Florence Kelley: The Making of a Social Pioneer

Florence Kelley: The Making of a Social Pioneer

Florence Kelley: The Making of a Social Pioneer

Florence Kelley: The Making of a Social Pioneer

Excerpt

In the long history of the struggle against child labor in America, the person who made the most consistent and effective contribution was Florence Kelley. Starting with the premise that children belong in schools, not in factories, mills and mines, she gave most of her life to an unremitting struggle for legislation prohibiting the employment of children under sixteen, and for compulsory education until that age was reached.

During the first thirty years of the present century, her activities took her into virtually every state in the Union. As General Secretary of the National Consumers' League she appeared at dozens of legislative and Congressional hearings; buttonholed Senators, Congressmen and Cabinet members; addressed women's clubs, parent-teacher associations, church groups, social work conferences, trade union gatherings; and in between found time for innumerable reports, magazine and journal articles, and letters to friends and to the press.

Nor were her interests confined to the need for protective legislation. She was one of the founders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; a vice- president of the National Woman Suffrage Association; held various offices in the Intercollegiate Socialist Society; was a member of the Board of Control of Labor Standards in army clothing during World War I; and attended the Women's Peace Conference in Zürich after the war. Wherever she went her opinions were respected and her advice and suggestions sought.

She did not live to see her dearest wish fulfilled--ratification of the Child Labor Amendment, which Congress had passed in 1924. At the time of her death in 1932 only six states had ratified, although during the next several years a number of additional states took action, persuaded by the Depression and encouraged by the New Deal. But while the requisite thirty-six . . .

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