Child laborers, Lewiston, ca. 1920
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Children who worked as laborers at the Bates Mill in Lewiston are shown in about 1920.
Scenes such as these were common in Lewiston and other Maine mill towns until laws prohibiting child labor were passed at the federal level in the 1930s. Children were valued because they could be paid low wages and because of their ability to crawl into small spaces.
For their part, children were often pressured to go into the workplace as young as 12 to help support their younger siblings.