Making human junk: Child labor as a health issue in the progressive era

A. Derickson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The adverse health effects of work on approximately 2 million employed children troubled many in the United States during the early 20th century. Advocates of reform initially built a rationale for protective legislation primarily from informal, lay observations of the broad developmental outcomes of premature employment. In this endeavor, they projected a dismal scenario of impending national deterioration. This argument received strong criticism for the inadequacy of its corroborating evidence. In response, Progressive reformers emphasized the specific, measurable consequences of particular occupations. Increasingly, liberal advocates of the exclusion of boys and girls from the work force drew upon statistical compilations of occupational injuries and illnesses diagnosed by physicians. Despite their turn toward scientism, Progressives remained somewhat ambivalent about the sufficiency of quantitative data alone to achieve their aims.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1280-1290
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of public health
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1992

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Making human junk: Child labor as a health issue in the progressive era'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this