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"Conservation of the Child Is Our First Duty"

Title: "Conservation of the Child Is Our First Duty": Clubwomen, Organized Labor, and the Politics of Child Labor Legislation in Florida.
Name(s): Burns, Sarah, author
Green, Elna, professor directing thesis
Jones, Maxine, committee member
Koslow, Jennifer, committee member
Department of History, degree granting department
Florida State University, degree granting institution
Type of Resource: text
Genre: Text
Issuance: monographic
Date Issued: 2009
Publisher: Florida State University
Florida State University
Place of Publication: Tallahassee, Florida
Physical Form: computer
online resource
Extent: 1 online resource
Language(s): English
Abstract/Description: Florida's child welfare movement, a broad coalition of clubwomen, legislators, labor activists, and civic reformers, worked tirelessly to ensure that the right to a protected childhood was guaranteed to all of Florida's future citizens. These Progressive reformers, embracing new ideas about charity, the causes of poverty, and family life, turned to legislation to protect children when society could not, and their efforts culminated in the passage of Florida's comprehensive Child Labor Law in 1913. Florida's child labor campaign was part of both a regional and a national movement to eradicate the practice of manipulating children in industry and the street trades. Despite its inclusion in this broader movement, Florida's anti-child labor coalition was unique. Unlike their Southern neighbors, Floridians shied away from the rhetoric of 'race suicide.' Speaking on behalf of child labor legislation, they emphasized the social and moral disadvantages of child labor rather than its repercussions for race relations. This grew out of Florida's distinct pattern of economic development: Florida was among the last Southern states to industrialize, and that industrial sector did not include the textile mills notorious for child labor abuses across the South. Florida's child laborers primarily consisted of African Americans and Southern and Eastern European immigrants working in canneries along the Gulf Coast and Cuban and Italian immigrants laboring in the cigar industry of South Florida. Both of these industries employed a much smaller number of child workers than manufacturers in Florida's neighboring states. Florida's child labor legislation thus served two distinct purposes: it was both a preventative measure designed to protect Florida's children from the kinds of exploitation taking place in neighboring states and a means of pressuring those states to pass similar legislation. This thesis, an examination of the politics of Florida's child labor movement, highlights the ways in which the national child labor platform could be adapted to succeed in different states, while it reaffirms the diversity of both Progressive reform and Progressive reformers in the early twentieth-century South.
Identifier: FSU_migr_etd-7107 (IID)
Submitted Note: A Thesis submitted to the Department of History in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts.
Degree Awarded: Summer Semester, 2009.
Date of Defense: June 25, 2009.
Bibliography Note: Includes bibliographical references.
Advisory Committee: Elna Green, Professor Directing Thesis; Maxine Jones, Committee Member; Jennifer Koslow, Committee Member.
Subject(s): History
Persistent Link to This Record:
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Host Institution: FSU

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Burns, S. (2009). "Conservation of the Child Is Our First Duty": Clubwomen, Organized Labor, and the Politics of Child Labor Legislation in Florida. Retrieved from