Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2022-05-16

Lucy Larcom and the Poetics of Child Labour

Document type Article
Author Lockard, Joe
Journal ESC: English Studies in Canada
Volume 38
Date 2012
ISSN 1913-4835
Pages 139-160


Child labour has been present in North America since the beginnings of European colonization, and regulation of their industrial employment dates at least to the early nineteenth century in Rhode Island (Abbott). Given moral injunctions to keep children from mischief and utilitarian demands for labour and family income, such regulation remained basically ineffective. With industrial expansion following the American Civil War children established themselves as a major presence in the workforce and occasionally appeared in industrial stories such as Rebecca Harding Davis’s “Life in the Iron Mills” (1861).