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Unfree Labor: Interdisciplinary Perspectives: Child Labor

A Research Guide on Unfair/Unfree Labor

Is Child Labor Exploitative?

The following sources detail both past and present instances of child labor in the United States, as well as the way legislation has changed over time. While new regulations have been created, some child labor is legally permitted and is used in many businesses and industries. These are cases of unfair and unfree labor, as children and teenagers work in unsafe conditions with insufficient pay. Given the widespread nature of the use of children in labor, some may ask: what's wrong with putting kids to work? 

Here is some information:

UN General Assembly Report on The Rights of the Child

**It is important to note that the United States has not signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child**

UN General Assembly Report on Exploitation of child labour (1996)

Doing Research? (Databases and Journals)

NGOs, Blogs, & Other Sites

Media and Videos

This is a video about of Jessie De La Cruz, who was forced to become a field worker  at five years old. She is also the first female labor rights activist recruiter for United Farm Workers Union and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention. More information about De La Cruz and other labor rights activists and movements can be found through the Zinn Education Project.

The Photos That Helped End Child Labor in the United States

This picture captioned “Noon at Pennsylvania Coal Company’s ​Ewen Breaker in South Pittston” was taken by Lewis Hine in the early 1990s. Lewis Hines was a photographer for the National Child Labor Committee whose work helped bring about the Keating-Owens Child Labor act in 1916. This picture, along with others and information about the Keating-Owens Child Labor Act, is described in a Mother Jones article written by Mark Murrmann and is titled "The Photos That Helped End Child Labor in the United States." Click the link above to read the full story and see more photos.


Articles, Books, and Reports on Child Labor