Chicago’s Youngest Candy Workers
Children in Hull-House Courtyard
Photograph; Chicago, USA
UIC Hull-House Yearbook collection, 1895
“Our very first Christmas at Hull-House, when we as yet knew nothing of child labor, a number of little girls refused the candy which was offered them as part of the Christmas good cheer, saying simply that they “worked in a candy factory and could not bear the sight of it.” We discovered that for six weeks they had worked from seven in the morning until nine at night, and were exhausted as well as satiated. The sharp consciousness of stern economic conditions was thus thrust upon us in the midst of the season of good will.”
– Jane Addams, 20 Years at Hull-House, 1910
Today, UIC stands in a neighborhood that was once dense with industrial factories, sweatshops, and tenement housing. Many children never attended school, but rather worked to support their families. Hull-House advocates like Jane Addams and others made great strides to limit child labor, improve local working conditions, and increase access to education and recreation. Despite this progress, these issues remain relevant in Chicago and around the world.
Was child labor involved with producing your holiday candy?