Thoughts on North Carolina’s Youth – One Century Ago

From the Library of Congress’ Chronicling America newspaper site, we selected an issue of the The Watauga Democrat that was published 99 years ago to see what was on the minds of North Carolinians in 1915. In addition to debates familiar to us now about “pistol-toters” and the best ways to avoid the common cold, there was also a debate concerning child labor laws.

newspaper clipping from The Watauga Democrat
From front page of The Watauga Democrat, January 28, 1915.

Millennial is currently a buzz word in the media. In an age where children are “born digital,” it is understandable that people are concerned about the social and psychological development of the next generation. But what were our thoughts on the rising generation a century ago? During this time, child labor was heavily debated. Laborers served a vital function in the newly forming companies and trades. Because of the need of workers, arguments such as “children are better fitted for some trades than adults” and “children are much better off employed in the factories than idle and out of school” were considered valid points for a growing economy. Take a closer look at the article here and discover more about the history of child labor laws in North Carolina.

One thought on “Thoughts on North Carolina’s Youth – One Century Ago”

  1. This is probably a function of how much technology has changed over the last century. It was fairly common knowledge that you probably shouldn’t work children, but mass communication (and a Communist Party) rallied a base to get that idea off the ground.

    I don’t think ideas change. But rather who has access to and control of the outlet. In that regard, big business would be in favor of child labor and would therefore have it in the paper, whereas now, it’s clearly a terrible idea. It’s just that now more people have the ability to voice that.

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