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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Diaries of Child Workers in 1800's Factories


These are very dramatic chronicles from labout children working in british factories in late 19th century. The stories are very thouchful. Also I have posted a video about the same subject, it is called Am I a Child? that tell some similar stories in Peru. That post includes a a documentary about Child labour in the States in the early 20th century. The pictures were taken by Lewis W. Hine.




Dear Diary,

Today I got up at 5.15am. For breakfast I had a piece of left over bread from yesterday. I already feel tired because I got back late, and now I'm up early. I got to work at 5.45am. I wish I had some nice clothes to wear because my clothes are ripped and dirty. By the time I got to work I was in trouble because I was five minutes late.

I always feel hungry because Mom doesn't have enough for all of us, and we're always starving. Sometimes we have to steal food because we are really hungry.

I do not like the overseer because he sits there, while we are working really hard.

I got in trouble at work because I lost my shoe and I made one from their material. My friend, Lucy, got in trouble today because she didn't wash. The punishment was 6 whips on her back, one after the other - it was so painful because Lucy cried for the next hour, and I don't blame her! I could not watch because the sounds were horrible. I can't even believe the sight.

I met a boy called Kyle, he was nice and I really liked him, but along came a boy even nicer and taller than Kyle, called Adrian. We are now still together ten years later and I am going to get married to him next week and spend the rest of my life with him, and I don't want to remember the times at work.



My name is Rajdeep Singh, and I am 13 years old. I was born in the year 1889. I have spent the last 10 years working in a factory called Metal Ltd. I have 7 brothers and 2 sisters. In my factory we make metal. I do not like the overseer. His job is to watch us when we do anything wrong. I got in trouble because I fell asleep during my work. My friend, John Baker, got in trouble today because he was 10 minutes late. The punishment was really awful, it was not getting paid for one whole week. It was so painful because families today are suffering for just one shilling, I could not watch because his face was falling into tears. I hope I do not get beaten by my parents if anything like that happens.

I had a break at 10:00. To eat, I had soup and half a piece of bread. My friend, Jimmy Bains, had nothing to eat because he had done no work whatsoever. I could hardly walk after that horrible meal.

My friend, Chris Deal, started to cry because he couldn't work any longer. I was very upset at work because my friend got hurt. This is what happened... it all started off like a normal day, but the overseer saw something unusual, it was my friend whistling. Suddenly, he faced a fine.

My friend, John Blacksmith, got injured today. This is what happened. A large, heavy piece of metal fell on his foot. Even I got injured at work today, but had a lucky escape as someone switched the machine off.

My friend Tom Cooks is an orphan, she had a very bad day because it was the day her parents died. The worst thing today was my incident with one of the machines.

We left work at 6:00. I ran all the way home today just to get some sleep. I like going home, but the thing is, it's too crammed as twenty odd people live in one house (and its a 4 bedroom house.) I only have a mother, because my Dad died a few days ago.

I am still really hungry because I only eat one meal a day. When I got home I had to do more jobs, like sewing for my mother. I look forward to supper because its better than I get at work. My mother looked at my bruises and got upset because she knew she cant say anything as I will lose my job. I am not looking forward to another day at work. I dread getting up again tomorrow.

by Rajdeep Singh



My Name is Ivor, and I am ten years old.

I was born in the year 1801. I have spent the last 2 years working in a factory called Woolies. I have five brothers and two sisters. In my factory we make wool. This is an extract from my diary.

Today, I got up at 6:00am and had a piece of bread and a glass of water for breakfast. I already feel really tired because I get up at six every day. I got into work at half past six. I was early because I ran it, but its hard to run because of the punishment from my boss on my legs.

I wish I had some nice clothes to wear, because I've wore these clothes for about a year now, so it's getting a bit smelly and they are a bit too small.

Well, when I got to work, I got in trouble because my boss found out I stole some wool to make some clothes, but I have to give it back and he punished me again, and I didn't get paid, but he fined me for being smelly and dirty, so all together, I was fined about five shillings so I have to work hard now so I can earn it again.

At dinner I go out and sometimes I steal food because I have no money to pay for it, but I wish I didn't have to steal.

We have only half an hour for dinner which I think is not enough.

I hate the overseer. his job is to check if we are working hard enough, and if we aren't, we get the sack.

By Adrian Somers

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