The Children's Strike of 1835
In 1835, several thousand child-workers went on strike in Paterson, New Jersey to protest the 13 ½ hour workday. For a month, nearly 20 cotton mills stood idle until the young work force was granted a 11 ½ hour workday. These files include newspaper accounts from the Paterson Courier and Paterson Intelligencer that reported on the issues of child labor and the strike of 1835. (Archival material from the microfilm collections of the Danforth Library, Paterson , N.J.)
This article details a meeting held at the "Mechanics' Institute Room" that discussed the possibility of establishing a Sunday and Evening School for children who worked daytime hours within Paterson mills.
Deprived of Employment - from the August 6, 1834 edition of the Paterson Intelligencer
This article details the funding which allowed the creation of free school during Paterson's early cotton manufacturing era. The school was frequented by children who were often in need of a place to go when the mills shut down and they were "deprived of employment." Although many young Patersonians were able only to attend school for a few months, many students valued their time in the classroom, even diligently attending school when they were stricken with scarlet fever.
One who knows - from the August 20, 1834 edition of the Paterson Intelligencer
A letter to the editor in favor of the mill owners that utilize child labor labor, stating that "some (mill owners) look toward them (children workers) with an eye of protection, and feel, too, a deep interest in their welfare."
Appropriating Funds - from the March 18, 1835 edition of the Paterson Intelligencer
a letter to the editor disagreeing with how the local government appropriated funds to the school system.
The Children's Strike (mill owner's opinion) - from the August 12, 1835 edition of the Paterson Intelligencer
This file contains a series of articles detailing the children's strike of 1835, which (according to Intelligencer) was caused by "impertinent and unjustifiable interference of some person's connected with the Trades Union..." The articles also blame idle parents for living off the wages of their children and other locals that allegedly sabotaged any attempt of reconciliation between workers and mill owners. The second file is a letter to the editor that asks for an increase in funds given to the instructors of the Free School.
The Phoenix Mill
Click here on the image of the Phoenix Mill to learn about one of the mills involved in the Children's Strike of 1835 (from the collections of the Library of Congress)
The Children's Strike (Worker's Opinion) - from the August 12, 1835 edition of the Paterson Courier
This file contains a series of articles detailing the children's strike of 1835, which (according to the Courier) was caused by mill owners who forced "infants" to work more than 11 hours a day. The articles also compares the New Jersey worker with "the southern slave population," stating that the former can claim to be a "Freemen" but it is "an empty sound." Additional information includes statistics about school children who work in the mills and a response about the strike from mill owners, including John Travers of the Phoenix Mill (For more information about the Phoenix Mill, see the link above)
Back to Work - from the August 19, 1835 edition of the Paterson Intelligencer
This article cheerfully announces the return to operations for most of Paterson's industries. The article predicted that those left town would soon return to the city in search of work, although thousands of dollars worth of wages were already lost to the strikers.
A New School - from the April 6, 1836 edition of the Paterson Intelligencer
This article announcing an approaching town meeting that would decide the establishment of a public school for the city of Paterson. According to the newspaper, the proposed school system would be managed and paid for by the people and benefit the whole community.
Ads looking for Child Labor
The Hatting Business - from the March 18, 1835 edition of the Paterson Intelligencer
This advertisement from 1835 seeks a highly recommended 14-16 year olds to work in the hatting business.
A series of advertisements from 1835 seeking a pair of "girls" to work in the tailoring business; one or two families "with children" willing to work as wool sorters; and three or four families to work in a cotton mill.
Cabinet Makers - from the March 1836 edition of the Paterson Intelligencer
Two advertisement seeking 14-16 year old boys to work as cabinet makers and as apprentices to the printing business
Questionnaire regarding working conditions for child laborers in Paterson, conducted during the Children's Strike of 1835. excerpt taken from John R. Commons et al., A Documentary History of American Industrial Society (Cleveland, Ohio, 1910), 5: 57-61, 63-66.