Workday Wednesday: Children and Employment

What were working conditions of children like in Britain in the 1840s?

I was checking out the library edition of Ancestry.com for any newly added databases to bring to the attention of staff recently and came across the 1842 Commissioners’ report of children’s employment (appendix, trades and manufactures part 2) .  It is a very interesting document in that children and adults from all over the British isles have been interviewed about the working conditions children are being employed in.  Not only that but you get the child’s name, age, occupation, address of home and work and sometimes mention of other family members and pay rates.

Two children and a trolley laden with boxes, c.1928
Sir George Grey Special  Collections, Auckland Libraries.

The document has been name indexed so is searchable but there is also a name index at the end of the work as well.

If you are interested in social history, you will find this worth reading.  It is rather a lengthy tome but probably dipping in and out of the interviews would be enough to give a flavour of the document.

Marie Hickey

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