was the unemployment of children as much as their exploitation within labour which was a matter of concern to those in authority."(62) Similarly, in Connecticut, a rising desire to structure and monitor the use of children's time underlay the establishment of universal elementary schooling during the late-nineteenth century.
Truancy, "Idleness," and the Juvenile Job Market
One class's "social problem" is often another's bread and butter: Truancy and vagrancy emblematized an entire range of behaviors between work and school. Much of the "idleness" uncovered among the city's children as school officials began to press the truancy law, then, was a consequence of interrupted employment. Regardless of whether a child participated partially or fully in the sphere of wage earning or alternated between school and work, underemployment and unemployment punctuated the experience of all who entered the most marginal of nineteenth-century labor markets - the juvenile labor market.(63)
Indeed, work shortages were as much a fact of life for minors as for adults in nineteenth-century America.(64) High levels of child underemployment and unemployment were symptomatic of the general abundance of labor that characterized the growth of cities in the era of industrialization, a problem compounded by the frequency of financial panics spawned by fits of economic expansion and contraction.(65) In the hierarchy of wage-earning workers, children and youths were lowest and most expendable. Alexander Keyssar finds that while the "incidence of joblessness during depressions was always checkered, erratic, variegated," falling differently on different groups in different depressions, workers below age twenty were the unhappy exception, consistently suffering the highest rates of unemployment in economic downturns.(66) The Panic of 1873 caused not only widespread unemployment but a long-term depression of wages as well - a deficit from which workers would only begin to recover by the end of the century. And, of course, there were two intervening depressions (1882-85; 1893-96). In fact, between 1870 and 1900, sixteen years were depression years. This period moreover was one in which the standard of living of the U.S. working class relative to the middle and upper classes declined significantly.(67)
Still, the economic reverses of the late nineteenth century were not the only threats to juvenile employment: young workers were as vulnerable to wage-rate cutting and peer competition as their adult counterparts in the labor market. As one labor observer commented,
as the boy often will work for half the price that the boy of fifteen expects, the small boy who should be at school gets the job, while the large boy thinks something should be done to check excessive competition.(68)
Again, to cite a parallel example in mid-nineteenth-century England, wide regional variation in employment levels and in employability characterized juvenile labor with the onset of industrialization.(69) Although some communities in certain areas compelled schooling through age fourteen, in most of England during the nineteenth century the employability of children turned on factors ranging from the extensiveness of factory work (associated with cities) to the degree and kind of agricultural production conducted in more agrarian provinces. Both gender and age determined the amount and type of work available to children. Generally, in industrial towns and in cities, children under ten (and within this group, especially girls) found little work, while children fourteen and over were commonly employed. Additionally, there was less work in winter than in summer.(70) New Haven, the most populous city in one of the most industrialized states in the nation during the late nineteenth century, apparently offered circumstances for juvenile employment after the Civil War comparable to those described by Cunningham and Smelser for England's industrial cities.
While the dimensions of child employment and joblessness in Connecticut are nearly impossible to gauge for the nineteenth century, the seasonal nature of much of child labor noted by Cunningham would appear to apply to employment conditions for juveniles in New Haven as well.(71) Typically, historians have contrasted the seasonality of rural child labor with the steadier employment of urban youths.(72) The contrast, however, distorts the difference. In part this distortion stems from the comparison of rural and urban school enrollment rates. Rural children typically enrolled in higher proportions than urban youths but attended school less regularly than urban pupils. This fact is often associated with the seasonal demand for child labor in agriculture and the readiness to allow children to withdraw from school temporarily while remaining officially enrolled.(73) Urban youths, forced to choose between work and school, chose work in greater proportions than rural children (i.e., child agricultural workers did not have to choose, but routinely enrolled in school and worked). Therefore, many urban youths counted neither as "in school" nor "at work" were actually working, though episodically, when work was available, or as their families required. Many industries had periods of intensive activity requiring numerous casual laborers, often children, followed by slack times in which the hours of the regular work force were reduced and casual labor was laid off entirely.(74) Most industries routinely had peak times lasting from two to three months once or even twice a year, followed by periods of predictable slackening. While production peaks and valleys varied by industry, factories generally reached their annual troughs between December and February.(75) Coincidentally, the annual school census was conducted in New Haven precisely when employment for "secondary" workers - like children - was at low ebb. While this factor had slight bearing on the total number of children enrolling in New Haven's schools, it helps to explain the large fraction of unenrolled children whose status was recorded as neither "in school" nor "at work."
Within this group, additionally, some portion of working children may have been unaccounted for by the school census takers (again, difficult to estimate), since they labored for and were paid by their fathers rather than by an employer, as one japanner reported:
I receive two different prices for day work.... The higher rate is paid me for work which requires more skill.... My son, when he works by the piece is simply working for me, on work I do by the piece, although he has some other work he does by the piece.... My son receives 15 cents per hour, when he works for the company.(76)
This practice, working for a parent at a discounted or unremunerated rate, was a vestige of the early phase of factory production. While this japanner's son was serving a form of apprenticeship under his father and may in fact have appeared on the rolls of the employed, it takes little imagination to picture children working for parents in the way described above, who thus evaded enumeration of any kind by census takers.(77)
An agent of the New Haven Board of Education in the 1870s attributed the failure of enforcement to the complicity of manufacturers willing to look the other way while work was jobbed out to the lowest bidder, often a "subletter" employing child workers:
the actual employer of the boy is often not the manufacturer or his responsible agent. Contractors engage to do certain kinds of work at a given price, and they employ whom they please. Naturally the contractor is desirous of doing his work as cheaply as possible ... When complaint is made to the manufacturer, that boys are employed in his factory contrary to law, he says that he does not employ any boys, and cannot control the action of his contractors.(78)
Parents, according to official accounts, were only too willing to deceive, or even to threaten, employers in the hope of obtaining work for their children - pressuring them to hire unschooled children or forgo the services of all other family members.(79) Even much later, well into the twentieth century with the subsequent passage of a child labor legislation, enforcement was notoriously difficult and particularly so during depressions. For while most children were pushed into the schools for lack of opportunity, the most desperate among them - those whose older relations were chronically unemployed, crippled or infirm - remained in the work force with the consent of "benevolent" employers.(80)
While enrollment levels climbed from 1850 onward and the duration of schooling for children across class converged, actual attendance from the mid-nineteenth century until the 1890s was less impressive and diluted the significance of both school-going and school-leaving for children whose families required material assistance. In 1871-72, for instance, 881 juveniles between the ages of five and fifteen, just 8 percent of the school-age population, were reported by parents to school census takers as being "at work," yet the schools' effectiveness in their own estimation was being compromised by the nominal participation of a sizable group of registered casual attenders. "Of those whose names are enrolled members," the superintendent observed,
some are present only a few days or a few weeks of the entire year; so that if we find the difference between the average number belonging and the whole number enrolled, it will appear that about fifteen percent of the latter are merely nominal attendants, coming and going; seldom remaining long enough anywhere to gain much good; more frequently proving detrimental to every room they enter.(81)
His concern on this score was justified as the gap between total enrollment and average enrollment by the early 1870s widened after eight years of rough correspondence.(82) From 1873 to 1893 the broad disparity between total and average enrollments remained consistent. Despite a steady and impressive overall growth in total registration during these two decades, total and average registration diverged from between 21 percent to 34 percent annually.
Other indicators similarly point to attendance problems until the turn of the century. Of even greater concern, however, were the large numbers of students who withdrew from the schools during the year. Unfortunately, statistics for this group were recorded for just seven years, from 1870 to 1876, but they are highly revealing nonetheless. In 1870, just two years before the start of compulsory schooling, 3,196 children withdrew from the public schools. This group comprised almost half of all registered public school children in that year. In 1873, the situation appeared only a little better considering that compulsory attendance had just gone into effect: one-third of those enrolled at the year's beginning had left before the schools let out for the summer. Three years later 3,866 children (again, more than a third of those registered) withdrew, and almost as many, 3,577, had not registered in any school that year.
Despite wide recognition of employment as an alternative to schooling in this period, the enumeration of children employed was sporadic. From 1850 to 1900 the number of school-age children officially counted as being "at work" was recorded only six times. Still, these figures yield some notable contrasts. The first four entries cover the years from 1866 to 1876. During this period the fraction of children officially "at work" to the total population of school-age of children ranged from 7 percent to 15 percent. By contrast, in 1890 just 307 children were reported by parents as working (225 in 1891), which was less than 2 percent of all school-age children in New Haven in that year. Since school officials no longer recorded the number of children withdrawing annually after 1876, it is impossible to know if the number of withdrawers moved downward with the decline in children "at work."
Finally, if children unaccounted for were in fact the under- and unemployed, truants - numbered among the city's registered school children - formed another significant if nebulous group whose activities shuttled between school and casual employment. If the experience of the Great Depression (the first period for which we have detailed statistics on juvenile unemployment) provides any index of the relative severity of juvenile unemployment during previous economic crises, then a good deal of truancy and vagrancy may be accounted for by the mounting economic woes of the 1870s and 1880s. As we have already seen, the number of truancy cases spiked during the 1870s, reaching a high of 1,810 in 1876 (nearly one-quarter of average enrollment in that year), retreated during the 1880s and ascended again during the depression of 1893-96. As much as any other group among children under fourteen, their school-going hinged on the availability of work. During depressions they seem to have been steadier in attendance. When the economy rebounded they stepped out to work. Thus in 1880, for example, as the Panic of 1873 receded the superintendent complained that "progress had been slowed" that year by the "withdrawal of scholars to engage in employments which the increase in business activity created. Many pupils have been tempted to leave school temporarily, and on their return have found themselves behind in their classes."(83) In his report the following year he noted the tendency of many children, excused from school because of some "family contagion," to extend their absence. "In many cases," he surmised, "it was quite obvious that the child quite enjoyed a little vacation thus obtained and was in no special haste to return to the school." Yet "too often," he concluded,
Parents were not unwilling to prolong the time when some little service could be performed, or small earnings secured. Thus the tendency to undervalue the importance of regular attendance increased in the mind of both parent and pupil.(84)
It was not until 1890 that an agent of the State Board of Education was sent to ascertain the degree of parental compliance with the compulsory attendance statute in the city that was home to one-ninth of the state's school-age children. During his brief stay he discovered 147 cases of "neglect" in New Haven, resulting in twelve prosecutions.(85) This initiated a more systematic campaign by the city board of education to apprehend truant youths, producing official annual counts approaching 1,000 wayward youngsters during the middle years of the decade.(86) Thus, while the scale of juvenile employment in New Haven was not comparable to that of the mill towns of northern New England earlier in the century, the diversity of the city's industrial and commercial base seems to have enabled juveniles to find work when necessary or desirable in the many small shops and factories that sprang up during the city's golden age of economic expansion. Yet, again, the work itself was often temporary or broken by both predictable and unanticipated layoffs.
School-Leaving and the "Working Age"
School-leaving, the measurement of which historically has been made possible by U.S. federal censuses since 1840, has served as a convenient index of the length of children's formal preparation for adulthood - the point of departure for a series of transitions leading to family formation. But school-leaving for working-class youngsters represented a more superficial than meaningful passage into the work force. Census-derived statistics on the enrollment status of children during the nineteenth century can tell us only the point at which a child had finally left school. They are silent upon the most familiar feature of working-class school-going: episodic withdrawal from school in response to family need. Indeed, in the context of family obligations compulsory schooling was inconsistent with the outlook of working-class parents and youths - an outlook which reflected not simply by the "in-school" or "at-work" status registered in the federal censuses but rather, in a more heterogeneous set of responses that included irregular attendance, nonenrollment, nonattendance, and part-time and episodic employment, in addition to enrollment and full-time employment. The persistence of these behaviors - even as the enforcement of compulsory schooling threatened them - signifies family strategies that incorporated a notion of the early life course distinct from that prescribed by the law and practiced by the children of middle-class families in New Haven. It was a conception of childhood and youth that interpolated learning and earning. If the hallmark of childhood is dependence, then "youth" for many children of working-class parents began where opportunity to work first presented itself. Therefore, employability in good measure set the perimeter between childhood and youth in the family wage economy.
Employability, from one side, was constituted by the demand for labor and by constraints on this demand stemming from the enforcement of compulsory schooling. From the other side, childhood as a dependent status in working-class families was bounded by the child's developing mental and physical capacities, a sense of mutual obligation between parents and children, and the interplay of family need with the opportunity to earn income. While the earnings of a male breadwinner determined the kind and degree of demands placed upon children, so too did a child's gender, birth order, and the family's procession through the family cycle.(87) Whatever form children's contributions took, the lesson of their labors also figured into parental regard for the purpose of children's work: the collective nature of effort within the family group and the cultivation of responsiveness to family needs were the principal objects of their instruction in life's enduring values.
Officially, of course, the "working age" was set by statute at fourteen, but school authorities recognized that the lower end of the working-age threshold was around eleven: "Few children can earn anything before they are eleven," remarked the superintendent in 1871, for,
up to the period when a child's time has a money value, many motives act upon both child and parent ... to induce a tolerably regular attendance. It is so convenient for ... [extremely poor] mothers to get rid of children for a few hours daily, that very little urgency is ... needed to induce them to send their offspring to school.(88)
If the tone of this assessment sounds unduly skeptical it was, nonetheless, not far off the mark. While the "warehousing" function of public schools has long been acknowledged in the historiography of education in the United States, there is little doubt that many parents were anxious to take advantage of the schools' services so long as they did not restrict children's earning potential at inopportune moments.
As the child was transformed into a potential earner, school, by occupying time that might be spent by the child working or looking for work, deprived the family of needed or desired income. Every month beyond the age of compulsory school attendance invited parents to weigh the value of school against the cost of nonemployment. As the child became employable, time spent in school proved a liability. This much becomes evident when we examine the decided drift of children out of the schools in the months after age thirteen. "Up to about twelve years old the public schools may count upon nearly undiminished numbers," observed the superintendent in 1870,
From twelve to thirteen a small percentage drop off. From thirteen to fourteen a very large number leave, and when a boy is fourteen, few parents in straitened circumstances will continue him at school if he can earn from three to five dollars a week by easy labor.(89)
Even this portrait fails to convey how variable attrition, and how sensitive juvenile employment, were to swings in the economy, however. In 1866, for instance, almost 10 percent of children enrolled in the schools at age nine had left by age ten. The proportion of ten year olds leaving by age eleven rose to about 17 percent, and those leaving between ages twelve and thirteen constituted almost one-third of those who had been in the public schools at age nine. In 1873, on the other hand, the schools retained their hold on each age cohort up to years thirteen and fourteen, at which point enrollment (as indicated above) fell precipitously. While it is tempting to attribute this new-found persistence to the compulsory education law, we find that three years later, as the economy continued its long slumber, the former pattern reasserted itself and the schools lost on average from five to ten percent of each age cohort between the ages of nine and fourteen.
The effectiveness of compulsory education after the turn of the century, however, is evident in the continuation rates for New Haven's school children at two intervals thirty years apart. In 1878, 7 percent of children between the ages of ten and eleven left school. By age twelve 18 percent of those who had been enrolled at age ten had exited, and by thirteen fully 36 percent had left school. In 1908, however, virtually no children left school until the age of fourteen, after which point attrition accelerated rapidly.(90)
"Cornering the Necessaries of Life"
While the degree of reliance by parents on the earnings of children ranged from routine to episodic, monthly reports solicited from an array of Connecticut workers in 1887 suggest just how unremarkable were parents' expectations that children would help redress family expenditures.(91) Among those who reported sending children out to work, debt, the difficulty of "cornering the necessaries of life," and inadequate clothing, in particular, were mentioned most often as sources of anguish and embarrassment. Most in this group also stressed the significance of children's income to family subsistence or to the provision of whatever small margin of comfort workers had achieved. Almost without exception workers with or without children complained of slack time, unemployment, and declining rates for piece work as the most nagging problems of the 1870s and 1880s. Typical was a tinsmith's description of the clash between impersonal economic forces and the vagaries of family life:
If I had always had steady work, I could have managed to live on my wages, but ... slack time, sickness, death, and trouble was the cause of my being deeply in debt, from which condition I could never have extricated myself but for the help of my sons. About three years ago my wages were reduced ten per cent, a new baby was born, and I was factorized. I am still compelled to buy on credit.... I hope that in the near future, with the assistance of my boys, I will be able to pay cash for what I purchase.(92)
Several of the accounts combine expressions of pride, anxiety, and shame over the struggle to balance family hands to mouths. "By strict economy and sobriety I have saved a little even when my pay was small," declares a laborer, but he adds with a note of caution, "My girls' work is precarious lately." A brass finisher says, "Our expenses in some months are more than [reported here] ... but we manage to put aside $4.00 a week that my boy earns and live on what my wife and I earn monthly."(93) A saddler, pointing to lost time, is ensnared by debt, shame, and hurt:
I got into debt ... [and] ... have made myself and family miserable on account of it.... When I have a spare dollar I pay it out to reduce the principal, though my wife and family are not even dressed decently enough to take the air in the streets, or to go to church or social gatherings. It is hard to keep my children decently covered to attend school.... I can stand it as far as I am concerned, but it is painful to me to see my family deprived of decent clothing, and confined and shut up in the house like prisoners in jail.(94)
All of the reports resound with the judgment that conditions beyond the individual's control had constrained the options available to many working-class families to deal with unsteady work and poor pay. Still, there are occasional and revealing glimpses of how they thought about the narrow choices that confronted them: "You will see that I have two boys old enough to work," says a watchman, "but I will not let them work for fifty cents a day so long as I can take care of them."(95)
Most striking in this worker's testimony is the recognition of some socially-recognized age level (here unspecified) at which boys would earn their keep, that as family breadwinner he chose to purchase his sons' idleness, and that he held a notion of the worth of his sons' labor which caused him to spare them and himself the quiet humiliation of sending them out to work at any price. Rather than subverting the lesson of family collectivity, perhaps he regarded witholding their labor as an embellishment: teaching his sons the importance of maintaining self-respect in the sale of one's labor. This too was a lesson to be learned in the world of work. But notice, as well, that he says nothing of school. There is no direct and necessary link in his mind between work and school. He does not even offer in defense of his decision a desire to keep his boys in school instead. Finally, in all of this there is a terse mingling of sentiment and calculation that belies the way historians usually approach family decision-making - a combination that is key to understanding the dynamics of working-class family life during the latter half of the nineteenth century.(96)
Even though most working-class parents did not send their children out to work as soon as the market permitted, the fact that a significant minority did indicates that for many families formalized learning and juvenile "dependency" were contingent upon family need. In all of this we can glimpse a conception of the life course in working-class families differing from that of the middle class and the schools. While enrollment levels climbed impressively from 1850 onward, and while the average duration of schooling across class converged as well, actual attendance from the mid-nineteenth century until the 1890s was distinctly less impressive. For throughout this period, children of working-class parents continued to drift in and out of the work force in response to family need. This reduces the salience of school-going as a frame for children's socialization and dilutes the significance of school-leaving as a threshold between childhood and youth in the U.S. working class until the very end of the nineteenth century. In this light, the enforced idleness of working-class school-age children assumes a certain literalness that was not lost on parents. If we were to formulate something like a working-class conception of youth as a period of preparation for the responsibilities of a working-class adulthood from 1850 to 1900, a complementary conception of "training" might consist precisely of the kind of movement into and out of the work force that occurred - the type of training that inculcated a proper sense of responsibility to family as well as an appropriate responsiveness to wage-earning opportunity. Thus training for working-class sons and daughters was, properly, preparation for a lifetime of getting a living.
At the beginning of the twentieth century the demand for child labor declined precipitously. Mechanization in many branches of industry and the advent of Taylorism not only led to the deskilling of highly-trained adult male workers but reduced the number of unskilled, menial tasks that traditionally underlay juvenile employment.(97) In effect, compulsory schooling had initiated the "enclosure" of the juvenile labor market in Connecticut after the turn of the century - a campaign to constrict the employment of children and youths and defer their entry into the work force.(98)
By 1900 no Thomas Gradgrinds were needed to exhort their own or others' children to abstain from the "wonder, idleness and folly" of the passing circus, or even the more mundane temptations of railyards, stables, ballfields, schoolhouse fences, and wharves. Significantly, school-leaving and work force entry defined the boundary between childhood and youth in a meaningful way for the first time, since mechanisms like child accounting, grading, standardized testing, and the apprehension of truant children had finally been made to work together effectively. Childhood then, as a discrete phase of dependence and socialization was progressively an institutionally-mediated stage of life as greater numbers of children entered the classroom, were exposed to an increasingly standardized curriculum, and remained to age fourteen.(99) Thus, even if the conception of children's utility championed in late-nineteenth-century classrooms was not "gladly embraced" by children who formerly would have been responding in timely fashion to the demands of family need, structurally at least, the upper threshold of childhood was regulated as this early life course stage became an increasingly similar experience for children of the middle and working classes by the century's end.
Calhoun College Dean's Office P.O. Box 209127 New Haven, Connecticut 06520-9127
1. In 1851 in New Haven (the first year for which data are available) there were 4,711 children between the ages of five and sixteen, 3,992 of whom (85%) were registered in some school for some part of the year; in 1900 there were 22,741 children ages 6-15, 17,954 of whom were in public and nonpublic schools (85%). While the ratio of enrolled to total children enumerated was (remarkably) identical for both years, I will argue that the consistency of exposure to the school curriculum was dramatically higher in 1900 than was actually the case at mid-century; New Haven, Conn. New Haven Board of Education, Annual Report, 1857-1900 (Hereafter, Annual Report); and Louise G. Wrinn, "The Development of the Public School System in New Haven, 1639-1930: A Problem in Historical Research" (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1933). Specific dates of enactment of compulsory education laws by state can be found in John G. Richardson, "Variation in Date of Enactment of Compulsory School Attendance Laws: An Empirical Inquiry," Sociology of Education 53 (July 1980): 157.
2. The classic portrait of this movement, to which so many others have added modeling and highlight is of course, Philippe Aries, Centuries of Childhood: A Social History of Family Life, trans. Robert Baldick (New York, 1962).
3. "Life course" refers to the timing of life transitions (such as the passage from childhood to youth, from youth to adulthood, from adulthood to senescence) of individuals in historical time; See Glen H. Elder, Jr., "Family History and the Life Course," in Tamara Hareven, ed., Transitions: The Family and the Life Course in Historical Perspective (New York, 1978), 17-64.
4. New Haven in 1860 was a medium-size city, comparable in population to Richmond, Cleveland, Troy, and Lowell. While it was 25 percent larger than Hartford, Connecticut's capital, on the eve of the Civil War, by the end of the century New Haven, Hartford, and Bridgeport were all roughly the same size. As a medium-size city in one of the most heavily-industrialized states in the nation, New Haven makes a stronger case for representing the "average" social-historical experience than do better-studied metropolitan areas like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Boston. On the growth of U.S. urban centers during the mid-nineteenth century see, Allan Pred, Urban Growth and City-Systems in the United States, 1840-1860 (Cambridge, MA, 1980), 12-13, table 2.1.
5. See, e.g., Mary P. Ryan, Cradle of the Middle Class: The Family in Oneida County, New York, 1790-1865 (New York, 1981); Richard Sennett, Families Against the City: Middle Class Homes of Industrial Chicago, 1872-1890 (Cambridge, M.A, 1970); Christopher Lasch, "The Emotions of Family Life," New York Review of Books 20 (27 November 1975): 37-42; Stephanie Coontz, The Social Origins of Private Life: A History of American Families, 1600-1900 (London, 1988), chaps. 5-6; Richard H. Brodhead, "Sparing the Rod: Discipline and Fiction in Antebellum America" Representations 21 (Winter 1988): 67-96.
6. E. Anthony Rotundo aptly captures the idea of "semiautonomy" among middle-class boys during the latter half of the nineteenth century in describing the great stretches of time that boys had to roam from the confines of home while their sisters were kept indoors to help around the house. And Michael Katz documents the custom of older adolescents and youths letting rooms from middle-class families while working away from home for periods of time. See E. Anthony Rotundo, "Boy Culture: Middle-Class Boyhood in Nineteenth-Century America," in Mark C. Carnes and Clyde Griffen, eds., Meanings for Manhood: Constructions of Masculinity in Victorian America (Chicago, 1990), 15-36; Michael B. Katz, The People of Hamilton, Canada West: Family and Class in a Mid-Nineteenth-Century City (Cambridge, MA, 1975), chap 5.
7. Ryan, Cradle, 161-62; "An education appropriate to acquiring the proper sensibility," according to Ryan, "was infused ... with the spirit of ... a cautious, prudent small businessman"; Ibid., 161.
8. John Modell, Frank F. Furstenberg, Jr., and Theodore Hershberg, "Social Change and Transitions to Adulthood in Historical Perspective," in T. Hershberg, ed., Philadelphia: Work, Space, and Group Experience in the 19th Century (New York, 1981), 336.
9. John C. Caldwell, "Mass Education as a Determinant of the Timing of Fertility Decline," Population and Development Review 6 (June 1980): 235, 226.
10. "Adolescence," which would become a part of the emerging developmental view of children by psychologists and educators, received widespread official recognition only after the turn of the century; see Joseph F. Kett, Rites of Passage: Adolescence in America, 1790 to the Present (New York, 1977); on the history of the life course, see Modell, et al., "Social Change and Transitions."
11. "Grading," the sorting of children by age and aptitude into grades, ensured a standard, graduated curriculum and thus predictable levels of competence and skill which in turn certified pupils' employability upon completion of grammar school or alternatively, preparation for higher levels of schooling.
12. See, e.g., Ryan, Cradle. On "sacred" childhood or the "sacralization" of children, see Viviana A. Zelizer, Pricing the Priceless Child: The Changing Social Value of Children (New York, 1985).
13. Instead, the sentimentalization of children across class has merely been assumed; but see Zelizer, who finds traces of its assimilation by the U.S. working class at the end of the nineteenth century; Zelizer, Pricing the Priceless Child.
14. In addition, a public high school was formed in 1856; Annual Report, 1857-1932; Helen L. Sumner and Ethel E. Hanks, Administration of Child Labor Laws, Part I: Administration of the Employment-Certificate Records in Connecticut, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Children's Bureau (Washington, D.C., 1915).
15. The "school age" was defined by the New Haven Board of Education as between the ages of four and sixteen; later this was revised upward to five and sixteen; Annual Report, 1857.
16. Even the city's most popular common school was estimated to have only about 66 percent of enrolled children in attendance daily, but that was considered exceptional by school visitors; Wrinn, 74.
17. Presumably the private schools were better attended, since parents paid for their children's enrollment; nevertheless, it is impossible to know how well they were attended because no attendance records survive. Between 1850 and 1900 the proportion of private and parochial students in New Haven contracted markedly. From 1851 to 1866 (years for which registration data happen to be available for both public and nonpublic enrollments) nonpublic school enrollment increased by just 5 percent while public school registrations swelled by 147 percent, translating to a net decline of 34 percent in nonpublic registrations as a share of total enrollment in New Haven. 1851 is the year before the first of the common schools was graded and 1866 the last year before compulsory schooling for which there is an enumeration of nonpublic school enrollment. Between 1850 and 1870 the city's population increased by 150 percent, while the number of school-age children (age 5-16) increased by 70 percent. Even as the city s total population continued to expand (at a rate of between 22 and 37 percent per decade until 1920), after 1870 the growth of school-age children outpaced that of the total population, registering increases of between 30 percent and 40 percent in each decade, save the 1890s, which saw the arrival of so many adult immigrants from Italy, Russia, and Poland. Meanwhile, New Haven's ten common schools of 1850 had grown to more than forty schools by 1900. Thereafter, the nonpublic school share of school-age children declined to less than 15 percent, settling at between 11 to 14 percent annually until 1930; see Stephen A Lassonde, "Learning to Forget: Schooling and Family Life in New Haven's Working Class, 1870-1940," (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1994), table 1 Appendix B; on the problem of estimating private grammar school enrollment and attendance in the nineteenth century see Ibid., Appendix A.
18. New Haven, Conn., "Report Respecting a High School," Report of the First School Society of the special Committee to Consider the Subject of a High School (New Haven, 1852), 3-4. The description of the city's common schools as a "public charity" is attributed to Henry Barnard, who also underscored the necessity of middle-class support to a viable public school system; see Henry Barnard, Connecticut Common School Journal (hereafter CCSJ) (1856): 67, quoted by Wrinn, 98. As a consequence of their inferiority, Barnard noted, 'The children of the wealthy never saw the inside of a public school." Ibid. The argument for graded schools can be found in the "Report of the Board of School Visitors," Report of the First School Society, 3-22.
19. Barnard, CCSJ (1854): 106, and Ibid. (1856): 67, quoted by Wrinn, 94, 98; and "Report of the Board of School Visitors," 22.
20. Barnard, CCSJ (1854): 106, quoted by Wrinn, 94. Wrinn comments that before the 1850s virtually no one in New Haven's common schools remained beyond age twelve: "[W]hen scholars reached the age when 'they began to feel the strong promptings of self-respect, and a laudable pride and ambition,'" they entered the city's private schools. After the Webster school was graded it was pointed out "with some pride" that there were 128 pupils over age twelve, "a larger number of pupils of this age than any other public school in the city boasted." Wrinn, 99; quotation by Wrinn is from New Haven School Reports, 1850-1860 (New Haven, 1863), 12. Even if Barnard's partisan account was overdrawn, school census figures bear him out, see note 18, above.
21. There were, additionally, three ungraded "African" schools for African-American children, which remained ungraded until they were integrated into the city school system during the 1870s.
22. Barnard, CCSJ (1854): 106, quoted by Wrinn, 94; and see Edith Nye MacMullen, In the Cause of True Education: Henry Barnard & Nineteenth-Century School Reform (New Haven, 1991), 123-24.
23. Annual Report, 1862, 2.
24. New Haven, Conn., New Haven School Reports (New Haven, 1852), 18.
25. Quoted by Wrinn, 88.
26. Quoted by Wrinn, from New Haven School Reports, 1850-1860 (New Haven, 1850), 10.
27. There is nothing self-evident about the relation between grading and the necessity for a rough continuity of personnel from grade to grade. The relation becomes clear, however, when significant portions of students in any grade fail to be promoted to the next level. Soon they begin to accumulate at the lower levels, become individually demoralized about the prospect of mastering material "appropriate" to their chronological ages and ultimately become a drag on the system: by glutting classrooms they reveal the shortcomings of the schools effort to educate and appear to reflect on the adequacy of the institution.
28. The sequencing and timing of transitions since the early twentieth century is explored by Modell in his into One's Own: From Youth to Adulthood in the United States, 1920-1975 (Berkeley, 1989); a broad comparison between the late-nineteenth and late-twentieth century transitions to adulthood is made by Modell et al., in "Social Change," 311-41; see also Dennis P. Hogan, Transitions and Social Change: The Early Lives of American Men (New York, 1981). The degree to which a child was considered "behind" in his or her developmental progression was referred to as grade "retardation.": "A 'retarded' pupil ... is one who is 2 or more years older than the normal age for his grade," William Dillingham, Reports of the Immigration Commission: The Children of Immigrants in Schools 29 (New York, 1970) [reprint of 1911 edition], 31. Tyack dates the emergence of "educational science" to about 1911, but he acknowledges the emergence of some of these practices as early as 1890, when he detects "a very rapid increase in the machinery of compulsion and the structural differentiation of the schools.... "David B. Tyack, "Ways of Seeing: An Essay on the History of Compulsory Schooling," Harvard Educational Review 46 (August 1976): 374. If he is correct, the New Haven school system was precocious in this respect, conducting its first school census in 1857.
29. Annual Report, 1864, 21.
30. Ibid., 20.
31. Ibid., 1874, 6-7.
32. Ibid., 1860-1870.
33. Ibid., 1874, 6.
34. Ibid., 1871, 10.
35. Ibid., 20-1.
36. The full text of the 1872 statute is in State of Connecticut, The General Statutes of the State of Connecticut, Revision of 1875 (Hartford, 1874), 126-27. Although it was ruled by amendment in 1885 that a fine was to be levied on any parent or employer in violation of the law, the penalty would not be applied "when it appears that the child is destitute of clothing suitable for attending school, and the parent or person having control of such child is unable to provide such clothing." Annual Report, 1886, 22. Further, the original statute stipulated the subjects to be learned and declared that any child under fourteen temporarily out of work should be returned to school until the time he or she could be reemployed. This provision, however, never amounted to more than a stem admonition. Even after more effective monitoring of child labor and education was achieved in 1911, the school districts had great difficulty in reabsorbing children; Sumner and Hanks, Administration of Child Labor Laws.
37. Annual Report, 1871, 7.
38. Ibid., 20-1.
39. Ibid., 1872, 8-9.
40. On the relative culpability of parents and businessmen in this respect, see Annual Report, 1872, 10-11; and State of Connecticut, "Education and Employment of Young Persons and Children," Connecticut Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1st Annual Report, 1873, 61-2. Apparently this bias persisted even as enforcement of the compulsory education law was intensified. In 1890 the superintendent commented, "Employers don't want to break the law; ignorance and carelessness account for most violations.... "Annual Report, 1890, 25-6.
41. See, e.g., E. P. Thompson, "Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism," Past and Present, no. 38 (December 1967): 87; and Daniel T. Rogers, The Work Ethic in Industrial America, 1850-1920 (Chicago, 1978), Introduction, chap. 1.
42. Ryan, Cradle, 161.
44. Since 1856, the superintendent observed, "a long list of studies was named which might be taught, but pupils could never look forward to ascertain ... when they could take up any particular branches [of study], nor whether they could ever study them, however long they might remain, because no definite, regular course of study had ever been prescribed;" Annual Report, 1869, 37.
45. Ibid., 1875, 88.
46. Thompson, "Time, Work-Discipline," 60; U.S. labor historians have fully amplified Thompson's insight; to cite only the most outstanding examples, Herbert G. Gutman, Work, Culture and Society in Industrializing America: Essays in American Working-Class and Social History (New York, 1976), chap. 1; and David Montgomery, Workers' Control in America; Studies in the History of Work, Technology, and Labor Struggles (New York, 1979). For a useful critique of this literature, see Daniel T. Rogers, "Tradition, Modernity, and the American industrial Worker: Reflections and Critique," Journal of Interdisciplinary History VII (Spring 1977): 655-81.
47. Tyack, "Ways of Seeing," 382; see also Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life (New York, 1976), chaps. 2, 4, 5, 7, 9; David Nasaw, Schooled to Order: A Social History of Public Schooling in America (New York, 1979), chap. 9; and Ira Katznelson and Margaret Weir, Schooling for All: Class, Race, and the Decline of the Democratic Ideal (New York, 1985), chap. 6.
48. Annual Report, 1873, 29.
49. "[B]etween the ages of 5 and 18, [the U.S. census of 1870] reports an excess of 224 females over males [in New Haven]. Now the deficiency in the schools - 300 - and the excess - 224 - give a total of some 500 female children not attending the public schools." Ibid., 28-9.
51. It is unclear whether girls or boys, in general, received more education, although among those who persisted in school, girls predominated: "In a community whose leading industry calls for the work of boys rather than girls," observed the superintendent in 1870, "the latter will be kept at school for a longer period.... there is a very great preponderance of girls in the most advanced rooms of the [schools].... "Annual Report, 1870, 15. The perception of girls' truancy as comparatively innocuous is, perhaps, best conveyed by the superintendent s description of the difficulty of discerning the occupational status of the city's girls: "The native delicacy of those officers whose duty requires them to question truants and vagrants, in relation to their occupation, when found wandering about the thoroughfares of the city, would naturally restrain them from meddling with the affairs of young misses found on the public walks. Consequently, few if any receive attention in this way; and though they may not appear so frequently on the street as do the boys, they do not all appear in the schools." Ibid., 1873, 9-10.
52. Ibid., 28.
53. Ibid, 1871, 21.
54. Ibid., 1866, 17.
55. Kett, Rites of Passage, 132.
56. "Ungraded classes" should not be confused with "ungraded schools": once the public schools were thoroughly graded in New Haven (by the mid-1860s) special, ungraded classrooms were set aside to deal with juveniles who went in and out of the schools and could not keep pace with their age peers. This problem, of course, was a direct consequence of grading the schools throughout the system.
57. Annual Report, 1871, 8-10.
58. Ibid., 60.
59. Leonard P. Ayers, Laggards in Our Schools: A Study of Retardation and Elimination in the City School Systems (New York, 1909), 103-16.
60. After about 1900 much of the "retardation" in the nation's schools was due to the practice of putting children into first grade regardless of their age if their native language was not English; see Dillingham, Reports of the Immigration Commission, 31-8.
61. A notorious and well-publicized incident in the earliest years of New Haven's Italian settlement undoubtedly deepened whatever prejudicial impressions city officials had formed of the immigrant population that would eventually outnumber all others in the city: In 1873, three Italian padroni were arrested in New Haven under an anti-slave labor law for controlling the services of a group of boy "musicians" and bootblacks. The boys, it seems, had been sold to these "slave masters" by their parents for a period of four to five years. According to an account of the incident in the local press, each boy's parents received about twenty dollars a year. Further, it was stipulated that the parents would absorb any medical expenses incurred on the child's behalf and forfeit all wages, as well as pay a fine of eighty dollars should the child run away during his term of service. The incident caught the eye of the superintendent of schools, who remarked in his report for that year that its occurrence was "suggestive of causes which keep children from school and in the ignorance of barbarism." In this sobering if sensationalist vein, he proceeded to point out that it "is not the foreign taskmaster alone who brings with him his little victims, and compels them to perform menial services in the shadow of the school-house.... Parents have been found so debased and besotted as to keep their own children from school, and ... for the small pittance a child can earn, are willing to sacrifice the future welfare of their offspring to secure it." Annual Report, 1873, 27; and for an account of the arrest, see New Haven Register, July 18, 19, 21, 1873. At the time of the incident only ten Italians appeared in the city census. By 1890 there were 2,230 Italian immigrants in New Haven, and by 1910 their numbers bad swelled to 21,919; Vittorio Racca, "Ethnography : The Italians in New Haven," W.P.A. Federal Writers' Project, Connecticut Ethnic Survey, University of Connecticut, Storrs, Box 67, Folder 175:3, 1; and Jerome K. Myers, "The Differential Time Factor in Assimilation" (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1949), 25-6.
62. Hugh Cunningham, "The Employment and Unemployment of Children in England, c. 1680-1851," Past and Present, no. 126 (February 1990): 121.
63. Again, it is important to bear in mind, as Cunningham observes, that a certain amount of juvenile unemployment was volitional, because "parents may have had little concern for the structuring of all the time of their children, looking rather to exploit economic opportunities as they arose at particular times of the year, or for ways in which children, by looking after younger siblings ... could release adults for productive labour." Correspondingly, in New Haven in 1873, two and one-half times as many children under sixteen were "out of school without apparent cause" as were those recorded as employed, proportions that suggest a similar lack of rigor by parents in pressing children into full time school or work; Cunningham, "Employment," 120. Of the 10,666 children accounted for by the school census between the ages of five and sixteen, 881 (8 percent) were reportedly employed and 2,242 (21 percent) were neither "certified" by an employer as working, nor attending schools of any kind; Annual Report, 1873, 26.
64. On unemployment in the northeastern United States during the nineteenth century, see Alexander Keyssar, Out of Work: The First Century of Unemployment in Massachusetts (New York, 1986), chaps. 2-4.
65. Cunningham, "Employment," 148; Keyssar, Out of Work, 33-36, 377-78 n. 37; Friedrich Engels, The Condition of the Working Class in England  trans. and edited by W. O. Henderson and W. H. Chaloner (Stanford, 1968), 97-9.
66. Keyssar, Out of Work, quote is from 55; see also 92-3, table 4.6; 95; 393 nn. 37, 39. While insufficient attention has been paid to the extent to which female workers have fared in episodes of economic depression in the United States, in England, it seems, girls and young women (ages fifteen to nineteen) bore the brunt of unemployment when it struck. This, according to Ellen Jordan, was because work from the early days of industrialism was sex-segmented. Labor was divided in the hierarchy of production along a continuum of greater- and lesser-skilled tasks; adult males received the more valued and steadier jobs, while women and girls were assigned less "prestigious," more expendable positions. By this logic, presumably, juvenile workers would have received the same treatment as young, unmarried female workers; Ellen Jordan, "Female Unemployment in England and Wales, 1851-1911," Social History 13 (May 1988): 175-90.
67. On economic crises and unemployment between 1873 and 1900, see Keyssar, Out of Work, chap. 3; On the decline in workers' living standards during this period, see Jeffrey G. Williamson and Peter H. Lindert, American Inequality: A Macroeconomic History (New York, 1980), chaps. 10-11; For Connecticut workers' views on the effects of economic conditions on longterm wage levels in the state, see Connecticut, "Receipts and Expenses," Connecticut Bureau of Labor Statistics, Report 4th, 1887/88, 110-19.
68. Annual Report, 1872, 10.
69. See, e.g., Cunningham, "Employment;" Neil J. Smelser, Social Paralysis and Social Change: British Working-Class Education in the Nineteenth Century (Berkeley, 1991), 257-68.
70. Cunningham, "Employment," 139, 143, 146-50.
71. Connecticut had established a bureau of labor statistics as early as 1873. However, employment and unemployment statistics were not systematically collected until the 1930s, when federal programs were administered in coordination with state governments to aid in the relief of unemployment. What there is before the Great Depression, then, is haphazard and largely anecdotal. Child labor statistics, moreover, are even harder to come by than are figures on the adult work force. This changed in 1911, when an employment certificate system was instituted statewide. From 1911 to the 1930s then, estimates of child employment were much more accurate than those of the work force as a whole; Sumner and Hanks, Administration of Child Labor Laws.
72. For a typical portrayal of urban/rural differences and the seasonality of child labor, see Tyack, "Ways of Seeing," 381; Pamela Barnhouse Walters and Philip J. O'Connell, "The Family Economy, Work, and Educational Participation in the United States, 1890-1940," American Journal of Sociology 93 (March 1988): 1116-52.
73. Indeed, the perception that agricultural work did not impede the education of rural children accounts, at least in part, for the unique exemption of juvenile agricultural labor from child labor legislation even after virtually every other form of child labor in the state had been prohibited in the early 1930s.
74. It was customary for firms to shut down for a couple of weeks during the year, ceasing production altogether; Susan B. Carter and Richard Sutch, "Sticky Wages, Short Weeks, and 'Fairness'; The Response of Connecticut Manufacturing Firms to the Depression of 1893-94," Working Paper 2, Historical Labor Statistics Project, University of California, 1991, 7-8, 23. But see Susan B. Carter, Roger L. Ransom, and Richard Sutch, "The Historical Labor Statistics Project at the University of California," Historical Methods, 24 (Spring 1991): 60-62, on hours reductions as a form of savings on labor inputs. Clague et al. determined by examining the employment records of a New Haven factory from the 1880s to 1930 that there "were usually two different two-week periods of layoff every year for inventory and other purposes, and in certain depression years these normal closings were extended to about two months." This custom was not an innovation by the 1930s but, on the contrary, a holdover from the early years of factory production in New England (Keyssar) and a custom in its twilight, according to Carter and Sutch, as unionization and federal labor legislation disallowed such practices by the end of the Great Depression; Ewan Clague, Walter J. Couper, and E. Wight Bakke, After the Shutdown (New Haven, 1934), Keyssar, Out of Work, 15-16; Carter and Sutch, "Sticky Wages," 9.
75. Carter and Sutch, "Sticky Wages," 9-10 and table 5. Peaks and troughs are also reflected in the reports of workers' monthly wages throughout the 1880s in Connecticut, as well as in anecdotal reports by workers on time lost due to annually scheduled (or unscheduled) plant shut downs and hours reductions; see, e.g., State of Connecticut, "Receipts and Expenses of Wage Earners; Extracts from Communications in Monthly Reports," Connecticut Bureau of Labor Statistics, Report 4th, 1887/88, 110-19. In 1887 a saddler remarked to the state Commissioner of Labor, "You will see that it is hard to live and support a family on medium wages, when a man is not employed every day during the month. A man ought to have enough wages to make up for all this lost time. I have a record of time worked in 1883, 1884, 1885, and in the whole of the three years there is about twenty four months work at most." Ibid., 119.
76. Ibid, 112.
77. A more notable and persistent form of disguised juvenile labor - or "family labor" - was industrial homework. While take-home garment work was to become widespread among Italian immigrant families after the turn of the century, there is no record of its presence in New Haven before then. The classic study of "family labor" in the dawn of factory production is, of course, Neil J. Smelser, Social Change in the Industrial Revolution, 1770-1840 (Chicago, 1959); but see Jane Mark-Lawson and Anne Witz, "From 'Family Labour' to 'Family Wage'? The Case of Women's Labour in Nineteenth-Century Coalmining," Social History 13 (May 1988): 151-74 on the interaction of patriarchy and capitalism within the family economy. For the United States see Jonathan Prude, The Coming of Industrial Order (New York, 1983); on industrial homework in the nineteenth century see Christine Stansell, City of Women: Sex and Class in New York, 1789-1860 (Urbana, 1987), chap. 6; and Eileen Boris and Cynthia R. Daniels, eds., Homework: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on Paid Labor at Home (Urbana, 1989). In fact, there was no child labor law in Connecticut during the nineteenth century - indeed, none until the 1930s. The compulsory education statute was the sole constraint on juvenile labor until the implementation of a child worker certification program in 1911. Moreover, the compulsory education law was vague about age as an inhibiting factor in hiring, merely requiring employers to determine that children under fourteen demonstrate that they had received the minimum amount of schooling stipulated.
78. Annual Report, 1872, 10-11.
79. See, e.g., Connecticut, "Education and Employment," B.L.S., 1873, 61.
80. During the mid-1870s school officials, after conferring with the state agent of the board of education, ruled that it would be a "cruelty" and contrary to community sentiment to enforce the recently passed compulsory education law in view of economic conditions; Annual Report, 1874, 7; the same "concern" for impoverished children by employers is expressed as among the motives of businessmen for violating child labor laws; see Ibid., 1890, 26; Goldin says that employment-seeking by children was a direct response to father's unemployment; see Claudia Goldin, "Household and Market Production of Families in a Late Nineteenth Century American City," Explorations in Economic History 16 (1979): 125.
81. Annual Report, 1873, 27.
82. Between 1865 and 1872 the difference between average and total enrollments ranged from 10 percent to 19 percent.
83. Annual Report, 1880, 19.
84. Ibid., 1881, 24.
85. This "salutory" action, remarked the superintendent, would chasten negligent parents so that "A few weeks' service by the Agent ... every year would be a sufficient reminder to all that the laws cannot be violated with impunity"; Ibid., 1890, 23-5.
86. Ibid., 1897, 1890-1895. In 1902 a second truant officer was added to look for the employment of children in the large manufactories of certain classes of goods and in large dry goods stores. "But ... [in New Haven] ... most ... were found in small stores and manufactories, one child in a place"; Ibid., 1890, 26. Truancy did decline, remaining roughly the same numerically from 1870 to 1890 while declining dramatically (by about 50 percent) as a proportion of the average number of children registered during the year. The number of truants shrank even more - deceptively so, when one compares "cases" of truancy with "truants" from year to year. This was due to a policy change. Increasingly the courts dealt with juveniles (and guardians) who had violated the truancy laws, so that even though the frequency of truancy cases remained fairly stable over the period, the number of juveniles listed as "truant" was noticeably smaller.
87. The "family cycle" refers to the entire sequence of stages through which families typically pass: Coupling, the establishment of a new household, the birth and rearing of children, and the reversal of the entire process, which ends in the eventual dissolution of the household; see Meyer Fortes, "Introduction," in Jack Goody, ed., The Developmental Cycle in Domestic Groups (Cambridge, 1971), 1-14; and Tamara K. Hareven, "The Family as Process: The Historical Study of the Family Cycle," Journal of Family History 7 (1973-74): 322-29.
88. Annual Report, 1871, 23-4; an agent for the Connecticut Department of Labor, in making his plea for a child labor law to accompany and strengthen the compulsory education statute, noted that children as young as "eight years of age and even younger," in parts of the state "had been known to appear at their factory work in the early morning." Such cases were exceptional, he admitted, but underscored the necessity for greater activism on the state's part; Connecticut, "Education and Employment," B.L.S., 1873, 61.
89. Annual Report, 1870, 14-15.
90. Ibid., 1909.
91. Connecticut, "Receipts and Expenses," 1887/88, 110-19. Again, due to the lack of statistical data on labor in late-nineteenth-century Connecticut, it is hard to gauge the extent of child labor. However, if we look at two examples where the participation of juvenile workers is known, Philadelphia and Massachusetts, we can gain some idea of its range elsewhere in the industrial northeast. Estimates based on census reports on work force participation in Philadelphia, whose youths were undeterred from finding work by compulsory education laws until 1901, the employment of children at thirteen years of age and under ranged from a low of 16.4 percent for daughters of native-born white Protestant heads of household up to 48.1 percent for sons of Irish-born fathers. We might think of this figure as representing the "natural" level of labor for children thirteen and under, since employment for children was abundant and varied in the Philadelphia economy. Claudia Goldin, "Family Strategies and the Family Economy in the Late Nineteenth Century: The Role of Secondary Workers," in T. Hershberg, ed., Philadelphia, 282-84. At the other extreme, in Massachusetts, where both child labor and compulsory schooling legislation constrained juvenile employment below age fourteen, child labor below fourteen was evidently rare - less than 5 percent among children of native-born white Protestant heads of household and under 14 percent among children of Irish household heads with any children at work. (These ratios are derived from Modell's estimates comparing the relative ages at which Yankee and Irish household heads in Massachusetts sent their children to work.) John Modell, "Patterns of Consumption, Acculturation and Family Income Strategies in Late-Nineteenth-Century America," in Tamara K. Hareven and Maris A. Vinovskis, eds., Family and Population in Nineteenth Century America (Princeton, 1978), 206-40. On proportions of children working at specified ages, see Goldin, "Family Strategies," 283; and Michael R. Haines, "Poverty, Economic Stress, and the Family in a Late-Nineteenth-Century American City: Whites in Philadelphia, 1880," in T. Hershberg, ed., Philadelphia, 260. Of course, these figures convey only the crudest sense of the spectrum of child labor participation rates. As Modell, Goldin, Haines, Hoover, and Clubb, Austin, and Kirk each have shown, the rate of child participation in the labor market varied with the child's age, sex, nativity of household head, head's income, household composition, and region; see Goldin, "Family Strategies," 283; and Haines, "Poverty, Economic Stress, and the Family"; Haines, "Industrial Work and the Family Life Cycle, 1889/90," Research in Economic History 4 (1979): 289-356; Greg A. Hoover, "Supplemental Family Income Sources," Social Science History 9 (Summer 1985): 293-306; and Jerome M. Clubb, Erik W. Austin, and Gordon W. Kirk, Jr., The Process of Historical Inquiry: Everyday Lives of Working Americans (New York, 1989), chaps. 2-4.
92. State of Connecticut, "Extracts from Communications in Monthly Reports," Connecticut Bureau of Labor Statistics, Report 4th, 1887/88, 113.
93. Ibid., 117-18.
94. Ibid., 119.
95. Ibid., 117-18.
96. Michael Anderson, for instance, sees the best hope for understanding family decision-making in the past as anchored "above all in the context of the economic behavior of ... [family] members." Anderson, Approaches to the History of the Western Family, 1500-1914 (London, 1980), 65. The opposite trend, exemplified by Aries, Stone, and Flandrin, has been to treat attitudinal change as springing entirely from general transformations of ideology. As Anderson incisively observes of these historians' analyses: "change comes about almost entirely from some combination of a weakening of community and legal constraints and the impact of new religious, philosophical and educational ideas about appropriate relationships between individuals. Change in the economy hardly enters in." Anderson, Approaches, 63; Aries, Centuries of Childhood; Lawrence Stone, The Family, Sex, and Marriage in England, 1500-1800 (New York, 1977); Jean-Louis Flandrin, Families in Former Times: Kinship, Household and Sexuality, trans. Richard Southern (New York, 1979).
97. On mechanization, the reorganization of production, and the deskilling of labor at the turn of the century, see Montgomery, Workers' Control; and David F. Noble, America by Design (New York, 1977); on the rise and decline of juvenile employment, see Stanley Lebergott, Manpower in Economic Growth (New York, 1964), 52-6; and Paul Osterman, Getting Started: The Youth Labor Market (Cambridge, MA., 1980), 54. Economic historians have hypothesized that compulsory schooling and child labor legislation essentially ratified an already diminishing demand for juvenile workers in the first three decades of the twentieth century and that the obsolescence of child labor simply transferred to the public schools responsibility for consuming the time and attention of youngsters rendered "useless" by changes in the organization of production; see especially William Landes and Lewis Solomon, "Compulsory Schooling Legislation: An Economic Analysis of Law and Social Change in the Nineteenth Century," Journal of Economic History 32 (March 1972): 54-91; Albert Fishlow, "Levels of Nineteenth-Century Investment in Education," Journal of Economic History 26 (December 1966): 418-36; and Walters and O'Connell, "Family Economy," 1140; Cf Walter Licht, who finds that in Philadelphia during the same period causes of decline in juvenile employment after 1900 were so complex as to "[preclude] a structuralist kind of explanation," and "may have declined in different decades for different reasons"; Walter Licht, Getting Work: Philadelphia, 1840-1950 (Cambridge, MA, 1992), 29-30.
98. Paul Osterman coined the term "enclosure" (with obvious connotation) in reference to the combination of three forces beginning at the turn of the twentieth century: declining work opportunities for junveniles, pressure on employers to curtail juvenile employment from 1900 to 1930, and finally, the institution of federal youth programs during the New Deal. Arguably, however, in Connecticut this process began much earlier and culminated in the prohibition of child labor and the elevation of the minimum age of compulsory schooling to age sixteen in 1932; Osterman, Getting Started, 70.
99. The standardization of grade school curriculum throughout the United States in the latter half of the nineteenth and early decades of the twentieth centuries, according to Meyer and Tyack, is a parallel movement connected to "nation-building" and industrialization; see, e.g., John W. Meyer, David Tyack, Joane Nagel, and Audri Gordon, "Public Education as Nation-Building in America: Enrollments and Bureaucratization in the American States, 1870-1930," American Journal of Sociology 85 (Summer 1979): 591-613; Meyer, Francisco O. Ramirez, and Yasemin Nuhoglu Soysal, "World Expansion of Mass Education, 1870-1980," Sociology of Education 65 (April 1992): 128-49; and Meyer, David H. Kamens, and Aaron Benavot, et al., School Knowlege for the Masses: World Models and National Primary Curricular Categories in the Twentieth Century (Washington, D.C., 1992).
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|Publication:||Journal of Social History|
|Date:||Jun 22, 1996|
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