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iliile

1. S I S T E R M I N D S H I S P I L E O F P A P E R S W H I L E H E S E L L S O N A B U S Y C O R N E R .
2. O N E O F M A N Y L I T T L E B O Y S S E L L I N G P A P E R S IN T H E P U B L I C S Q U A R E ,
W I L K E S - B A R R E . 3. “ N O M O N E Y I N IT, T H E R E ’S T O O M A N Y O F U S , ” S A I D T H E
B O O T B L A C K S O F W I L K E S - B A R R E . 4. A N 8 - Y E A R - O L D “ S T R E E T M E R C H A N T ” IN
C O L U M B U S . 5. C O U N T I N G P A P E R S G I V E N O U T T O S M A L L B O Y H E L P E R


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

U. S. DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
JAMES J. DAVIS, Secretary

CHILDREN’S BUREAU
GRACE ABBOTT, Chief

CHILDREN IN STREET WORK
By

NETTIE P. McGILL

BUREAU PUBLICATION No. 183

UNITED STATES
GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE
WASHINGTON
1928


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SINGLE COPIES OF THIS PUBLICATION MAT
BE OBTAINED UPON APPLICATION TO THE
CHILDREN’ S BUREAU.

ADDITIONAL COPIES

M AT BE PROCURED FROM THE SUPERIN­
TENDENT OF DOCUMENTS, U. S. GOVERN­
MENT PRINTING OFFICE, WASHINGTON, D .C.
AT

50 CENTS PER COPY


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CONTENTS
Letter of transmittal____________________________
Part I.— Introduction__________________________________ ______g________________
The street worker and the public______ _________________________________
Surveys of juvenile street traders________________________________________
The Children’s Bureau study____________________________________________
Summary of Children’s Bureau surveys__________
Newspaper sellers____ ___________ _______ _ _ _ ________________________
A ge--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- IZ_I
Hours of work_______________________________________
Duration of work_______________________________________________
Environment____________________________________________________
Newspaper selling in relation to health_______________________
Newspaper selling in relation to education___________________
Newspaper selling in relation to behavior____________________
The question of family need___________________________________
Earnings________________________________________________________
Disposition of earnings____________________________
W h y do boys sell p a p e r s ? _______________
Newspaper carriers_____________________________
A ge---------------------------------------------------------------Duration of work_______________________________________________
Hours of work__________________________________________________
Environment________________ _______ I_____________ _____________
Carriers in school__________
Vocational aspect of newspaper carrying_____________________
Delinquency among carriers___________________________________
Families of carriers_____________________________________________
Earnings_________________________________________________________
Disposition of earnings__________
Peddlers______________________________________________________________
Bootblacks___________________________________________________________
Magazine carriers and sellers_______________________________________
Miscellaneous street workers__ _____________________________________
Girls in street work__________________________________________________
Laws regulating street work_____________________________________________
State legislation___________________________________________
Specific street-trades laws______________________________________
Child-labor laws of general application________________
Other child-labor regulations______________________________ . . .
Juvenile-court laws_______________ _ __________________________
Municipal ordinances________________________________________________
Administration of street-trades laws_______________________________
The permit and badge system_________________________________
Street inspections__________________ .________________________,___
Penalties______________ _______________________■__________________
Sum m ary_____________
Conclusions________________________________________________________________
Newspaper sellers____________________________________________________
Newspaper carriers_____________________________4____________________
Peddlers_______________________________________________ _ ______________
Bootblacks______________________
Miscellaneous street w orkers..________
Part I I.— Street workers in four selected cities______________________________
Atlanta, G a ____ ______________________________ ______ ___________ 1_________
Introduction__________________________________________________________
Legal regulation of street work_______ +____________________________
Newspaper sellers_______________________
Race and nationality of fathers________________________________
Age of newsboys________________________________________________

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It

CONTENTS

-Part I I .—S treet workers in four selected cities— Continued.
-Atlanta, G a.—"Continued.
-Newspaper sellers— Continued.
W ork experience------------------ -----------------------------«Conditions of work and environment--------------Regularity of work-------- - . --------------- 2 ----------------Hours of work---------------------------- -----------------------Earnings______________ ____________ - - _________f-*Need for earnings-------------------------- ------------------Reasons for undertaking street work------ -------Disposition of earnings— —
-------------------Newsboys in school-------------------------------------------Delinquency among newsboys--------------- ----------Newspaper carriers—
--------------------------------------------Race and nationality of fathers-----------------------Age of carriers--------------------------------------------------- Work experience-------------------------------- — — - - Conditions of employment------------------------Regularity of work-----------------------------------------Hours of work— ------------------ ----------- ------------ -Earnings_____ _______ - - - - — - ------------------ - Need for earnings— - - ---------- - —
---------------Reasons for undertaking street work--------------Disposition of earnings_ _ - .--------------------Carriers in school----------- ----------- :----------------------Delinquency among carriers— ---------------- -----Peddlers________________________ — ------------------- -------Race and nationality of fathers----------------------Age of peddlers------------------------ ------------------ - - Work experience.----------------------------------- --------Conditions of work------------------------------------------Earnings___________________________________- —
Need for earnings— - — — ----------- — -------Reasons for undertaking street work-------------Disposition of earnings----------------- -------- —
Peddlers in school------------------------------------- — Delinquency among peddlers--------------------------Magazine sellers and carriers---------------------------------Race and nationality of fa th ers.-------------------Age of workers-------------------------------------------------Work experience---------------------------- , - - - - - - — Conditions of work---------- - — -----------------Earnings______________ _______________- - - - —
Need for earnings_ ' - - - - ------------------ ---------- fir Reasons for undertaking street work------------Disposition of earnings-----------------------------------School attendance and progress---------------------Delinquency-----------------------------------------------------Miscellaneous street workers----- ----------------------------Occupations and work experience----------- - - - Race and nationality of fathers----- ---------------Conditions of work-------------------------- — Need for earnings— ------------ --------- --------------Reasons for undertaking street work------------Disposition of earnings------------------------------- School attendance and progress---------------- —
Delinquency--------------------------------------------- — - Columbus, Ohio--------------------------------------------------------------Introduction_________________________________ ______
Legal regulation of street work------------------------- - Newspaper sellers-------- - - rr -r hr'~2---------------------Race and nationality of fathers--------------------Age of newsboys------------------------------------ -------W ork experience-------------------------------- -----------Conditions of work and environment----------Regularity of work------------ - . ----------------- .-------Hours of work---------------------- -----------------


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CONTENTS
Part I I .— Street workers in four selected cities— Continued.
Columbus, Ohio— Continued.
Newspaper sellers— Continued.
Earnings___________________ _______ _ i .__________________________
Need for earnings_________________________
Reasons for undertaking street work____________________ ___ I
Disposition of earnings______ 1________________ _________________
N ewsboys in school___________________ :
__________ ________ _
Delinquency among newsboys____________ ^ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ l _________
Newspaper carriers___________________ .______________________________
Race and nationality of fathers. _ ______________ _________ ___
Age of carriers___ __________________________ ______ ____t_________
Work experience_________________________________
Conditions of employment________________ i .i________ ________
Regularity of work_____ __iiipi:_______________________________
Hours of work_ _____ _____________________. _ _ _________________
Earnings_______________________
Need for earnings_____________________ _________________________
Reasons for undertaking street work____________________________
Disposition of earnings_________________________________________
Carriers in school_________________________ ________________ _____
Delinquency among carriers_____ 1 _ _______ _
______________
Peddlers and miscellaneous street workers________ ________________
Occupations and work experience_______________________
Race and nationality of fathers and age of workers. ________
Conditions of work________________ ____________________________
Earnings_______________ ________ ______ _ _ j _ ______ _______________
Need for earnings___ ___________________________________
Reasons for undertaking street work_____________ i __________
Disposition of earnings_______________________________
School attendance, deportment,and progress_________________
Delinquency__________ _____________________ :_ ________ __________
Market children___________ _______________________ ;_________________
Occupations and work experience____________ ________________
Race and nationality of fathers and age of workers___ ______
Conditions of work____ :__________ ___________________ ;________
Need for earnings_____________________ ___________ ,___ __________
Reasons for undertaking streetwork___________________________
Disposition of earnings_________________________________________
School attendance, deportment, and progress_____________ - _
Delinquency________________________ ____________________________
Magazine carriers and sellers and bill distributors________________
Occupations and work experience____________ :_______ ;________
Race and nationality of fathers and age of workers_________
Conditions of work__________________________
Earnings__________________________ ; _ _ ___ _______ ______ __________
Need for earnings_______________________________________________
Reasons for undertaking street work___ _________ ____________
Disposition of earnings______________ ___ _____L__Li__L_______
School attendance, deportment,and progress_________________
Delinquency_____________________ _____;
_ âM_______ j ___ _ _ _ _
Omaha, Nebr_________________________________ ____________ _______________
Introduction_________
Legal regulation of street work_________ _ _ _ _ :____________ ,__________
Newspaper sellers____________________ ____________ ____ ____________
Race and nationality of newsboys and their fathers_________
Age of newsboys____________ _ _ ___________ _^u___' _______ ______
Work experience________ ______________ ,_j_*_________________ _
Conditions of work and environment________________ ________
Regularity of work___________________________________________
Hours of work______________ _
_
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Earnings_____ ___________ _________________ . _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ____
Need for earnings___________________________ fcM____ ._________
Reasons for undertaking streetwork__________________________
Disposition of earnings_______________ ______ ___________________
Newsboys in school__ ________________ _ _ ^ _ ____ ___ ,_i_________
Delinquency among newsboys__________


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VI

CONTENTS

Part I I.— Street workers in four selected cities— Continued.
Omaha, Nebr.— Continued.
Newspaper carriers__________________________________________________
Race and nationality of fathers_______________________________
Age of carriers_________________------------------------- _«----------------------Work experience________________________________________________
Conditions of employment______________________________ ______
Regularity of work_____________________________________________
Hours of work------------------------Earnings_______________________________„ v - - — ---------------------—
Need for earnings_______________________________________________
Reasons for undertaking street work--------------------------------- —
Disposition of earnings_____________________
Carriers in school_________________________________
Delinquency among carriers_______________________
Magazine sellers and carriers________________________________________
Race and nationality of fathers and age of workers-------------Work experience________________________________________________
Conditions of work____ ______
Earnings_________________________________________________________
Need for earnings_______________________________________________
Reasons for undertaking street work__________________________
Disposition of earnings__________ "l*-------------- ------------------------ School attendance and progress--------------------Truancy and delinquency_______ j..-------------------------------------- —
Peddlers and miscellaneous street workers_________________________
Children working for premiums____ •__________________
Other peddlers and miscellaneous street workers------------- -—
Wilkes-Barre, Pa______ ________________________ _________________
Introduction_____________
Legal regulation of street work-------------------Newspaper sellers, bootblacks, and miscellaneous street workers.
Race and nationality of fathers_______________________________
Age of workers____________________________________ __________ —
Work experience__________________
Conditions of work________________ _ ______ _____--------- 231
Regularity of work_____________________________________________
Hours of work___________________________ i ------------- -----------------Earnings_________________________________________________________
Need for earnings_____________________
Reasons for undertaking street work--------------------------------------Disposition of earnings________________________________
Street workers in school________________________________________
Delinquency among street workers___________________________
Newspaper carriers_____ ____________________________________
Race and nationality of fathers_______________________________
Age of carriers______________
Work experience_____________________________
Conditions of employment--------------- .------ --------------------------------Regularity of work_____________________________________________
Hours of work___________________________________________________
Earnings_________ . _____________________________ ____________ . . .
Need for earnings_____________________________________
Reasons for undertaking street w o r k . . . . . ------------------Disposition of earnings______________________
Carriers in school_______________________________________________
Delinquency among carriers___________________________________
Part I I I .— Street work in Newark and Paterson, N . J ------------------------------Introduction__________________________________________________
Newark, N . J-------------------------------------Legal regulation of street work_____________________________________
Newspaper sellers_______________ — ; ---------- --------------------------- ---------Race and n a t io n a l^ of fathers_______________;------------------------Economic condition of fam ilies...______________________________
Age of newsboys_________________________________________
Duration of street work________________________________________
Conditions of work------ --------------------


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CONTENTS
Part I I I .— Street work in Newark and Paterson, N . J.— Continued.
Newark, N . J.— Continued.
Newspaper sellers— Continued.
Regularity of work________________________________________
Hours of work________________________________ ____________
Earnings__________________________________ _________________
Newsboys in school________________________________ _______
Newspaper carriers_________ ________________________ ___________
Race and nationality of fathers__________________________
Economic condition of families___________________________
Age of carriers___________________________________ »________
Duration of street work___________________ j______________
Conditions of employment_______________________________
Regularity of work-,____________ __________________________
Hours of work______________________________ ______________
Earnings__________________________ _ _______________________
Carriers in school_____________________ ___________________
Bootblacks_______________________________________ ______________
Race and nationality of fathers___ ______________________
Economic condition of families___________________________
Age of bootblacks____________ ______ ______________________
Duration of street work________________________________
Conditions of work_______________________ . _______________
Regularity of work_____________ __________________ ________
Hours of work-.___________________________________________
Earnings_______________________________ ___________________
Bootblacks in school______________ ____________ | , ___.T;_
Peddlers_______________________________ _________________________
Race and nationality of fathers__________________________
Economic condition of families___________________________
Duration of street work___________________________________
Conditions of work_________ ______________________________
Regularity of work______________________ ___________ - ____
Hours of work____________________- ____________ ___________
Earnings____ ________________________ ___________ 2__________
Peddlers in school_________________________________________
Miscellaneous street workers____________________ _____________
Paterson, N . J______________________________________________________ _
Legal regulation of street work__________________ ________ ____
Newspaper sellers__________________________________ _ ___________
Race and nationality of fathers_________________ _________
Economic condition of families__ ___________ ____________
Age of newsboys____________________________________j§_____
Duration of street work___________________________________
Conditions of work_____________ .1____________ .___ . _______
Regularity of work________________________________________
Hours of work____________________. . . . _____________________
Earnings__________________________ ¡¿fe____ „ _______________
Newsboys in school_________________________________ ______
Newspaper carriers_______________________________ __________
Race and nationality of fa th ers._____________________
Economic condition of families___________________________
Age of carriers__________________________ ________________ _
Duration of street work__________________________________
Conditions of work________________________________________
Regularity of work___________________________ ____________
Hours of work_______________________________________ ______
Earnings_______________________ _________ _________________
Carriers in school__________________________________________
Peddlers_____________________________ ____________________________
Race and nationality of fathers____________________ ______
Economic condition of families___________________________
Age of peddlers_____________________ _______________________
Duration of street work___________________________________
Conditions of work________________________________________
Regularity of work_____ ________ _________________________
Hours of work.


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CONTENTS

Part I I I .— Street work in Newark and Paterson N . J.— Continued.
Paterson N . J.— Continued.
Peddlers— Continued.
Earnings________________________________ ‘1J_________ _ LL'i_______
Peddlers in school_______________________ _ _____ ________________
Miscellaneous street workers_________________________ ______ !---------Part IV .— Street workers in Washington, D . C., and Troy, N. Y _________
Newspaper sellers in Washington, D . C ______________________________ ___
Introduction________________ _____i _______ _______ ___ _ _ _ _ _ _ _______
Legal regulation of newspaper selling. _ ________ — ----------------------Race and nationality of newsboys and their fa th ers.___ ________
Age of newsboys______________________ ___________ _ _ _ _ _ L----------Duration of work_______________Liilit_______ ________ __:____________
Conditions of work_____________ _______________ :_____ ! ____ _ i _______
Regularity of work___________________________ ^ _ _ _ --------------------------Hours of work________ __________________________________ i — .1 — ___
M eals______ h________________________ ______ _______ _'------------- _' ___----Earnings______________________________ __________»---------------- __^__L__
Newsboys in school__________ ____________ __________________________
Attendance_______________________ __ _______ — til'___:_ ________
Truancy_________________ _____________—
______
Scholarship_______________ _ — _ 2_ _ _ i _ _ _ _ -------------------------------Progress________ _________________ ____________ —
----------Families of newsboys_________________________________ _ — ------------Need for earnings___________________________________________________
Attitude of parents toward newspaper selling-____________________
Delinquency among newsboys__________;_ _ -----__ _ _ . i L: ------------------Newspaper carriers in Troy, N . Y ______________________________________

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ILLUSTRATIONS
Newspaper sellers. Frontispiece.
Facing page
Newspaper sellers and bootblacks_____________________ !________ I------------------16


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LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL

U n it e d S t a t e s D

of L a b o r ,
C h il d r e n ’s B u r e a u ,

epartment

Washington, January 2, 1928.
There is transmitted herewith a report on Children in Street
Work, which was made under the general supervision of Ellen Nathalie
Matthews, director of the industrial division of the Children’s Bureau.
Nettie P. McGill, associate director of that division, directed the field
work in four cities, and she has also written the report. The special
study of conditions in and around distribution rooms was made by
Richard Cadbury, jr. There is included a report of a survey of street
workers in Troy, N. Y., made by the New York Child Labor Com­
mittee. Although conditions differed from city to city, the evidence
as to certain conclusions is definite and cumulative.
The bureau is indebted to school officials in each of the cities
included in the study for permission to interview the children in the
schools and to copy school records, and to local civic and social
agencies and representatives of the newspaper companies for helpful
cooperation.
Respectfully submitted.
G r a c e A b b o t t , Chief.
Hon. J a m e s J. D a v i s ,
Secretary of Labor,
Sir :

IX


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K 1
PART I.— INTRODUCTION
THE STREET WORKER AND THE PUBLIC
Less than 25 years ago New York passed the first State law regu­
lating the work of children in the so-called street trades.2 It was
hailed as a “ great step forward,” 3 though it merely fixed a minimum
age of 10 years for boys selling papers (the minimum age for girls
was placed at 16), whereas a minimum age of 14 for work in factories
had been in force in New York since 1892.4
In the progress of child-labor reform street work has been one of
the iast types of child labor to receiye consideration. There are
several reasons for this. The child who goes to work in factory or
store generally leaves school in order to do so, and one of the earliest
and strongest arguments against such work for children was that it
cut short their education; the street worker, at least since child
labor began to be regulated, has commonly been a school child, and
as his work does not remove him bodily from the schoolroom the
assumption is that his education proceeds as usual. Even when
child-labor legislation embraces “ all gainful o c c u p a t io n s ,a s it
tends more and more to do, it is usually so worded that it is con­
strued to apply only to those whose labor is hired by others, and so
through a technicality the little “ street merchant,” though in many
cases as much an employee as any other class of worker, with just as
little control over the conditions of his work, must be made the subject
of special legislation before he can be given the protection afforded
other working children. Finally, what may be termed the romantic
conception of street work and the street worker has operated to his
disadvantage. The tendency to regard the newsboy or the bootblack
as a destitute orphan or as the only support of a widowed mother
and to idealize street work, especially newspaper selling, as one of
the roads to success, has sometimes misled even the most sincere
1In connection with this study a legal analysis was made of State laws and local ordinances regulating
the street work of children in the United States, a tabular summary of which has been issued as a separate
bulletin. (U. S. Children’s Bureau Chart No. 15.)
,
2 N. Y., Laws of 1903, ch. 151. Prior to this, in 1892 (Mass., Acts of 1892, ch. 331), the Massachusetts
Legislature had enacted a general permissive licensing law allowing the mayor and aldermen or selectmen
of a city to make regulations relative to the sale by minors of newspapers and other goods and to require
minors to obtain licenses under such conditions as they might see fit to impose. Even before 1892 a Massa­
chusetts law (1889) had prohibited the selling of newspapers or other articles of merchandise on streetrailway cars by minors under 10 (Mass., Acts of 1889, ch. 229). Certain other early legislation also wa3
directed to some extent to the regulation of juvenile street work. As early as 1874 (N. Y ., Laws of 1874,
ch. 116), a New York law provided a minimum age of 16 for any “ mendicant or wandering business,
peddling, etc., and a law enacted in Massachusetts in 1887 (Mass., Acts of 1887, ch. 422) prohibited the
employment by parent or other person of a minor under 15 without^a license, “ where one is required by
law, ” the reference being to the requirement of a license for hawking or peddling goods. Another old
type of law (for instance, N. Y ., Laws of 1887, ch. 692), one still on the statute books of a number of States,
prohibited the distribution or sale by minors, or by minors under 16 or under 18, of pamphlets, newspapers,
or magazines devoted to the dissemination or principally made up of criminal news, police reports, pictures
and stories of deeds of crime, bloodshed, etc. A city ordinance, the first attempting to regulate juvenile
street work, was passed in Detroit in 1877; it merely required newsboys and bootblacks to obtain permits
from the mayor.
a Fox, Hugh F.: Some Aspects of Child Labor in the United States, p. 12. 1903.
* N. Y., Laws of 1892, ch, 673,

1


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2

CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

friends of children. It is recorded, for instance, that as late as 1903
when the New York street-trades bill was under consideration a
representative of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty
to Children appeared before the legislature at Albany and protested
against a proposed 12-year minimum age.5
The conception of the newsboy as an orphan and an object of
charity has historical justification. In 1854 the author of a book
called “ The Newsboy” thus apologized for her choice of subject:
“ I saw that the race [of newsboys] would soon be so modified by
the genialities of some benevolent souls that the newsboy of our time
would pass away and be only a tradition * * * and soon the
newsboy * * * sleeping by the wayside, in areas, under steps,
about the parks, in old crates and hogsheads, in the markets, and
everywhere that a shelter could be found, would be forgotten.” 6
Newsboys were then commonly waifs and strays. A visitor to the
National Capital in 1863, pitying the wretched appearance of the
boys selling papers in the streets, brought about the establishment
of a newsboys’ home, “ such as exist in some of the principal cities
of the North. ” 7 The vagrant character of the newsboy of the time
is well indicated in the annual report of this home for the year 1863
in which is chronicled its virtual desertion by the older boys, who had
left Washington to follow the Army with the sutlers.
More than half a century later society has learned to care more
adequately for its orphaned and destitute children, but this concep­
tion of the newsboy persists, and the idealization of newspaper selling
as an important factor in the success of business men and men of
affairs is perennial.
A possible further reason why street work as a form of child labor
has received comparatively tardy recognition is that the average
citizen sees the child engaged in his work and unconsciously assumes
therefore that he knows all about it. The problem of street work
and the street worker, like all social problems, involves many and
various factors, however, not apparent to the casual observer.
» Kelley, Florence: Some Ethical Gains through Legislation, p. 12. The Citizen’s Library of Economics,
Politics, and Sociology, edited by Richard T. Ely. Macmillan Co., New York, London, 1905.
« Smith, Elizabeth Oakes: The Newsboy, p. 10. J. C. Derby, New York; Phillips, Sampson & Co.,
Boston, 1854.
? Report of the News-boys’ Home Association, from Its Commencement in April, 1863, to October,
1864, p. 3. Washington, 1864.


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SURVEYS OF JUVENILE STREET TRADERS
There are no complete and accurate statistics of children engaged
in street occupations in the United States. Even the number of
children working on the streets in any particular city is unknown,
unless a special study has been made. The United States Census
reports the number of newsboys and bootblacks both for the United
States and for States and cities, but not the number of all kinds of
street workers, and a comparison of the figures for newsboys and
bootblacks with figures obtained in special surveys shows that the
census returns are an understatement of the numbers engaged in
street occupations. For example, in the cities in which the Chil­
dren’s Bureau made the most intensive studies, the number of news­
paper sellers between 10 and 16 included in the study, probably a
close approximation (see p. 6) to the number of this age group
working steadily at any one time in the particular city, was 127 in
Atlanta, 219 in Columbus, and 283 in Omaha, and the number of
newsboys and bootblacks of these ages in Wilkes-Barre was 196;
whereas the corresponding figures given in the census of 1920 were
only 67, 184, 115, and 14,9 a difference that can not be accounted
for by the fact that the Children’s Bureau studies were made about
three years after the census was taken. Judging from this difference,
the 20,513 10 newsboys between 10 and 16 years of age reported in
the 1920 census for the United States, would more nearly approxi­
mate the actual figure if multiplied by 2. Even so, it would not
include children under 10, who, again judging by the Children’s
Bureau studies, constitute one-tenth to one-fifth, according to the
city, of all the newsboys at work. (Table 2, p. 9.)
Authentic information, then, is to be had only as the result of
special surveys. The following is a list of the more important of
these made since 1910, arranged chronologically:
The Newsboys of Saint Louis; a study by the School of Social Econom y of
Washington University, St. Louis, M o., 1910. 15 pp.
“ The newsboys of Milwaukee,” by Alexander Fleisher. Fifteenth Biennial
Report of the [Wis.] Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics, pp. 6 1 -9 6 .. D em ­
ocrat Printing Co., Madison, 1911.
“ A survey of working children in Kansas City with special stress on thé street
trades and messenger service,” by Eva M . Marquis. Sixth Annual Report of
the Board of Public Welfare of Kansas City, M o., April 21, 1914, to April 20,
1915, pp. 108-160.
“ Newsboys and other street traders,” by Lettie L. Johnston. Twenty-fourth
Annual Report of the Bureau of Statistics and Information of Maryland, 1915,
pp. 101-129. Baltimore, 1915.
Chicago Children in the Street Trades, by Elsa Wertheim. The Juvenile
Protective Association of Chicago, 1917. 11 pp.
Newsboy Service; a study in educational and vocational guidance (with an
introduction by George Elliott Howard), by Anna Y . Reed. World Book C o.,
Yonkers-on-Hudson, N . Y ., 1917. 175 pp.
The Newsboys of Cincinnati, by Maurice B. Hexter. Studies from the Helen
S. Trounstine Foundation, vol. 1, No. 4, January 15, 1919. Cincinnati, 1919.
65 pp.
« Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. IV, Population, Occupations, pp. 604, 617,651, 688.
Washington, 1923.
1» Ibid., p. 486.

3


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4

CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

. T h e Newsboys of Dallas; a study by the Civic Federation of Dallas. Dallas.
M ay, 1921. 32 pp.
’
“ Juvenile street work in Iowa,” by Sara A . Brown. American Child, vol. 4
N o. 2 (August, 1922), pp. 130-149.
’
“ Connecticut study of street trades,” by H . M . Diamond. American Child,
vol. 4, N o. 2 (August, 1922), pp. 97 -103.
Toledo School Children in Street Trades. Toledo Consumers’ League and
the Ohio Council on Women and Children in Industry, Toledo, 1922. 32 pp.
‘ Newsboys in Birmingham (A la .),” by Esther Lee Rider. American Child,
vol. 3, N o. 4 (February, 1922), pp. 31 5-324.
“ Newsboys in Springfield,” prepared by Louise Austin, Dorothy Bateman,
Frances Hemenway, Avalita Howe, and Laura Sargent under direction of Amy
Hewes, August, 1923. National Vocational Guidance Association Bulletin, Vol
II, N o. 2 (November, 1923), pp. 2 7 -3 6 .
Cl6V6land School Children W ho Sell on the Streets; a study made by Marion
M . Willoughby of the National Child Labor Committee for the Ohio Consumers’
League. Cleveland, 1924. 38 pp.
“ Street traders of Buffalo, N . Y .; a study made by The Juvenile Protective
Department, Children s Aid and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
of Ene County, N . Y . ” Foundation Forum, N o. 52 (August, 1926). 39 pp
Tulsa Children Engaged in Street Trades; a study made by Tulsa Branch
of American Association of University W om en. Tulsa, 1928. 34 pp.
Junk Dealing and Juvenile Delinquency; an investigation made for the Juvenile
Protective Association of Chicago, by Harry H . Grigg and George E. H aynes;
text by Albert E. Webster. 60 pp.
’
The Health of a Thousand Newsboys in New York C ity; a study made in
cooperation with the Board of Education by the heart committee of the New
York Tuberculosis and Health Association. Mimeographed. 41 pp.

The larger number of these surveys have dealt only with the news­
paper seller; only a few have included newspaper carriers on routes;
and fewer still have included peddlers, bootblacks, or other street
workers. In some of the reports, unfortunately, the data on the differ­
ent types of workers have been combined, so that it is impossible to
draw sound conclusions in regard to any one group. (For examples of
studies in which the combination of different groups of street workers
has rendered important conclusions of doubtful value, see pp. 19, 22.)
With one exception a survey of newsboys and magazine carriers
and sellers in Seattle, in which street work is considered from the
point of view of its possibilities in vocational training for school
boys 11 the investigators have approached street work as a childlabor problem.12
11 Newsboy Service, by Anna Y . Reed.
w iUeniion may be made here ofthe investigations of street work made by the interdepartmental comft^ ish ft?use of,.Co? lrS?nus m i?01 to inquire into the extent and conditions of
o n l t , « 2 r 1a&&£a& $ & resu t®?f which are given m Report of Interdepartmental Committee
2P .the Employment of School Children, 1901; and also of the testimony on street work given before the
SoniSl r ™ “ ! 66 f t ft® Employment of Children Act of 1903 and published in ReportoftheDepartSeotal Committee on the Employment of Children Act (1903), 1910. Although conditions differ from
* t d .States, these reports contain much interesting information for the student of juvenile
pmvvv YvQiJv in American cities.


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THE CHILDREN'S BUREAU STUDY
The Children’s Bureau study consisted of a survey of the extent
and conditions of street work among children under 16 years of age
in selected cities, an inquiry into methods of enforcing various types
of regulation, and an analysis of the legal provisions affecting the
employment of children in street work.13
For the survey of the extent and conditions of juvenile street work,
four cities were originally selected— Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Columbus,
Ohio; Atlanta, Ga.; and Omaha, Nebr. These cities were chosen,
first, because they represented communities having different types of
street-trades regulation (see pp. 70, 123, 174, 228); second, because
local cooperation was assured; and, third, because they were in
different parts of the country and different industrially and in the
make-up of their populations. Wilkes-Barre is a small, industrial
city with mining its dominant industry and with a large foreign-bom
population; Columbus is the State capital and is not primarily an
industrial community, but it has diversified industries and an un­
usually large proportion of its population are native whites of native
white parentage; Omaha has diversified industries and a large
foreign-bom population; Atlanta is primarily a commercial city with
chiefly native inhabitants, a large proportion of whom are negroes.
Through the cooperation of the public and the parochial school
authorities in each of these cities a fist was obtained of all the children
under 16 years of age in each school14 who reported to their teachers
jj| that they were doing any kind of street work. The legal distinction
between street traders and other street workers was ignored. With
the exception of messengers and delivery and errand children, whose
work now quite generally comes under the regular provisions of the
child-labor laws, all child street workers were included whether they
had employers or not. Every child reported as doing street work was
interviewed at school by a Children’s Bureau agent and was included
in the study if he was working at the time of the interview and had
engaged in any street work during a period of one month within the
year preceding the interview.15 The minimum requirement of one
day during a month applied particularly to magazine sellers and car­
riers and to peddlers of various types who had regular jobs which
required work at a certain definite time of the month. Return visits
were made to the various schools to see those who were absent when
the other children had been interviewed, but a few who were fisted as
street workers were lost to the study through their continued absence
from school. No doubt a few also were absent from school at the time
of the teachers’ inquiries and so did not appear on the fists.
The number of street workers included in the study in any city
does not represent, therefore, a census of the number who were
engaged in street occupations at any one time. Aside from the
exclusion of children who had worked less than a month during the
18 See pp. 47-60 of this report and also Laws and Ordinances Regulating Street Work.
In Columbus one parochial school did not furnish the information.
w A few children under 16 years of age seen on the streets who were not attending school were included In
the surveys.
5
M


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6

CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

year, the interviewing in each city extended over ,a period of about
two months, and by the time the last interviews were held some
children who may have been working when the interviewing was
begun had stopped and others who had not been working when the
teacher made inquiry had begun to work. These groups would tend
to offset each other in the Count, however, so that although the num­
ber included in the study may not be precisely that which would
have been found had it been practicable to make an enumeration on
any one day, it is no doubt a close approximation, barring the casual
and irregular workers whose whole experience in street work would
probably not amount to more than a few weeks.
Information regarding their work was obtained from the children
themselves during the interview at school and in informal conversa­
tions on the streets, in newspaper-distributing rooms, in newsboys’
clubs, etc. This was supplemented by school records of the date of
birth, school attendance, scholarship, and deportment of the street
workers, and by juvenile-court and family-agency records. The
latter were examined in each city for the street workers and their
families. The records of mental or intelligence tests given in the
schools were copied, wherever they were available, as it was hoped
that they might be used as a check on conclusions regarding the effect
of street work on success in school; but except for one or two groups,
such tests had been given to too few boys to be of value for this pur­
pose. An attempt was made also to use the results of school physical
examinations, but even in the cities where these were made by phy­
sicians and were fairly adequate for the purpose (at least in regard to a
few items, like height and weight) and were given annually so that
records of fairly recent examinations were available, the records were
incomplete in so many cases that the material was discarded as unre­
liable. If it had been practicable to make physical examinations
especially for the study interesting information on the physical
condition of the street workers might have resulted and interesting
comparisons with unselected groups might have been possible, though
as a basis for conclusions as to the physical effects of street work a
series of examinations is essential. (For a discussion of studies
relating to the health of newsboys, see pp. 19, 20.)
A supplementary inquiry was made in regard to home conditions,
especially as these related to the question of the need of the street
worker’s earnings at home and the parents’ attitude toward the work
of their children, based on interviews with parents in a selected num­
ber of families.16 The distribution methods of the local newspapers
were investigated, and newspaper agents, business managers, circu­
lation managers, and other employees of the newspapers were inter­
viewed in each of the cities. Opinions in regard to the problems
involved in the selling and carrying of papers by school boys were
sought from representatives of the newspapers; school officials and
16
The method of selecting street workers for home visits was as follows: After the number of home visits
that could be made was decided upon, occupational groups (for example, newspaper carriers) were selected
for visiting in the same proportion (by rough count) to the number of visits as to the total number of street
workers. Within each occupational group street workers of different parentage, different ages, and differ­
ent periods of employment were selected in approximately the same proportion to the street workers in
the particular occupational group selected for visit as to the total number of street workers in the occupa­
tional group. For example, if 200 home visits were decided upon and it was found that half the street
traders included in the study were newspaper carriers, 100 visits were made to families of carriers. If onefourth the total number of carriers were of foreign parentage, 25 of the visits were to carriers of foreign par­
entage. If it was found that 15 per cent of the carriers were under 10,15 carriers under 10 were selected for
home visits, and if it was found that two-thirds of the carriers under 10 had worked less than six months,.
10 of the 15 selected carriers under 10 were selected from the group who had worked less than six months.


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

INTRODUCTION

7

teachers, social workers, juvenile-court judges, clergymen, and others
were interviewed in regard to various aspects of the local problem
of juvenile street work. Such interviews were often disappointing,
as many persons in close contact with the street-working boy had
given the subject no thought. An agent of the Children’s Bureau
visited the newspaper-distribution rooms at times when the boys
came for their papers and returned to make settlements, and the
workers were observed at work on the street throughout the day and
during the night as long as any were seen at work. In short, every
practicable source of information as to the work, its effect upon the
child, and its relation to his home environment was investigated.
Mingling with the workers and sharing their experiences as one of
themselves, but with identity concealed, a method of investigation
considered by the director of a study of the newsboy in Cincinnati,
essential to obtaining some of the most important kinds of informa­
tion,17 no doubt would have yielded valuable additional information
on certain phases of the newsboy’s environment, but this method was
not used. The identity of the bureau agent who made the investi­
gation of conditions in and around the newspaper-distributing rooms
was known to all concerned.
The study in the four cities was made during the winter and spring
of 1922-23, but each city was revisited in 1926 or in 1927 in order
to ascertain whether or not the situation had changed. In none had
important changes taken place. The statistics presented in the
report are those gathered in the original surveys.
Reports of surveys made at a slightly later date in Newark and
Paterson, N. J., Washington, D. C., and Troy, N. Y. appear in this
publication. The method and scope of the first three surveys are
somewhat different from those of the earlier studies of the bureau.
In Newark and Paterson the study of juvenile street workers was
only part of a study of occupations of public-school children— and
that, in turn, part of a series of studies of child welfare in New
Jersey— made by the Children’s Bureau in 1925;18 it was much
less detailed than the earlier studies, but it included all street workers
who had worked at least one month during either the summer vaca­
tion preceding the interview or the school term in which the inquiry
was made. As the earlier studies had included only those who were
working when interviewed, the New Jersey study provides a larger
statistical base and also information as to conditions of work in
vacation, an aspect untouched in the other surveys. The study in
Washington was made by the Children’s Bureau in 1926, in coopera­
tion with the department of attendance and work permits of the
Washington public schools, and covered only newspaper sellers.
The parent or parents of each boy were interviewed— not only the
boy himself and the parents of a selected number, as in most of the
other surveys. The survey in Troy was made in 1923 by the New
York Child Labor Committee. It was identical in method with the
earlier street-work studies made by the Children’s Bureau, but only
the facts as to newspaper carriers are presented in this report.
17 The Newsboys of Cincinnati, p. 117.
18 Child Welfare in New Jersey: Part 1, State supervision and personnel administration; Part 2, State
provision for dependent children; Part 4, Local provision for dependent and delinquent children in rela­
tion to the State program. U. S. Children’s Bureau Publications Nos. 174, 175, and 180. Washington,
1927.

75034°— 28-------2


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SUMMARY OF CHILDREN’ S BUREAU SURVEYS
M ost street workers work in connection with, the sale and dis­
tribution of newspapers. By far the larger number of the boys
included in the Children’s Bureau surveys, as Table 1 shows, were
newspaper carriers or sellers; but peddlers, magazine sellers and car­
riers, and bootblacks were fairly numerous in some of the cities,
and in each place a few children were found in various other kinds of
street work. Because carriers and sellers, though both concerned
with newspapers and both often grouped together in street-work
surveys, worked under dissimilar conditions and in general repre­
sented different social and economic backgrounds, they are discussed
in separate sections of this summary. The facts in regard to each
group are shown in the same tables, however, so that the contrast
between them can be the more readily seen.
The summary facts for the different cities presented in this section
are fairly comparable. All street workers shown in the tables worked
during the school term. In all cities except Newark and Paterson
the children included were working at the date of interview, and the
surveys occurred during the school term. In Newark and Paterson
facts were obtained for children working during the school term, but
not all were working at the date of interview.
T a b l e 1.— Occupations of boys engaged in street work during school term in
specified cities
Boys from 6 to 15 years of age
Occupation

Newspaper boy, other than seller and

Newark Omaha
Atlanta Colum­
bus

Pater­
son 2

WilkesBarre

Troy

881

1,434

1,882

1,255

413

282

570

356
144

986
273

679
467

740
320

178
108

225
41

315
167

2
222
7
80
20
29
8
13

1
42
3
42
27
3
53
4

14
243
387
34
4
8
17
29

61
5
104
11
11
3

7
60
48
3
3
2
1
3

1
8

3
1
75

7

7

i Boys working for premiums are not included.

1
1

2 Boys 7 to 15 years of age.

NEWSPAPER SELLERS
AGE

The age at which children enter most occupations is gradually
rising, but the newsboy is as young as ever. In each of the cities of
the survey children of 6 and 7 sold papers (in one city, two boys of 5).
From 11 to 21 per cent of the newspaper sellers were under 10 years
of age; in three of the seven cities more than one-sixth were under
this age. (Table 2.) This proportion was only 12 per cent in St.
Louis even in 1910.19 In two cities (Wilkes-Barre and Newark) the
» The Newsboys of St. Louis, p. 5.

8

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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

9

INTRODUCTION

majority of the newsboys were under 12. The age distribution is
about the same as that found in other recent studies. In Seattle
in 1917, Toledo in 1921, Cleveland in 1924, and Tulsa in 1926, from
10 to 20 per cent of the newspaper sellers under 16 were under 10
years old, and from 35 to 50 per cent were under 12.20 Fewer news­
boys were 14 or 15 years old than might be expected from the fact
that these are years when the desire for remunerative employment
is strong and many parents encourage their adolescent boys to earn
at least some of their spending money. For the most part they come
from families in which it is expected that the boys will leave school
for work as soon as they can fulfill the requirements for a work per­
mit, and in industrial cities like Wilkes-Barre and Newark, with a
large foreign-born population, were found the smallest proportion of
newsboys between 14 and 16.
T a b l e 2.— Age at date of interview; newspaper sellers and carriers working during
school term in specified cities
Boys from 6 to 15 years of age

A tla n ta

C o lu m ­
bus

N ew a rk

O m aha

P ater­
son 1

T roy

W ash­
in g to n 1

W ilkesB arre

N um ber

P er cent dis­
tribu tion

P er cent dis­
tribu tio n

N um ber

N um ber

P er cen t dis­
tribu tion

P er cen t dis­
tribu tion

N um ber

P er cent dis­
tribu tion

I N um ber

P er cen t dis­
tribu tion

N um ber

P er cent dis­
tribu tion

| N um ber

P er cent dis­
tribu tion

[ N um ber

A g e at d a te o f in terview

NEWSPAPER SELLERS
T o t a l . . ................ ..
T o ta l rep orted .....................

144

273

467

320

108

202

143 100.0 272 100.0 467|l00.0 320 100.0 108 100.0
1.4
4.2
5.6
14.0
11.9
21.7
17.5
15.4
8.4

U n der 8 years________
8 y e a r s ........................
9 years________________
10 y e a r s .. .....................
11 years_______ _______
12 years______________
13 years______________
14 years______________
15 years...........................

2
6
8
20
17
31
25
22
12

N o t r e p o rte d ........................

1

1

356

986

13
12
28
25
45
43
51
36
19

4 .8
4.4
10.3
9.2
16.5
15.8
18.8
13.2
7.0

15
24
58
52
88
83
75
44
28

3.2
5.1
12.4
11.1
18.8
17.8
16.1
9.4
6.0

3
7
27
31
50
66
49
49
38

.9
2.2
8.4
9.7
15.6
20.6
15.3
15.3
11.9

2
2
12
16
12
21
14
15
14

167

202 100.0 165 100.0
7
0
1*>
23
si
33
38
31
91

1.9
1.9
11.1
14 8
11.1
19.4
13.0
13.9
13.0

3.5
3 0
5 9
11 4
15 3
iö ! 3
18 8
15 3
10.4

7
11
17
99

26
18
5

3 .0

?

NEWSPAPER CARRIERS
T o t a l_______________
T o ta l r e p o r t e d . . ______
U n d er 8 years...............
8 years_______________
9 years_______________
10 yea rs____________
11 y e a r s ..........................
12 y e a r s .......................
13 years.......................
14 y e a r s ....................
15 y e a r s ........................

679

740

178

225

315

356 100.0 983 100.0 677 100.0 740 100.0 177 100.0 225 100.0
10
12
22
20
44
48
73
68
59

2.8
3.4
6.2
5.6
12.4
13.5
20.5
19.1
16.6

N o t r e p o r t e d ..................

10
26
66
75
142
191
185
186
102

1.0 24 3.6
7
.9
11 1. 5
2.6
13 1.9
6.7 30 4.4 27 3. 6
7.6
67 9.9 54 7.3
14.4 95 14.0 80 10.8
19.4 127 18.8 138 18.6
18.8 151 22.3 121 16.4
18.9 123 18.2 171 23.1
10.4 47 6.9 131 17.7

3

1 Boys 7 to 15 years of age.

2

3
1
9
13
20
?5
48
29
99

1.7
5 1
7.3
11.3
14 1
27 1
16.4
16.4

4
4
6
?1
9Q
41
46
41
33

1.8
1 8
¿7
9 3
12 9
18 2
20 4
18 2
14! 7

315 100.0
19

3 8

34

22

7.0

i

* Includes 2 boys 5 years of age.

It is rather generally believed, even by the newsboys themselves
and by some of the circulation managers, that small boys make the
20
Newsboy Service, p. 20; Toledo School Children in Street Trades, p. 7; Cleveland School Children
Who Sell on the Streets, p, 10; Tulsa Children Engaged in Street Trades, p. 12,


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10

CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

most sales. But in every city included in the Children’s Bureau
survey the earnings were found to increase with the age of the seller;
the median weekly earnings were everywhere larger for newsboys of
12 years or over than for those under 12, and were larger for boys of
14 or 15 than for those of 12 or 13, except in Wilkes-Barre, Atlanta,
and Washington, where they were the same for these two age groups.
In most of the places 14 or 15 year old newsboys made two or three
times as much as newsboys of 10 or 11. Generally speaking, the
younger boys did not work as long hours as the older ones. Possibly
the more youthful newsboy with his greater appeal to the sympathies
of the public could earn more money than an older one if he worked
just as long, but he seldom spends as much time on the street and so
does not make as much money for himself and the paper that he
sells. In cities where the newspapers assign the boys on the streets
the older ones are given the best stands. However, though circula­
tion managers sometimes complain of the unreliability of the boy
under 12, they have no objection to using him to “ fill in.” Faced
with the necessity of getting into circulation as soon as possible
the most perishable of all products— worthless a few hours after it
leaves the press— men in the distribution rooms will give papers to
children so small that they have to stand on tiptoe to reach the coun­
ter. It is too much to expect that the newspapers will voluntarily
debar the little boy from the streets, though he is not worth so much
to them as his older brother.
All seven cities in the surveys of newspaper sellers had ordinances,
or, in the case of Omaha and Wilkes-Barre, were in States having a
state-wide law, restricting the age at which children might sell papers,
the minimum being at least 10 years in all except Columbus, where
children might sell on the streets at the age of 8. In Atlanta and
in Wilkes-Barre the minimum was 12. An examination of Table 2
indicates the extent to which the regulations were disregarded. At
best the effort to enforce them was feeble. In none_of the cities did
the agency responsible for enforcement have a sufficiently large staff
to do the work, and in most the law or ordinance itself was weak in
one or more important provisions.21
H O U R S OF W O R K

Tables 3, 4, 5, and 6 give the principal facts found in the surveys
in regard to newsboys’ hours.22 The hours of work for newspaper
sellers were regulated by the street-trades ordinances in Atlanta,
Newark, and Paterson, and by the street-trades laws in WilkesBarre and in the District of Columbia; in Omaha and in Columbus
the only hour regulations were curfew ordinances.23 Very little
attention was paid to most of these provisions; in Atlanta, for example,
65 of the 109 newsboys under 14, to whom the hour regulations
applied, were regularly violating the provision as to evening hours of
selling.
21 See DP. 48, 51 of this report and also Laws and Ordinances Regulating Street Work.
22 The tabulations on hours and earnings have been based on the number of boys holding a single job,
as many of the boys who had two or more street jobs were unable to state their hours and earnings for each

F ot details, see pp. 70,228,274,312,331, and Laws and Ordinances Regulating Street Work.


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11

INTRODUCTION

T a b l e 3 .— Hour of ending afternoon work on a typical school day; newspaper

sellers and carriers holding a single job during school term in specified cities
Boys from 6 to 15 years of age

Atlanta
Hour of ending afternoon
work on a typical
school day

Colum­ Newark
bus

«g
»©
•4 n i
"SS U<D 1N§
•O $ ! rÛ 8 |
Ut Ut
Ut u
©+*
P4
i
fc M<D+*

Omaha

Pater­
son1

■ Troy

3
g
3-2 Ut f | . Ut
44irâ
©
©
Pü ©
i | X i IO'X! rg
°.'S
i
M
M
»-/m
© 4-3
5
&
& P4
£ p-i

•Wash­
ing­
ton2

U

s
.o

§P

©

X

Ut'Ü
-U»

©

&

WilkesBarre

S-4
©
§ 1 rO
©¿g
I
ut C
©-M 3
Ph
&

t s .

fl-g
©g
l_
4
©4J
ß*

NEWSPAPER SELLERS

138

214

467

253

108

202

145

Afternoon street work on
typical school day_--___ 118

163

438

194

100

188

109

Total_______ _____

Total reported______ 117 100.0 162 100.0 435 100.0 193 100.0 100 100.0
Before 6 p. m.......
6 p. m., before 8 ..
8 p. m., before 10.
10 p. m. and after.

9 7.7 36 22.2 168 38.6 21 10.9
82 70.1 108 66.7 231 53.1 166 86.0
23 19.7 3 18 11.1 32 7.4
4 2.1
3 2.6
4 0.9
2 1.0

Not reported..............

1

1

No afternoon street work
on typical school d ay...
No street work on school
day ........................... .

1
19

188 100.0 109 1 0 0 . 0

31 31.0
54 54.0
12 1? 0
3 3.0

27
117
22
22

14.4
62.2
11.7
11.7

20 18.3
76 69.7
12 11.0
1 0. 9

3

1

23

3

31

1

28

26

28

7

T ota l...................... 34?

906

679

703

178

212

245

Afternoon street work on
school days___________ 290

866

650

662

169

186

147

14

36

NEWSPAPER CARRIERS

Total reported.......... 285 100.0 865 100.0 650 100.0 658 100.0 169 100.0 184 100.0

147 100.0

Before 6 p. m___ 257 90.2 833 96.3 514 79.1 605 91.9 150 88.8 139 75.5
6 p. m., before 8.. 28 9.8 31 3.6 131 20.2 52 7.9 19 11.2 45 24.5
8 p. m. and after.
1 0.1
1 0.2
5 0.8

122 83.0
25 17.0

Not reported_______
No afternoon street work
on typical school day...
No street work on school
day................... .............

5

1

38

1 32

16

37

5

14

8

13

4

4

4

2
57
26

41

1 Boys 7 to 15 years of age.
2 Includes 2 boys 5 years of age.
3 Includes 8 p .m . and after.
* Includes 3 boys about whom It was not reported whether they worked in the morning or in the afternoon.

Schoolboys usually sell evening papers, which come from the press
about the time school is dismissed. As a rule they continue to sell
untill about 6.30 or 7, when the demand drops off. In the smaller
cities on nights other than Saturday the demand for newspapers is
slight after 8 p. m., though in both Wilkes-Barre and Paterson, the
smallest cities included in the surveys, a few boys stayed out until
after 8 or even after 10. Whether or not they sell after 8 depends in
the larger cities on local conditions. In Newark it was said that
news stands took care of the night trade and boys were needed only
for the peak. In Columbus and Omaha, where the newsboy was
really an employee of the paper— his place of work, the number of
papers he must sell, and the hour of stopping being dictated by the
circulation manager— he was given credit for the day's papers and

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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

12

CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

was obliged to return to the office for a settlement around 7 or 7.30.
In these cities therefore few boys sold as late as 8 p. m., though some
if “ stuck” with papers went back to the streets after the evening
settlement and tried to dispose of them. In Atlanta, where the
newsboys worked under a similar arrangement, settlement was
allowed as late as 8 p. m., and 22 per cent sold until at least this hour.
In Atlanta, also, as in Washington, the only other city included in
the survey in which a number of boys sold on school nights after
8 o ’clock, newsboys sold the so-called “ bulldog” edition of the
morning papers, which came out about 9 p. m. In each of the cities,
except Columbus, at least a few newsboys were on the streets on
school nights until 10 or later.
It is on Saturday nights, however, that late selling is a problem.
That is the “ big night” for newsboys because of the opportunity
to sell the Sunday papers, which are issued Saturday evening in time
to reach the Saturday-night theater and restaurant crowds, and
which yield a larger profit than daily papers. In every one of the
cities surveyed, except Newark and Columbus, a large proportion of
the newsboys worked on Saturday nights until at least 10 p. mu,
and in Atlanta, Omaha, and Washington many worked until midnight or later. Generally speaking, the newsboys keeping these late
hours were as young as those who sold papers only a short time after
school or on Saturday afternoons. Often the Saturday-night work
followed many hours of selling papers on the downtown streets.
Released from school and with papers appearing almost every hour,
many boys make an all-day affair of selling papers on Saturdays.
They leave home before noon and in some cases do not return until
2 or 3 o ’clock in the morning or not at all, spending the night, in
newspaper-distribution rooms in order to be out on the streets with
papers early Sunday morning.
T a b l e 4.— Hour of ending work on a typical Saturday night; newspaper sellers
holding a single job during school term in specified cities

Boys from 6 to 15 years of age

Total__ _________ __________ 138

214

467

253

108

202

145

123

184

375

221

100

191

126

121 100.0 183 100.0 374 100.0 220 100.0 100 100.0 191 100.0 126 100.0

Total reported_______________
Before 6 p .m .
______
6 p. m., before 8__________
8 p. m., before 10_________
10 p. m.. before 12......... . _
Not reported_________________
No street work on Saturday______
1 Boys 7 to 15 years of age,


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Per cent dis­
tribution

Number.

Per cent dis­
tribution

Number

Per cent dis­
tribution

Pater­ Washing­ Wilkesson 1
ton 2
Barre

Number

Per cent dis­
tribution

Omaha

Number

Per cent dis­
tribution

Number

Per cent dis­
tribution

Per cent dis­
tribution

| Number

Colum­ Newark
bus

|Number

Atlanta
Hour of ending work on a
Saturday night

9 7.4 53 29.0 202 54.0
26 21.5 97 53.0 133 35.6
12 9.9 21 11.4 36 9.6
39 32.2 3 12 6.6
3
35 28.9
•3

51 23.2
94 42.7
6 2.7
15 6.8
54 24.5

2

1

i

i

15

30

02

32

2 Includes 2 boys 5 years of age,

35
26
11
23
5

8

35.0
26.0
11.0
23.0
5.0

22
72
17
50
30

11

11.5
37.7
8.9
26.2
15.7

21 16.7
41 32.5
42 33.3
14 X h l
8 63

19

* Includes 10 p. in, and after.

13

INTRODUCTION

Relatively few boys sold morning papers on school days— 6 in
Atlanta, 8 in Paterson, 19 in Wilkes-Barre, 51 in Columbus, 1 in
Washington, 54 in Omaha, and 8 in Newark. Many of these sold
for two hours or more before beginning the day’s work at school.
The newspaper sellers work very long hours as well as at unde­
sirable times. For those working on school days— and one-half to
more than three-fourths in the different cities worked six or seven
days a week— the median number of hours of selling on a school
day was between three and five in four cities and between two and
three in three cities. The median number of hours selling a week
was between 16 and 24 in four cities and between 8 and 16 in three
cities. The median number of hours per week for newspaper sellers
in all cities combined was approximately 16. Slightly more than
half of the sellers were working (including their 25 hours of school
work) 41 hours a week or more.
T a b l e 5.— Number of hours of street work on a typical school day; newspaper sellers
and carriers holding a single job during school term in specified cities

Boys from 6 to 15 years of age

Number of hours of street
work on a t y p i c a l
school day

Atlanta

Colum­ Newark
bus

Sh f .2

‘■3 g
<D
CD +3«S Ut
rO
8g
oí i
I
Ut
<D£ 9
fc
Ph
%

1 !
CD43
PH

£

Ut

Omaha

Pater­
son 1

Troy

Wash­
ington 2

WilkesBarre

H § Ut 'S O
1
CD "SS CD
<3 g "g rû
ö
<D 2a-g
rO
rQ
Dg Xi
S
æ
0 ,0
l i
a *-<■£ 1
i
t-(
I h fcj
D+3
D*Lj 0 C
A
& Ph
¡z¡ Ph
Ph** A ß i
¡z¡
‘• 3

É l
§"3

g

Ut

«2
■S g
■4-3Tí
fl "fl
s i
ëS
PM

NEWSPAPER SELLERS

T ota l--................... 138
Street work on school

119

214

467

253

108

202

145

186

449

225

101

188

109

188 1Ó0.0 108 100.0

Total reported........... 118 100.0 185 100.0 438 100.0 224 100.0 101 100.0
Less than 1 hour..
1 hour, less than 2.
2 hours, less than
3
3 hours, less than
5

5 hours and over..

No street work on school

4 3.7
35 32.4

4
19

14 11.9

46 24.9 162 37.0

50 22.3

51 50.5

57 30.3

33 30.6

95 21.7 139 62.1
13 3.0 12 5.4

27 26.7
1 1.0

91 48.4
20 10.6

27 25.0
9 8.3

94 50.8
14 7.6

3 3.0
19 18.8 _____

1.1
9.6

7 3.8 28 6.4
24 13.0 140 32.0

70 59.3
26 22.0

1.8
8.5

2
18

1.7
5.1

2
6

—

1

1

1

11

1

19

28

18

28

7

342

906

679

703

178

212

328

898

66S

69S

174

186

14

36

NEWSPAPER CARRIERS

Street work on school

_______

245
204

Total reported______ 323 100.0 895 100.0 666 100.0 695 100.0 174 100.0 184 100.0

204 100.0

28 16.1 56 30.4
73 42.0 108 58.7
73 42.0 20 10.9

138 67.6
61 29.9
.5 2.5

Less than 1 hour.- 51 15.8 280 31.3 202 30.3 187 26.9
1 horn:, less than 2. 192 59.4 508 56.8 346 52.1 427 61.4
2 hours and over.. 80 248 107 12.0 118 17.7 81 11.7
5
No street work on school

14

i Boys 7 to 15 years of age.


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

2
h

4

2
4

26

! Includes 2 boys 5 years of age.

41

14

CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

T able

6 . — Number of hours of street work during a typical week; newspaper sellers
and carriers holding a single job during school term in specified cities

Boys from 6 to 15 years of age

Atlanta
Number of hours of street
work during a typical
week
&

ës

a

<3+3
Pm

£

Colum­ Newark
bus

Omaha

U
&

2 .2
§ s
0 ,0
cB u

a
3
&

&

'l l
ë s

u
r& ,

a
0
&

S£
Ph

&

0 ,0

Pater­
son 1

Troy

Wash­ Wilkesington 2 Barre

Ñ

B <

NEWSPAPER SELLERS

Total................... .

214

138

467

108

253

Total reported__________ 135 100.0 211 100.0 437 100.0 250
Less than 8 hours____
8 hours, less than 16-16 hours, less than 24.
24 hours and over___
Not reported___________

21
15
37
62

39
60
42
70

15.6
11.1
27.4
45.9

18.5 106 24.3 38
28.4 197 45.1
35
19.9 82 18.8 70
33.2 52 11.9 107

3

3

30

3

Total...... ...............- 342

906

679

703

15.2
14.0
28.0
42.

100.0

202:100.0

1100.0

16.3
37.5
35.«

12.4
24.8
30.7
32.2

29.3
35.0

10.6

20.0

15.7

NEWSPAPER CARRIERS

Total reported_________

205

178

336 100.0 896 100.0 671 100.0 698 100.0

100.0

100.0

85 25.3 377 42.1 373 55.6 200 28.7
Less than 8 hours___
8 hours, less than 16. - 207 61.6 448 50. C 250 37.3 400 57.3
16 hours, less than 24- 39 11.6 65 7.3 41 6.1 96 13.
6 0.7
7 1.0
2 0.3
24 hours and over___
5 1.5

38.1
43.2
13.6
5.1

69.8
27.

Not reported________

6

Boys 7 to 15 years of age.

10

8

2.0
0.5

:

100. 0

12.7
0.4

5

2 Includes 2 boys 5 years of age.

On this point the findings of the Children’s Bureau surveys show
somewhat longer hours than those shown in other street-work studies.
In Springfield newsboys were found to be working on an average
between two and three hours a day, and in Buffalo they averaged 13
hours a week; in Tulsa, the median hours of work a day were three,
and 20 per cent of the boys worked 24 hours or longer a week; in
Toledo, 13 per cent of the newsboys worked more than 24 hours a
week.24
D U R A T IO N OF W O R K

Many a boy tries his hand at selling papers and if he finds that he
is unsuccessful or that the work is distasteful gives it up in a few
days or a few weeks; other boys sell now and then when the spirit
moves them to seek adventure or when some special event— election
day, the baseball season— tempts them to join the crowds on the
streets and “ make big money.” But professional newsboys, such
as those included in the Children’s Bureau study, sell for months and
in many cities for years. Information in regard to the length of
time that the boys had held the newspaper-selling job in which they
were engaged when interviewed was obtained in five cities, and in
each a very large proportion had sold papers without interruption for
at least one year (Table 7), the smallest proportion being 38 per cent
in Columbus, where the work was more exacting than in some places
24 Newsboys in Springfield, p. 31; Tulsa Children Engaged in Street Trades, p. 31; Toledo School Chil­
dren in Street Trades, p. 10.


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

i

15

INTRODUCTION

because the newsboys were given more supervision. More than onesixth of the boys in each city had had their jobs at least three years,
some as much as five or six years or even longer. Many of the boys
had had other periods of selling, so that altogether their street-work
experience had embraced a large part of their lives.
The few other surveys of newsboys in which information was
obtained on how long boys engage in the work show that these facts
are as true for other places as for those studied by the Children’s
Bureau. In Birmingham 25 it was found that 70 per cent of the news­
paper sellers in the study had worked a year or longer. In Tulsa 26
38 per cent had worked steadily at least a year when the inquiry
was made.
T a b l e 7.— Previous duration of job held at date of interview; newspaper sellers
and carriers working during school term in specified cities
Boys from 6 to 15 years of age

Atlanta

Columbus

Ofnaba

Troy

Previous duration of job held at
date of interview
U
£

« jj
ios,q
IL'*’

*-4
£

a
a
&

'S ö
-W.2
§ !

U
w
T&

'S a
^ o
0) Çj

¡3

<d-S
P4

Sh
©
rQ
a
3
¡3

'S a
•w.2
§3
© 13
m

Washing­
ton 1

WilkesBarre

-o
U
£

a
3
¡3

a
■** °
a
S ß

^
©*£l3
P4

£>

'S ö
-m.2
g-g

a
3
¡3

CD £
Ah

©

NEWSPAPER SELLERS

Total____________________

144

273

320

202

144 100.0

271 100.0

318 100.0

199 100.0

167
165

100.0

Less than 1 year____________

83

57.6

168

62.0

165

51.9

95

47.7

66

40.0

Less than 6 months_____

63

43.8

131

48.3

113

35.5 L :._.

71

35.7

54

32.7

4 months, less than 6.

31
22
10

21.5
15.3
6.9

53
53
25

19.6
19. 6
9.2

55
45
13

17.3
14.2
4.1

22
34
15

11.1
17.1
7.5

23
25
6

13. 9
15. 2
3.6

1 year, less than 2 ._________
3 years and over.......... ...........

20

13.9

37

13.7

52

16.4

24

12.1

12

7.3

23
14
24

16.0
9. 7
16.7

41
17
45

15.1
6.3
16.6

54
39
60

17.0
12.3
18.9

45
23
36

22.6
11.6
18.1

32
32
35

19.4
19.4
21.2

Not reported__________

2

2

3

2

NEWSPAPER CARRIERS

Total___________________

356

986

740

212

315

354 100.0

984 100.0

738 100.0

212 100.0

308

250

70.6

605

61.5

518

70.2

101

47.6

154

50.0

Less than 6 months. I ___ 200

56.5

424

43.1

356

48.2

62

29.2 .......

113

36.7

Less than 2 months..
2 months, less than 4.
4 months, less than 6.

21. 2
23.4
11.9

121
162
141

12.3
16.5
14.3

174
115
67

23.6
15.6
9.1

21
27
14

9. 9
12. 7
6.6

41
43
29

13. 3
14.0
9.4

181

18.4

162

22.0

39

18.4

41

13.3

155
101
123

15.8
10.3
12.5

87
56
77

11.8 2111
7.6
10.4

52.4

70
48
36

22. 7
15.6
11. 7

Total reported_________________
Less than 1 year.___ ____ _

75
83
42

6 months, less than 1 year.

50

14.1

1 year, less than 2__________
2 years, less than 3__________
8 years and over____________

42
22
40

11.9
6.2
11.3

2
1 Includes 2 boys 5 years of age.
Newsboys in Birmingham, p. 317.
* Unpublished figure.
26


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

2

2
2

7
Includes 1 year and more,

100.0

16

CHILDREN IN STREET WORK
E N V IR O N M E N T

A serious charge brought against newspaper selling is that it
introduces the newsboy to an unsuitable environment and to dan­
gerous associations. Few writers on the subject of street work have
failed to emphasize this aspect,27 and several studies of street workers
have presented concrete evidence in support of the charge. Among
the more recent studies, those made in the last 10 or 12 years, are
four that give special consideration to this phase of the problem of
newspaper selling— those in Seattle, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Buffalo.
As an indication of the nature of the evils that were actually found to
exist in each city the following paragraphs are quoted:
The delinquency of newsboys is an inevitable consequence of the associations
into which their work throws them. The great majority of the supply men em­
ployed to wholesale the paper to the newsboys have criminal records of considera­
ble length, while the character of their crimes makes them unfit for contact with
young children. Evidence has been presented that thugs employed by papers
have attacked newsboys employed on other papers. Gambling is very common
among boys waiting for their papers. Petty graft is exacted from little newsboys
employed by older men owning corner stands. W orst of all, affidavits have been
made proving that negro and other supply men have practiced on newsboys vile
and perverted sex offenses. (The Newsboys of Cincinnati, pp, 115-116.)

Into each of [the] distributing rooms came nightly, during the time of the
inquiry, from 40 to 80 men and boys. They began to arrive at about 6 p. m .;
and while they waited for the 9.45 edition they gambled, fought, drank, boasted,
and swore the time away.
On receiving the night edition it was the custom of the men and boys who
gathered here to go out peddling their papers, and to return between midnight
and 3 in the morning to “ check in ” for their stock and go home, or more fre­
quently, to sleep in these rooms on the iron tables, or the floor, until the issuance of
the morning edition.
Among these alley lodgers and frequenters, our investigator found runaways
from all parts of the country; from New York, from Ohio, from Oklahoma, from
Montana, from California. Seven youths had “ bum m ed” to Chicago from the
W est. A homesick Italian boy who had run away from Buffalo and wept inter­
mittently for several days was sent home by the juvenile court. There were also
many Illinois boys who had run away from Pontiac, St. Charles, the parental
school, and other correctional institutions. Abandoned space (this space has
not been closed) under the sidewalk and the opportunities for eluding capture
offered by adjoining low buildings made this “ port of missing b o y s” a natural
refuge for those who wished to escape the inquiries of their relatives, the truant
officers, or the police.
In both the alleys indecent stories prevailed, especially in relation to sex
perversions.
Numbers of unproven and apparently unprovable instances of
criminal practices came to the knowledge of the investigator. In the fourth
month of the inquiry, evidence was secured in two instances against men accused
of an attack upon one of the newsboys; and these men were convicted in the
criminal court and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in the penitentiary. A
doctor at the emergency hospital stated that within a few weeks nine boys had
come to him to be treated for venereal disease contracted from one pervert among
the alley employees. In January of this year our investigator rescued from the
alley an 11-year-old boy with both feet frozen. This boy, who had remained out­
side the distributing rooms sleeping in a delivery wagon in the coldest weather
of last winter, was also the victim of a pervert act of a subnormal boy of 16
years both boys being runaways lodging in the news alleys. The younger boy
was taken to the county hospital, where it was found that his toes had to be am­
putated. The larger boy was sent to the State colony for feeble-minded. Two of
^ e. frequenters of the alleys, men in charge of news stands, openly boasted of
their success in acting as panderers for streetwalkers, in connection with their
v See especially Child Labor in City Streets, by Edward N. Clopper, pp. 60-65, 159-188. MacMillan
Co., New York, 1915.
'
............*


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

1. “ H O L L E R S O ’S I C O U L D H E A R Y O U A T T H E T O P O F T H E T I M E S B U I L D I N G , ”
A D V IS E S O N E C IR C U LA T IO N M AN .
2. B O Y S F R O M 10 Y E A R S U P S E L L O N T H E
D O W N - T O W N C O R N E R S I N O M A H A . 3. T H E 9 - Y E A R - O L D N E W S B O Y ( R I G H T )
S A I D H E H A D N O T B E E N IN T O W N L O N G E N O U G H T O E N T E R S C H O O L . 4. S E L L ­
IN G P A P E R S A L L D A Y O N S A T U R D A Y S . A N D V A C A T I O N D A Y S IS C O M M O N ,
5, W A I T I N G T O S E L L T O T H E T H E A T E R C R O W D
16


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


https://fraser.stlouisfed.org
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

INTRODUCTION

17

sale of newspapers.
Debauching questions were asked of all young, newly
arriving boys about their sisters. Indecent songs were sung.
There was much thieving among the men and boys both inside and outside
the alleys. While they were sleeping the boys were robbed of their money and
clothes by other newsboys. A lad of 16 years was choked and robbed of a dollar
by another older youth of 22 years. This older boy was later sentenced to a year
in the bridewell for robbing a drunken man of $150, whom he inveigled into a
Harrison Street hotel. Young boys offered bargains in articles stolen inside the
department stores. They would go into the stores in groups, and while one of
their number made a trifling purchase, the rest would elbow goods off the counter
to the floor, and get away with it to the alley.
Gambling was a regular practice in the alleys, shooting craps— the stakes
were small sums of money generally, and on one occasion, age and school cer­
tificates— and playing seven-up. The boys often lost so much in gambling that
they were obliged to stint themselves in food the next day.
Many of the boys drank heavily. This was undoubtedly caused in the case of
those who lived in the alleys by an insufficient, irregular, and improperly balanced
diet. These boys and young men habitually ate in restaurants where coffee and
rolls are their staple. A considerable number depended upon the free-lunch
counters in saloons for one or two meals a day. They would pay 5 cents for a
glass of beer, and then eat as much lunch as they could before they were chased
out. (Under the present city law, no free lunch can be served by saloons.) A
restaurant near one of the alleys had been repeatedly invaded toward midnight
by a mob of newsboys, who, after ordering and eating a meal, attacked the cash­
ier, and wrecked furniture when payment was demanded. The filthiness of most
of the boys in the alleys was extreme. M any of them were verminous. One
subnormal boy was so infested with vermin that the other boys chased him away
when he came near them. Few of the boys were above begging for money,
clothes, or whatever they needed.
(Chicago Children in the Street Trades,
pp. 6, 7.)

While the investigators themselves saw no definite violations of this nature
[that is, the use of newsboys by adult sex perverts for immoral purposes], instances
have been specifically reported of lads being outraged in the delivery rooms, and
from the actions and language of the boys who were found around the newspaper
offices when investigators called, it is apparent that this danger still exists.
(The Street Traders of Buffalo, N . Y ., p. 32.)

The survey of newsboys in Seattle contains the following descrip­
tion of conditions connected with newspaper selling given the investi­
gators by a 14-year-old newsboy:
His methods of securing money or meals from drunks, the various forms of
vice learned from the older “ bu m s” around newspaper offices, their levying of
tribute on the little foreign boys, their theft from the pockets of the younger
boys, who often slept on the tables or on the newspapers while waiting for the
morning editions, instruction in the art of stealing and the sale of stolen goods,
were all made Very realistic. *
*
* In reply to m y question, “ Wh o are
these bums?” he answered, “ Just bums. They don’t come from nowhere and
they ain’t goin’ nowhere. They just are there and always been there. They’re
a bad lot— awfully bad lot— they fight and pick pockets and gamble and they
do everything they can to make little boys bad.” (Newsboy Service, p. 113.)

While the newsboy is at work on the street his surroundings appear
to present no special hazards; most newsboys sell on the main business
streets of their cities, and only an occasional one stands with his
papers in the doorway of a disreputable hotel or enters a saloon— or
its latter-day substitute—in search of customers. As the foregoing
citations suggest, the newspaper-distribution rooms and the type
of man whom the newsboy comes in contact with there are the
greatest potential dangers in the newsboy’s environment.
The Children’s Bureau survey included an investigation into
conditions in and around distribution rooms in four cities— Atlanta,
Columbus, Omaha, and Wilkes-Barre. Although subject to the


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

limitation referred to on page 7, this investigation revealed condi­
tions that in unwholesomeness and possibility of danger to the boy
approached some of the worst that have been found. In some of
the distribution rooms in Atlanta and in Omaha it was customary
for boys to spend the night— usually Saturday night— sleeping on
the counters, on boxes, or on the floor, sometimes with a few papers
under them and covered in cold weather with burlap bags or with
newspapers, or more often, indulging in practical jokes, fighting,
gambling, and stealing from one another. In both these cities com­
petition between newspapers had resulted in an increase of “ tramp
newsies,” older boys and men who would not work and often sold
papers only long enough to earn a few dollars for food, sleeping in
the distribution rooms or, in Omaha, in lodging houses provided
by the newspaper management. The newsboys and their parents
said that these men kept the younger boys who stayed in the dis­
tribution rooms up all night, gambling and playing cards, cheating
them and taking away their money, and that they urged the news­
boys to steal and bought the stolen goods from them. They hung
about the distribution rooms, day and night, with the younger
newsboys, boasting of the tricks they had resorted to in selling their
papers, relating adventures of a questionable nature, and indulging
in indecent conversation. In Omaha one of the older local news­
boys accused the “ tramp newsies” of using the younger newsboys
for immoral purposes, and the director of a boys’ club in Atlanta said
that cases of that kind in which the newspaper truck drivers and
newsboys were involved had come to his attention. One newsboy
accused a circulation assistant with whom he dealt of being “ almost
always drunk.” Other boys said that the “ tramp newsies” or the
newspaper truck drivers abused and ill treated them, slapping and A.
cursing them, twisting their arms, and taking their money. A truck
driver in Omaha had been arrested for ill treating a newsboy.
In Wilkes-Barre and Columbus conditions were better. In Co­
lumbus newsboys did not sleep in the distribution rooms nor loaf
about them. The <employees seemed to be respectable men, in
some cases university students working part time. Nevertheless,
an occasional boy would tell of being beaten by a circulation assistant
in fights over newspapers, and a number of boys reported that the
adult negroes selling papers on the streets would quarrel with them
over “ corner rights” and “ beat them up.” In Wilkes-Barre a few
boys spent Saturday nights at a newsdealer’s, but a night spent
there by a representative of the Children’s Bureau failed to uncover
anything worse than profanity and boyish “ rough house.” In
and around the distribution rooms of both Columbus and WilkesBarre “ craps” and “ pitching pennies” were common forms of
diversion. This situation could probably not be attributed to the
boys’ environment as newsboys, except that the combination of
loose change in their pockets, time on their hands while they waited
for their papers, and the company of others of like tastes and habits
provided the opportunity.
Although the management of many of the newspapers sought to
keep their newsboys satisfied by giving them passes to motion-picture
theaters, treats of various kinds, such as picnics, and in one or two
.
instances even “ meal tickets,” none provided recreational facilities W
in the waiting rooms and alleys.

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19

In each of the cities in the survey a so-called newsboys’ club was
maintained by the Young M en’s Christian Association or (in Newark)
by a church organization. These were the usual clubs for the “ under­
privileged” boy; the membership was not limited to newsboys, nor
did it include all the newsboys in any city. The program waschiefly
athletic. In none of the cities was there a newsboys’ club like
those in Milwaukee, Boston, Toledo, and a few other cities, operated
on the self-government principle, which are reported to be effective
aids in enforcing street-trades regulations. (See p. 64.)
N E W S P A P E R SELLIN G IN R E L A T IO N T O H E A L T H

In regard to the physical effects of street work, as in the whole
field of occupations that children enter, research has almost nothing
to offer. For reasons that have been explained (see p. 6) the
Children’s Bureau obtained no data relating to the health or the
physical condition of the children included in the surveys.
Few of the studies of juvenile street work have included physical
examinations. In connection with the study of newsboys in Cin­
cinnati a group of Jewish newsboys and of Jewish boys from similar
homes who did not sell papers (306 in all) were examined by a phy­
sician, who found that the newsboys showed an incidence of 14 per
cent of cardiac disease, almost three times that among the other
boys, that the newsboys had a disproportionate share of orthopedic
defects (11 per cent compared with 5 per cent) and of throat trouble
(38 per cent compared with 17 per cent).28 In Buffalo 228 street
workers (including newspaper sellers and bootblacks) who had had a
special physical examination were compared with more than 12,000
school boys examined in the same year;29 the greatest difference
found to the disadvantage of the street workers was in the proportion
with cardiac disease, which was 6 per cent compared with 4 per cent
in the control group.
*
.
i
Probably the most thorough study from the medical side is that of
the New York Tuberculosis and Health Association,30 but the results
are presented in such a way as to make impossible definite conclusions
in regard to the physical effects of newspaper selling;31 among other
things the physical examinations showed that among newsboys
(including carriers) heart disease was no more common than among
other groups of children, but that 17 per cent of the boys examined
had flat foot compared with 6 per cent of a group of New York
City public-school children in 1920.
Reference should be made also to a British report which is some­
times quoted by those who believe that street work has unfortunate
physical effects. In this report presented before the departmental
The Newsboys of Cincinnati, p. 157.
29 Street Traders of Buffalo, N. Y., pp. 36-37.
so The Health of a Thousand Newsboys in New York City.
.
,
,,,
31 The facts are not presented separately for boys with licenses. These constituted three-fourths of the
boys examined and represent presumably a somewhat selected group as to health, as a newsboy license is
not granted in New York unless the applicant’s school principal certifies that he is physically fit for the
work and pf normal development for his age. Boys who only carried papers and did no selling constituted
45 per cent of the boys examined, and route carriers generally work under much more favorable conditions
than newspaper sellers. The findings are not presented separately for newspaper sellers and newspaper
carriers. The majority of the boys examined had not begun to sell or carry papers until they were 13 or 14
years of age, a much higher age at beginning work than is usual for newsboys, as is shown m the Children s
Bureau and other studies. Only 4 of the 1,078 New York City newsboys were under 12 years of age, the
legal minimum for street work in New York. Half the boys examined had sold or carried papeis less than
six months, probably too short a time for the effects of the work to become evident, especially as no com­
parison could be made between the findings of the physical examination and the boy’s physical condition
when he began the work.
29


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

committee on the employment of children act of 1903 a school
medical inspector gives the results of a study of newsboys working
outside school hours, showing that 60 per cent of the newsboys
employed 20 hours or less per week were fatigued, that 70 per cent of
those working 20 to 30 hours and 91 per cent of those working more
than 30 hours showed fatigue.32 For these different groups the per­
centages exhibiting nerve strain or having nervous complaints were
16, 35, and 37, respectively, and the evidence of flat foot and the
evidences of heart strain increased with the number of hours worked.
Unfortunately, the study included only 87 newsboys.
The findings resulting from these studies are interesting, but until
they are corroborated by other and more extensive data they can
not be regarded as offering conclusive evidence that newspaper selling
does or does not affect health unfavorably.
Although it has not been demonstrated that the long hours of
standing on hard city pavements cause orthopedic defects, such as
flat foot, in newspaper sellers, or that the overstimulating environ­
ment or the intense competition predisposes them to nervous affec­
tions, common observation, confirmed by expert opinion, leads to
the conclusion that under certain conditions newspaper selling has
serious disadvantages on the physical side.
Take the matter of hours. Too early hours in the morning or too
late horns at night deprive the newsboy of sleep. In the Children’s
Bureau surveys, as in others, teachers complained that newsboys went
to sleep in school or were too sleepy to give heed to what went on in
the classroom. One boy told how on returning from school in the
afternoon he was so sleepy as a result of his early hours selling morning
papers that he would often call out “ Papers, mister?” though he was
not selling papers. Too long hours, even if not at undesirable times,
tax the boys energies. The British Interdepartmental Committee
on Employment of School Children, after exhaustive inquiries into
the subject, agreed that probably 20 hours of work a week was the
maximum that could be expected of school children in most employ­
ments without injurious results.33 The Children’s Bureau surveys
showed that large proportions of newspaper sellers work well over 20
hours a week. In this connection it is well to remember the close
relation between fatigue and malnutrition.
Consider the matter of food. The Children’s Bureau surveys
showed, as have others, that many newsboys have irregular meals
and even more have meals at improper hours. The peak of news­
paper sales comes at the hours most newsboys’ families are having
their suppers. A hot evening meal, the principal one of the day,
was out of the question, therefore, for large numbers of the boys.
Even those who sold papers only until 6.30 or 7 usually went home
to leftovers from the family supper, not always kept hot. Many
had no supper until 8 p. m. or later or got a “ hot dog” sandwich,
a cup of coffee, or some stale cakes in the intervals of their work.
Some boys ate a cheap meal at down-town restaurants. On Saturdays,
when many sold all day, they often had nothing to eat but an un­
substantial bite snatched here or there until they reached home late
London °1910f ^

Departmental Committee on the Employment of Children Act, 1903, pp. 360, 361, 647.

1901ReP°rt °* Inter(iePartmental Committee on the Employment of School Children, p. 11. London,


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INTRODUCTION

21

at night. Boys selling morning papers sometimes breakfasted at
5 or earlier, sold until 8 or 8.30, and then rushed to school; others,
obliged to be out too early for the family meal, ate no breakfast or
sold two or three hours before having anything to eat.
Other disadvantages from the point of view of physical welfare
have been attributed to newspaper selling. It may be that for
healthy, well-clad boys the dangers of exposure to very cold or
inclement weather are at a minimum, though anyone who has waited
even 15 minutes for a street car in a soaking rain or a cold wind will
realize that several hours of standing on a comer under such condi­
tions is not a comfortable experience. Certainly the younger news­
boys standing outside hotels and at the entrances to restaurants on
snowy or bitter cold winter nights often look as if they were suffering.
Danger from traffic also may be no greater than for boys who do not
sell papers, though many newsboys’ parents feared it. In Columbus
it was customary for boys to “ hop cars” in order to sell their papers,
but as this practice was not permitted in any of the other cities
surveyed it seems probable that it is largely a thing of the past.
Unlike newspaper carriers, newsboys seldom carry very heavy
bundles of papers; ordinarily the boy seems to take only a few papers
under his arm at a time, leaving the rest of his stock spread out in a
pile or piles on the sidewalk or in a doorway or some other convenient
nook.
N E W S P A P E R SELLIN G IN R E LA TIO N T O E D U C A T IO N

It may be assumed that the schoolboy’s main job is school, and
that anything that puts a stumblingblock in the way of his satis­
factory adjustment to school life or of normal school progress is
undesirable for the boy and expensive to the community.
Are newspaper sellers less regular than other boys in school
attendance, a fundamental requirement for success in school? In
the cities in the survey in which comparable figures for the whole
school population or for the male enrollment could be obtained
newsboys had about as good attendance records as others, and in
the cities for which the comparative figures could not be obtained
the newsboys had about as good attendance records as in the other
cities, the average percentage of attendance for newsboys being
more than 90 for each city. This is what might be expected. Most
newsboys are subject to the compulsory school attendance laws,
like other school boys, and if the school-attendance department is
efficient they are kept in school Other studies of newspaper sellers
show the same thing. In Seattle they had as good attendance as
other boys, if not better, and in Tulsa, the only other survey giving
statistics on this point, their average percentage of attendance was
93.34
A satisfactory avérage of attendance might conceal, however,
an inordinate amount of truancy. In Cincinnati the proportion of
newsboys among truants was almost twice as large as their proportion
among the general school population warranted; in Cleveland the
percentage of street sellers who were truant was 14, whereas the
proportion of all Cleveland school children who were truant was
estimated by the local attendance department as 2 per cent; in
Springfield 18 per cent of the newsboys were truants during the school
MNewsboy Service, p. 50; Tulsa figures unpublished.


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

year covered in the study compared with 5 per cent of the general
enrollment 7 to 15 years of age.35 But these figures include girls
and children of all ages, and neither girls nor younger boys are
truant to the same degree as boys of 12 to 15, who make up the
bulk of the newsboys, so that they can not be regarded as offering
conclusive evidence.
The Children’s Bureau obtained truancy records for newspaper
sellers in Omaha, Wilkes-Barre, and Washington, where the percent­
ages who had been truant were respectively 7, 7, and, in Washing­
ton, 20 for white and 23 for negro children. No figures for boys of
the same ages in the general school population are available for these
or other cities; truancy rates in the cities for which they are com­
piled usually include girls, whose truancy is much less than that of
boys, and boys of all ages, whereas the proportion of older boys,
who are more truant than younger ones, is larger among the news­
boys than in the whole school enrollment. In the Children’s Bureau
surveys the truancy rate for newspaper sellers was several times that
of carriers in the same city, a fact that is brought out also in the
Toledo and Cleveland surveys.36 The greater amount of truancy
among newspaper sellers, compared with carriers, may not be due
to their occupation or conditions connected with the occupation.
The newspaper sellers, more than the carriers and more than the
school enrollment in their cities, came from immigrant homes and
from the homes of newer immigrants, and their truancy may cer­
tainly be considered, to some extent at least, as one of the problems
common to the unadjusted second generation.37 However, many of
the conditions surrounding newsboys in their work tend to increase
a boy’s discontent with the routine of School and to handicap further
those whose environment other than that of their occupation con­
tains elements that make for maladjustment.
In regard to success in school, a rough measure is furnished by
the amount of retardation.38 Other studies 39 of newspaper sellers
have shown that they are very much overage for their grades, sug­
gesting that their progress in school is slower than that of the average
boy.40 In two, Atlanta and Omaha, of the four cities in the Chil­
dren’s Bureau survey in which comparable figures for the general
school enrollment could be obtained, the newspaper sellers had made
35 The Newsboys of Cincinnati, p. 151; Cleveland School Children Who Sell on the Streets, p. 23; News­
boys in Springfield, p. 34.
36 Toledo School Children in Street Trades, p. 19; Cleveland School Children Who Sell on the Streets,
p. 23.
37 Statistics of truancy in Philadelphia, a city for which an unusually detailed analysis of truancy rates
is published, showed that in 1924, 45 per cent of the school children but 54 per cent of the truants were of
foreign parentage. (See Report of the Bureau of Compulsory Education [Philadelphia] for the year ending
June 30, 1924, p. 24.)
!
38 The age basis on which the retardation of these children was calculated is that adopted by the U. S.
Bureau of Education. Children of 6 or 7 years are expected to enter the first grade, children of 7 or 8 the
second grade, etc. Normally a child is expected to complete one grade each year; children, therefore,
were considered retarded if they had not entered the second grade by the time they reached the age of 8
years, the third grade at 9 years, the fourth grade at 10 years, etc.
39 See Toledo School Children in Street Trades, p. 16; The Newsboys of Dallas, p. 5; Cleveland School
Children Who Sell on the Streets, p. 22; The Newsboys of Cincinnati, p. 155; Newsboy Service, p. 29;
Newsboys in Springfield, p. 22; Street Traders of Buffalo, N. Y., p. 24; Tulsa Children engaged in Street
Trades, p. 17. A comparison of the proportions of newsboys who were retarded in the different cities is of
no value as the methods of computing the retardation differ.
40 Meek, Charles S.: “ A study of the progress of newsboys in school.” The Elementary School Journal,
Vol. X X IV , No. 6 (February, 1924), pp. 430-433. This article is of special interest because, unlike other
surveys of newspaper sellers, it concludes that selling papers does not contribute to retardation or inferior
work in school. Unfortunately, the study, which included an analysis of age-grade statistics and the re­
sults of standard achievement tests for 1,300 newsboys in the public schools of Toledo, makes no distinc­
tion between sellers and carriers. According to other surveys, as well as those of the Children’s^Bureau,
these groups differ markedly in overageness for grade and to some extent in schoolroom proficiency, so
that the conclusions based on both groups can not be regarded as absolutely sound in regard to either of
the two.


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INTRODUCTION

23

much slower progress in school than the total male enrollment of the
same ages, whereas in two cities, Paterson and Wilkes-Barre, the
percentage of newspaper sellers who were retarded was about the
same as that of all schoolboys of their ages. In Columbus and in
Newark the retardation rate for newspaper sellers was very little
higher than that for the whole school enrollment, including girls,
whose rate of retardation is usually lower than that of boys. In
Washington comparative figures for either the whole school enroll­
ment or for boys were not available. Judging from the six cities
for which the information is fairly complete it appears that the rela­
tive success of newsboys differs with the city and may be as good as
that of other boys. The fact that the newspaper sellers in Atlanta
and in Omaha progressed in school so much more slowly than the
average schoolboy in their cities is not accounted for by the large
proportion among the sellers of children of foreign-bom parents or
of negroes, both of which groups might be supposed to be at a dis­
advantage in school because of home conditions, for the proportion
of native white newspaper sellers who were retarded in school was
at least as great in each place as that of the other groups. In each
of these cities the conditions surrounding newspaper sellers and
the conditions of work were worse than in the other cities in the
survey, but whether newspaper sellers were more retarded because
of the conditions, or whether the conditions being what they were,
boys from better-regulated homes and homes likely to foster success
in school were not permitted to sell papers, is a question that can
not be answered.
In six of the seven cities— Paterson being omitted because the
numbers were too small— a comparison was made between the daily
hours spent in selling papers and the amount of retardation. The
hours reported were those the boy was working at the time of the
interview and not necessarily over a period long enough to have
affected school progress; nevertheless it is probable that they were
characteristic of the boy’s whole street-work experience. In each
place the newsboys working longer hours were more retarded; but
those working the longer hours in each place were on the whole
somewhat older than the others, and the older a boy is the more
likely he is to be retarded. In Atlanta only, the difference in retarda­
tion between those working long hours and those giving a more
moderate amount of time to newspaper selling was sufficiently great
to suggest a real cause and effect relationship.
Although the great majority of the boys in each city had been
selling papers long enough to have had at least one of their school
promotions affected by their selling (supposing their school work to
have been immediately responsive to the influence of their occupa­
tion), it is among those who had been selling several years that the
greatest amount of retardation might be expected. Information on
the length of time the boys had been selling papers was obtained for
only five of the seven cities in the survey. In two of these (Omaha
and Columbus) the boys who had been selling two years or more
were less retarded than those who had been selling less than a year.
In these two cities, it may be noted, the conditions of work were
more exacting than elsewhere and the boys had more supervision,
so that those who “ stuck it ou t” for several years may well have
75034°—28----- 3

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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

been a relatively superior group. In two cities (Washington and
Wilkes-Barre) the amount of retardation increased so little with the
length of time worked that the difference is accounted for by the fact
that the boys working longer were on the whole older than the others.
In the fifth city (Atlanta) newsboys who had sold papers several
years were considerably more retarded (too much so for the differ-'
ence to be accounted for the difference in age) than those whose
newspaper-selling experience had been of shorter duration.
The facts obtained in the survey do not prove that newsboys as
a class do not make as rapid progress in school as boys who do not
sell papers, nor do they prove that newspaper selling always inter­
feres with school progress. However, it is only reasonable to Sup­
pose, whatever may be the facts regarding newsboys as a whole,
that the school life of the group working under the least favorable
conditions is less successful than it would be under more favorable
ones. Even if the boy working long hours and in such an atmosphere
as characterized some of the distributing rooms is not so physically
or nervously overtaxed by his work as to fail to keep up with his
grade, it is natural that the colorful life of the street will capture
his interest and take hold of his imagination to the exclusion of
everything that is less stimulating. The professional newsboy’s
work sets up a rival claim to his school work; and the fact that it
brings in money, however small the amount may be, gives it an
importance both in the boy’s eyes and in the eyes of his poor and
often ignorant parents that sanctions a divided interest. The news­
boy may not be seriously retarded in school, but what his progress
might have been if the interest in his newspaper selling had not
claimed much of his time and thought no one can say.
A broader view of education than that represented by the school-j
room may be at least touched upon here. The claim is often made
that selling papers furnishes valuable business training. Under cer­
tain conditions, especially where credit is extended by the newspaper
company and his work is supervised— as in Omaha and Columbus
and to some extent in Atlanta— the newsboy has an opportunity to
learn certain basic business principles and transactions.41 Of how
much value is this taste of business life to the newsboy? A young
man without education, unless he is very exceptional, has little hope
of establishing a business of his own or even of finding an opening
in business. Most newsboys are of a social and economic class that
is rather unlikely to enter commercial and business pursuits. Un­
like the carrier, the newspaper seller is not often a high-school boy—
only 4 to 6 per cent of those in the Children’s Bureau surveys, depend­
ing on the city, were in high school, though 14 to 27 per cent were of
high-school age. Moreover, if this business training, which is likely
to be of direct use only in rare instances, is bought at the cost of any
other value in the boy’s life, it assuredly is not worth while. Its
advantages, for example, would seem to be more than offset by the
very dubious type of business ethics taught by some circulation men,
newspaper truck drivers, and “ hangers-on” about newspaperdistributing rooms.
125^-mr a discussion oi tbe vocational training offered by newspaper selling see Newsboy Service, pp.


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INTRODUCTION
N E W S P A P E R SELLIN G IN R E L A T IO N T O B E H A V IO R

Such conditions as those described on pages 16—18 as existing in
and around the distributing rooms of some newspapers and the type
of man and older boy with whom the young newsboy’s work often
throws him suggest some of the dangers that newspaper selling has
for the immature and impressionable. Apart from the possibility of
familiarizing him with antisocial and often evil practices learned from
adults, the newsboy’s work, bringing together all kinds of boys in
the down-town sections of a city, makes it easier for him than for
the non working boy to pick up unsuitable companions and to engage
in unwholesome activities. With money in his pocket and hours at
his disposal— for his business furnishes an excuse to be away from
home long hours at a time, even after dark, often at mealtime— he
can make the most of such contacts as he has. Stimulated by par­
ticipation in the activities of the streets and pleasantly conscious of
being “ on his own,” he has unusual chances of getting into mischief
with the “ gang” or even into serious trouble.
N ot the least among the ill effects that may be attributed to news­
paper selling is the virtual separation of the boy from his family.
Newsboys who go down town to get their papers immediately after
school and remain until after the evening meal is over and sell papers
practically all day Saturday (and these are the conditions under
which large numbers of newsboys were found to work) spend almost
none of their waking hours at home. Under such circumstances it
is inevitable that family ties should be weakened, especially when it
is the history of the boy’s life from an early age. Family influence
grows less, and it may be only a question of time before the boy
M is beyond parental control. When the newsboys’ parents are of
foreign birth, as they often are (Table 8), this danger is increased.
T a b l e 8 . — Race and nativity of father; newspaper sellers and carriers working

during school term in specified cities
Boys from 6 to IS years of age
Atlanta

Colum­ Newark
bus

Race and nativity of
father
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Pater­
son 1

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h
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Wash­ Wilkesington 2 Barre

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SS
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5
-4 ^ 2
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fO 3*S
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"C
z IPh

NEWSPAPER SELLERS

T o ta l................... . 144 100.0 273 100.0 467 100.0 320 100.0 108 100.0

202 100.0 167 100.0

136 94.4 229 83.9 393 84.2 306 95. 6 107 99.1

109 54.0 166 99,4

White— ......................
Native________ ____
Foreign born_______
Not reported_______
Negro...._______________

98 68.1 142 52.0 80 17.1 81 25.3
38 26.4 70; 25.6 310 66.4 221 69,1
17 6.2
3 0,6
4 1,3
8

5.6

44 16.1

74 15.8

14

4. 4

18 16. 7
88 81. 5
i
0,9

20 7
‘ 7.2
56 2

0 9

93 46,0

i

1

0 ,6

NEWSPAPER CARRIERS

Total____________

*

356 100.0 986 100.0 679 100.0 740 100.0 178 100.0 225 100.0

White_________
318 89.3 946 95.9 653 96.2 731 98.8 177 99.4 224 99 6
--- ||
Native. ___________ "296 83.1 812 82.4 259 38.1 412 55.7 48 27.0 157 69.8
Foreign born_______
21 5.9 113 11. 5 384 56.6 303 40.9 129 72.5 63 28.0
Not reported_______
1 0.3 21 2.1 10 1.5 16 2.2
4 1.8
Negro................................

38 10.7

40

1 Boys 7 to 15 years of age.


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4.1

26

3.8

9

2

1.2

1

0.6

1

0.4

Includes 2 boys 5 years of age.

315 100,0
314 99.7
"Î56 49.5
139 44.1
19 ßr fi

1

0.3

26

CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

It is true that some newsboys would “ live on the streets’ ’ even if
they did not sell papers, finding in the streets, as some one has aptly
said, their home, their school, and their playground. But the fact
that they are earning money gives newsboys an independence of
parental control that otherwise they would not have. It should be
said in this connection that, although in many of the newsboys’
homes that were visited in the course of the survey there was little
to interest or satisfy a young boy, only in a small minority was over­
crowding a serious problem. Even if the home is inadequate, how­
ever, a community can not accept undesirable activities on the street
as the only alternative to an unfit home.
The dangers in street work were recognized by many parents.
Disapproval of street selling was almost universal among the carriers’
parents; even among those who through poverty, ignorance of con­
ditions, indifference, or lack of control of their children permitted
their boys to sell papers many expressed disapproval. Although the
majority were on the whole in favor of the work, almost invariably
the only reason for favoring it was that it enabled the boy to make
some money. In Atlanta 24 per cent of the newsboys’ parents inter­
viewed voiced objections to newspaper selling, in Wilkes-Barre 21
per cent, in Columbus 18 per cent, in Omaha 17 per cent, and in
Washington 13 per cent— proportions that are several times larger
than that of newspaper carriers’ parents who said they did not like
to have their boys carry papers (see p. 38). (In Buffalo, also, 16 per
cent of the parents interviewed objected to their boys selling papers.^2)
Objections were almost always on moral grounds, using the word in
its wider sense. They had little appreciation of the possibility or the
value of constructive use of leisure time. “ He learns to shoot dice
and smoke,” they said, or “ He learns bad habits,” “ hears bad
language,” “ gets in with boys that steal,” “ gets into trouble,” “ gets
in with tough boys,” “ gets so I can’t manage him,” or “ They get
spoiled and spend their money shooting craps and playing cards,”
or “ It makes them little bummies,” or “ I ’m afraid he’ll become a
tramp.”
The newsboys’ own estimate of the moral influence of their work
was not inquired into in the Children’s Bureau study. In the survey
of newsboys in Seattle, in which the advantages of newspaper selling
are done full justice, it was found that “ most of the older boys and
the ex-newsboys thought that the sum total of the influence was
harmful and mentioned, in so stating, the concrete elements of
vulgar and obscene language, smoking, gambling, and the tempta­
tions to participate in various forms of immorality. The majority,
had they any choice in the matter, would not allow younger brothers
to sell. ” 43
These considerations sum up briefly the possible ill effects of news­
paper selling on the behavior and conduct of boys who sell. It may
well be asked to what extent the ill effects are actually found. Obvi­
ously many of the worst influences might not make themselves felt
for many years, and it is often impossible to trace the causes, even of
particular acts of wrongdoing, much less of a general deterioration.
In many of the boy’s activities, undesirable though they may be, he
« Street Traders of Buffalo, N. Y., p. 31.
« Newsboy Service, p. 111,


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27

INTRODUCTION

does not run afoul of the law, and the results, at least while he is still
a boy, are not known beyond the family circle or the neighborhood.
Moreover, how a child will be affected by. exposure to dangerous
influences can not be foretold any more than we can say without
test whether or not a given child will succumb to smallpox on ex­
posure. Some children, we know, come out apparently uncon­
taminated by all sorts of what are usually regarded as demoralizing
experiences. We are committed to vaccination against the hazard
of smallpox. Should not the same policy of providing protection
against social ills be followed?
One of the few measures, though a very rough and inadequate one,
of the extent to which boys fail to adjust themselves socially is found
in juvenile-court records, and in the Children’s Bureau surveys, as in
many previous ones, this test was applied. In the five cities in which
the records of the juvenile court were examined for newsboys included
in the study 6 to 13 per ce n t44 had been in court (Table 9), the great
majority for the first time after they had begun to work on the streets.
It goes without saying that if the proportion of delinquent newsboys
could be compared with the proportion of non working boys or of
boys in other occupations in each city and of similar economic and
social background, its value as an indication of a cause and effect
relation between selling papers and delinquency would be greatly
increased. Comparable information of this kind, however, is not
available. Nor can comparisons profitably be made with delin­
quency rates for the general child population of the individual
cities, where such rates exist, for these are for a single year, usually
are not computed for the different age groups, include girls, and cover
all economic and social classes.45
T a b l e 9.—1Juvenile-court records, newspaper sellers and carriers working during
school term in specified cities
Boys from 6 to 15 years
of age; per cent having
juvenile-court records
City

Boys from 6 to 15 years
of age; per cent having
juvenile-court records
City

Newspaper Newspaper
sellers
carriers
Atlanta__________ ______
Columbus............... ..........
Omaha_________________

8
32
6

2
3
2

Newspaper Newspaper
carriers
sellers
13
7

a

1 No carriers were included in the Washington study.
44 No significance is to be attached to the variations according to city, for the rates are influenced b y the
local policy in regard to the number and types of cases brought before the juvenile court, the policy in regard
to recording unofficial cases, and the care with which records are kept.
48 In a number of studies of newspaper sellers the delinquency rate for newsboys has been compared with
that of other boys of the same ages in the city (The Newsboys of Cincinnati, p. 138; Newsboys in Springfield. p. 33) and even with that of the total schoolboy population (Street Traders of Buffalo, N. Y., p.
38) without taking account of the fact that boys from more prosperous families do not get into the juvenile
court, eveh for similar offenses, to the same extent as boys from the type of family furnishing most of the
newsboys, or of the fact that the former do not have the same temptation to wrongdoing of a serious order
as boys from an inferior environment, apart from any influences in their work. Other studies have seen a
direct connection between street work and delinquency in the fact that large proportions of boys committed
to industrial schools and reformatories have sold papers. It can not be ignored, however, that undoubtedly
large proportions of the boys in the economic and social class from which the inmates of such institutions
generally come do at some time in their lives sell papers, so that the relative number of newsboys in the
institutions may have no significance. As Fleisher in The Newsboys of Milwaukee (pp. 85, 86) points
out, the term newsboy is not usually defined in such statistics and may include boys who sold papers for
such short periods or under such circumstances that the occupation could not have been a contributing
cause of their delinquency. Fleisher himself, after a careful consideration of every factor, concluded as a
result of his investigation in the Wisconsin Industrial School that “ newspaper selling played a decidedly
minor part in the boy’s delinquency.” After a similar study in the Seattle Parental School the survey of
newsboys in Seattle presents the same conclusion. (Newsboy Service, p. 101.)


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28

CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

Newspaper sellers had several times as much delinquency as car­
riers, as magazine sellers or carriers, or, as a rule, as peddlers, in the
same city. Whether this is due even in part to the occupation it is
impossible to say. Court records are usually too brief to indicate
whether or not the specific offenses had anything to do with the boy’s
employment, though very often boys with court records had been
working under bad conditions, such as long hours or late at night.
The fact that relatively fewer newspaper sellers than bootblacks in
Wilkes-Barre, the only one of the cities for which figures on both these
groups were obtained, had court records indicates the importance of
the home environment in the boys’ delinquency, for bootblacks in
Wilkes-Barre worked under much the same conditions as newsboys,
but they came from less Americanized and poorer homes. Probably
the most exhaustive study of delinquency in relation to occupation,
that conducted by the United States Bureau of Labor in 1911 as part
of its survey of woman and child wage earners, though pointing out
the “ high general level of delinquency” among newsboys and dis­
claiming any “ intention * * * of minimizing the moral dangers
of the street trades, [which] are evident enough,” has the following
comment to make:
The occupational influences of these three pursuits [work in amusement resorts,
peddling, and newspaper selling] are notoriously bad, but a partial explanation of
the number of delinquents they furnish is unquestionably in the kind of children
who enter them. It is a case of action and reaction. These occupations are
easily taken up by immature children, with little or no education and no pre­
liminary training. Such children are least likely to resist evil influences, most
likely to yield to all that is bad in their environment. Then the presence of such
children in the occupation tends to keep out a better class and to give it a still
worse name. Careful parents will hesitate to let their children take up an em­
ployment in which they must have such associates, and it becomes more and more
a resort for these whose parents through ignorance or indifference take.no thought
of the surroundings under which the work is carried on, or those who, being already
semivagrants, are attracted by the irregularity of the work— the condition which
someone has described as “ irregular and shiftless industry” — and by the excite­
ment of the street life.46
T H E Q U E STIO N OF F A M IL Y N E E D

Every effort was made in the Children’s Bureau survey to determine
the importance of the poverty factor in sending boys out to earn on
the streets. Whether or not the father and mother were living and
living together, who was the principal support of the family, what was
the occupation of the chief breadwinner, whether or not the mother
worked and what was her occupation were ascertained for the family
of each boy. In the visits made to a large proportion of each occu­
pational group of street workers (see p. 6) additional information
was obtained regarding the social and economic condition of the street
workers’ families, such as the earnings of the chief breadwinner and
the steadiness of his employment, the total family earnings, the size
of the family, whether or not the family was buying its dwelling, and
to what extent overcrowding was present.47 The most pertinent of
these items to the question of family need are summarized in the fol­
lowing paragraphs.
46 “ Juvenile delinquency and its relation to employment.” Report on Condition of Women and Child
Wage Earners in the United States, Vol. VIII, pp. 92, 93. U. S. Bureau of Labor. Washington, 1911.
47 Most of the surveys of street workers have attempted only to indicate, and that in a general way, the
economic status of the family by showing whether or not the parents were living. A few have gone a step
farther and shown the proportion in “ normal” homes, and one or two have given figures on rentals, family
incomes, or the extent to which the families had received assistance from charitable organizations, or all
these items.


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29

INTRODUCTION

As in other studies of newsboys,48 it was found that the great
majority were in normal homes; that is, in homes in which both
own parents were present and in which the own father was the
chief breadwinner. The proportion was highest in Wilkes-Barre,
where it was 83 per cent, and lowest in Atlanta, where it was 64
per cent. (Table 10.) The low proportion in Atlanta was not due
to the inclusion of negroes; but in Washington it was, for only 51
per cent of the negro sellers in the latter city were in families in
which both parents lived together and the father was the main sup­
port, and if negroes are excluded the proportion of Washington
newsboys in normal families rises to 77 per cent. The home in
which some abnormal social or economic condition existed was,
however, somewhat more prevalent among newspaper sellers than
among other boys. The proportion from normal homes was in
general somewhat smaller than that of carriers. The only known
unselected group with which comparison may be made is a group
of New York City public-school children representing three schools
of various social levels in-which it was found that 81 per cent were
in homes in which both own parents were living together,49 a propor­
tion that would no doubt be a little smaller if it represented not only
those whose parents were living together but in addition those whose
fathers were the main support of their families;
In the following table showing the home conditions of the news­
paper sellers and carriers Troy is omitted, as the only information
obtained for the carriers was the percentage (11.6) whose own fathers
were dead or absent and who had no step or foster father present.
T a b l e 10.— Home conditions of newspaper sellers and carriers in specified cities
Boys from 6 to 15 years of age
Atlanta

Columbus

Omaha

Home conditions and type of street
work

Wilkes-Barre Washington

Per
Per
Per
Per
Per
Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent
ber distri­ ber distri­ ber distri­ ber distri­ ber distri­
bution
bution
bution
bution
bution
NEWSPAPER SELLERS ______
Total reporting___ ____ _________
Own mother and father present
in the home and father the
chief breadwinner__________
Own father dead or absent1___
Other conditions.......................
Not reporting...................................
NEWSPAPER CARRIERS_______

Total reporting..________________
Own mother and father present
in the home and father the
chief breadwinner__________
Own father dead or absent1___
Other conditions.......................

273
272

___
100.0

320
320

100.0

167
167

100.0

202
202

100.0

71.7
14.3
13.9

227
28
65

70.9
8.7
20.3

138
14
15

82.6
8.4
9.0

131
39
32

64.9
19.3
15.8

100.0

195
39
38
1
986
982

100.0

740
740

100.0

315
315

100.0

77.5
13.5
9.0

796
90
96

81.1
9.2
9.8

575
88
77

77.7
11.9
10.4

251
38
26

79.7
12.1
8.3

144
144

100.0

90
34
20

62.5
23.6
13.9

356
356
276
48
32

Not reporting...................................

4

1And no step or foster father present.
48 Street Trading among Connecticut Grammar-School Children, by H. M . Diamond, p. 14 (Hart­
ford, 1921); “ Newsboys in Birmingham,” p. 320; “ Juvenile Street Work in Iowa,” p. 138; Newsboys
and Other Street Traders, p. 107; The Newsboys of Milwaukee, p. 76; The Newsboys of Cincinnati, p. 123;
Newsboy Service, p. 79; Cleveland School Children Who Sell on the Streets, p. 26; Newsboys in Springfield, p. 30; Street Traders of Buffalo, N. Y., p. 30; Tulsa Children Engaged in Street Trades, p. 21.
49 Slawson, J.: Marital relations of parents and juvenile delinquency. Reprinted from The Journal of
Delinquency, Vol. VIII, Nos. 5-6 (September-November, 1924), p. 279.


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

The proportion in fatherless homes (that is, homes in which there
was no father, not even a stepfather or a foster father) was from 9
to 24 per cent, according to the city. (Table 10.) Even among the
negro newsboys in Washington only 25 per cent were fatherless boys.
It is clear that the great majority of newsboys do not sell papers
because they are from widowed homes.
However, even with the father supporting his wife and children it
can not be assumed of course that the father’s wage is sufficient to
provide for the needs of the family. Investigation has shown, on
the contrary, that many workingmen do not earn enough to maintain
their families at the level of bare subsistence unless their wives and
their children also work.80 The father’s or other chief breadwinner’s
earned annual income in newsboys’ families was lower than the
average in three of the cities (Atlanta, Omaha, and Columbus)
where the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics had made studies
of the incomes of wage-earning and small-salaried men,51 but not
much lower except in Omaha; in Wilkes-Barre it was lower than in
any of the other cities in the survey, probably because of the abnor­
mal situation caused by the anthracite strike of 1922; in Washington
it was higher for white fathers than in any other city, but consider­
ably lower for negro fathers than for white. In each city in the sur­
vey the year’s earned income was at least $200 or $300 less than that
of chief breadwinners in carriers’ families in the same city. In
Washington, where the average income was highest, it was between
$1,450 and $1,850 for the fathers or other chief breadwinners of white
newsboys and between $850 and $1,050 for negro chief breadwinners.
These averages do not indicate that newsboys’ families as a whole
were on a much lower plane economically than the families of other
working men where any comparative figures can be had, though
not only were the annual earnings of the heads of the households in
newsboys’ families somewhat smaller but the families also were a
little larger, averaging six or seven persons instead of five. Com­
pared with budgetary standards, either those formulated by econ­
omists on a basis of minimum “ comfort and decency” or those
adopted by city charity organizations for the dispensing of adequate
relief, the newsboys’ fathers had very small incomes. There can
be no doubt that a large proportion of the newsboys included in the
surveys were in families that were very poor— as is the case in most
of the families from which come child laborers in any occupation—
though not, apparently, to any great extent actually destitute.
Only a small number of the newsboys’ families had been recipients
of relief, the proportion receiving aid during the year immediately
preceding the inquiry ranging from 4 per cent in Omaha to 11 per
cent in Columbus.82 In other studies of newsboys similar propor­
tions were found— in Cincinnati 4 per cent of the families had had to
apply to relief agencies; in Milwaukee, 6 per cent; in Buffalo, 10
per cent.53 One of the most recent of the studies of street workers,
6“ See Child Care and Child Welfare, Outlines for Study, prepared by the Children’s Bureau in coop­
eration with the Federal Board for Vocational Education (Federal Board for Vocational Education Bulletin
No. 65, pp. 304-311, Washington, 1921).
51 “ Cost of living in the United States—family incomes.” Monthly Labor Review (U. S. Bureau of
Labor Statistics), Vol. IX, No. 6 (December, 1919), pp. 29-41.
82 The organization of charitable relief differs in different cities, the records are kept with varying exact­
ness, and in some places important relief-giving agencies had no accessible records, so that differences be­
tween cities in the proportion receiving relief have no significance.
53 Street Traders of Buffalo, N. Y., pp. 29-30; The Newsboys of Milwaukee, j>. 77; The Newsboys of
Cincinnati, p. 129.


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31

INTRODUCTION

that made in Buffalo in 1925, parallels closely the Children’s Bureau
findings in regard to the economic status of the newsboys’ families.
The average annual income of the head of the families included in
this investigation was $1,302, the families averaging six persons,
whereas the local charity organization society calculated $2,009 as
the minimum necessary for a family of five. The report concludes
that “ with a larger family to care for and a smaller wage to supply
these necessities * * * it is apparent that there is an economic
urge for boys to become street traders.” 54
In several of the cities in the Children’s Bureau survey a fairly
large proportion of the newspaper sellers said that they had begun to
work because of need in the family. The following list shows the
percentage of newspaper sellers and carriers who reported their
reason for going to work as economic need and the percentage who
contributed all their earnings to the family in specified cities:
Percentage report­
ing economic need
as reason for going
to work

Newspaper sellers:
A tla n ta .- _ _ _____________________
C o lu m b u s .___
_ _._____________
Omaha
___________ _____________
Washington
___ __ ______________
Wilkes-Barre_
__ ______________
Newspaper carriers:
Atlanta
___ __
_____________
C o lu m b u s_____________ ____________
Omaha___________
____________
T roy------------------------------ ____________
Wilkes-Barre____ __
____________

Percentage con­
tributing all earn­
ings to family

28.
13.
19.
8.
14.

0
4
7
9
4

5.
2.
5.
1.
10.

6
9
6
5
8

10.
4.
10.
9.
11.

8
2
3
9
6

3.
1.
2.
7.
8.

1
0
6
1
9

In Buffalo and in Tulsa, other recent surveys giving similar infor­
mation, the percentages of boys engaged in various street trades
claiming economic need were 34 and 11, respectively.55 The report
of the Juvenile Protective Association of Chicago on Chicago children
in street trades contains the statement that “ in only 19 per cent of
these cases [300 cases chosen at random] did the child’s earnings
represent $ needed item in his family’s maintenance.” 56
From all the evidence at hand it would appear that although a
large proportion of the newsboys feel an “ economic urge” to work a
much smaller proportion, decidedly the minority, are actuated by
“ economic need.”
E A R N IN G S

Table 11 shows the weekly earnings (including tips) of newspaper
sellers in each of the cities in the survey. In four of the seven the
median amount was between $3 and $5, in two between $2 and $3,
and in the other between $1 and $2. Some of the boys may have
been inclined to overstate the amount of their earnings in a spirit of
boastfulness, but the amounts reported follow closely the trend of
newsboys’ earnings as reported in recent years for other cities. For
example, in Springfield the median amount earned was between
$3 and $4 a week, in Tulsa between $2 and $4, in Toledo between
$1 and $2, and in Buffalo the average was between $2 and $3.57 The
54 Street Traders of Buffalo, N. Y ., pp. 29, 30.
54 Street Traders of Buffalo, N. Y ., p. 22; Tulsa Children Engaged in Street Trades, p. 13.
46 Chicago Children in the Street Trades, p. 3.
47 Newsboys in Springfield, p. 32; Tulsa Children Engaged in Street Trades, p, 33; Toledo School
Children in Street Trades, p. 13; Street Traders of Buffalo, N. Y ., p. 33.


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32

CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

proportion earning at least $5 a week was 24 per cent in Paterson,
27 per cent in Omaha, 28 per cent in Washington, and 44 per cent in
Atlanta, where the profits were unusually large. In the other cities
included in the Children’s Bureau survey the proportion earning $5
or more a week was smaller. Among Toledo newspaper sellers 19
per cent and among those in Springfield 29 per cent were reported as
averaging at least $5 a week.
T a b l e 11.— Earnings during a typical week; newspaper sellers and carriers holding
a single job during school term in specified cities
Boys from 6 to 15 years of age

Per cent dis­
tribution

I Number

Per cent dis­
tribution-

Wash­ Wilkesington 2 Barre

I Number

Per cent dis­
tribution

Troy

Number

Per cent dis­
tribution

Pater­
son 1

Number

Per cent dis­
tribution

Omaha

Number

Per cent dis­
tribution

1 Number

Per cent dis­
tribution

Number

Per cent dis­
tribution

Earnings during a typical
week

Colum­ Newark
bus

Number

Atlanta

NEWSPAPEE SELLEES

214

138
Total reported_________

467

253

202

108

1
6
8
18
10
15
16
10
48

9
17
29
33
24
22
16
11
29
6

4 0.9
4.6
8.7 10 2.2
14.8 50 11.2
16.8 130 29.1
12. 2 81 18.2
11. 2 70 15.7
8.2 40 9.0
5.6 27 6.1
14.8 29 6.5
5 1.1
3.1

4
14
13
31
34
49
32
23
43
1

6

18

21

9

1

342

906

679

703

178

0.8
4.5
6.1
13.6
7.6
11.4
12.1
76
36.4

1.6
5.7
5.3
12. 7
13.9
20.1
13.1
9.4
17.6
0.4

1
3
10
25
11
21
10
7
19

145

152 100.0 124 100.0

132 100.0 196 100.0 446 100.0 244 100.0 107 100.0
0.9
2.8
9.3
23.4
10.3
19.6
9.3
6. 5
17.8

4
3
7
29
27
22
15
13
30
2

2.6
5
2.0 13
4.6 21
19.1 35
17.8 25
14.5 11
9.9 3 14
8.6
19.7
1.3

50

21

4.0
10.5
16.9
28.2
20.2
8.9
11.3

NEWSPAPER CARRIERS

Total reported____ _____

.$025, less th a n $0.50

212

245

337 100.0 893 100.0 672 100.0 682 100.0 175 100.0 205 100.0
9
19
97

33
43
59
41
28
69
9
5

2. 7
5.6
8.0
9.8
12.8
17. 5
12. 2
8. 3
20.5
2.7

21
37
63
185
172
140
102
68
89
16

7 1.0 23 3.4
2.4
4.1 23 3.4 24 3.5
7.1 74 11.0 59 8.7
20.7 304 45.2 66 9. <7
19.3 151 22.5 64 ' 9.4
15.7 42 6.3 91 13.3
11.4 12 1.8 106 15. 5
2 0.3 87 12.8
7.6
5 0.8 151 22.1
10.0
1.8 52 7.7 11 1.6

13

1 Boys 7 to 15 years of age.
3 Includes 2 boys 5 years of age.

7

3
4
9
21
54
43
23
5
4
9
3

21

1.7
2.3
5.1
12.0
30. 9
24.6
13.1
2.9
2.3
5.1

9 4.4
18 8.8
51 24.9
69 33.7
37 18. 0
5 2.4
4 2. 0
1
11

0.5
5.4

7

231 100.0
11.3
8 3.5
45 19.5
75 32.5
50 21.6
* 15
6.5

12

5.2

14

3 Includes $4 and over.
Includes $3 and over.

*

D IS P O S IT IO N OF E AR N IN G S

At least part of their money was contributed toward family support
by more than half the boys in Atlanta, Wilkes-Barre, and Omaha,
but by only a little more than a third in Washington and Columbus.
What proportion of the earnings was thus contributed was not
learned, and facts as to the extent to which any contribution was
made are based on the boys’ unsupported statements,58 but other
88 In the families visited (representing a fairly large percentage of the total number of boys) only rarely
did a parent deny the b o y ’s report as to the disposition of his earnings.


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INTRODUCTION

33

studies in which comparable facts were obtained tend to confirm
the figures. For example, 66 per cent of the Springfield newsboys
gave the larger part of their earnings to their families, and 53 per
cent of those included in the study in Birmingham, 38 per cent of
those in Dallas, and 73 per cent of those in Buffalo helped their
families to some extent.69 The proportion turning over part of
their earnings to their parents does not necessarily reflect the extent
to which their families actually needed the money, for in most places
the majority were the children of the foreign born, among whom
more than among native-American parents it is the tradition to
expect help from the children even though the family may be fairly
prosperous. It suggests, however, the “ economic urge” behind the
newsboys’ work.
More than half the boys (the largest proportion being 64 per cent
in Atlanta) helped at home indirectly by buying at least part of
their own clothing or paying for other personal necessities, except
in Wilkes-Barre, where this proportion was only 20 per cent, probably
because in Wilkes-Barre a larger proportion turned the whole of
their earnings in to the family. About three-fourths of the boys in
each city had at least part of what they earned for spending money,
though only a few (2 per cent in Wilkes-Barre, 3 per cent in Atlanta
and Omaha, and 7 per cent in Columbus) had all for that purpose.
Other surveys in which information on this point was obtained show
the same thing; 8 per cent of the newsboys in Springfield and 7 per
cent of those in Tulsa used their earnings principally for spending
money, and 7 per cent in Birmingham used all they earned for personal
luxuries— an indication perhaps not only that the boys were essen­
tially accurate in their replies but also that the money earned selling
papers is not in general wasted to such an extent as has sometimes
been assumed.60 The newsboys in Washington were an exception;
22 per cent spent all that they earned selling papers on their own
pleasures and amusements— a difference that may be accounted for
by the greater prosperity of the Washington white families (see p.
30) or possibly by the fact that the parents, not the boys themselves,
gave the information. (But see footnote 58, p. 32.)
The proportion who had bank accounts or other savings as a
result of their work was a little more than half in each city except
Wilkes-Barre, where it was a little less than half. It may be assumed
that at least in these families the need was not acute.
W H Y D O B O Y S SELL P A P E R S ?

Actual want or economic necessity was not given as the chief
reason for selling papers by the majority of the boys included in the
study, as has been pointed out. Less than half the boys in all places
except Atlanta (where the proportion was 55 per cent), and as little
as two-fifths in Washington and Omaha had been motivated chiefly
by financial considerations, including even the desire to earn spend­
ing money. Even including those who said they had begun to work
because of their parents’ request (and judging from the attitude of
the parents as revealed in the interviews with them the desire to
59 Newsboys in Springfield, p. 32; Newsboys in Birmingham, p. 318; The Newsboys of Dallas, p. 9;
Street Traders of Buffalo, N. Y ., p. 53.
60 Newsboys in Springfield, p. 33; Tulsa Children Engaged in Street Trades, p. 23; Newsboys in Bir­
mingham, p. 318.


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34

CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

have the boys earn money was at the back of the majority of these
requests), the proportion whose reason for going into street work was
chiefly financial was only about half in each place except Atlanta,
where it was 65 per cent.
The rest of the newsboys included in the surveys took up news­
paper selling because “ all the boys do it,” or because “ there’s nothing
else to do,” or because “ selling newspapers is fun,” or for some simi­
lar reason. Such remarks as “ He called me crazy, till I went.”
“ It’s good a-goin’ sellin’, they says,” “ It’s no fun playing around,”
given again and again in dozens of variations as the chief reason for
selling papers indicate how strong is the lure of the streets and how
potent a factor in newspaper selling is imitation.
In a report on Baltimore newsboys, made more than 10 years ago,
the statement is made that almost one-third of the boys selling
papers were doing so to satisfy a desire for play.61 The situation
seems to be just the same to-day. The Children’s Bureau surveys
show that a large proportion (probably larger even than a third) of
the newsboys would not have been on the streets if they and their
parents had been aware of more desirable activities. Although no
special survey of recreational facilities was made in connection with
the study, it was quite generally reported by local social workers,
school authorities, and others in all the cities that, as in most Ameri­
can communities, playground and other recreational provision was
inadequate.
The frequent statement that newspaper selling gives the boy
business training, keeps him from idling his time on the streets,
teaches him responsibility, and the like, indicates a problem which
most parents have in common and which can be met adequately only
by community provision for extension of the school program to
include supervised recreation and work of the sort that not only will
protect against destructive tendencies but will have great training
value. Proper use of leisure time— real pleasure in participation in
sports, in recreational reading, in music and art, in mechanical and
manual work— is not learned in the exciting street life which the
newsboy leads. In the best public and private schools opportunities
for development of these interests are afforded by extension of what
was formerly regarded as the school day. The shortening of the
school day by two or three hours to take care of the increasing number
of school children has created problems which city parents— especially
those living in apartments and tenement houses— however resourceful
and alert they may be to their children’s needs, are not equipped to
meet.
NEWSPAPER CARRIERS
AG E

Newspaper carriers were a little older than the newsboys. (Table
2, p. 9.) Although the carrier’s work may require less initiative than
that of the seller, the boy with a route in many cases has responsi­
bilities requiring a certain degree of maturity (see pp. 94, 151, 203).
A large proportion of the carriers included in the Children’s Bureau
surveys were boys under 12, and a few were under 10, proportions
similar to those found in other street-work surveys that have included
61 Newsboys and Other Street Traders, pp. 105, 107.


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carriers, such as those in Toledo, Cleveland, Seattle, and Tulsa.62
Very often, though by no means always, the carrier under 12 was only
a helper to an older boy.
Many carriers were high-school boys. The proportion included in
the study who were in high school was several times that of newspaper
sellers— from 14 to 22 per cent in the various cities, except in Newark,
where the remuneration was unusually small, while at the same time
the city was large enough to afford boys of high-school age other
opportunities for work. In Newark only 5 per cent of the carriers
were in high school.
. The work of the carrier is so patently work for an employer in by
far the greater number of cases— in some places he is paid a salary
or wage, in others he works on a commission basis but under super­
vision— that it would appear to be subject to the provisions of the
regular child labor laws when they cover “ all gainful employment.”
The fact that the work is popularly associated with that of the news­
paper seller, who as an independent “ merchant” is excluded from the
protection of the child-labor laws, may account for its not being so
regulated. However, many street-work regulations do not include
newspaper carriers in their provisions (see pp. 48, 51). None of the
ordinances applicable to newspaper selling and, in several instances,
to peddling, in effect in the cities studied, applied to carriers. Both
the State laws, that of New York and that of Pennsylvania, covered
carriers, setting the minimum age at 12 as for newspaper sellers, but
so little attempt was made to enforce these regulations in the cities
included in the survey that the persons most concerned were in gen­
eral apparently unaware of their existence. Of the 225 carriers in
Troy 71 per cent did not have badges, as is required under the law;
in Wilkes-Barre 33 per cent of the carriers were under the minimum
age.
DURATION OF WORK

The carriers continued their newspaper work just about as long
as the newsboys, judging from the length of time they had had the
routes they were working on when interviewed. (Table 7, p. 15.)
The proportion who worked only a few months (less than two, for
example) varied considerably according to the place but was as large
as one-fourth in Omaha, where the conditions of work were described
as unsatisfactory. About one-third to one-half the carriers had
worked at least a year. Many carriers kept their routes for years
and then handed them down to their younger brothers. The only
other study in which information on the length of time carriers held
their jobs is the one made in Tulsa, where the median was seven
months.63
HOURS OF W ORK

The carrier’s hours of work, except for some carriers of morning
papers, were unobjectionable. Boys with routes for evening papers
usually finished before 6 o ’clock, and few worked later than 6 or 6.30>
so that their work did not keep them on the streets after dark, except
for a short time in the winter, nor interfere with their family life.
(Table 3, p. 11.) Those with morning-paper routes were not so for­
tunate. The paper must be delivered to the last subscriber on a
62 Toledo School Children in Street Trades, p. 7; Cleveland School Children Who Sell on the Streets,
p. 10; Newsboy Service, p. 21; Tulsa Children Engaged in Street Trades, p. 32.
63 Unpublished figure.


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

route before he leaves home for work in the morning, and this often
necessitates the carrier’s rising at an unreasonably early hour. Some
boys reported that they started on their routes as early as 3.30 or
4 a. m. The number was not large— in Atlanta 36 daily morning
carriers included in the study began their work before 6, in Colum­
bus 41, in Newark 4, in Omaha 29, in Paterson 25, in Troy 4, and in
Wilkes-Barre 46— depending to some extent on whether or not the
local morning paper was a “ home” paper and whether the pay,
generally larger than for afternoon routes, was sufficiently high to
attract older high-school boys and young men. Although the morn­
ing carriers included a somewhat larger proportion of the older boys
than carriers as a whole, some boys under 12 and even a few under
10 had morning routes, and in certain cases it undoubtedly resulted
in the growing boys getting too little sleep. On Sundays almost all
the carriers worked in the morning, for many of the evening papers
had Sunday editions, and the hours were very early.
A route usually takes about an hour to serve, so that the majority
of carriers worked less than two hours a day on school days, many
less than one hour. (Table 5, p. 13.) The hours of work on Satur­
days were longer, chiefly because the carrier made collections on that
day or had to report at the central office, some boys reporting that
they worked almost all day Saturdays on business connected with
their routes. On Sundays the hours were longest of all, as the Sun­
day papers are heavier and take longer to deliver. The great ma­
jority of the carriers in each city worked less than 12 hours a week.
(Table 6, p. 14.) In some places, however, the proportion working
12 hours or longer was large, notably so in Omaha, where boys made
their own collections, frequently had to serve “ extras” (that is,
others than those on their list of subscribers), and were expected to
put in a good deal of time soliciting new customers. In Toledo and
Tulsa, the only other surveys of carriers giving the carriers’ weekly
hours, 93 per cent and 79 per cent, respectively, worked 12 hours or
less ,a week.64
Many carriers delivered 100 papers or more. Some boys carried
these loads, which weigh 50 pounds or more, in canvas bags slung
over their shoulders, but many used little handcarts.
E N V IR O N M E N T

The carrier who distributes papers in his own neighborhood or in
a neighborhood similar to his own, as most carriers do, is generally
free from injurious contacts and associates. In Wilkes-Barre some
of the carriers had to go to the down-town office for their papers,
as the newspaper sellers did; but branch offices were operated in the
larger cities, as in Columbus and Omaha, or carriers got their papers
from dealers, each of whom employed only a few boys, as in Paterson
or Newark, or from street corners where they were delivered by street
cars or trucks, as in Atlanta and to some extent in all the cities.
Thus the danger of bringing together boys of all kinds of training,
background, and habits who otherwise would not be likely to meet
was largely avoided in the case of carriers. In one of the cities
substations had been established especially for the benefit of carriers
whose parents objected to their coming in contact with boys selling
61 Toledo School Children in Street Trades, p. 10; Tulsa figure unpublished.


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INTRODUCTION

37

in the down-town streets. Boys meeting at substations, as a rule,
were ones who would be likely to know one another through school
and neighborhood contacts.
The substations were not all above reproach. One substation
manager, for example, was accused of drinking and ill treating the
boys under his charge. In Omaha, where intense rivalry between
two of the papers resulted in great pressure on the carriers to enlarge
their routes, the boys complained of injustices, such as having to
pay for more papers than they had customers and being required to
spend several nights a week soliciting subscribers. But, on the whole,
the carrier’s working environment lacked the unwholesome features
of newspaper selling.
C A R R IE R S IN SC H O O L

Delivering papers in general appeared to be neither unduly fatigu­
ing nor inordinately stimulating. Performed each day at a regular
time, paid for by a fixed sum, making no appeal to the spirit of
adventure, the Work puts no temptations to stay out of school in
the boy’s way, nor does it bring him in contact with influences, such
as many of the newsboys encounter, that tend to make him impatient
of schoolroom discipline. It might be expected, therefore, that,
except for those beginning work very early in the morning, the car-*
rier’s record in school would be as good as the average.
The school attendance of the carriers in the four cities (Atlanta,
Columbus, Omaha, and Wilkes-Barre) in which school records were
obtained was slightly superior to that of newspaper sellers or even
to that of the schoolboy population as a whole in places for which a
comparative figure could be furnished. The amount of truancy
^vas slight. In the two cities in which truancy records were acces­
sible, Wilkes-Barre and Omaha, only 2 per cent and 3 per cent,
respectively, of the carriers had been truant during the year preceding
the study, compared with 7 per cent of the newspaper sellers in
each place. About the same relative difference in the truancy
rates for newspaper carriers and sellers was found in Toledo and in
Cleveland, the only studies besides those of the Children’s Bureau
giving information on truancy for both groups of workers.65
Carriers also had made better progress in school than newspaper
sellers, as has been found in most other street-trades studies including
carriers.66 The proportion who were overage for their grades was
smaller than the rate for all public-school boys of their ages in each
city for which the comparative figure could be obtained; in Columbus
and Newark it was lower even than the rate for the entire publicschool enrollment, including girls. In the four cities in which it was
possible to compare retardation rates for groups of boys who had
worked different periods the rate decreased noticeably the longer
the boys worked, in spite of the fact that the percentage of retarda­
tion, as a rule, is higher the older the pupils are. Either the responsi­
bility of a route developed qualities that made for success in school
or boys without such qualities did not continue to have a route over
a period of several years.
65 Toledo School Children in the Street Trades, p. 19; Cleveland School Children Who Sell on the Streets,
j>. 23.
■k^6 Toledo School Children in Street Trades, p. 16; Newsboy Service, pp. 28,29; Tulsa Children Engaged
fn Street Trades, p. 27. In Cleveland the carriers who had worked at least one year were somewhat more
retarded than sellers, but the retardation rate in this study is based on only 75 carriers and 203 sellers.
(Cleveland School Children Who Sell on the Streets, p. 22.)


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

The results of mental tests given in the schools which were obtained
for groups of carriers in Wilkes-Barre and Atlanta indicated that they
were not mentally a superior group of boys, so that their unusually
satisfactory progress in school must be attributed to other factors.
V O C A T IO N A L A SP E C T O F N E W S P A P E R C A R R Y IN G

Newspaper carrying has the same value for character training
that the performance of any regular duty has. The newsboy may
sell or not, as he chooses or at the behest of his parents, though in
cities where his work is supervised he will lose his corner if he is
irregular. The carrier must serve his route, regardless of the weather
or his inclinations* he must notify the office in advance or provide a
substitute if he can not work; he must keep his list of customers up
to date, make a report regularly, give notice of customers discon­
tinuing the paper, and build up his route; in some cases he must do
his own collecting, keep simple accounts, and if he is unsuccessful
in collecting lose the money. He is usually given credit by the week
and is often under bond to cover the amount. Whether the carrier
merely delivers papers fqr a wage or whether he has further responsibili­
ties he must be dependable, prompt, and courteous, and if he makes
collections he must also be accurate and honest. From the more
narrowly vocational point of view, carrying a route with no responsi­
bility for collecting probably has little value as training, unlike the
work of the carrier who gets his papers on credit, does his collecting,
and is required to solicit new customers.67
In three of the six cities in which a study was made of the business
arrangements between the newspapers or the dealers and the carriers
the majority of the carriers worked on the latter basis; in the three
others they were usually hired on a wage. As to whether or not news- ^
paper carrying leads definitely to other and better work there was no
consciousness on the part of either boys or their parents that it did.
It was regarded as a schoolboy’s job. In Columbus the newspaper
managers maintained that there was a definite line of promotion for
their route boys; some of the best were put in charge of substations, a
part-time job, from which they might be promoted to the position
of district manager or circulation manager.
Parents for the most part were emphatic in their approval of the
work, generally because they believed that it provided training in
good-habit formation rather than because they expected the work
to lead to anything else. This reason stood out in their expressions
of approval rather than the financial one, which was the most promi­
nent reason for the approval of the parent in the case of newspaper
selling. From 5 to 17 per cent of the carriers’ parents interviewed
in the different cities objected to the work, the principal reasons
given being that the boys lost money because the customers did not
pay, the hours were too early, the papers weighed too much, or the
work took all the boys’ playtime.
For the most part parents not only did not object to the work but
even gave active cooperation. Many mothers and fathers helped
the boys to keep books and to make up their accounts, and some
helped on the route when the weather was bad or the papers were
especially heavy. Many parents emphasized the fact that earning
his own money taught the boy thrift. The proportion who saved at
67See Newsboy Service, pp. 116-141, for a detailed discussion of vocational elements in newspaper carrying.


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INTRODUCTION

39

least part of their earnings varied from 52 per cent in Wilkes-Barre
(where “ hard times” resulting from the coal strike of 1922 and also
the fact that the proportion whose mothers were widowed was rather
high had apparently made it necessary for boys to help their families)
to 75 per cent in Atlanta.
D E LIN Q U E N C Y A M O N G C A R R IE R S

The carrier’s work does not put temptations in his way nor even
offer him an opportunity, by giving him an excuse to be away from
home for long hours at a stretch, to come into conflict with the law.
The proportion of carriers in the different cities who had juvenilecourt records (Table 9, p. 27) was very small— smaller than for any
other group of street workers in their respective cities, except maga­
zine carriers and sellers in Omaha, and only one-third to one-fourth
as large as the proportion of newspaper sellers who had been delin­
quent. Several carriers in Columbus had been brought to court for
stealing newspapers, but except for these cases no connection between
the boy’s work as carrier and his delinquency was apparent.
FA M ILIES OF C A R R IE R S

Newspaper carriers came from better-regulated families and
families on a higher social and economic level than those of news­
boys. Much more generally than sellers, carriers were from native
white families (Table 8, p. 25), and those with foreign-born fathers
were usually of immigrant stocks that had been thoroughly assimilated
into the life of the community. In each city, also, the proportion
of carriers in normal homes was a little larger than that of sellers
and the proportion who were in “ widowed” homes— that is, homes
in which the father had died or had deserted and had not been replaced
as a breadwinner by a stepfather or a foster father— was smaller,
except in Omaha and Wilkes-Barre. In a considerable proportion of
the carriers’ families the fathers’ or other chief breadwinners’ earn­
ings for the year were higher than the average for wage earners and
small-salaried men in their respective cities, as these had been
determined by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. (See
p. 30.) In no city, however, were the average earnings very high,
between $1,450 and $1,850 being the median in Atlanta and Omaha,
where they were highest. Few carriers claimed that they were
working because of need in their families. (See text list, p. 31.)
E A R N IN G S

Carriers who were paid a regular wage usually received only a
small amount; between $1 and $2 a week was a common payment.
Where they made their own collections the rewards were greater, in
spite of losses on customers, which in Omaha were reported to be as
much as 20 or 30 per cent of the amount of the collections. In three
cities the median amount earned by carriers was between $1 and $2
a week, in two cities between $2 and $3, in one city between $3 and
$4, and in one between $4 and $5. Other studies of carriers than
those of the Children’s Bureau have shown that the earnings averaged
around $2 or $3 a week.68 The unusually large earnings reported
68 Toledo School Children in Street Trades, p. 12; Tulsa Children Engaged in Street Trades, p. 33;
Cleveland School Children Who Sell on the Streets, p. 16.

75034°— 28------- 4


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK!

for carriers in Omaha, Atlanta, and Columbus are accounted for by
the large number who collected on commission; the proportion of
carriers in these cities earning $5 or more a week was from about
one-fifth to more than one-third.
D IS P O S IT IO N O F E A R N IN G S

The proportion of carriers who contributed at least part of their
earnings toward family support varied from 25 per cent in Columbus
to 55 per cent in Wilkes-Barre, about half that of sellers in Atlanta
and a little more than half in Omaha, but almost as large as the
proportion of sellers contributing to their families in Columbus and
in Wilkes-Barre.
The great majority (59 to 78 per cent) in the different cities had
some of their earnings for spending money. About three-fifths of
the boys bought some of their clothes or other personal necessities
with the money earned from their routes, except in Wilkes-Barre,
where this proportion was only 30 per cent, possibly because the
money was given to the parents, who bought the boys’ clothing, but
was reported by the boy as being contributed to the support of the
family.
PEDDLERS

Each community included in the survey had at least a few children
who made a practice of going about the street with something for
sale.69 They accompanied pushcarts and hucksters’ wagons, went
from door to door with postcards or dress snaps or cosmetics, toured
offices with sandwiches, hung about the lobbies of hotels and public
buildings with peanuts or candy, or stood on busy comers with a
handful of flowers or a basket of apples. In some places enough
children sold some one commodity so that they were noticeable on
the streets, like the apple sellers in Atlanta or the pretzel peddlers
in Newark, but in general the articles offered for sale were almost as
numerous as the children selling them. Parents made bread, dough­
nuts, paper flowers, baby dresses, horse-radish, and sent their children
out to peddle them, a street vendor enlisted all the boys in his neigh­
borhood to sell his potato chips or sandwiches, a baker hired children
to peddle pretzels, or “ the Greek” got a boy to help on his produce
wagon, holding the horse or carrying fruit and vegetables to cus­
tomers’ doors. Children responded to persuasive advertisements to
sell seeds or salve or shaving soap procured through the mail. Parents
who were themselves peddlers made their children help them.
The work varied with almost every individual. In some cases it
amounted to very little. A boy from a comfortable home, for
example, would spend several hours a week selling flowers to neigh­
bors during the months when his garden was in bloom. In other
cases it involved greater hardships than some other types of work
that without question are prohibited as unsuitable for children or
regulated by child-labor laws. The peddlers in the survey fell into
three groups— those selling miscellaneous articles from door to door,
those selling on the streets of the down-town section, and those aiding
hucksters. The miscellaneous peddlers were by far the more numer­
ous everywhere, except in Paterson, where almost all the workers
classed as peddlers were hucksters’ helpers.
68 For other street-trades studies in which a few facts in regard to peddlers are presented, see Toledo
School Children in Street Trades, p. 25; and Cleveland School Children Who Sell on the Streets, pp. 8,10.


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41

INTRODUCTION

The summary that follows presents briefly the main facts as to
the boy peddlers in the four cities in which the Children’s Bureau
found a sufficient number to justify analysis; only 8 boys in Troy,
17 in Wilkes-Barre, and 55 in Columbus were reported as having
peddled long enough for inclusion in the study. (For the number of
girl peddlers in each city see p. 46.) In each city a large propor­
tion had worked every day, or every day except Sunday, and a large
proportion had peddled for at least one year. B y far the greater num­
ber worked at least two hours on school days; in Atlanta 55 per cent
of the peddlers worked three hours or longer a day in addition to the
hours spent in school. The great majority had worked at least
five hours on Saturdays; 10 or 12 hours or longer was a common
working day on Saturdays and in vacations, especially for hucksters.
Summary oj principal facts regarding peddlers working during school term', Atlanta,
Omaha, Paterson, und Newark

Items

Atlanta

Omaha

222
12
59.9
86.9
76.3
43.0
31.1
$1.77
57.2
63.5
21.7
5.9
50.5
3.0

61
12
22.9
58.5
50.0
42.6
32.8
$1.96
52.5
75.4
16.4
6.8
33.9
3.0

Paterson Newark
60
13
96.2
60.7
93.2
38.3

243
12
63.0
63.0
78.8
33.3

$ï. 64
30.0

$1.67
23.9

25.9

41.9

But such a summary can give no idea of the undesirable and in some
cases demoralizing conditions under which much of the peddling
was done. In Atlanta some of the “ basket” peddlers, white boys
selling apples and other fruit, peanuts, and flowers, on the down-town
streets, a number of helpers on coal, ice, and wood wagons, and several
hucksters’ boys worked 5 hours or longer on school days; 56 worked
at least 10 hours on Saturdays, some of them 13, 14, 15, or 16 hours.
In Newark and Paterson, Saturday peddlers reported similar hours,
and daily hours during vacation were the same as those on Saturdays
during the school term. Although some worked for their parents,
many were hired helpers, including many boys under 12 and some
under 10 years of age. An 11-year-old boy in Paterson worked for a
fruit peddler every school day from 4 to 9 p. m. and all day Saturdays.
A 10-year-old boy in Newark, employed by a huckster, worked on
Saturdays from 7 a. m. to 8 p. m. and several hours on school days.
A 9-year-old boy in Atlanta who worked for a huckster on Saturdays
from 8 a. m. to 6 p. m. was so tired after his day’s work, his mother
said, that he could not sleep. A 13-year-old hired huckster’s assistant
in Paterson worked 17)^ hours on Saturdays, stopping at midnight.
Almost all hucksters worked excessively long hours on Saturdays, and
many of the other peddlers did. Young children started to work too
early in the morning. For example, a boy of 11 helped his father
peddle ice for 3)/^ hours before school, beginning at 4 a. m. and work­
ing also for 3 hours in the afternoon after school. A 13-year-old boy


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

went to market about 4 with his father to get the day’s produce, and
worked again 4 hours after school. Two little hucksters’ helpers in
Newark began their work at 2 or 3 a. m. with a trip to market. More,
however, worked late than early. A number of peddlers roamed the
streets until 8 or 10 or even later in the evenings. To cite only a few
instances— a little boy of 10 accompanied his father, an ice-cream ped­
dler, until midnight every night; a 13-year-old boy was out with
his father’s pushcart every evening until 10; a peanut seller of 11 in
Atlanta worked until 9.30 p. m. every school day and had been kept
out of school half a year to sell peanuts; a 13-vear-old candy seller in
Omaha worked up to 5 ^ hours on. week days, staying out until 10
one night a week; a 10-year-old popcorn seller worked from 7 to 9
every night except Sunday, when he stopped at 8.30; in Columbus,
three brothers, the oldest of whom was 13, sold candy and popcorn
every week day, selling in a theater three evenings a week.
The long hours, especially on Saturdays and especially when the
boy was required to carry heavy containers of fruit and vegetables
from wagon to door all day, constitute probably the greatest hardship
for hucksters’ helpers. For miscellaneous peddlers the danger lies in
the tendency to use peddling merely as a cloak for begging. Whether
he goes from house to house or stands on a busy street corner the child
peddler is capitalizing the appeal of childhood, just as the one-armed
man who sells the housewife a package of needles that she does not
want or the blind man who sells the compassionate passer-by a pencil
is capitalizing his misfortune. The manner in which the little peddlers
offer their wares is often indistinguishable from begging. Parents
sometimes encourage the attitude. A mother boasted that her two
children of 7 and 8 had once taken in $27 in two days selling candy.
Two little boys selling bananas and apples supported their stepmother ^
and their father, who said that the children could make more than he
could. Probably the most extreme case encountered was that of a
10-year-old boy accompanying his father, a blind peddler, who had
been arrested several times for begging.
In each city a greater proportion of the peddlers than of the news­
paper sellers were found to be the children of immigrants, and in
Atlanta a greater proportion of the peddlers than of the newspaper
sellers were negroes. Some of these children were from homes of great
poverty, but, as the summary shows, the great majority, about the
same proportions as among newspaper sellers in their respective cities,
were in families in which both the child’s own parents lived together
and the father was the main support; and the proportion of the
latter who claimed economic need as the reason for their street
work was even smaller than that in broken homes.
The Columbus ordinance and the State laws in Nebraska and in
Pennsylvania that applied to newspaper sellers applied also to ped­
dlers, but the street-trades ordinances in Atlanta, in Newark, and in
Paterson did not touch them.
BOOTBLACKS

The itinerant bootblack with homemade blacking box slung over
his shoulder is said to be disappearing from the city streets, in fact was
said 15 years ago to be disappearing, owing to the increase in shoe-


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w

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INTRODUCTION

shining parlors and indoor stands.70 In all except one of the seven
cities in which the surveys covered all kinds of street workers, how­
ever, some boys reported that they were bootblacks. In Atlanta, in
Columbus, and in Omaha fewer than 10 were working at the time of
the interview who had blacked boots at least a month during the pre­
ceding year, and in Paterson only 48 boys reported that their principal
street work for a month or more during the school year had been boot­
blacking. The summary that follows gives the principal facts as to
the bootblacks in Wilkes-Barre and in Newark, the two places in
which a considerable number were found.
Summary of 'principal facts regarding bootblacks working during school term;
Newark and Wilkes-Barre

Items
Number of bootblacks___________ _____ ___ 1 ...
Average age_______________________________
Per cent working 2 hours or more on typical school day___ _________ _____ .L
Per cent working 5 hours or more on typical Saturday— . _______ . . . . _______ _____
Per cent working 6 or 7 days a week_____ . . . __________
Median earnings during typical week____________________
________ _____
Per cent of native white parentage________________
____________
Per cent in normal homes_____ .1______________________________
Per cent claiming familv need _ _
Per cent contributing all earnines to familv___ _______ _______ . . .
Per cent retarded in school____I ______________ _
_
______

Newark

387
12.1
67.2
79.4
40.3
$2.75
4.9
84.2
50.6

WilkesBarre
75
11.6
92.6
56.7
9.7
$1.21
5.3
75.0
18.2
10.7
48.6
23.0

The average age of the bootblack in each of these cities was 12,
though the proportion under 12 was 43 per cent in Newark and 47 per
cent in Wilkes-Barre. Almost all were of foreign parentage, most
of them Italian, though in Newark many negro boys did bootblacking.
They came from somewhat poorer homes than newspaper sellers,
though, like other street workers, the great majority were in families
in which the father was the chief breadwinner.
The work is done under much the same conditions and in much
the same surroundings as newspaper selling, particularly as news­
paper selling in cities where no supervision is given the newsboys
by the circulation managers of the newspapers. The bootblack is
more his own master than newsboys in cities where newsboys are
supervised; he works more irregularly and so receives less of the dis­
cipline that work may give. In Wilkes-Barre bootblacks worked
fewer hours than newsboys, though they were generally out all day
and in many cases far into the night on Saturdays; the bootblack
often found his best patrons among the “ Saturday-night drunks.”
In Newark 40 per cent worked 6 or 7 days a week, 37 per cent worked
3 hours or longer on school days, and 43 per cent worked at least
8 hours on Saturday ; 22 per cent worked at least 24 hours a week,
which, added to the hours spent in school, made a working week of
more than 48 hours. On school-day evenings 19 per cent were out
until between 8 and 10 p. m. In Newark during the summer vaca­
tion the hours spent in street work on week days other than Satur70 Child Labor in City Streets, by Edwin N. Clopper, p. 83. Macmillan Co., New York, 1915. Most
of the street-trades surveys that have been made do not include bootblacks. “ Street traders of Buffalo,
N. Y .,” includes 96 boys whose only street work was shining shoes but does not present the information
for bootblacks separately from that for other street workers.


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORE

days were as long as Saturday hours when school was in session;
26 per cent of the vacation bootblacks worked at least 48 hours a
week. Each of the groups reporting all these undesirable conditions
of work contained children under 12 and even under 10 years of age.
The bootblack was more retarded in school in each of the cities
than any other group of street workers, or even than any other group
of street workers of foreign or of negro parentage, in the same city.
The proportion of bootblacks with juvenile-court records was almost
twice that for newspaper sellers in Wilkes-Barre, the only city for
which the information was obtained.71
In Pennsylvania the State street trades law covers bootblacks, but
the street-work ordinance in Newark did not do so.
MAGAZINE CARRIERS AND SELLERS

Magazine carriers and sellers were the aristocrats of the street
workers, just as was found to be the case in the Seattle survey, the
only one, other than that of the Children’s Bureau, in which a special
study has been [made of magazine children.72 They generally came
from homes in which the parents were native whites and above the
average in prosperity. The proportion in normal families was higher
than among any other group of street workers and even higher than
among unselected groups of children. (See p. 29.) They were some­
what younger than other street workers and worked only a few
months.73
The work was unexacting in every way. Although an occasional
child sold or carried magazines a short time before going to school
or after dinner in the evening, almost all did the work immediately
after school and only for an hour or so. Few worked as much as
12 hours in their busiest weeks, and some worked only one or two
weeks in the month. The returns were small, the great majority of
magazine sellers or carriers earning less than 50 cents a week. Few
helped their families or even helped to buy their own clothes; they
usually saved a little and used the rest of their earnings for spending
money.
It would hardly be expected that work of this character would
affect unfavorably a child’s school standing or his school progress.
The proportion of magazine carriers or sellers who were retarded in
school was considerably lower than the average for schoolboys in
their cities. The proportion with juvenile-court records was about
the same as that found among newspaper carriers and much smaller
than among newspaper sellers.
The following summary lists the. principal facts as to the boys
selling or carrying magazines in Omaha and in Atlanta, the only
two cities in which the numbers were sufficiently large for statistical
treatment.74 In each of the other cities a few were reported— 42 in
Columbus, 34 in Newark (selling or carrying magazines during the
school year), 19 in Wilkes-Barre, and fewer than 10 in the other
places.
71.See Child Labor and Juvenile Delinquency in Manhattan, by Mabel Brown Ellis, p. 37 (National
Child Labor Committee Pamphlet 282, March, 1918), in which it is shown that bootblacking ranked fourth
among 12 groups of occupations in showing a direct connection between the boy’s occupation and his
delinquency.
72 Newsboy Service.
73 For a discussion of the vocational aspect of magazine selling and carrying, especially in relation to
the youth of the workers and the labor turnover, see Newsboy Service, pp. 141-147.
74 Several girls sold or carried magazines: see p. 46.


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INTRODUCTION

Summary of principal facts regarding magazine carriers and sellers working during
school term; Atlanta and Omaha
Items
umber of magazine sellers and carriers.
Average age_____________________
Per cent working less than 1 hour on typical school day
Per cent working less than 3 days a week...
Per cent working less than 6 m o n th s.......... ......
Median earnings during typical week___________
Per cent with native white fathers________
Per cent in normal homes___________________] .] ] ] ] ] ] ] '
Per cent claiming family need_____________
Per cent contributing all earnings to family ........]]]]]]]!
Per cent retarded in school_________ ___________
Per cent having juvenile-court records".]]]]]]]]]]]

Atlanta
80
11.1
7.3
68.8
68.8
$0.41
93.8
84.0
0
0
22.0
4.0

Omaha
104
10.9
8.3
41.3
59.6
$0.33
76.2
84.6
4.8
19
11.1
2.0

MISCELLANEOUS STREET WORKERS

Besides newspaper and magazine carriers and sellers, bootblacks,
and peddlers, a few children in each city were engaged in other
kinds of street work. Table 1 (p. 8) shows the number of boys
found in each city in each of the more common occupations.
The largest number were stand tenders, owing principally to the
many market-stand boys in Columbus. Many of them worked for
their parents, but others were hired. Like hucksters’ helpers many
worked excessively long hours on Saturdays.
The handbill distributors’ work is similar to that of the newspaper
carrier, except that he usually works only once or twice a week, a
few hours in all; he is a hired worker.
The boys with newspaper jobs other than selling or carrying
Supervised carriers, helped to carry bundles of newspapers to street
cars, did collecting, delivered papers to customers that regular
carriers had neglected to serve, or took out papers to carriers report­
ing that their bundles were “ short.”
The only other group in which there were more than a few boys
were the junk collectors. Too few reported the work in each city
to justify a special investigation, but it is known that junk collect­
ing offers unusual temptations and opportunities to steal. Some
State laws forbid the purchase of junk from minors, and many
juvenile courts have declared junk collecting to be one of the most
prolific sources of juvenile delinquency.75
The group of workers classified in Table 1 as “ other” includes
boys who took care of parked automobiles at night, usually around
theaters and restaurants, and up to a late hour; boys carrying travel­
ing bags in and around railroad stations, boys carrying advertising
signs through the streets, boys working on merry-go-rounds at
amusement parks,76 children leading blind peddlers and beggars,
lamplighters (in Newark), and many others. Many of these occupa­
tions are obviously unsuited to children or have been shown to be so.
75 See Junk Dealing and Juvenile Delinquency, pp. 58-60.
7e For a discussion of delinquency of workers in amusement resorts, see “ Juvenile delinquency and its
relation to employment ” in Report on Condition of Women and Child Wage Earners in the United States,
Vol. VIII, pp. 78, 93 (U. S. Bureau of Labor, Washington, 1911); and Child Labor and Juvenile Delin­
quency in Manhattan, by Mabel Brown Ellis, pp. 37, 38 (National Child Labor Committee Pamphlet
.282, March, 1918).


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

GIRLS IN STREET WORK

That street work is believed to be especially undesirable for girls is
indicated in most street-trades regulations by the fixing of a much
higher minimum age for girls in street work than for boys, usually
16 or 18 years. (See p. 48.) One hundred and eighteen girls 6 to
15 years of age reported street work during the school term in six
of the cities; 25 other girls reported selling for premiums. Ninety-one
were peddlers or newspaper carriers. Of the girls working as news­
paper carriers Columbus had 18, Newark and Omaha each had 10,
Paterson had 6, and Atlanta had 2. Atlanta had 15 girl peddlers,
Columbus had 13, Newark had 8, Omaha had 7, and’ Paterson and
Wilkes-Barre each had 1. Some of the peddlers went from door
to door with articles for sale, others stood on the street with their
wares or sought patrons in office buildings, hotel lobbies, and other
public places. One of these girl peddlers was described by local
social workers as “ a very good little beggar.” Few girls sold
newspapers; the surveys showed only 1 girl selling in Omaha and 2
in Paterson. Atlanta had 4 girl junk dealers, and Newark had 1.
Three girl magazine carriers were reported— 2 in Columbus and 1
in Omaha. Columbus had 5 girl standkeepers, Atlanta had 3, and
Newark and Paterson each had 1. The only other survey of street
workers in which girls are included, or the facts as to girls are pre­
sented separately, that in Toledo, showed a somewhat similar situa­
tion; of the 33 girl street workers all merely carried newspapers
except 5, 4 of whom sold newspapers and 1 of whom both sold and
carried.77
77 Toledo School Children in Street Trades, p. 25.


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LAWS REGULATING STREET WORK 78
Legal regulation of child labor in street trades, as has been inti­
mated, is not nearly so general in this country as the legal regulation
of child labor in industrial occupations, nor has it been so fully devel­
oped. Laws applying specifically to children engaging on their own
account in street work are in effect in only 20 States and the District
of Columbia.79 Two of these (Colorado and Oklahoma) apply only
to girls, and therefore do not touch the chief street-trades problem,
as even_ where no legal regulations exist girls are not engaged to any
extent in street work. Because street work by children is chiefly
in cities and because the harmful effects of this work arise chiefly
in connection with the city environment, street-trades legislation
was made applicable at first only to cities of a certain population
or of a specified class. And at the present time this is true of 9 of
the 19 laws applying to boys.80
Local regulation through city ordinances has supplemented State
legislation both in States having no laws on the subject and in States
having legislation with low standards or without adequate adminis­
trative provisions. The ordinances follow the same general lines as
State legislation, but their standards on the whole are lower, and
their administrative provisions often less specific. On the other
hand, they often lay down detailed rules, for instance as to the
conduct of newsboys, such as would be considered outside the scope
of a State law.
Other types of legislation applicable to some extent to children in
street work are: (1) Child-labor laws regulating general industrial
employment which in some States cover certain street occupations;
(2) prohibitions of the employment or use of children in certain
mendicant or “ wandering” occupations, including peddling; (3)
restrictions on the sale or distribution of literature devoted to criminal
or obscene subjects; and (4) juvenile-court laws which class as de­
pendents or delinquents, children under certain ages selling on the
street. (See pp. 49, 50.)
STATE LEGISLATION
SPEC IFIC S T R E E T -T R A D E S LA W S

Of the 19 street-trades laws applying to b oys81 4 (California,
Florida, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania) merely fix minimum
ages or prohibit work during certain night hours. All the others not
78 This section was prepared by Ella A. Merritt, assistant in legal research, industrial division,Children’s
Bureau. For a tabular analysis of the provisions of these laws, see Laws and Ordinances Regulating
Street Work (U. S. Children’s Bureau Chart No. 15). Legislation passed in 1928 is included so far as
available Apr. 1,1928.
7« Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Kentucky,
Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Penn­
sylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin. The New Jersey law providing for the issuance of
“ age and working certificates” to children between 10 and 16 years of age, which permitted them to engage
in certain light employments outside school hours, including running errands, selling newspapers, and
bootblacking, and penalized any person, the members of any firm, or the officers or agents of any corporation
employing, permitting or allowing a child to work contrary to this provision, is omitted from this discussion,
as under a decision of the attorney general it may be superseded by a child labor law of general application.
(See Laws and Ordinances Regulating Street Work.)
8» The law for the District of Columbia enacted by Congress is here classed with State laws. The New
Jersey provisions are omitted from this discussion, as under a recent decision of the attorney general they
may be superseded by a child labor law of general application. (See Laws and Ordinances Regulating
Street Work.)
8i
Of the two State laws applying only to girls that of Oklahoma fixes a minimum age of 16 and that of
Colorado a minimum age of 10.

47

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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

only prohibit work under certain ages but also require street traders
to obtain permits or badges. The badge system (with or without an
accompanying permit) has the same function in enforcing a streettrades law as the employment-certificate or work-permit system has
in the enforcement of laws relating to child labor in factories and
other industrial establishments. It is the only effective method o
enforcement in use, as it offers the only practicable means of insuring
that children do not undertake street work until they have satisfied
the legal requirements and of exercising any supervision over them
while they are at work.
All the 19 laws cover newspaper selling, and all except 7 apply
also to the distribution of newspapers. They also usually cover boot­
blacking and other trades carried on in any street or other public
place, but the exact application of the provisions varies from State
to State. In a few laws a higher minimum age is set for bootblacks
and certain other trades than for newsboys, though in none is the
age for boy bootblacks higher than 14.
Five laws fix 10 years as the minimum age for boys in newspaper
selling; 1, 11 years; 12, 12 years; and 1, 14 years. Of the 5 laws that
have a minimum age of 10, 4 do not apply to boys delivering news­
papers on routes; 1 regulates carriers in the same way as newspaper
sellers. In addition carriers are not covered by 3 of the laws fixing
a minimum age of 12, and they are given a lower minimum (10 years)
by 2 laws of this group. In the remaining 9 laws carriers are regu­
lated in the same way as sellers. Thus newspaper carriers are un­
regulated under 7 of the 19 laws, and 3 laws fix the minimum age at
10 years, 1 at 11, 7 at 12, and 1 at 14 years.
In all the 19 laws applicable to both sexes a higher minimum age is
fixed for girls than for boys— 14 years in 1 law, 16 years in 9 l a w ^
18 years in 8 laws, and 21 years in 1 law.
The minimum ages for boys in street work in the different States
are considerably lower than those for industrial employment. In all
except 2 States children must be 14 years of age or over in order to
work in factories and in many States in numerous other employments;
7 States have an age minimum of 15 years or over. It is true that
work in industrial occupations is more likely than street work to be
full-time work, but in many States the age minimum for such em­
ployment is the same whether it is engaged in outside or during school
hours.
Seventeen of the nineteen street-trades laws have a night-work
prohibition, beginning under 5 laws at 7 p. m., under 2 at 7.30 p. m.,
under 6 at 8 p. m., under 2 at 9 p. m., and under 2 at 10 p. m. Morn­
ing hours before which work is prohibited are specified in 16 of these
17 laws and vary from 4 a. m. to 6.30 a. m., the beginning hour most
usually permitted being 6 a. m.
Little attempt has been made to regulate the maximum hours of
labor in street trades because of the irregular hours of street work
and the difficulty of enforcing such a regulation. Virginia, however,
provides a maximum 8-hour day, 44-hour week, and 6-day week,
and North Carolina has an 8-hour day and a 48-hour and 6-day
week for children under 16 except those between 14 and 16 who have
completed the fourth grade. All the laws providing any kind of badge
system require that the work shall be done only outside school hour^jf
either directly or indirectly by stating that the child must “ comply


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INTRODUCTION

49

with all the legal requirements concerning school attendance.” This
applies only to children who are below the minimum age for employ­
ment in industrial establishments, for if a child is of regular age for
employment and has secured an employment certificate, he may
obtain a badge permitting him to work during school hours.
Under the State laws the badge is usually issued by some school
authority— generally the officer issuing employment certificates for
work in industrial establishments. In Baltimore, however, where
employment certificates are issued by the State commissioner of labor
and statistics, street-trades badges are also issued by him.
In the requirements for badges, as well as in other respects, streettrades laws fall behind those applying to other working children.
Of the 15 laws providing for permits or badges, 2 require no evidence
of age, and 1 allows the acceptance of less reliable evidence than is
necessary for an employment certificate. Only 7 laws require an
examination by a physician, though under 5 others the school prin­
cipal or the issuing officer must be satisfied that the child’s health is
such that he can do the work in addition to attending school or that
he is in good physical condition. Usually, too, the child must bring
a school record from his principal certifying that he is attending
school regularly, and, under a few laws, the issuing officer may revoke
the badge if the child does not continue to do satisfactory school
work.
Enforcement is placed most often in the hands of the officers who
issue the badges (usually school officials), with general supervisory
powers in some instances given to the State labor board. Less cen­
tralization of authority is found than for enforcement and inspection
under regular child-labor laws. Police officers, truant officers, and
^ p rob a tion officers in some instances are given coordinate authority,
with the result that no one official or body feels or undertakes the
responsibility for seeing that the law is enforced. (See p. 56.) Where
badges are required the power of revocation of the badge, usually
given to the issuing officer in express terms, offers a method of requir­
ing the child to live up to the legal regulations, such as the require­
ment, of school attendance and the prohibition of night work.
Only 6 laws penalize the person who furnishes to the child the
goods to be sold. Under 15 laws there is a penalty applicable to the
person who employs the child, and under 16 a penalty is placed upon
the parent who allows him to work in the prohibited occupations.
Of the 19 laws discussed 9 provide specifically that a child violating
the law may be brought before a juvenile court or other court having
similar jurisdiction.
CHILD-LABOR LAWS OF GENERAL APPLICATION

In many States the child-labor laws regulating industrial employ­
ment apply to certain specific kinds of work usually included in
street-trades laws, or are so general in application as to include all
such kinds of employment. These laws are universally interpreted
however, to apply only to the child who receives wages or other
return from an employer. The “ little merchant” is held to be out­
side their scope. Although they are of importance in controlling
^ ce rta in kinds of work carried on by children in streets or other
▼ public places they do not affect the main problem of regulation.


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CHILDREN“ IN STREET WORK!
OTHER CHILD-LABOR REGULATIONS

Laws somewhat different in scope are the provisions in the penal
statutes of some States which penalize the parent who “ sells or
otherwise disposes o f ” a child under a specified age to engage in
certain vocations or exhibitions such as rope or wire walking, begging,
peddling, or other “ wandering occupations,” and which penalize
also the person who so exhibits or employs the child. These laws
usually date from a period before the development of effective childlabor legislation and were passed to meet an entirely different situa­
tion from that of the usual “ street trader,” being in effect laws to
prevent the abuse of children by adults. As a rule they carry no
provision for enforcement except by the police or by the “ Society
for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children,” and have not been
found adequate to deal even with those cases in which the street
trader is in fact “ employed.”
Another old type of legislation which because of its narrow scope
and lack of enforcement machinery does not bear effectively upon the
street-trades problem, though it deals with a certain phase of street
selling, is found in the laws of 12 States which prohibit the distribu­
tion or sale by minors under 16, 18, or 21 years of age of pamphlets,
newspapers, and magazines principally made up of criminal news,
police reports, pictures and stories of deeds of crime, bloodshed, etc.
JUVENILE-COURT LAWS

Thirteen States and the District of Columbia have juvenile-court
or other laws providing for the care and commitment of dependent,
neglected, and delinquent children, which include in their definitions
of such children any child who is found peddling or selling articles— 0
some of them specifying selling newspapers— or accompanying or
assisting any person so doing. Only two of these States and the
District of Columbia have specific street-trades laws. The States
which declare a child dependent or neglected who is found peddling
or selling articles on the street for gain are Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas,
Missouri, Nebraska, and Nevada, in which the age limit is 10 years;
Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington, in which it is 12;
and Oregon and Tennessee, in which it is 14. In Louisiana a child
not over 17 years of age who is found peddling any article in a street,
road, or public^ place is considered to be delinquent. In the Dis­
trict of Columbia the age limit is 8 years. None of these provisions,
however, are on exactly the same basis as legal prohibitions of em­
ployment in such occupations, for though in general, under this
definition of dependency, any person may make complaint that a
child is dependent and the child may be taken before the court
and so dealt with, there is no direct mandatory provision either that
children shall not work in these occupations on the streets or that
specific officials or other persons shall see that children do not so work.
In some instances, however, interested agencies have been able to
use such a law fairly effectively as a minimum-age provision. (See
discussion of the regulation of newspaper selling in Omaha, Nebr.,
pp. 173-174.)

M

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INTRODUCTION

51

MUNICIPAL ORDINANCES 82

Information regarding city ordinances was obtained by correspond­
ence with local school superintendents and police and other city
officials. Letters were sent in the fall of 1926 to all the 287 cities
in the United States having a population, according to the Federal
census, of 25,000 or over,83 and replies were received from all except
28 cities.84
Officials in 39 cities in 16 States reported some sort of ordinance
affecting children in street trades, though in some cases the state­
ment was made that it was not enforced. Of these 39 regulations,
7 were general curfew ordinances, which might be used to keep
children from engaging in street work at night, and 1 applied only
to bootblacks, leaving only 31 of the 287 cities with ordinances
relating to street sellers.85 Twenty-four of these were in States
where there was no State street trades law that affected the city
concerned, 5 in States where the street trades law fixed a minimmb
age for these cities but did not require badges, 1 in a State where the
law provided a minimum age for girls only, and 1 in a State having a
state-wide street trades law providing a licensing system.86
These 31 ordinances varied greatly in character, those at one
extreme consisting merely of a requirement that all newspaper
vendors obtain licenses, without regard to age, those at the other
containing standards and provisions for administration similar to
those found in the best State street-trades laws. In general, how­
ever, the standards were lower than those of the State laws, and
less attention was paid to the administrative procedure and to the
requirements that must be met before a child is permitted to work.
Often, also, they applied only to vendors of newspapers and maga­
zines, though in some cases to sellers of all kinds of merchandise,
and in a few instances all street traders were covered. Newspaper
carriers were seldom affected. Usually the regulation extended to
the whole municipality, but in 2 cities the boundaries of the district
to be covered were defined, and the application of the regulation or cer­
tain parts of it was limited to the more congested sections of the city.
In 7 of these cities the ordinances required that all newsboys
obtain licenses without fixing any age minimum. Under regulatory
powers of this type, however, it may be within the discretion of the
licensing official to impose reasonable age or other requirements, and
a minimum age had been fixed by regulation in 3 other cities with
general ordinances of this kind. Two ordinances consisted only of
a night-work prohibition, 1 merely established a minimum age for work,
and 2 in addition to fixing a minimum age, had a night-work prohibi­
tion. The ordinances of the remaining 19 cities (including the 3 men­
tioned in which general ordinances are supplemented by regulations),
like the majority of the State laws, fixed a minimum age, established
82 For a tabular analysis of the provisions of these ordinances, see Laws and Ordinances Regulating
Street Work (U. S. Children’s Bureau Chart No. 15).
83 Letters were also sent to the largest city in each of the seven States (Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, New
Mexico, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming) having no cities with a population of 25,000 or over, but
no street-trades ordinances were reported as in force in thesecities. Information received has been revised
to January, 1928.
84 In 1922, when letters requesting this information were sent to cities of 25,000 population or over, the
information was received from 24 of these 28 cities that no ordinances were in effect; no reply was received
from the remaining 4 cities.
85 See Laws and Ordinances Regulating Street Work.
88 This city was St. Paul, Minn., where the ordinance dovetailed with the State law.


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

some sort of licensing system, and in all except 5 instances prohib­
ited work during certain night hours.
The age at which boys were allowed to engage in street work was in
general lower under these ordinances than under State laws. In 9
cities there was no minimum; in 2 cities the minimum age was fixed
at 8 years; in 12 at 10; in 4 at 11; and in 4 at 12. The minimum
age for girls was usually higher than for boys, as in State laws, but
in some cases no separate provision was made for girls or the regula­
tion applied only to boys. .
Twenty of the ordinances, two of which provided no minimum age
for daytime work and no licensing system, had night-work prohibi­
tions, the hour when the prohibition began varying from 6.30 to
10 p. m. In some cities work was permitted until a later hour than
under most of the State laws. The morning hour before which
work was prohibited varied from 3 a. m. to 6 a. m. These nightwork prohibitions in the majority of cases covered children up to
16 years of age or even older, but in 9 instances the regulation
stopped at 14 or 15 years of age. Exemptions were sometimes made
for the selling of special editions of newspapers or work was per­
mitted to a later hour on Saturday night. Under some regulations,
as is the case also in curfew ordinances, the prohibited period began
at a later hour in the summer than in the winter.
Unlike the State laws, city ordinances were not usually related
to the regulations affecting the child’s school attendance. Most of
the ordinances, in fact, were silent as to the requirements with which
a child must comply.
The person in charge of the issuance of licenses and badges was
usually either the chief of police, or the mayor or some other city
official. In only four cities did school authorities have control of
the issuance; in one city the county probation officer was designated
“ supervisor of newsboys,” but the city collector was authorized to
grant the license. M ost of the ordinances named no official responsi­
ble for enforcement, but in such cases it would be inferred that the
police officials were supposed to enforce this as they would any other
city regulation, particularly in cities where the chief of police had the
licensing under his control.
A number of these ordinances had special rules as to the conduct
of newsboys not usually found in the State laws. For instance, they
prohibited selling in specified places— as near a railroad station or on
a street car— or they contained provisions that the license might be
revoked for such offenses as gambling or disorderly conduct.
Only one of the ordinances penalized the person who furnished the
papers to newsboys. Usually the penalty was placed upon the child
who violated the ordinance and in a few cases also upon the parent
who allowed him to engage in the prohibited work,

^

ADMINISTRATION OF STREET-TRADES LAWS

The Children’s Bureau surveys of juvenile street work included
inquiries into the administration of any legal regulations of such
work as were in existence in the various cities. In addition, the
bureau made a brief survey of the enforcement of street-work regulations in 21 other cities varying in population from 35,000 to
more than 500,000 inhabitants, most of them, however, ranging from

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INTRODUCTION

53

100,000 to 500,000. The regulations in effect included State childlabor laws applying specifically to street trades (see p. 47), a State
juvenile court law with a dependency provision applying to street
sellers under a certain age (see p. 50), and municipal ordinances (see
p. 51). All the main general types of laws and ordinances were
represented— those requiring permits and badges, those fixing only
a minimum age, and those with both an age minimum and a nightwork prohibition but with no provision for permits.
It was found that street-trades regulations, whatever their type,
were in general less well enforced than other child-labor laws, owing
in part to the greater difficulties of inspection and in part to a lack
of such public recognition of the importance of regulating street
work for children as would result in any real attempt at enforcement.
Nevertheless, it was seen that where the problem was considered of
sufficient importance to warrant the necessary effort, effective
enforcement of street-trades regulations was possible.
T H E P E R M IT A N D B A D G E S Y S T E M

In the administration of child-labor laws some sort of work-permit
system is necessary to keep children from going to work without
fulfilling the age and other requirements of the law and to make
possible supervision of the child while at work, supplemented by an
inspection system to discover children who have failed to obtain
permits and to require compliance with the hours of labor and other
legal requirements as to working conditions.
In most of the places included in the survey of street-work regula­
tions where no permits nor badges were required by law, no system of
enforcement of the age or night-work restrictions made by the law
had been worked out, and these regulations were very generally dis­
regarded. That at least partial enforcement, however, can be
brought about by the special efforts of interested officials even though
handicapped by the lack of a permit provision in the law has been
shown in several places. For instance, in one city visited, juvenilecourt officials had succeeded in reducing the number of very young
newsboys by making use of the clause of the juvenile court law that
classed as dependent a child under 10 years of age found selling
articles on the street, though the constant vigilance demanded for
complete enforcement could not possibly be given by so small a force
as that available. The reports of the board of education of another
city also show that by the assignment of special attendance officers
to patrol the streets at night it is possible to enforce the night-work
prohibition of a State law that has no provision for permits, enforcing
officials having vainly attempted to obtain the necessary amendments
to aid in its administration.87
The issuing officer.

Under State street-trades laws which require permits and badges,
the issuing officer is in most cases the official who also issues em­
ployment certificates, usually the local school superintendent or
some one deputized by him, but in one instance a State labor official.
Under city ordinances, however, though in some cities school officials
87 See Reports of the Bureau of Compulsory Education, Board of Public Education, School District of
Philadelphia, for the years ended as follows: June 30,1922, pp. 29-32; June 30, 1923, pp. 41-44; June 30,1924,
pp. 34-36; June 30, 1925, pp. 29-31; June 30,1926, pp. 40-43.


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

have this authority, the issuing is far more often in the hands of the
chief of police or some city official such as. the mayor or the director
of public safety.88
, .;
■
In cities where the granting of street-trades licenses was in the
hands of the chief of police or some city official the issuing officer
was seldom found to have the training and experience that guaranteed
his sympathy with the spirit and purpose of the law or that fitted him
either to deal with children of school age and their parents or to
cooperate with the schools and other public agencies whose assistance
was needed in enforcing the law. Too often the issuing power was
delegated by city officials to obviously unsuitable persons. In one
city where the mayor had this power, the circulation manager of one
of the newspapers was issuing newsboy permits. Under another
ordinance, enforced by the department of public safety, some badges
were issued by a clerk in the office of the chief of police, and two of
the newspapers had bought badges from the police and distributed
them to boys applying for them. Some of the newsboy ordinances,
in fact, were so similar to whose requiring licenses for businesses
usually conducted by adults, where the underlying principle is the
protection of the public or the raising of revenue, that it was not
surprising to’find that they were seldom if ever administered from the
point of view of the protection of the child.
Many cases were found in which school officials also were issuing
badges only perfunctorily; in one small city the school superintendent
had delegated the work to the circulation manager of the largest
local newspaper. Where such municipal officers as safety commis­
sioners or directors of bureaus of crime prevention have the necessary
interest, aptitude, and time, the enforcement of a street-trades ordi­
nance might be successfully intrusted to them. But the best results *
observed in this study were obtained under systems supervised by
persons in charge of other laws governing the child in school and at
work and controlling his transition from school to work. The ex­
perience and point of view of persons in such positions at least tends
to make them interested primarily in the education and general
welfare of the child and to fit them for dealing with the technical
problems of administering laws regulating child labor.
Methods of issuance.

In the offices where certificates for general employment were
issued and where considerable attention had. been paid to the technique
of certificate issuance, the same good methods were taken over into
the street trades law administration. This was true as to the evi­
dence of age demanded in a number of cities where reliable evidence
was required for employment certificates and where care was taken
as to the order in which it was received (the better types of docu­
mentary proof being required first and less satisfactory kinds being
allowed only after evidence that the former were not available).
In other cities, however, where the less reliable kinds of evidence
(such as school records or parents’ affidavits) were accepted for
employment certificates they were also accepted for street-trades
permits, and little certainty existed that children under the legal age
might not receive permits for street work. In some cases such
laxity was due to the weakness or the ambiguity of the street trades
88 For details, see Laws and Ordinances Regulating Street Work,


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INTRODUCTION

55

law, but in others a law clearly specifying the evidence to be accepted
was ignored. Although it thus happened that reliable evidence of age
often was not required for street-trades badges even where they were
issued in the same office as were regular employment certificates,
usually in such offices much more effort was made to ascertain the
child’s age than in offices where persons unfamiliar with employ­
ment-certificate laws enforced street-work ordinances. In the
latter, no definite system or procedure for obtaining the best possible
evidence of the child’s age was found. Sometimes, indeed, the
child was merely asked to state his age, and one issuing officer said
that a child must merely be “ old enough to care for himself on the
streets” before a permit would be issued.
A desirable prerequisite for the granting of a street-trades badge
was found to be that the parent appear before the issuing officer,
both to prevent the child’s working without the parent’s knowledge
and to give the issuing officer an opportunity to impress upon the
parent his responsibility for the child’s compliance with the legal
regulations while at work. In some places it had been effective to
require the parent to sign an agreement to see that the child lived
up to the regulations. The requirement of the parent’s appearance
was specified in some of the laws; in other places, though it was not
so specified, it was imposed as part of the administrative procedure.
Yet in some places the legal provision that the parent apply in
person was ignored, and he merely had to sign an application for
the child’s badge which was brought to the permit-issuing office by
the child— a procedure offering an opportunity for the child to sign
his own application.
.
In some cases the law on this point was defective in requiring the
W parent to appear only before the school principal to obtain the
child’s school record and not before the issuing officer. Although it
may be desirable to give the school principal an opportunity to
interview the parent this was not found to be an effective sub­
stitute for requiring the parent to come with the child to the issuing
officer, who has the final decision as to whether the child shall
undertake the work.
Am attempt to insure that a child permitted to work in street
trades should be physically fit for work was made in some laws by
requiring, as in the best general child-labor laws, that he submit to
examination by a physician. In a few cities where this requirement
was mandatory street workers were required to have the same evi­
dence of physical fitness as children receiving employment certificates.
The regulation in effect in some o f the other cities that left the
determination of the physical fitness of the child to the discretion
of the issuing officer or of the school principal was found to afford
no protection to the child. The school principal’s statement on the
child’s school record that the child was of normal development and
physically fit to undertake the work in addition to his school work
was merely perfunctory; the record was practically always issued as
a matter of course if the child was of the required age. This state­
ment of the school principal, in fact, seldom amounted to more than
proof that the child was enrolled in school and a record of his age on
the school rolls. Nor were any issuing officers found to take advan^ tage of the clause in some regulations permitting them to refuse to
75034°—28-----5

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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

issue the permit if the child did not seem physically able to do
the work.
Likewise little advantage was taken by school officials of other
legal provisions giving the principal or teacher some discretion in
signing the child’s application for a badge, as the provision that the
principal certify that the child was mentally able to do the work in
addition to his school work.
STREET

IN S P E C T IO N S

Experience in the cities visited showed that in enforcing street-work
regulations the permit system, though a very necessary and valuable
aid, could not be relied upon to discover children attempting to enter
street occupations illegally to the same extent as can be done in
enforcing child-labor laws applying to industrial establishments. In
the latter case, the fact that the child must leave school usually in
order to enter regular employment makes possible such utilization
of the school-attendance enforcement machinery by the adminis­
trative officer as will enable him to know, with at least a fair degree
of completeness, what children attempt to go to work without proving
compliance with the legal requirements. But in enforcing laws
affecting the street worker, who usually works outside school hours,
no such machinery is available, and a larger degree of dependence
must be placed upon inspection. Moreover, because street work is
much more unstable than regular industrial employment, the diffi­
culties of inspection, even in places where the inspector was aided
by a well-administered badge system, were found to be greater in
enforcing a law regulating street work than in enforcing laws regu­
lating other work of children. New children are continually taking
up the work, and old workers shifting from one location to another.
Under these conditions it was found that almost constant inspection,
both in patrolling the streets and in visiting the newspaper-distrib­
uting offices, was necessary to inspire a wholesome respect for the
law on the part of the street worker and to enable the inspector to
become familiar with the boys legally qualified to work.
On the other hand, the work of the inspector is simplified some­
what by the fact that most of the street workers are found in a some­
what restricted part of the city, and in some places the “ corner
system,” under which a newsboy may acquire what amounts to
ownership of the right to sell in a particular place, enables the
enforcing official to become familiar with the boys working in certain
localities.
The enforcing officials.

The first requisite for successful inspection appeared to be the plac­
ing of the responsibility definitely upon a single authority. A divi­
sion of authority— as where police officers and school authorities or
where police officers, school authorities, and a State labor department
were given the duty of enforcement— usually resulted in a situation
in which no one was willing to take the responsibility, and as a
consequence little was accomplished. Even where a single agency
had the responsibility and a good system of inspection had been
worked out, however, the inspecting authority was often hampered
by lack of time to cover the whole ground daily; seldom did inspect­
ing officers have sufficient assistance for wholly satisfactory results.

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57

And in many places even interested officials with a disposition to
enforce the law had so many other duties that they were unable to
do effective street inspection.
The necessity of placing the inspection work in the hands of the
agency that issued the badges was also clearly indicated. Good
results were obtained only when one person had control of both the
issuance of badges and the street inspection or where there was very
close cooperation between the persons who issued the badges and
those responsible for inspection. The agency in control of both
badge issuance and inspection was often hampered, however, by lack
of adequate assistance.
If the inspection was weak, either because the work was divided,
as where school officials issued badges and the police were supposed
to enforce the law, or because two agencies were responsible for en­
forcement and neither accepted the responsibility, or for any other
reason, no amount of care in issuing badges could prevent illegal
work. In fact, in one city where the mayor had delegated the power
to issue licenses under the city ordinance to the school superintendent,
the latter official had ceased to issue badges for a time because the
police, who had the duty of enforcement, did not require children
working on the street to have badges, and he felt it unfair to make a
child who came to the license office pay for a badge when any child
who cared to could sell without one.
Enforcement of the regulation by the police alone was seldom
reported as satisfactory. A certain degree of cooperation by the
police in reporting violations to the school or other enforcing officials
was occasionally obtained in some places, but the handling of viola­
tions of a street-work regulation demands a cooperation between the
enforcing officer and . the school, the parent, and the worker, for
which officials who deal with adult law breakers and criminals and
whose main business is to look after the safety of citizens are not
trained. Moreover, they have neither the time nor the opportunity
to make the necessary contacts with the school and the home incident
to complete enforcement. Even where some interested agency made
special efforts to get the help of the police it was often found that the
latter were not in sympathy with the law and would not molest a
child selling papers illegally, because they saw no reason for such a
regulation and felt that it was doing the child an injustice to prevent
him from “ earning a few pennies.”
In addition to the fact that it appeared usually very difficult to
obtain cooperation from the police, except in a few cases for short
periods, this method of enforcement is not recommended because
of the obvious undesirability of the arrest of a child by a policeman,
the consequent street commotion, and the effect of the whole pro­
ceeding upon the impressionable mind of the child. When the police
merely “ chased the children off the streets,” as was reported in some
instances, the results were not effective for long, nor had the method
of reporting violations by the policeman on the beat to his superior
officer and the warning of the parent by the latter proved effective.
The badge as an aid in inspection.

Although some inspecting officers reported that badges were of
j^. little value in inspecting, evidently because of the ease with which
^ they might be transferred from child to child, this difficulty was
overcome to a large extent where the badge contained such informa
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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

tion as helped the inspector to identify the child to whom the badge
had been issued. M any laws demand that the badge contain the
child’s signature, and this was found to be a great aid in identifica­
tion. An issuing officer in one city had devised systems of symbols
on the badge which enabled him to classify the child to whom it had
been issued as of a certain age and nationality, and in this way to
detect a transfer in many cases. The boys knew that a transfer
would probably be discovered and punished by revocation of the
badge and so were deterred from attempting to violate the law in
this way.
The regulations usually required that the badge should be worn
conspicuously while the child was at work. Nevertheless, even in
cities where at least a fair degree of enforcement had been obtained,
badges were very often not so worn, but were carried in a pocket or
fastened under the child’s coat. This was often due in part to the
large size of the badge or to its clumsiness. On the other hand, where
the badge was small it was sometimes of such flimsy construction that
it was soon damaged, and for that reason not worn. Obviously the
badge lost its value as an aid to the inspector if it was not worn in
plain sight, and if badges were not worn the violator could easily
claim that he “ had a badge at home.”
Enforcement of night-work provisions.

The most outstanding of the legal restrictions on street workers is
the night-work prohibition, j This was often found to be poorly
enforced, either because the inspection system in general was weak
or because the enforcing officers— for instance truant officers— could
not patrol the streets both during the day and at night. Where the
amount of late-evening selling was small this fact often appeared ^
to be due merely to the fact that the last local paper came off the W
press at an hour early enough to enable the children to finish selling
before the prohibited period began. Under some regulations also
work was permitted up to so late an hour in the evening (9 or 10
o ’clock) that, except in some cases on Saturday night* the children
had no occasion to sell in the prohibited period.
Where the law contained no night-work prohibition or where work
was legally permitted until very late, attempts were sometimes made
with a degree of success to use a curfew ordinance to prevent children
from selling on the streets after a certain hour. Curfew ordinances
were held in some cities not to apply to the street worker, however,
as he was said to be a “ merchant” pursuing his own business and so
to have a right to be on the street.
P E N A LTIE S

Penalty on the street worker and the parent.

The temporary revocation of the worker’s badge, with the loss of
the selling privilege, the penalty usually imposed upon a first offense,
was found to be a deterrent to future violations, and where inspection
was thorough enough to make street workers realize that there was
likelihood of a violation of the law being discovered, it was instru­
mental in decreasing first offenses. In cities where it was customary
to revoke the badge as a first penalty it was usual to send a written
,
warning to the parent, and some enforcing officials by visiting the ^
worker’s home and in this way enlisting the parent’s cooperation

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INTRODUCTION

^
“

59

appeared to be successful in many cases in preventing repeated viola­
tions. This procedure, together with the practice upon a second
offense of summoning the child and the parent to appear before the
enforcing official or officials at a formal hearing, was often effective
in enforcing the law to a considerable extent without resort to court
action. Such hearings, though sympathetically conducted, sometimes
had all the impressiveness of court hearings. The parent was per­
mitted to state his side of the case, was clearly informed of his re­
sponsibility to see that the child obeyed the law, and was threatened
with regular court procedure if the offenses continued.
When court action was found to be necessary because of repeated
offenses, both the child and the parent were brought before the
juvenile court in some cities, but in at least one large city enforcing
officials believed that placing the penalty wholly upon the parent as
responsible for the child’s violation of the law was the best method of
enforcement. Where the regulation held the parent directly respon­
sible for failure to cause the child to comply with the law and per­
mitted the imposition of reasonably heavy fines, an effective way
to bring about compliance with the law was to suspend sentence on
the parent or to place him under bond. Although some streettrades regulations may not define the parent’s responsibility in suffi­
ciently specific terms to permit this procedure, it would be possible
under many State statutes to hold the parent responsible for con­
tributing to the child’s delinquency in violating a State law or city
ordinance even though the street trades law itself contained no
such provision.
This method of holding the parent entirely responsible also had the
advantage of making it possible to keep the children themselves out
of court, except the comparatively few who were declared by the
parents to be beyond their control and therefore had to be brought
before the juvenile court. Some officials successful in enforcement
felt that the procedure of bringing the child before any court, even
the juvenile court, should be avoided at almost any cost. Arrest of
the child was found to be a failure, moreover, because support from
the court officials themselves was often lacking, and the fines imposed
were so small as to make the whole procedure ineffective.
The system of revoking badges upon complaint of the principal of
the school that the child was irregular in attendance or was falling
behind in his school work was said to be effective in a few places in
maintaining attendance and scholarship. Generally, however, there
appeared to be little or no cooperation between school and enforcing
officials in this regard.
Where inspection was sufficiently thorough to discover children
working under the legal age or without having complied with the law
in regard to obtaining badges, those eligible for badges were required
to get them and those ineligible for street work were dealt with in
the same way as children legally qualified to work who violated the
regulations, except, of course, for the revocation of the badge.
Penalty on newspaper supply agent.

In a few places it was reported that a suit had been brought at
one time against a newspaper distributor for violating the street work
law, and in one city, when a child under the legal age was found
selling papers, the enforcing official notified the supply agent that he
was violating the law in selling to the child and was liable to a penalty

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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

for so doing. But in general little attempt appeared to be made to
hold responsible the supply agent or circulation manager furnishing
the papers to be sold, even where the law imposed a penalty applicable
in such a case. Often the law was defective in providing no penalty
for the distributor or in wording the provision so vaguely that it was
possible for him to keep within the letter of the law while violating
its intent, and in some places the system of distribution was through
a number of intermediaries, so that it was difficult to locate the person
responsible for sales to the particular child found violating the law.
SUMMARY

On the whole this inquiry indicated that the legal regulation of
street work presents difficult problems peculiar to itself; that, except
in a few places, very little had been done toward working out and
putting into effect adequate methods of administration and enforce­
ment adapted to meet these problems even when the street-trades
laws were satisfactory; and that many of the regulations were them­
selves inadequate. On the other hand, defects in a law were some­
times overcome by efficient administrative procedure, whereas the
enforcement of good laws was sometimes hampered by lack of wellconsidered administrative methods or by failure to take advantage
of all the powers given by the law.
Certain legal provisions were shown to be essential-to even moder­
ately .successful control of the street-trades problem. The first of
these is a specific law or regulation applying to the street worker, for
school authorities and labor officials have found that most street
work can not be regulated by a general child labor law, the word
“ employ” in the latter type of law being almost invariably con- ^
strued to mean the purchasing of the services of one person by another. “
Satisfactory regulations included a badge system; the placing of
responsibility for enforcement definitely upon a single official; and
the control of the issuance of badges and the street inspections by
the same agency.
In administering the law the principal difficulties encountered were:
(1) A lack on the part of the enforcing officials of understanding of
the law, of sympathy with its purpose, and of willingness to enforce
it; (2) the appointment of issuing and enforcing officials not qualified
by training and personal characteristics for the work; and (3) so
insufficient a staff that even interested officials could not enforce
the laws.
Success in overcoming these difficulties seemed to be met with most
often when the street-work regulation was administered by the officials
who also administered the child-labor laws, usually the school
officials, and when street-work permits and badges were issued by
the same office as child-labor permits, even when the child labor law
administration was rather imperfect.
Many other standards of effective administrative procedure— as
for instance in regard to methods of insuring that children have
satisfied the legal prerequisites for obtaining badges, of keeping
records, of inspecting and reporting violations, and of conducting
prosecutions— are obviously needed, but a much more intensive
study of administrative procedure would be necessary to determine
the best methods for good enforcement along these lines.

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CONCLUSIONS
NEWSPAPER SELLERS

Selling newspapers does not necessitate a boy’s leaving school, but
this very fact results in its being undertaken by many children too
yoimg to work except at tasks that are a necessary part of their
training. Where the compulsory school attendance department is
efficient it does not appear to interfere with school attendance. In
some places newsboys are no more retarded in school, on the whole,
than other boys; and, where they are retarded, too many factors in
the home and school environment are involved to prove a direct
connection between newspaper selling and failure to make normal
progress in school. The physical effects of the work need to be
investigated more thoroughly and more extensively before definite
conclusions can be drawn as to whether or not the newsboy’s health
suffers as a result of his work and in what respects it suffers. But
whether or not the educational or physical effects are immediately
measurable it can not be denied that boys who sell papers all the
daylight hours after their release from school have no opportunity
for wholesome recreation, nor time for the preparation of home
lessons (except at the end of a long working day) and that they
work at least as many hours a day as are regarded as suitable for
adults (though almost half are under 12 years of age); and those
^ who sell early in the monring or late in the evening, or at such times
as make it impossible to have meals at proper intervals, as many
do, are following a program even less favorable to normal devel­
opment.
The moral influences surrounding newspaper sellers in their work
make it a dangerous occupation, also, for the immature. Conditions
in and around newspaper-distributing rooms differ. Small towns
and cities escape certain of the evils that flourish in the notorious
“ news alleys” of some of the larger cities. But distributing rooms
too often attract the type of man from whom the newsboy may learn
at first hand the language, philosophy, and technique, so to speak, of
the loafer and the tramp, or even of the thief, the gambler, and the
moral pervert. The fact that in two of the four cities in which
the Children’s Bureau investigated this aspect of newspaper selling the
boys were exposed in their work to seriously unwholesome associa­
tions and influences indicates that such associations and influences
are not uncommon in newspaper selling and may develop anywhere
at any time. Newsboys have a delinquency rate several times as
large as that of other groups of boys._ Much of this is accounted
for, to be sure, by poor home and neighborhood environment, but
boys so handicapped are obviously in greater need of protection
than more fortunate children if they are to develop into law-abiding
members of the community. The number whose lives may be
. u n f a v o r a b l y influenced by their contacts in newspaper selling is
^ m u c h larger, owing to the turnover, than the number selling papers
at any one time would indicate. Many boys sell papers only a few
61

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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

weeks or months, but at impressionable ages a few weeks may undo
the work of years on the part of the schools in training for citizenship.
The similarity between the findings in the Children’s Bureau
surveys and those in surveys made 10 or 15 years ago offers little
foundation for the hope that conditions will improve of themselves.
The indications are that in certain respects they are likely to grow
worse instead of better. Competition between newspapers, which
grows more rather than less intense, not only increases the number
of newsboys but also, as the Children’s Bureau surveys show, creates
especially unfavorable conditions for boys who sell. The increase in
midday editions is likely to increase the temptation to stay out of
school to sell, and no doubt children will do so unless the schoolattendance department keeps a close watch; the growing popularity
of late-evening editions of morning papers provides new oppor­
tunities for selling late in the evening.
These considerations seem to justify the conclusion that news­
paper selling by children should be regulated just as other forms of
child labor are" regulated. The failure of the State laws and city
ordinances regulating street work in the cities where the surveys
were made shows that the provisions of the laws and the details of
administration must be given careful consideration. _ A State law
may have the advantage over a city ordinance in providing a degree
of supervision over local administration that is desirable and giving
protection to children in places that would not of their own accord
enact measures regulating street work.
The age minimum for licenses to sell newspapers should be as high
as public opinion will support, looking toward the prohibition, as
soon as practicable, of the work for boys under 16, just as street
work now is very generally prohibited for girls under that age,
wherever regulations are in effect. Some of the worst features of
newspaper selling are of a kind that make it as little desirable for
boys 12 to 15 as for those of 10 or 11. Prohibition of selling for
children under 16 has the further justification, if further justification
is needed, of causing no inconvenience to the public. As has often
been observed by writers on street work, European cities have few
if any newsboys. Elderly men and women and the physically
handicapped, as well as such devices as newsstands or self-service
racks, can take care of street sales. The prejudice that high-school
boys of 16 or over have against newspaper selling because it is con­
sidered “ kids’ work” would be met, also, by the removal of the
younger boys from the streets. Satisfactory proof of age, at least
as good as that required under the child labor law regulating in­
dustrial employment, should be demanded of all applicants for
licenses to sell papers.
Where newspaper selling for children under 16 is not prohibited
but is regulated, hour regulations should prohibit night work and
work during school hours. Fixing the hour for stopping in the evening
at 6.30 would permit newsboys to reach home at a reasonable time
after dark in the winter (incidentally, it would also take care of the
peak of the trade, for which boys are most desired) and would
automatically restrict the number of hours of work a day. Fixing
the morning hour for beginning at 7 would make it possible even for
boys whose home environment does not favor an early bedtime to
get sufficient sleep. Whatever arguments may be advanced as to

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63

the need of schoolboys for newspaper selling during the rush hours,
none can be urged against the adequacy of stands and racks for the
comparatively few early-morning and late-evening purchasers.
Although the educational provision contained in most child-labor
^ laws can be omitted from the law regulating newspaper selling, unless
™ the child is leaving school, it should contain a provision requiring a
statement signed by the principal of the school and the teacher of the
class that the child attends certifying that he is regularly enrolled in
school and that he is able to sell papers without retarding his progress
in school. The law should provide also for the revocation, on the
recommendation of the child’s school principal, of the license to sell.
The possibility of physical impairment as the result of work outside
school hours and the strain and exposure incidental to newspaper
selling is sufficiently great to make desirable the requirement of a
physical examination, such as is required under the best child-labor
laws. Periodical physical examinations of newsboys were recom­
mended by the heart committee of the New York Tuberculosis and
Health Association as a result of its findings in its study of the health
of newsboys.89
If the law refused a newsboy’s license unless the applicant was
accompanied by his parent or guardian, responsibility for complying
with the terms of the law could be fixed more effectively; and, more­
over, those whose parents disapproved of the work and many whose
parents were indifferent in regard to it and who therefore have no
real reason for selling papers would be kept out of the work.
Adequate penalties should be provided in the law. A penalty
should be placed upon the child, the parent, and the newspaper
publisher or news dealer supplying papers to unlicensed boys. The
JP law should also contain a provision penalizing publishers, news
agents, or others permitting boys to loiter about such places as
circulation rooms and newspaper offices.
Whether the regulation is by State law or local ordinance, it should
designate specifically the person responsible for its enforcement.
Enforcement should be centralized in one agency, the person directly
responsible, however, being given authority to delegate his power to
subordinates. The enforcing official should be properly qualified
and should have a sufficient number of properly qualified assistants
to issue badges with care, and to do the necessary street patrolling,
school and home visiting, and inspection of distribution rooms and
‘ ‘ news alleys.” Spasmodic or even periodical patrol and inspection
can not be expected to give successful results. In smaller com­
munities the administration of the street-work regulation may be
combined with other duties, but complete responsibility should rest
upon one agency, for division of responsibility for enforcement
between any two or more agencies is always unsatisfactory in regula­
ting street work.
Although satisfactory enforcement may be achieved by an efficient
official in any department, enforcement by a well-administered schoolattendance department, especially where it has charge of the issuance
of employment certificates to children entering other occupations,
gives promise of best results, since most newsboys are schoolboys.
Enforcement of street-trades regulations by the police is not desirable.
8» The Health of a Thousand Newsboys in New York City, p. 39. See footnote 31, p. 19.


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They are reluctant to disturb boys selling papers in violation of streetwork regulations, lacking the social perspective to realize that theirs
may be a mistaken kindness, so that their delegation to the work
is usually unproductive. Moreover, the public arrest of youthful
offenders should be avoided at almost any cost. As policemen are
on the streets at all hours and in sufficient numbers, they can, however,
if their interest is enlisted, be of help to the enforcing agency.
The best and practically the only effective method of enforcement
is the badge system, which has the same function as the certificate
system in the enforcement of laws relating to child labor in other
occupations. This system of work certificates has proved so valuable
that more and more emphasis is being placed upon its development in
modern child-labor laws, and it is natural to find that the most
effective method of regulating the work of newsboys follows the same
lines. It offers the only practicable means of insuring that children
do not undertake street work until they have satisfied the legal require­
ments as to age, physical fitness, etc., and of supervising them while
they are at work. It also gives the enforcing official, through the
power of revoking the badge, an effective method of requiring the
child to live up to the legal regulations, such as the requirements of
school attendance and the prohibition of night work.
As an extralegal aid to enforcement a few cities have found effective
the organization of “ newsboys’ republics” based on the principles
of self-government and working in cooperation with the enforcing
officials. Probably the best known of these are the ones in Boston
and in Milwaukee, with their newsboys’ courts granted powers by
the legal enforcing agency in each place.90 Unfortunately, their
effectiveness depends so largely on the personality of the leaders that
if does not always survive a change of enforcing officers.91 Under
the right leadership there is probably no agency that can exert a
more constructive influence among newsboys than a club of their own
organization.92
That enforcing officials should seek the cooperation not only of the
boys but of their parents, and of the newspaper publishers and circu­
lation departments, and of the schools is important. Visits to the
homes of newsboys and informal conferences with parents would be
effective in many cases in promoting good school work as well as in
preventing violations of the law and disposing of first offenses. The
right approach is sometimes all that is needed to obtain the coopera­
tion of the newspaper companies in clearing their premises of loafers,
forbidding sleeping on the premises, and otherwise taking care of
unwholesome conditions, though constant vigilance on the part of
some responsible authority is necessary if satisfactory conditions are
to be maintained. Successful cooperation with newspaper managers
might well result in the provision by the newspapers of at least a
clean, well-lighted, and supervised waiting room for newsboys, or
better still, in the institution of the comer-delivery system of delivery
to newspaper sellers or of substations or some other substitute for
the congregation of large numbers of boys in a down-town office. The
80 See “ Milwaukee newsboys’ republic,” in The Outlook, vol. 103, No. 14 (April 5,1913), pp. 743, 744;
and Street-Land, by Philip Davis, pp. 201-226 (Small, Maynard Co., Boston, 1915).
81 For a recent account of the Boston Newsboys’ Court, see “ Enforcement of the street trades law in
Boston,” by Madeleine H. Appel, in American Child, Vol. IV, No. 2 (August, 1922), pp. 104-106.
82 The inspiration for most of the newsboys’ clubs was the Toledo Newsboys’ Association, for an account
of which see Boyville, a History of Fifteen Years’ Work among Newsboys, by John E. Qunckel (The
Toledo Newsboys’ Association, Toledo, Ohio, 1905).


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65

relations between the enforcing authorities and school principals and
teachers are of special importance. Thorough instruction by the
school principal of the would-be newsboy in the regulations would
lessen the burden of enforcement. Much remains to be done in
many places in educating both principals and teachers as to the
requirements of the street work law. Regular visits to the schools to
inspect badges, to instruct boys in the regulations, and to obtain
reports from teachers should prove helpful in enforcement.
The regulation of newspaper selling by children has other aspects
than the legal. As in other forms of child labor, the economic factor
is present. Newsboys, speaking generally, come from poor families,
not destitute, except in rare instances, nor even so poor that they
will acknowledge that they could not exist without the earnings of
their children of school age, but in circumstances often so far below
any reasonable standard of comfort that the temptation for the boys
to earn what they can is irresistible. It is not a question of widow­
hood or of desertion or incapacity of fathers— almost as many news­
boys as other children have fathers supporting their families— but so
many fathers earn so little that without the help of mothers or of
children or of both the family is always hard pressed. As in other
fields of child welfare, this problem can be solved only when the
wages of the father are sufficient to support the family in health and
reasonable comfort without the assistance of the mother, at least
while the children are young, and without the assistance of children
of school age themselves. The maintenance of families through the
gainful employment of children has been demonstrated to be econom­
ically unsound; permitting young children to ease the pressure not
only does not contribute to a solution of the problem but, on the
contrary, probably delays it.
Even if, through expediency, newspaper selling by boys were per­
mitted because of economic need, or even economic urgency, fully
half at least of the newsboys would not be affected. Many children
sell papers because they know of nothing more interesting to do. An
adequate recreational program would remove them from the streets,
and such a program the school must supply. Even if local condi­
tions are such that newspaper selling is relatively harmless, few com­
munities would admit that no better or more constructive activity
could be offered to young boys. It might be expected that the regu­
lation of street work would hasten the development of recreational
facilities and of all-day schools and vacation schools with a program
of athletics, dramatics, and music, and opportunity for trying out
vocational interests for the extra hours, just as the legal raising of
the age of leaving school has resulted in an enrichment and greater
flexibility of the regular school curriculum which has benefited all
school children. Certainly the development of such activities would
diminish the need for legal regulation.
The education of the general public in the legal restrictions govern­
ing newspaper selling or other street work, and, especially, in the
reasons for such restrictions is necessary. The public should be
made aware that the regulations are in the best interests of the chil­
dren working on the streets, and that purchasing from underage boys
or boys working at undesirable hours is misplaced kindness. Inter­
ested social agencies as well as the enforcing authorities might under­
take to give publicity to these simple but essentially important facts


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through their contacts with local organizations, such as women’s
clubs and parent-teacher associations. Such organizations can do
valuable and constructive work individually by urging their members
to purchase only from boys wearing badges and to report cases of
violations to the proper authorities, as well as collectively by such
activities as investigating local street-work conditions, endeavoring
to procure the cooperation of newspaper managers in improving con­
ditions in their distributing rooms, and working for better laws and
better enforcement of existing laws.
NEWSPAPER CARRIERS

The work of the newspaper carrier seems to be relatively unob­
jectionable, except where carriers sacrifice necessary sleep to morning
routes. Moreover, carriers as a class come from better-regulated
homes than newspaper sellers and from families that are better able,
financially and through their knowledge of American life, to protect
their children from exploitation. Under present conditions, at any
rate, the possibility of danger to the child engaging in this work does
not seem sufficiently great to justify as stringent regulations as other
kinds of street work.
PEDDLERS

No excuse exists for the child peddler on the streets. The public
is conveniently and abundantly supplied in other" ways with all the
peddler’s commodities, and the work is demoralizing to the child.
So clearly has the connection between peddling and begging and
vagrancy been perceived that some State laws prohibit peddling by
minors under 16 or under 18, along with any “ begging and other
mendicant business.” However, such regulations are likely to be
ineffective, depending for enforcement, as they do, upon police action.
Street-trades laws and ordinances should specifically prohibit peddling
by children, including those that accompany adult peddlers.
As for boys who are hired by hucksters or by market-stand keepers,
no valid reason appears why they should not be required to get em­
ployment certificates as for other types of “ gainful employment,”
nor why the minimum age should be lower than that for boys working
in grocery stores or on delivery wagons, for example, types of occu­
pation that are now prohibited to children under 14 in most States
and for which children between 14 and 16 in most of these States must
get employment certificates even for after-school and vacation em­
ployment. The conditions of work for hucksters’ assistants and stand
tenders are more nearly like those of workers for mercantile establish­
ments than they are like those of street workers. The enforcement
of either a child labor law or a street-trades regulation for the benefit
of hucksters’ assistants has special problems because, the employer
having no fixed place of business, inspection is necessarily difficult,
though the enforcement of provisions relating to the licensing of
hucksters has apparently proved practicable, and if the huckster can
be required to get a license the huckster’s assistant can be required to
get a certificate. Some special supplementary measure might be
found necessary, such, for example, as a provision making it possible
to revoke or suspend the licenses of peddlers hiring boys who do not
have employment certificates in accordance with the child labor law.

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BOOTBLACKS

Bootblacking by children, like peddling, should be prohibited by
street-trades regulations. The work has many of the disadvantages
of newspaper selling, without such advantages in the way of training
as selling papers may have. As in peddling, such a step is imme­
diately practicable, as neither the public nor any class of employers
has any interest in keeping the bootblack on the streets.
MISCELLANEOUS STREET WORKERS

. Careful consideration should be given to the question of the inclu­
sion in street-trades regulations of the numerous miscellaneous kinds
of street work in which children engage. Although only a few chil­
dren in any one place appear to be affected, and some of the work,
such as distributing handbills, seems harmless, some of these kinds of
work— as, for example, junk collecting with its temptation to steal
saleable articles are quite as unsuitable as other types of street work
that are given more attention because they involve larger numbers.


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PART IL— STREET WORKERS IN FOUR SELECTED
CITIES
ATLANTA, GA.
INTRODUCTION

Down-town Atlanta, where boys sell papers, is a maze of narrow,
crowded streets. Probably the best locations in the city for news­
paper selling are the Five Points, formed by the converging of five
streets near the center of the business section. But at the viaducts,
also, that span the railroad tracks running through the city, at the
Arcade, the several railroad stations, around the city hall and the post
office, and at many other corners in the retail-shopping center or in
the congested hotel and restaurant and theater district, the con­
tinual crowds furnish excellent business for the newsboy. Above the
din of the traffic his cry can be heard at almost any hour, with some­
thing alarming in its urgency that makes a stranger think he is hawk­
ing extras. Not only schoolboys but many young men sell papers on
the streets of Atlanta, and not a few women, including some young
girls. Fine days bring out street vendors of all kinds, children as
well as adults. Even in the winter the peddler, man or boy, with a
basket of apples on his arm is a familiar sight on down-town streets.
Beggars are numerous, standing all day with their tin cups on the
b viaducts, crouching outside a hotel in the dusk, lifting a quavering
- voice in song at the entrance to a public building. All attempts by
city social agencies to reduce the number of beggars on the streets
through a change in the ordinance licensing peddlers and beggars
have failed. Beggars are sometimes accompanied by children, or a
child alone will beg a passer-by to buy a wilted bunch of flowers,
pleading that he is hungry. <*
Social workers say that failures in the cotton crop bring into the
city many families unfitted to earn their living t h e r e T h e fact that
Atlanta is a commercial rather than an industrial city— only about
one-fifth of its employed males being engaged in manufacturing or
mechanical occupations,1 a much smaller proportion than in any of
the other cities in the Children’s Bureau surveys— results in fewer
opportunities for the uneducated.
Almost all newspaper sellers— men, women, and children— in
Atlanta, and also the peddlers, were white, though 31 per cent of the
population was negro.2
The Children’s Bureau survey in Atlanta was made in March, April,
and May, 1923. In November, 1926, a Children’s Bureau agent
returned to the city to inquire as to conditions in regard to street
work at the later date. The director of the department of attendance
of the public schools and several attendance officers, the director
of the Associated Charities, one of the probation officers of the

4

» Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. IV, Population, Occupations, p. 132. Washington,

)23

> Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. Ill, Population, p. 226. Washington, 1922.

69


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juvenile court, the secretary of boys’ work of the Young M en’s
Christian Association, and several newspaper-circulation managers
were questioned as to newspaper selling and carrying.3 Newsboys
at work on the streets were observed during the day and evening,
including Saturday evening, and many of the newsboys were inter­
viewed. The reports of both adults and children indicated that con­
ditions were practically identical with those found in 1923, except for
the change in the enforcing agency described on page 71. The sta­
tistics presented in this report are those gathered in the survey in
1923.
Table 1 (p. 8) shows the number of boys in each kind of street
work who reported that they were working at the time the inquiry
was made and who had done street work for at least one month during
the year preceding the interview. (For details in regard to the selec­
tion of the children included in the survey see p. 5.)
LEGAL REGULATION OF STREET WORK

Georgia had no law regulating the work of children in street
trades. Since 1917 Atlanta has had a street-trading ordinance4
which provided that no boy under 12 and no girl under 16 years of
age should at any time sell or expose or offer for sale any newspaper
or periodicals upon the streets or in any public place, that sellers
should obtain badges, and that none under 14 might sell after 8.30p.m.
or before 5 a. m.
The penalties provided for violation were revocation of the permit,
liability to a fine of not less than $1 nor more than $5 for each offense
or imprisonment for not more than 30 days, and for a “ parent,
guardian, person, or institution” responsible for a child’s violation of
any of the provisions of the ordinance, liability to a fine of not less
than $5 nor more than $25 or imprisonment for not more than 30
days.
The enforcement of the ordinance at the time of the study had
been delegated by the mayor to the juvenile court, but one of the
newspaper offices was regularly issuing its own permits, and if this
power had been granted the newspaper by the mayor, as was claimed,
the permits issued by the newspaper itself were quite as legal as
those issued by the juvenile court. The representatives of the other
newspapers who were interviewed either admitted that no attention
was paid to the ordinance in supplying boys with papers or seemed
unaware of its exact provisions. The juvenile court considered its
staff too small to enable it to enforce the regulation effectively and
admitted that children under 12 were selling on the streets and that
older children were selling without permits. Of the 144 newsboys
included in the study, 53 were under 12 years of age, and so were
ineligible for permits to sell. Of the remaining boys, only 75 re­
ported as to whether or not they had permits, only 27 said they had
permits for 1923, the year in which the study was made (though the
ordinance required that the permit be renewed on January 1 of
each year), 13 had permits but did not know the year in which they
had obtained them, 5 had permits for some year prior to 1923, and
6 had had permits but had lost them; 23 admitted that they had no
3The inquiry in November, 1926, was confined to newspaper selling and carrying.
4 Ordinance approved July 18,1917.
Since this report was written, information has been received that
this ordinance was repealed in August, 1927.


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71

permits. Assuming that the 13 who did not know the date of their
permits had obtained them in 1923, only 40 of the 128 boys reporting
were selling papers in accordance with the regulation, and some of
these had only the permits issued by the newspaper office.
In 1926 enforcement of* the street-trades ordinance had been
delegated by the mayor to the attendance department of the public
schools. This department issued permits and badges in accordance
with the provisions of the ordinance to boys applying for them,
but considered that it was powerless to do much more than this.
The staff of three attendance officers was too small to permit the
assignment of a worker to patrol the streets regularly, although
newsboys under age or without permits were sometimes picked up
by the attendance officers. The director of the department had
sought the cooperation of the city police department and had been
promised the assistance of the police in preventing boys from selling
without badges, but the police were said to give little or no help.
So impracticable was it under the circumstances to enforce the regu­
lation that the director of the attendance department had given up
issuing permits for a time; he said that it seemed unfair and created
hostility to the department among the boys to make a boy who
applied for a permit pay for a badge while others who did not bother
to apply sold as freely as they pleased without one.
NEWSPAPER SELLERS

All the newspaper sellers included in the study were boys. Al­
though one of the school-attendance officers and others said that
girls as well as boys sold papers in Atlanta, no girls were reported
through the school canvass and the few young girls seen selling papers
on down-town street corners claimed to be 16 or older. A little girl
of 8 or 9 used to stay with her mother, who sold papers on one of the
most crowded street corners in the down-town district, but the
mother maintained that the child did not sell.
R A C E A N D N A T IO N A L IT Y OF F A T H E R S

The newsboy problem in Atlanta is not primarily, as it is in many
places, a problem related to the adjustment of immigrant families to
their new environment. Only 38 of the newsboys (26 per cent) had
foreign-born fathers, by far the larger number of whom were Russian
Jews. The proportion is large, however, as only 2 per cent of the
population of Atlanta is foreign born and only 4 per cent more is of
foreign or mixed parentage; this shows the marked tendency on the
part of the children of foreign-born parents to engage in newspaper
selling. On the other hand, though 31 per cent of the population is
negro, only 8 negro boys ( 6 per cent) sold papers on the streets of
Atlanta. The great majority of the newsboys were of native white
parentage. (Table 12.)
A G E OF N E W S B O Y S

In spite of the age provision of the street-trading ordinance, 37 per
cent of the newsboys of Atlanta were under 12 years of age, the legal
minimum for selling papers, and 11 per cent were under 10. (Table
2, p. 9.) The average age was 11.9 years. Almost all the boys
under 12 said that they got their own papers at the newspapers’
75034°— 28-------6


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distributing offices, only 7 reporting that they bought them from
other boys or from men on the street.
T a b l e 12.— Race and nationality of father; newspaper sellers, Atlanta, Ga.
Newspaper sell­
ers from 6 to 15
years of age
Race and nationality of father

Newspaper sell­
ers from 6 to 15
years of age
Race and nationality of father

cent
Num­ Per
distri­
ber
bution
Total.......................................

144

100.0

White— ............................................

136

94. 4

Native_______ _____ ___ ____ _
Foreign born.—______________

98
38

68.1
26.4

Russian Jewish...................

17

11.8

cent
Num­ Per
distri­
ber bution
White—Continued.
Foreign born—Continued.
Other foreign and foreign
not otherwise specified--

4

2. 8

17

11.8

g

5.6

The comments of some of these younger boys in regard to their
legal right to sell were illuminating. A boy of 11, who said he had
been selling papers for two years, explained his selling by the remark,
“ The juvenile-court lady told me I could not sell till I was 12 years
old or I ’d be arrested, but my uncle is a prominent business man;
he’s a prize-fighter promoter, so he fixed it up down there and I just
go on selling.” Another boy of 11 when asked if he had a permit
said, “ It’s last year’s. I intended to get a new one, but what’s the
use? I sold two years without one.” A 10-year-old child said that
a man who sold on his corner told him that if he did not get a permit
he would have him arrested. Another boy of 10 said that he had 0
begun to sell papers independently, but that “ the lady from the
juvenile court and a policeman told me I had to have a permit or
I ’d be locked up. But the policeman said it was all right if I sold
for another boy and was a helper, so that’s what I did, and he said
they couldn’t do nothing to me now.” This child sold papers every
school day from 3 to 8 and practically all day Saturday. Another
boy, only 8 years of age, said that his 6-year-old sister “ had been
locked up for selling papers— the cop put her in the penitentiary.”
A boy who had been selling from the age of 5 years and who had
twice been arrested for begging, the first time when only 7 years old,
said, “ The juvenile-court lady don’t know I sell. She said you had
to be 12.”
W O R K E X P E R IE N C E

A t the time of the survey only 6 newsboys had any other street job
except selling papers; but 2 had newspaper routes, 2 sold magazines,
1 helped a peddler, and 1 watched automobiles near a theater from
7 to 11 every night. Including these, 45 boys (31 per cent) had had
some experience in street work other than the newspaper-selling job
in which they were engaged when interviewed, generally carrying
newspapers, other periods of newspaper selling, or peddling.
The largest number of the boys (25) had begun street work at the
age of 12, but 97 (67 per cent) had begun before they were 12, and 50
(36 per cent) before they were 10. Except in 23 cases, this work was 0
newspaper selling.


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73

ATLANTA, GA.

Between six and eight months was the median duration of the
newspaper-selling jobs that the boys were engaged in when inter­
viewed; that is, the boys had had an uninterrupted period of selling
of six to eight months. Forty-two per cent had been selling papers
continuously at least one year, 26 per cent for two years or more,
and 17 per cent for at least three years. (Table 13.) These boys
represented the steadiest and most regular newsboys. The boy who
went down town to sell papers occasionally would probably not have
worked a sufficiently long time (one month) for inclusion in the study.
No doubt there were many such boys selling papers on the streets of
Atlanta. The director of a local newsboys’ club estimated that
between 300 and 500 boys were selling papers, a minimum of more
than twice the number included in the study.
T a b l e 13.— Previous duration of job held at date of interview, by age period; news­

paper sellers, Atlanta, Ga.
Newspaper sellers from 6 to 15 years of age

Previous duration of job held at
date of interview

12 years, under 14

Total
10
Under years,
10
under
Per
cent
Num­ distri­ years 1 121
ber
bution

14
years,
under
Per
cent
Num­ distri­
161
ber
bution

Age
not re­
ported!

144

100.0

16

37

56

100.0

34

1

83

57.6

13

26

30

53.6

13

1

Less than 6 months.____ _____

63

43.8

10

20

23

41.1

9

1

Less than 2 months_______

31
22
10

21.5
15.3
6.9

2
6
2

11
5
4

11
9
3

19.6
16.1
5.4

6
2
1

1

20

13.9

3

6

7

12.5

4

23
14
24

16.0
9.7
16.7

1

2
4
5

14
5
7

25.0
8.9
12.5

6
5
10

Total______________________
Less than 1 year...........................

2

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

The newsboys had had an unusual amount of experience in other
kinds of work than street work. Eleven were holding such jobs when
they were interviewed, chiefly as delivery or errand boys or grocers’
helpers, and 54 others (38 per cent) had previously had some other
kind of work. This, too, had been chiefly delivering or errand work,
but 10 boys had worked in stores or shops, 7 in offices, 5 on trucks
and wagons, and 4 as telegraph messengers; and others had had
experience at less common jobs, such as caring for boats at a park
boathouse and cleaning bricks. M ost of this had been vacation work
or after-school work, but 2 boys had had full-time employment,
having left school temporarily— an 11-year-old boy who had worked
as a telegraph messenger and attended night school,5 and a 14-year-old
boy who had held a job in a railway and power company office for
six months.
5
Under the Georgia child labor law in effect at the time of the survey a child who had reached the age
of 12 years was permitted to go to work if compelled to do so on account of poverty to support himself, or
to support a widowed mother, or if he was an orphan. A child thus excused from school in Atlanta was
urged by the local school authorities to attend night school, though the law did not compel him to do so.
Under the State school attendance law a child who had reached the age of 14 was not required to attend
school, whether or not he went to work.


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74

CHILDREN IN STREET WORK
C O N D IT IO N S OF W O R K A N D E N V IR O N M E N T

Organization of newspaper distribution.

Two so-called evening papers were issued in Atlanta about every
hour between 11 a. m. and 4.30 p. m. The one morning paper had
an early-morning edition and an edition appearing at 9 p. m. Each
of the three published Sunday editions, coming out about 6.30
Saturday evenings.
. Owing to recent trouble between the two evening papers at the
time of the study, boys selling one were not permitted to sell the
other. A 15-year-old newsboy said that he was paid $2 a week
besides the regular profit on the papers to sell one of the newspapers
exclusively, but none of the other newsboys mentioned extra profit.
In 1926 the intense rivalry between the two papers had subsided.
One of them had reduced its price, however, and therefore the profit
to the newsboy, but the boys selling it received a minimum amount
regardless of their sales profits, and a special effort was being made to
recruit and keep boys by entertainments and prizes.
The boys went to the distributing offices of the various newspapers
in the down-town district to get papers for their first sales. Once
they were on their corners they were supplied by trucks. The
newspapers “ controlled the corners” ; that is, each paper placed its
newsboys at all strategic points for selling, and independent sellers
were not permitted at these points. Boys were assigned to the
various corners according to their ability to make sales. Some said
that they lost their comers if they did not sell in all kinds of weather
and late at night. Newsboys were required to settle at the end of each
day’s sales for the papers they had taken out. Settlement was usually
made at 7.30 or 8, or earlier if the boys had sold out. Representatives
of the newspapers at that time said that the boys were required to
pay for all papers they took out, though, according to one of the
circulation managers, the newsboys were often urged to take more
papers than they wanted and “ favorites,” as he called them, were
sometimes permitted therefore to return unsold papers. In 1926 it
was generally reported that the return of unsold papers was allowed.
The boys on the street corners even at the time of the study, it was
observed, took the papers that were given by the truckmen without
complaint as to their number. The newsboys themselves seldom
made any reference to the matter of returns, but one boy said that he
bought his papers from boys on the street because “ the paper sticks
you.” Another said that he was allowed to turn in any that he did
not sell.
To a much greater extent than in the other cities included in the
Children’s Bureau study the boys selling on the streets of Atlanta
were selling for other boys or for older newspaper sellers. A number
of them worked for a man who “ owned” one of the most profitable
down-town corners. Especially on Saturday nights the papers
were “ farmed out ” to the younger boys. Among the newsboys
interviewed 39 (27 per cent) reported that they always worked as
helpers or were hired to sell, and 8 others, who sold some papers on
their own account, were employed as helpers at least once a week.
The greater number of the boys hired as helpers received a regular ^
wage. One boy was paid 60 cents a night instead of the $2 that he ^
would have made selling the same number of papers for himself;

0


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ATLANTA, GA.

75

another made $1.50 a night instead of $2.50; most of the others were
paid 1 cent or ^ cents on each paper sold, 2 cents being the regular
profit.

13

Conditions in distributing rooms.

The distributing room for the morning paper was the main hall
of its down-town office, opening on one of the principal business
streets. Both evening papers had distributing rooms opening on
alleys. One of these, of unusually good size and well laid out for a
newspaper-distributing room, was used by carriers as well as sellers.
A “ special officer” was in charge, an elderly man with a city-police
badge, employed by the newspaper “ to keep out the rough element,”
and the distributing hour observed by the bureau agent was orderly
and quiet. The younger newsboys collected early, however, and
while waiting for their papers played on the railroad tracks on which
the narrow alleys opened (the only open space near by) and in the
freight cars on the tracks. The distributing room for the other
evening paper opened on an alley which widened at the entrance to
the distributing room, leaving an open space where the newspaper
trucks were unloaded, and another open space, adjoining a dirty,
ill-smelling toilet, where the boys congregated as they waited for the
papers. The director of the Young M en’s Christian Association
newsboys’ club hoped to get this space fitted up some time as a
playground for the boys, but at the time of the study the boys merely
crowded together in it indulging in rough play, fighting, and crap
shooting.
Some boys slept in the distributing rooms, under what conditions
it is not known, though they can be surmised from the account of a
12-year-old seller who had recently spent a Saturday night there.
He had gone there after disposing of his papers about 1.30 in the
morning. Ten boys were already there, he said, shooting dice, and
when he dozed off one of them stole his night’s earnings of $2.85.
Local persons conversant with the newsboy situation reported that
conditions in and around the distributing rooms were notoriously
bad, especially in regard to gambling. Some of the newspaper
employees in direct contact with the newsboys were reputed to be
of a very undesirable type. The truck drivers, in particular, accord­
ing to the director of a newsboys’ club, attempted to corrupt the
boys, and cases of the use of newsboys by the truck drivers for immoral
purposes had come to his attention. One of the older newsboys
said that one of the circulating men was “ almost always drunk”
and one night had made him stay in the distributing room with him
until 1 o ’clock. Rivalry between the evening papers had resulted,
it was said, in bringing into town to sell papers a number of young
men who were referred to in the community as “ toughs,” “ hobo
newspaper sellers,” and “ strike breakers,” and who had the reputa­
tion of being able to break up any trouble, not stopping at “ busting
heads.” Parents who voiced disapproval of their sons’ newspaper
selling, though in some cases they felt that they must have the money
earned in that way, objected not only because “ he does not learn
good things down town,” “ he is thrown into rough company,” or
“ they stand on the corner and catch all that is going,” but also
because the older newspaper sellers abused and ill-treated the younger
boys.

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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

Meals.

The demand for papers around mealtime when more people are
on the streets than at other hours often makes regular meals at
suitable hours impossible for the newsboy. Only 39 of the 144 did
not sell at mealtime on any day. Some of the others had their eve­
ning meal with fair regularity. It was not always with the family
and was often only “ something kept h o t /’ however, though the after­
noon school session and several hours of selling had come between it
and the noon lunch. These, however, were the more fortunate of
the group. The great majority of those who sold at meal hours
reported that they ordinarily had no supper or none until they
reached home at a late hour, and even then often -only a cold lunch,
or they “ picked up a supper,” “ got a bite,” or “ bought a wienie
when there was time,” the last remark being that of a boy of 12 who
sold from 3 to 9 p. m. Some of the boys were allowed a small sum
by their parents to buy their suppers at a restaurant; this they often
waited for until they had sold their papers, stopping on their way
home at lunch rooms and cafes, where they mingled with the “ night
crowd” of men.
On Saturdays even more than on other evenings the boys bought
supper down town and often the midday lunch also. Some boys
sold all day Saturday on no more sustaining food than a sandwich,
a “ wienie,” or “ cakes and soft drinks,” and some dispensed altogether
with at least one meal.
REGULARITY OF W ORK

For the majority of the boys selling papers was a daily job; 70 per
cent, including 99 of those who had no other street job and 2 of those 0
who had, sold papers every day, or every day except Sunday. Thir- '
teen boys did not have even Sunday off. Although Saturday-night
selling was unusually profitable because of the appearance of Sunday
papers at an early hour, only 16 boys said that they sold only on
Saturdays. Two sold only on Saturdays and Sundays, and 2 only
on Sundays.
HOURS OF W ORK

Newspaper selling by school children in Atlanta was not wholly
confined to early-morning or late-afternoon hours; children were
seen selling papers on the streets even when school was in session.
The schools were said to be overcrowded, so that many children
could be accommodated only on a half-day basis, and at that time
the school-attendance department, since reorganized and enlarged,
had only one attendance officer.6 Parents apparently found it easy
to keep their children out of school and did so; a white mother vol­
unteered the information that she often kept her 12-year-old boy
out to sell papers all day “ so as to have a little more money coming
in.” Sometimes the boys when interviewed on the streets during
school hours by the Children’s Bureau agents showed their conscious­
ness of being illegally absent from school by their glibness in giving
false addresses and naming schools that they attended, though later
investigation showed that they were not enrolled.
6
The State school attendance law required attendance only six months of the term, so that even in 1926
the school-attendance department reported that it was powerless to enforce attendance after Mar. 1 of any
year.


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ATLANTA, GA.

77

Few boys sold the daily morning paper. Of the six who worked
on school mornings, a 10-year-old boy sold 12 morning papers in a
residential neighborhood between 6.30 and 7.30, a 9-year-old boy sold
4 papers at a filling station every morning from 6 to 6.30, and a
15-year-old boy who had left the regular school and was attending
night school sold morning papers daily from 5.30 to 9.30 a. m.
and the early editions of one of the evening papers from 11 a. m. to
3 p. m., except on Saturday when he sold up to midnight, begin­
ning at 5.30 a. m. The remaining three boys also sold the evening
papers: A negro boy, 11 years of age, in school from 2 until 4.30
p. m., sold papers from 11 a. m. to 1 p. m. as well as from 5 to
9 p. m. on school days; another negro boy, aged 13, sold from 11
to 12 in the morning in addition to his afternoon selling; and a
15-year-old boy attending night school sold all day, beginning about
11 in the morning.
Fifty-one boys sold papers on Saturday or Sunday mornings. A
few of the Sunday-morning sellers, of whom there were 20, were out
before 6, but the great majority did not begin selling until 6 or later.
The newsboys working on Saturday mornings usually sold the midday
editions of the evening papers, and most of them began selling about
11 o’clock.
The Atlanta newsboys usually stopped crying their papers at
about 7 or 7.30 in the evening,, they reported. Of the 117 selling
papers after school and having no other street work, 82 (70 per cent)
stopped selling between 6 and 8 o ’clock, and 9 stopped before 6. Of
the 5 with two street jobs who. sold on school days, 3 stopped selling
between 6 and 8, and 1 before 6. Twenty-six boys (including 1
with two street jobs) reported that they sold until at least 8 p. m.,
3 of them to 10 or 11. On Saturday nights they sold until a much
later hour. The great majority of the boys who sold on Saturday
afternoons and evenings— 74 (61 per cent) of those with but one
street job and 2 of the 6 others— worked until at least 10 o ’clock,
and 37 boys (29 per cent), including 2 with a secondary street job,
worked until 12, 1, 2, and 3 a. m. (Table 14.) Many of the news­
boys who sold until 10 or later on Saturday nights were the younger
boys— 25 of the 76 selling on Saturday afternoons and evenings were
under 12 years of age, and 5 were boys under 10. A boy of 10 who
sold papers up to 11 o ’clock said that an older brother took his
place after that hour as he was too small to stay down town so late.
“ I ’m afraid some of them boys,” he said, “ will hit me in the head
and take my papers.”
The following are the stories of a few of these boys who already
in one way or another seemed to be paying the penalty for their
street fife. The mother of a 10-year-old boy who sold until 11.30
Saturday nights but stopped at 7 on the evenings of school days
said that he often did not come home until midnight. Among the
older boys two brothers, one 12, the other 14 years of age, said that
they did not sell later than 7.30 or 8 during the week, though the
older acknowledged selling until midnight Saturdays; but a report of
the Associated Charities stated that they were selling papers on the
street until midnight and that their teachers found them drowsy in
school, where they were much retarded though capable of doing
good school work. A native white child of 6, clad only in ragged
outer garments which showed his skin beneath, sold papers on a

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78

CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

down-town comer until 11 on school-day evenings as well as on
Saturdays. He had been selling papers for seven months on a permit
which he said had been given him at the newspaper office. His
school principal told of seeing him down town at all hours, using
newspapers as a pretext for begging. The child himself said that he
“ just couldn’t help” asking people for money.
T a b l e 14.— H o u r o f en d in g w ork on a typ ic a l S a tu rd a y night, b y age p e r io d ; n ew s­
p a p er sellers holding a sin g le jo b , A tla n ta , G a .

N ew spaper sellers fro m 6 to 15 years o f age

Hour of ending work on a typical Saturday
night

Total

Num­
ber

Total......................................................
Street work on Saturday____________
Total reported.____________________ _

Per
cent
distri­
bution

10
Under years,
10
under
years1 12 1

12
years,
under
141

14
Age
years,
under not re­
161 ported 1

138

16

36

52

33

1

123

14

31

47

30

1

29

1
1

121

100.0

13

31

47

Before 6 p .m ..___________________
6 p. m., before 8_________________
___
8 p. m., before 10__________
10 p. m., before 12_____________ _
12 p. m. and after_________________

9
26
12
39
35

7. 4
21.5
9.9
32. 2
28.9

3
4
1
4
1

3
4
4
6
14

2

12
3
17
13

5
4
12
7

Not reported______ ___________________

2

1

15

2

5

5

3

No street work on Saturday______________

1 Per

1

cent d istrib u tion n o t sh o w n w here base is less th an 50.

The provision of the street-trading ordinance relating to hours was
as little regarded as that relating to age. Although children under
14 were forbidden by the ordinance to sell newspapers after 8.30
p. m., 65 children under 14 said that they did so, of whom 28 were
under 12 years of age. Fifty-four sold later than 8.30 only on
Saturday nights; 10 sold five or six nights a week until 9, some of
them until 10 or 11; and 1 boy sold until 10 on Saturdays and until
9 one other night.
Almost all the newsboys reported that they sold papers at least
two hours on a typical school day— 110 (92 per cent) of those with
one street job who sold on school days. (Table 15.) The great
majority (81 per cent) worked at newspaper selling at least three
hours on school days, and 26 boys (22 per cent) worked five hours
or longer. Among those selling at least five hours on school days
were two 15-year-old night-school boys who sold papers all day,
eight or nine hours or longer, and a 15-year-old high-school pupil
who sold from 2.30 to 10.30 p. m. every school day and even longer
hours on both Saturdays and Sundays in order to add to a fimd for
his college expenses. Some of the younger children also worked
excessively long hours. A 13-year-old newsboy sold papers from 3
to 9 every school-day afternoon, another from 3.30 to 11.30, a child
of 12 sold from 3 to 9.30 every school day, and a 13-year-old negro
boy not enrolled in school but found on the streets was selling five
days a week from 11 to 12 in the morning and again from 3 to 7 in

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79

ATLANTA, GA.

the afternoon, besides long hours on Saturdays and Sundays. An
11-year-old negro child sold from 11 to 1 and again from 5 to 9 p. m.
every school day; his school life in the early hours of the afternoon
between the two periods of selling papers must have seemed to him
merely an interruption of his real activities, a suspicion confirmed by
the fact that he was retarded four years, having reached only the
second grade. Another newsboy who sold papers five hours on
school days was in only the third grade though 13 years of age.
According to his own statement and the record of the Associated
Charities he had worked for some time as a telegraph messenger at
the age of 10 or 11, going to school in the afternoon; at the age- of
11 he began to sell papers and even then worked so late that he was
unable to go to the office of the association for some shirt material
that they had for him. He was described at school as a “ serious
child— never smiles’’ but was said to be quick to learn when he
came to school. The school principal thought he had injured his
voice selling papers, but when the Associated Charities offered to
give the family the amount he earned if he stopped selling papers
his mother refused, saying that it was better for him to work and that
it required no more strength to work than to play.
T a b l e 15.— N u m b e r o f hours o f street w ork o n a typ ic a l school d a y , b y age p e r io d ;
n e w sp a p er sellers holding a sin gle jo b , A tla n ta , G a.

Newspaper sellers from 6 to 15 years of age

Number of hours of street work on a
typical school day

Total
10
Under years,
10
under
Per
cent
Num­ distri­ years 1 12 i
ber
bution

12
years,
under
14i

14
Age
not
years,
Under reported i
16i

T ota l..------- ------------------------------------

138

16

36

52

33

1

Street work on school days. ---------------------

119

14

31

47

26

1

Total reported________________________

118

100.0

14

31

47

25

1

2
6
14
70
26

1.7
5.1
11.9
59.3
22.0

1
2
2
6
3

1
2
4
16
8

1
5
33
8

1
3
15
6

1

2 hours, less than 3

_____________

5 hours and over__________ ________

1

1
19

2

5

5

7

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

Free from school, with newspapers fresh from the press almost
every hour, many boys made an all-day affair of selling papers on
Saturdays. Of those with one street job who did Saturday selling
80 (67 per cent) sold 5 hours or more. (Table 16.) Among these
were 43 who sold papers more than 8 hours on Saturdays, many of
them 10 to 15 hours. For the few boys who sold on Sundays 3 to 5
hours or more was not uncommon. A few selling until a late hour
on Saturday night were out on the streets again early Sunday morn­
ing. Among these was the high-school boy mentioned on page 78,
as working 8 hours on school days; although he worked until 1
Saturday night he began selling Sunday morning at 5 and continued
to sell until 2 in the afternoon.

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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

T able

16.—

N u m b e r o f hou rs o f street w ork on a typ ic a l S a tu rd a y, b y age p e r io d ;
n e w sp a p er sellers holding a sin gle jo b , A tla n ta , Ga.

Newspaper sellers from 6 to 15 years of age

Number of hours of street work on a typical
Saturday

Total
10
Under years,
10
under
Percent
Num­ distri­ years 1 12i
ber
bution

12
years,
under
14i

14
Age
years, not
re­
under ported
i
16 i

Total................... ...................................

138

16

36

52

33

Street work on Saturday.... ............................

123

14

31

47

30

1

Total reported.............. ........... ................

120

100.0

13

31

47

28

1

Less than 1 hour._________________
1 hour, less than 2______ ___________
3 hours, less than 5________________
5 hours and over......................... ........

2
2
9
27
80

1.7
1.7
7.5
22.5
66.7

1
1
2
4
5

l
1
1
3
25

2
10
35

4
10
14

1

Not reported.. .................... ...................

3

1

15

2

,

1

2
5

5

3

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

The number of hours a week spent in newspaper selling were thus
often excessive; 99 boys (73 per cent) of those whose only street job
was newspaper selling worked at least 16 hours, 62 (46 per cent) at
least 24 hours a week. (Table 6, p. 14.) Excluding a boy who had
left day school and who sold papers 60 hours a week, the longest
weekly hours were 5 9 ^ reported by the high-school boy who has
been referred to. A 13-year-old white boy worked 52 hours, and an
11-year-old negro boy worked 51. The latter complained that the
weight of his papers gave him a backache, and for that reason his
mother would let him “ knock off work” for a day or two now and
then. His mother said that he was nervous, but she believed that
the work was good for him because it kept him “ out of devilment.”
Many of the children working long hours were very young; of the
62 spending 24 hours or more a week selling papers on the streets,
25 were under 12, including 6 boys under 10 years of age. Among
these younger boys were a child of 9 who sold papers 333^ hours a
week; an 8-year-old boy who worked 293^2 hours, spending his earn­
ings of $1.80, to quote his own words, “ mostly on candy, foolishness,
and stuff, like other boys;” and a child of 7 who worked “ whenever
he wanted t o ” but whose hours of selling in an average week totaled
243^. A young white boy, who was 10 years old but was in only the
second grade, sold papers 453^ hours a week, staying out until 9
o ’clock on school nights and until 12 on Saturday nights. This child’s
sister, a feeble-minded girl of 16, also had sold papers during the
winter preceding the study.
EARNINGS

The margin of profit on newspapers in Atlanta was unusually
high. The newsboy who sold on his own account made 2 cents on
the daily papers and 3 cents on Sunday papers; the boy selling on a
commission for other boys or adult newspaper sellers usually made a
smaller profit per paper (see p. 74) or was paid a fixed sum for his
work. Of the 144 newsboys included in the study, 107 (74 per cent)

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81

ATLANTA, GA.

earned only in accordance with the number of papers they sold, 23
(16 per cent) received only a regular sum regardless of the number
of papers sold, and the others sometimes sold on a profit basis,
sometimes for a fixed sum.
Almost all the boys (89 per cent) made at least $1 a week. (Table
17.) The median earnings were between $4 and $5, and 58 boys
(44 per cent) earned $5 or more. Boys working all day, as several
of the older ones did, those selling the 9 p. m. edition pf the morning
paper on school days as well as Saturdays, or especially attractive
children made $8 or $10 or more in some cases. A little lame boy of
11, appealing in appearance, who worked until 9 on school nights
and until 11 on Saturday nights, said that his earnings, including
his tips, which were large, usually averaged $10 a week.
The older newsboys had the larger earnings. The proportion of
those under 12 years of age making less than $2 a week was more
than twice that of boys of 12 and over; on the other hand, only onethird of those under 12 made at least $5 compared with one-half
those who were at least 12 years old. Earnings were closely related
to the number of hours spent in selling. Thirty-six per cent of the
newsboys working less than 24 hours a week made less than $2,
whereas of those working 24 hours or more a week only 11 per cent
earned less than $2.
T able

17.—

E a r n in g s d u rin g a typ ic a l w eek, b y n u m b er o f h ou rs en ga ged ; n ew s­
p a p er sellers holding a sin gle jo b , A tla n ta , G a.

Newspaper sellers from 6 to 15 years of age
Working specified number of
hours per week

Total
Earnings during a typical week

12

cent Less hours,
Num­ Per
distri­ than 12 less
ber
bution hours1 than
241

Total............ ........

138

Total reported...............

132

Less than $0.25-----$0.25, less than $0.50
$0.50, less than $1___
$1, less than $2____
$2, less than $3.........
$3, less than $4____
$4, less than $5____
$5, less than $6____
$6 and over.......... .

100.0

0.8
4.5
6.1

13.6
7.6
11.4
12.1

7.6
36.4

24 hours and
more

Num­
ber

47

62

46

58

Hours
not re­
ported i

Per cent
distri­
bution

100.0

5.2
6.9
6.9
10.3
15.5
13.8
41.4

Not reported.................
1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

The boys reporting that they usually received tips were fewer
than those who denied that tips were customary. Of the 144 news­
boys 28 did not report whether or not they were tipped by their
customers, 71 did not get tips, and 45 did. Up to 14 years the boy’s
age appeared to make little, if any, difference in his receiving tips,
but boys of 14 or 15 were less likely to get them than younger children.

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Five of the 11 newsboys under 10 reporting, 13 of the 28 who were
10 or 11, 21 of the 47 who were 12 or 13, but only 6 of the 30 who were
14 or 15, were customarily tipped. The idea that the younger boys
were both more generally and more generously tipped was prevalent,
as usual. “ I used to get tips every day,” explained one of the older
newsboys, ” but I ’m getting bigger and now all my regular customers
do is to set me up at a soda fountain or something like that. ” Little
boys, especially, boasted of their tips. “ When I was 5 a man gave
me a $2.50 tip,” said a 10-year-old child who had been arrested for
begging; “ I get quarters and dimes— lots of them,” said a little
newsboy who sold on a busy corner with his mother; “ A man gave
me $1 once and another stole it out of my pocket, and I never did
see it no m ore,” was the plaintive story of another 10-year-old seller.
Probably the younger children were more likely than the older
ones to get large tips, but the boy of 12 or 13 appeared to be almost
as generally favored.
NEED FOR EARNINGS

That actual need of the money was generally back of newspaper
selling in Atlanta was the opinion of several persons in close touch
with the newsboy situation. “ The streets have their fascination
for the boys, of course,” said the director of a local family-welfare
society, “ but the people are also very poor.” “ Small boys whom
I have picked up on the streets,” said an attendance officer, “ have
begged me not to make them give up selling: ‘ We gotta eat,’ they
say.” The Russian-Jewish boys, however, according to the director
of the Jewish charities organization, were impelled to sell papers
rather by the desire for the money than by any real need.
Among the newsboys included in the study the, proportion coming
from broken homes was unusually large. Only 63 per cent were from
families in which both father and mother were present and the
father was the main support. This relatively small proportion of
normal homes is not accounted for by the inclusion of negroes, for
the number of negro newsboys (8) included in the study is too small
to affect the proportion. Forty-three (30 per cent) of the newsboys
had lost their own fathers; 9 of these had stepfathers or male rela­
tives or others taking the place of fathers, but the remaining 34
(24 per cent) came from fatherless homes. In some of these f amilies
brothers or sisters bore the burden of support, but 17 per cent of
newsboys (23 of the white boys and 1 of the negro boys) were in
families supported chiefly by mothers. A 15-year-old boy living
with a married sister supported himself.
Many of the heads of the families from which the newsboys came
were engaged in occupations that commonly yield only a very
modest if not a precarious livelihood. In the 144 families repre­
sented were 20 chief breadwinners in domestic and personal service
(almost twice the proportion among all the male workers 20 years
of age and over in the city7). They were chiefly mothers who kept
boarding houses or did domestic work, but they included also
several barbers and porters and several other men in domestic and
personal service. Ten fathers or mothers peddled fruit, dry goods,
junk, or chickens and eggs; 9 were factory operatives, chiefly in
cotton mills or in an overalls factory; 3 drove trucks or taxis. There
7 Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. IV, Population, Occupations, pp. 1053-1055.


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were 17 proprietors of grocery or clothing stores, a pawnbroker, and
a junk-shop keeper. Skilled workmen were represented by 16 car­
penters, 9 other artisans, mechanics, and machinists, 5 tailors, a
molder, a cabinetmaker, a jewelry repairer, 3 dressmakers, and 2
printers. Only 7 chief breadwinners were in clerical positions, rela0
tively less than half as many as male workers 20 years of age and
over in the city as a whole.8 The professions were represented only
by a negro woman teacher. The other chief breadwinners were in a
variety of occupations; they included an auctioneer, a pawnbroker’s
assistant, a mother who supported her family by selling papers on
the streets, a father who had just opened a small cap factory, an
automobile washer, a telegraph operator, a laborer in a brickyard,
a ticket agent, a cobbler, a street-car motorman, and a wrecking
engineer.
As a rule the heads of families seemed to have been fairly steadily
employed if the families visited may be considered representative.
In these 29 families 19 chief breadwinners had had no unemployment
during the year immediately preceding the inquiry, though 5 had
been out of work three months or longer.
Many of the newsboys’ mothers were gainfully employed. Not
counting those who were the main support of their families nor those
who supplemented the income by taking boarders or lodgers, 29
boys’ mothers were at work, 22 per cent of the white boys and four
of the seven negro. A study of sources of income in the families of
wage earners-and small-salaried men in Atlanta made by the United
States Bureau of Labor Statistics in 1919 disclosed that only 8 per
cent of the white families studied had earnings from the mother,
though in the negro families more than half the mothers were em,0 ployed.9 The newsboys’ mothers were chiefly factory operatives
^ or servants, but a few were saleswomen or seamstresses or had
other occupations.
The 29 families that were visited in an effort to get more specific
information as to the need of the newsboys’ earnings contained 37
(27 per cent) of the newspaper sellers included in the study. Only
19 of the 29 heads of households reported their earnings for the
year. Nine had made under $1,050, 5 between $1,050 and $1,250,
3 between $1,250 and $1,450, and 2 had made $1,850 or more. These
were all white families. Only two negro families were visited, in
neither of which could the father’s earnings be ascertained. One
was a carpenter, the other a railroad porter. The median earnings
of chief breadwinners in white families were between $1,050 and
$1,250; so far as can be concluded from so small a number of families
the amount is somewhat less than the average among the heads of
households in the Bureau of Labor Statistics study, which for white
families in Atlanta was found to be $1,246,10 the newsboys’ families
averaging 6.1 members and the families in the Bureau of Labor
Statistics study averaging 5.1. The extremes among the newsboys’
families are represented by the family of a 12-year-old newsboy of

W

s Idem.
» Monthly Labor Review (U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), Vol. IX , No. 6 (December, 1919), pp. 36, 38.
ic Ibid., p. 36. The Bureau of Labor Statistics figures represent the incomes as of 1918, whereas the
incomes of the newsboys’ chief breadwinners are those of the year Feb. 1, 1922, to Feb. 1, 1923. Unques­
tionably the incomes of an unselected group of wage earners in 1922 or 1923 would have been much larger
than in 1918 (the index numbers of union wage rates were 130 in 1918,183 in 1922, and 199 in 1923,1913 being
100, and wages for unskilled labor followed the same trend), so that the difference between the two groups
to the disadvantage of newsboys’ chief breadwinners would have been much greater. (See Union Scale
of Wages and Hours of Labor, U, S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bulletin 404, M ay 15, 1925, p, 17.)


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native white parentage whose mother helped to support her six
children under 14 years of age by washing lace curtains and made
only $321 during the year, the major part of the family support
coming from the Associated Charities; and by the family of another
12-year-old boy, also of native white parentage, whose father was
a preacher on circuit, was on a State board, and ran a rooming house
on salary, his earned income amounting to between $2,250 and
$2,650. ■■
In spite of the fact that the newsboys’ families were large and in
spite of the large proportion of mothers who contributed to the family
income, the median family earnings, including those of all members
16 years of age and over, were only between $1,050 and $1,250 in the
16 newsboys’ families reporting on this point, compared with $1,366
in the white families included in the Bureau of Labor Statistics study.11
Information in regard to ownership of their homes was obtained
from only 29 of the newsboys’ families. Only 6 of these families
reported that they owned or were buying their homes. In this con­
nection it is of interest that 25 per cent of the dwelling houses in At­
lanta in 1920 were owned in whole or in part by their occupants.12
On an average the newsboys’ families had five rooms, and the average
household consisted of seven persons, so that on the whole, so far as
can be judged from the small number of families for whom the more
detailed information was obtained, overcrowding was not a problem.
According to the records of the Associated Charities and the
Hebrew charities, 11 families in which were 12 of the newsboys
(8 per cent) included in the study had been aided during the year
preceding the study. Only 1 of these was a colored boy. Thirteen
other families with 18 boys had previously received assistance. The
records of the city warden’s office, which in Atlanta gave quite ex­
tensive relief, were not available, so that the proportion of newsboys’
families reported as having received charitable aid no doubt is smaller
than the proportion actually aided. The following accounts are
typical of newsboys’ families receiving any considerable amount of
help from charitable organizations:
A native white family in which the father was a carpenter was first referred to
the Associated Charities in 1914. The family was described as shiftless, unde­
pendable, of low mentality, and physically weak. The father was continually
out of work and expected aid from the association. The family moved fre­
quently, the four children were often ill, and the mother, a poor manager, was
obliged to keep them out of school on account of lack of clothing. Between 1914
and 1923 the Associated Charities had paid the rent several times, frequently
provided food and clothing, aided the family in moving, and provided other
services. The city warden also assisted. An 8-year-old boy sold newspapers
several hours a day, earning $1 a week, all of which he said he gave his mother.
He said he had begun to sell papers because his mother needed his earnings.

A Russian-Jewish family had been known to the Hebrew charities since 1912
when the parents and three children were living in one room. The father was
reported as buying and selling old clothes for a living. Three boys, 10, 13, and
14 years of age, sold papers, but the mother complained that they spent their
money on motion pictures. The oldest boy was said to have made as much as
$14 a week selling papers but, according to his mother, was “ too la zy ” to continue
11 Idem. The Bureau of Labor Statistics study excluded families in which children were wage earners
but did not turn in all their earnings to the family, so that disproportionately few families with grown chil­
dren were included. It might have been expected, therefore, that the total family earnings in the newsboys’
families would be larger than in the families included in the Bureau of Labor Statistics study.
ia Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. II, Population, p, 1288. Washington, 1922,


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85

doing so. The family had received $50 during the year preceding the study for
three months’ rent and $25 for coal. The boys reported making from $7 to $9.50
each selling papers 17 to 33 hours a week. All three said that their earnings were
used for food and clothes, though the oldest said that he saved some of his.

A native white family whose father had deserted had been assisted by the
Associated Charities irregularly since 1912 and had received regular aid during
1922 and 1923 from the city warden, and some help from the Salvation Arm y.
An 8-year-old newsboy was the only child. His mother tried to support herself
from 1921 to 1923 by selling flowers on the street and by selling furniture polish
when she could not get flowers. She said that when the child was with her she
could make more money. He himself made 50 cents a week selling papers on
Saturdays and Sundays, all except 10 cents of which he said he gave to his mother
for rent. A t one time the family had been so poor that the two had lived in a tent
in the woods on the outskirts of the city.

A deserted mother, formerly a mill worker, supporting herself and her 13-yearold son at the time of the study by selling papers, had been given groceries, coal,
and rent by the Associated Charities and the city warden since 1919. The boy
said he sold papers because he “ had to make a living” and that all his earnings,
amounting to $3 a week, went for food and house rent.

A native white family in which there were six children, the oldest of whom was
12, had been assisted by the Associated Charities and the city warden since 1920,
owing to the father’s desertion. The mother tried to support the children by
taking in washing but had to be assisted constantly by gifts of groceries, clothing,
coal, and money for the rent. In 1923 a fund providing $13.65 a week for the year
was raised through newspaper publicity. The boy of 12 said that he earned $6.80
a week selling papers between four and five hours a day and until midnight on
Saturdays; all of this except 20 cents and his car fare he gave to his mother for the
family.

Of the 29 families visited 12 said definitely that they needed the
newsboys’ earnings. Among the 8 native white families claiming
need were 5 in which the mothers were widows, 1 in which the father
was reported “ worthless,” 1 in which the father, a carpenter, earned
only about $1,000 a year and had five children under 14, and 1 in
which the father had been ill for several months. The 3 foreign fami­
lies claiming need included 1 in which the father was dead, the re­
maining 2 being supported by fathers, of whom one was a peddler, the
other a grocer. The negro family claiming need was also supported
by the father, who was a carpenter, and whose earnings in the winter
were irregular.
Considering all the evidence as to the extent of need among the
newsboys’ families it appears that many were probably below the
poverty line. Twenty-four per cent of the boys were fatherless; 17
per cent were supported by mothers; 21 per cent were in families that
at some time had had to be aided by charity; 6 of 19 fathers or other
heads of households reporting their earnings made less than $850 a
year; 12 of the 29 families visited maintained that they needed the
money the newsboys made, and in at least 8 of the 12 cases the evi­
dence supported the parents’ claims. These are the families that
come to the attention of social workers and philanthropic citizens,
causing them to feel that poverty is the determining factor in news­
paper selling. The proportion is certainly large, larger in Atlanta
than in other cities in the Children’s Bureau study of street workers,

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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

but it assuredly does not exceed, even in Atlanta, one-third of the
total number of newsboys included in the study. The great majority
of the boys, though poor, were not so poor that selling newspapers was
absolutely necessary for support.
R E A S O N S F O R U N D E R T A K IN G S T R E E T W O R K

The proportion (28 per cent) of newsboys in Atlanta who said they
had begun to do street work because their families had needed their
help accords with the findings as to the extent of family need among
them. The need appeared to have arisen chiefly as a result of the
death or desertion of the father, though in some cases fathers had been
out of work or the families had been unusually large. Only 15 (15
per cent) of the 101 boys with own fathers at home said that poverty
had compelled them to sell papers or do other street work. Need as
a motive for street work was of no greater importance among the
younger newsboys than among the older ones, the proportion report­
ing that they had gone to work because their earnings were needed
at home being the same for boys under 12 as for those of 12 and older.
The desire for money, even where there was no acknowledged need,
was the ruling motive for street work in many cases; 21 boys (15 per
cent) had begun work in order to have spending money, 18 (13 per
cent) because they wanted to buy some particular thing (a bicycle, a
new suit, Christmas presents) or to put money into the school bank.
Thirteen boys (9 per cent) said they had begun to work because
their parents had insisted. The father of a boy of 15 had made him
sell papers because he had left school and was “ hanging around the
streets” ; a boy of 8, whose mother sold papers down town, said,
“ Mother was afraid I might get runned over at home and took me
down town with her.”
More of the parents wanted their boys to sell papers than were
opposed to it, though few had any except a financial reason for favor­
ing newspaper selling. In the 29 families visited, 16 parents approved
of the work. However, one mother said that she wished her boy
could earn money in a less dangerous way, and two others that they
did not like night selling, though they evidently felt it was an un­
avoidable part of the job. Several of these parents had no stronger
motive for encouraging their boys to sell than that it “ was better
than loafing” or “ kept them out of other devilment.” One mother
denied that her boy sold papers, another was unaware of her son’s
selling. Four were indifferent— they “ saw no harm in i t ” or “ it’s
all right if he wants to ” — but seven expressed disapproval because
of undesirable associates, late selling, interference with school work,
the undesirability of having too much money to spend, and the
tendency to become unmanageable as a result of the street life.
Eleven of the newsboys (8 per cent) had been impelled by their
own desire to work or by sheer boredom. “ It’s no fun loafing,”
they said, or “ I just wanted to work and be down town,” or “ just
wanted something to do,” or “ I ain’t got nothing to do at home after
school or Saturday.” Thirty others (21 per cent) had begun in
imitation of older brothers or other boys or because others had asked
them to help or had suggested their selling, Five said that they had
begun to sell papers at the suggestion of newspaper agents.


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ATLANTA, GA.
D IS P O S IT IO N OF E A R N IN G S

The majority (56 per cent) of the newsboys reported that at least
some of their earnings helped support their families. (Table 18.)
Eight turned over all that they earned to their parents for house­
hold expenses, and 22 others used all the money they made selling
newspapers for household expenses and their own clothing. In
addition to these, 5 boys spent all their earnings to clothe themselves.
Thus 35 of the newsboys (24 per cent) had none of their newspaper
money either for savings or for their own pleasures and amusements.
Forty-seven of the 101 boys whose own fathers were living at home
helped with family expenses; this proportion was much smaller than
among fatherless boys, 33 of the 43 in the latter group reporting that
they assisted in the support of their families. The boys who made
rather large amounts, say as much as $4 a week, were much less
likely than the others to hand over all their earnings for the support
of the family, but they were more likely than boys making smaller
sums to give something toward family expenses.
Including the boys who used all their money for clothing, 92
(64 per cent) helped to buy their clothes. The majority (56 per cent)
had some of their money to spend as they chose, but only 4 boys
acknowledged that all their earnings were spent on their own luxuries.
About half (52 per cent) saved something, among whom were 5 boys
who banked everything that they made.
T a b l e 18.— Disposition of earnings; newspaper sellers, Atlanta, Ga.

Newspaper sellers
from 6 to 15 years
of age
Disposition of earnings :
Number

Total_________________________________

Per cent
distri­
bution

144

100.0

All for self______ ____ ______________ _____ ___

64

44.4

Spent for necessities.._______ _____ ______
Spent for luxuries.......................... .......... .
Spent for necessities and luxuries......... .......
Saved_________ ______ _______ ____ _____
Saved and spent for necessities____________
Saved and spent for luxuries.......... ...... .......
Saved and spent for necessities and luxuries.

5
4
10
6
9
11
19

3.5
2.8
6.9
4.2
6.2
7.6
13.2

Part to family and part for self2______________
Spent for necessities______________________
Spent for luxuries____ ____ _______________
Spent for necessities and luxuries.................
Spent for expenses only.......................... ...... .
Saved________________ _____ _________ ____
Saved and spent for necessities____________
Saved and spent for luxuries______________
Saved and spent for necessities and luxuries.
Saved and spent for expenses only.................
All to family________________________________
1 Earnings spent for necessities, luxuries, or both may include expenses of job.
[ 2 Subsidiary items show disposition of part spent for self.

75034°—28-----7


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72

50.0

22
11
7
2
1
9
8
11
1

15.3
7.6
4.9
1.4
.7
6.2
5.6
7.6
.7

8

5.6

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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

The following cases are illustrative of the way in which the earnings
of the newsboys were spent:
A Russian-Jewish boy earning $4.65 a week said that he sometimes gave
a small sum to his mother but spent most of it. The father was a traveling
salesman, and the family lived in a good neighborhood in a comfortable frame
house with such comforts and luxuries as French doors, a sun parlor, and electric
lights. The boy, though only 12 years of age, had a juvenile-court record and
was reported as unmanageable. H e sold papers until 10.30 Saturday nights,
in spite of his mother’s objections.

A 15-year-old boy in an apparently prosperous family earned $5.25 a week.
H e spent some of it for his own clothes, saved some, and spent the rest for ice
cream and candy. His mother did not want him to sell papers and said that he
was saving to buy a suit with long trousers which she did not want him to have..

A boy of 14, whose mother was a widow, earned $4.10 a week. H e said that
he gave his money to his mother for his clothes, except what he spent on motion
pictures. His mother said that he used his money for his clothes, school lunches,
amusements, and savings. “ I hardly get $1 a week from him ,” she said, “ but
I am going to pin him down soon and see if I can. get more help from him, as I
need it.”
The 10-year-old son of a Polish Jew, who kept a grocery store, earned $6.75
a week. After six months of selling he had $11 in one bank and $3 in the school
bank, and he bought all his clothes. His parents corroborated his statement
that he sold until midnight Saturday nights. The father said that his business
had been bad during the year and the children must help to buy their clothes.

A boy of 11, who said he earned $4.50 a week selling papers, said that he gav e,
all his money to his mother, who gave him 15 cents to spend and something f o i ^
the school bank. The mother, a widow, said that she could not get along without
the money her three boys earned selling papers. She was not sure that they
brought it all home, but all that they gave her she used for the family support.
This boy was out selling papers until 2 o’clock Sunday mornings.

A 13-year-old newsboy said that he gave his earnings of $5.28 a week to his
mother to buy his clothes, except enough for a picture show each week. The
father, a painter, was reported by the mother as having earned $1,170 during the
year, but, according to a record of the Associated Charities, he did not support
his family. The mother said that the boy’s earnings were a great help, as the
father had been ill for several months, and the only money coming in was what
the boy earned. “ H e don’t bring it all home,” she said.
H e spends it down
town on shows and things to eat, but what he does bring home he gives to m e.’

A 10-year-old boy said that he made $1.35 a week from his paper selling. H e
was saving to buy a suit, went to “ a show ’ each week, and put 5 cents a week
in the school, bank. His mother said that she encouraged him to save money
for a college education, and that he had saved $30, which his father had borrowed
when his work as a tailor had been dull.
N E W S B O Y S IN SC H O O L

Almost all the Atlanta newsboys included in the study were in
the elementary grades. Only 8 (6 per cent) were high-school boys,
though at the time of the study the elementary-school course
Atlanta was only seven years in length, children entering high school


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89

at the completion of the seventh grade. Three boys attended night
school. (See footnote 5, p. 73.)
In general, school records in Atlanta were not available by semes­
ters, so that the last records to be obtained in the spring of 1923,
^ when the study was made, were those for the school year ended
■ June, 1922. As the school-record study was confined to boys who
had sold papers during the period for which the record was obtained,
comparatively few boys had worked long enough to be included in
this part of the study.
Attendance.

Of the 56 boys who fulfilled the requirements for the record study,
attendance records could be found for only 32. The average per­
centage of attendance for these boys was 91. Eleven had absences
of 18 days or more, or at least 10 per cent of the school term. Almost
all these boys sold papers from 3 to 6 ^ hours every school day; 1
9-year-old boy sold every morning before going to school, 4 sold until
midnight or later Saturday nights. When boys whose street life
fills almost all their waking hours except those spent in school have
absences of 19 to 43 days, as did these 11 newsboys, a cause-and-effect
relation may justifiably be suspected, though it can not be proved by
such information as was available.
Truancy records were not available for the Atlanta newsboys.
Deportment.

The average deportment mark for the 35 newsboys for whom
deportment marks were obtained was 84 per cent. One boy was
below the passing mark in deportment. Although the numbers
involved are too small to furnish conclusive evidence, it is inter^estin g to compare the deportment marks of boys working on the
streets very long hours with those whose hours were shorter. Of
the 12 boys with deportment marks under 80, 5 worked at least 24
hours a week, whereas of the 21 whose mark was 80 or higher only 5
worked as long as 24 hours.
Progress and scholarship.

More than half (54 per cent) the newsboys between 8 . and 16
years of age were below normal grades for their ages (see footnote
38, p. 22), and only 5 per cent were above the grades that they would
be expected to have reached. Excluding the negro boys, 53 per
cent of the newsboys had failed to make normal progress. Com­
pared with all white public-school children of their ages in Atlanta,
among whom the proportion who were overage for their grades in
1924, the year nearest to that of the study for which comparative
figures could be obtained, was 31 per cent,13 the amount of retarda­
tion among the newsboys was excessive. The inclusion in the news­
paper-selling group of a disproportionate number of boys of foreign
parentage, some of whom may be presumed to be at a disadvantage
in English-speaking schools, does not explain the greater retardation
among the newsboys, for the percentage of retarded pupils among
the boys of native white parentage was even larger (60 per cent)
than among all the newsboys.
i, is Compiled from figures furnished by the director of vocational guidance and educational research of
?the Atlanta public schools. These figures include children between 7 years 9 months and 15 years 9 months
instead of between 8 and 16 years, but this fact does not materially affect the percentage of retarded pupils.


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

Common causes for retardation in school, unrelated to street work,
such as subnormal mentality and poor home environment, no doubt
played their usual rôle in the retardation of the Atlanta newspaper
sellers. Unfortunately, the results of. mental tests given in the
schools were available for too few of the newsboys to justify analysis,
and, therefore, whether the boys were mentally up to the average is ™
not known, though no evidence exists for supposing the contrary.
The effect of many social and economic factors on the boys’ school
progress can not be determined.
Some evidence exists to support the conclusion that street work
itself may have been one of the causes of the newsboys’ backward­
ness in school. Newsboys had had more absence than others, one
of the chief factors in retardation. Boys who worked very long
hours were more retarded than those who spent less time on the
streets. Of the 71 working less than 24 hours at newspaper selling
alone 37 (52 per cent) were overage for their grades, and of the 59
working at least 24 hours 34 (58 per cent) were overage. Moreover,
only 45 per cent of the boys who had sold papers less than a year
were retarded compared with 64 per cent of those who had been
selling at least one year. The difference in age between these two
groups is too little to account for the larger proportion of retarded
in the group working the longer time.
Scholarship marks could be obtained for only 33 newsboys who
had worked during the school year 1921-22. These averaged 83 per
cent, the same as that of the newspaper-route carriers, the only
group of Atlanta schoolboys for whom similar information is avail­
able, indicating that the newsboys managed to maintain a fair
standing in school.
^
D E LIN Q U E N C Y A M O N G N E W S B O Y S

W "

The records of the Fulton County juvenile court showed that 12
(8 per cent) of the newspaper sellers, 11 white and 1 colored, had
been brought before the juvenile court. Of these 12 boys, 9 had
never been in court until after they had begun street work, and of
the 26 charges against them 22 had been made after the boy had
done street work. The charges included stealing, 9; fighting or
disorderly conduct, 6; begging, 4; truancy, 2; selling papers without
a permit or underage, 2; trespassing, 2; “ incorrigibility,” 1.
Whether or not the newsboys had been in trouble involving court
action to a greater extent than other groups of boys can not be
inferred from the percentage of so-called delinquents among them,
No comparable figures for other boys in Atlanta have been com­
piled; the impossibility of using delinquency rates for other cities
has been commented upon elsewhere in this report. (See p. 27.) A
comparison of the rate for newspaper sellers with that for newspaperroute carriers in Atlanta, whose activities approximate more nearly
those of the average nonselling boy, is greatly to the disadvantage of
the sellers. (See p. 104.)
The records themselves give so few details as to throw little light
on any connection that may have existed between street work and
delinquency. Cases in which late hours, begging, or other factors
associated with the conditions surrounding street work play a con­
siderable part are described in the following stories. Such fa c to r ^
affected 6 of the 12 delinquents.

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A 14-year-old Russian-Jewish newsboy who had begun to sell papers when 7
had been brought before the court when 10 for selling papers under age and without
a permit. Two years later he was arrested for disorderly conduct and selling
papers without a permit and put on probation. According to the court record,
his parents were determined that the boy should sell papers, though the pro­
bation officer tried to keep him off the streets. The Hebrew charities reported
that although the family was not a relief case the income was small and the
boy’s money was needed in the home. The boy, however, said he had begun
to sell because he wanted extra spending money, and he spent part of his earn­
ings on violin lessons. A t the time of the study he sold only Saturday nights
from 6.30 to 11.30.
The 12-year-old brother of the boy in the preceding case sold papers Saturday
evenings up to midnight. He had first begun to sell at the age of 6, and at 8
his court record began with a charge that he “ tied autos together.”
Before
he was 9 he was in court charged with truancy from school, a few months later
with selling papers under age, and when 10 years old with stealing newspapers.

A 10-year-old child said he had been selling papers from the age of 5. When
only 7 he had been arrested for begging on the streets, and within a year was
arrested three other times— twice for stealing and once for begging. A t the
time of the study he was selling around down-town office buildings three hours
every afternoon and until midnight Saturdays. He boasted of the large tips
he got. Two other boys in the family (one 14, the other 12) also sold papers
every day and until late Saturday nights. Both these had juvenile-court records,
including charges of stealing and begging. The father was an old-clothes man
and a taxi driver, making an insufficient income to support the family, which
was aided by the Hebrew charities. The mother complained that the boys
spent down town the money they made on papers and did not bring it home
to her.
A very small boy gave his age as 7 ; his mother said he was 8, and the schoolattendance officer said that he had given his age as 7 for two years. He had
sold papers for six months, staying out until 8.30 every school-day evening
and selling, according to his mother, all day Saturdays and Sundays. He said
he hardly ever gave any of his money to his mother, but spent it for food for him­
self. He bought his evening meal down town every night. This family lived
in a dilapidated house, in which they had three scantily furnished rooms. The
parents were divorced, and the mother supported herself and five children by
dressmaking, a 17-year-old boy giving some assistance. The mother said that
she used to worry about the younger boy’s playing truant and staying on the
streets and the use to which he put his money, but that she no longer cared.
She had not asked him to work. The school principal reported the boy as irreg­
ular in his attendance, unreliable, “ incorrigible,” and a “ little thief.”
He was said
also to be a beggar. A few months before the study he had come before the
juvenile court for truancy and for selling papers until 11 at night. The pro­
bation officer found that the boy had been in the habit of spending nights at
one of the hotels with a traveling salesman, who said he wished to take the
boy home with him. When brought to court, however, the man denied wishing
to adopt the child. The court left the boy in the custody of his mother after
she had promised to keep him off the streets.

The unusual number and variety of beggars on the streets (see
p. 69) made street life in Atlanta more than ordinarily unwholesome
and dangerous for children, many of whom were at the most imi­
tative and impressionable ages.
The Young M en’s Christian Association at the time of the survey
was unusually active in attempting to reach the newsboys. The
director of boys’ work of the association was a well-known figure
in the distribution rooms, where he frequently went to invite the
newsboys to association activities or to recruit members for the
newsboys’ club. This club at thé time of the survey had about

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500 members, of whom about one-fourth sold papers. For $1 a
year, payable in installments, the boys were allowed the use of the
gymnasium afternoons and evenings. Once a week a program of
motion pictures, singing, addresses by outside speakers, and other
attractions was given.
N E W S P A P E R CARRIERS

The three leading daily newspapers were distributed to regular
subscribers by both men and boys. Several other newspapers pub­
lished three times a week and a weekly newspaper for negroes were
mailed to their special groups of readers.
In the public schools 350 boys and in the private and parochial
schools 6 boys reported that they had newspaper routes. Two girls
who regularly helped their brothers carry papers are not included in
the tables.14
R A C E A N D N A T IO N A L IT Y OF F A T H E R S

More newspaper carriers than street salesboys were of native
white parentage. Only 6 per cent had foreign-born fathers, less than
one-fourth the proportion among the sellers. (Table 8, p. 25.)
Like the newspaper sellers of foreign parentage, the latter were largely
Russian Jews. Compared with the sellers, the carriers included a
good many negroes. This does not mean, however, that carrying
newspapers was a negro boy’s job in Atlanta; the 38 negro carriers
were only 11 per cent of the total number, whereas almost one-third
of the population of Atlanta was negro.15
A G E OF C A R R IE R S

The Atlanta street-trading ordinance did not cover delivering
papers on a route. The carriers were of all ages from 6 to 15 years.
(Table 2, p. 9.) The average age was 12.4 years. A large propor­
tion (36 per cent) were boys of 14 or 15. Of the 108 who were under
12 years of age, 69 were only helpers to brothers or friends, but the
remainder had routes of their own, though some of them were hired
by men who owned the routes. (See p. 93.)
W O R K E X PE R IE N C E

Few of the carriers had ever done any kind of street work except
carrying papers, though many had delivered for some other paper or
had had different routes from the ones they had at the time of the
study. Eleven carriers had sold papers; 18 had peddled various
articles such as flowers, vegetables, and candy; 10 had sold or
carried magazines; and 9 had had other kinds of street jobs, such as
distributing circulars. At the time of the study 14 boys were engag­
ing in some sort of street work besides their paper routes— 5 sold or
carried magazines, 4 peddled, 3 made collections or did other similar
jobs for newspapers, and 2 sold newspapers.
Almost half (46 per cent) of the carriers had had some other kind
of work than work on the street, including 29 who had jobs when
they were interviewed. They had hoed cotton and done other farm
14 One of the girls was 8 years of age, the other 11. Both were of native white parentage. One carried
papers half an hour every week day, the other from 6.30 to 8 Sunday mornings. Both were paid by their
brothers for their work.
14 Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. Ill, Population, p. 226.


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ATLA N TA , GA.

work, worked in grocery stores, been table boys in restaurants, tele­
graph messengers, and soda-fountain boys, and had caddied and
worked at many other jobs.
The median duration of the last period of newspaper carrying for
the Atlanta carriers was between four and six months. A number
of boys (18 per cent) said they had worked as carriers without inter­
ruption for as much as two years, and some of them (11 per cent)
had carried newspapers three years or longer. (Table 19.)
C O N D IT IO N S OF E M P L O Y M E N T

The morning newspaper sold its routes to men, some of whom
hired boys to help them. The evening papers had at least some
schoolboy carriers. These worked under several different arrange­
ments. (Table 20.) Some were independent carriers, paying for
their papers when they got them, or by the day, like the street
sellers, and collecting from their customers, their profit being the
difference between the amount they paid for their papers and the
amount they succeeded in collecting. Other routes paid the carrier
a percentage of the value of the route, which was reported as 15 to 20
per cent if collections were made by the newspaper office or agent and
20 to 40 per cent, usually the latter, if the boy assumed the risk of
making collections himself. Thus, on a route of 100 subscribers, the
cost to the customer being 20 cents a week and the value of the route
therefore $20, the carrier might make from $3 to $8. Carriers having
“ ledger” customers, that is, customers with paid-up subscriptions,
of whom many boys had some, usually received only 10 per cent of
the amount due from the customer.
T a b l e 19.— Previous duration of job held at date of interview, by age period; news­

paper carriers, Atlanta, Ga.
Newspaper carriers from 6 to 15 years of age

Previous duration of job held at
date of interview

10 years, under 12 years, under 14 years, under
12
14
16
Under
10
Num­ Per cent years 1 Num­ Per cent Num­ Per cent Num­ Per cent
distri­
distri­
distri­
distri­
ber bution
ber bution
ber bution
ber bution
Total

Total____________________

356

44

64

Total reported................................

354

100.0

42

64

100.0

121

100.0

127

Less than 1 year......................

250

70.6

37

46

71.9

87

71.9

80

63.0

200

56.5

33

39

60.9

72

59.5

56

44.1

75
83
42

21.2
23.4
11.9

12
16
5

14
17
8

21.9
26.6
12.5

27
29
16

22.3
24.0
13.2

22
21
13

17.3
16.5
10.2

Less than 6 months_____
Less than 2 months...
2 months, less than 4..
4 months, less than 6..

121

127
100.0

6 months, less than 1 year.

50

14.1

4

7

10.9

15

12.4

24

18.9

1 year, less than 2....................
2 years, less than 3 .............. .
3 years and over......................

42
22
40

11.9
6.2
11.3

4
1

11
4
3

17.2
6.3
4.7

13
9
12

10.7
7.4
9.9

14
8
25

11.0
6.3
19.7

Not reported................................ .

2

2

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.


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T a b l e 2 0 . — Type of employer, by age period of carrier; newspaper carriers, Atlanta,

Ga.
Newspaper carriers from 6 to 15 years of age

Type of employer

10 years, under 12 years, under 14 years, under
12
14
16
Under
10
cent years 1Num­ Per cent Num­ Per cent Num­ Per cent
Num­ Per
distri­
distri­
distri­
distri­
ber bution
ber bution
ber bution
ber bution
Total

Total.....................................

356

100.0

44

64

100.0

121

100.0

127

100.0

Newspaper company or agent
Self.______ _____ _________ _____
Other carrier______ _______ _____
Self and newspaper company or
agent...____________ _________

46
203
106

12.9
57.0
29.8

3
8
33

8
21
35

12.5
32.8
54.7

18
74
28

14.9
61.2
23.1

17
100
10

13.4
78.7
7.9

1

.3

1

.8

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

The majority (59 per cent) of the carriers included in the study
made collections themselves. Boys were bonded to cover somewhat
more than the amount of the collections, and each week a settlement
was required, the carrier turning in the full amount he had collected
and receiving back several days later the amount due him.
Trucks deposited the newspapers in bundles at accessible street
corners. At least one of the evening papers at the time of the study,
the boys reported, required carriers to report daily at the main
office on the completion of their routes, generally in person, though
a report by telephone was allowed in exceptional cases, and three
visits a week to the main office were always required to turn in col­
lections, to receive earnings, and to obtain the latest list of customers
with the amount of their bills.
Some of the carriers said that they were required to take out and
pay for “ extras” or papers other than those for their regular cus­
tomers or that the truckmen would leave more papers than the car­
rier needed, driving off before the boy had time to count his bundle;
but few made any complaints on this score. Neither did the boys
report that they were urged to build up their routes, though they
said they received a small amount, usually 10 or 15 cents, for each
new customer, and prizes were sometimes given. One of the news­
papers in order to build up its circulation hired a number of boys
to deliver sample papers in different parts of the city. Carriers had
to pay 15 cents for each complaint recorded against them for non­
delivery of papers, and one boy reported that fines were imposed for
not reporting at the main office or for failure to be at the corner
when the truck deposited the bundles of papers.
The largest number of the carriers (138) had routes of between
100 and 200 customers, and 41 per cent carried at least 100 papers
on their daily rounds, the weight of one of which was about 7 ounces.
Many of these boys carried an even larger number of papers on Sun­
days, when the edition weighed about 1 pound. One of the boys
and some of the parents referred to the weight of the papers as a
good deal of a strain. The mother of a 15-year-old high-school boy
who carried 175 papers said that he was “ tired out after dragging
those big bundles around,” and that she believed he would do better
in school if he were not so worn out by his route, the income from
which she felt, however, was a necessity.

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R E G U L A R IT Y OF W O R K

The carrier who had the full responsibility for a route usually had
to deliver the Sunday edition as well as the daily editions of the
paper; 265 (77 per cent) of the carriers in the study served papers
every day. Those who did not carry their routes every day in the
week were, as a rule, helpers or substitutes or were employed under
some special arrangement— as to deliver sample papers— though a
few boys with regular routes did not have Sunday customers. Eleven
boys carried only Sunday papers. Two hundred and ninety-nine of
the carriers (87 per cent) worked at least six days a week, <?
H O U R S OF W O R K

Although the morning newspaper made a practice of giving the
paper routes to men rather than boys, some of the men hired boys
to carry. Included in the study were 43 who had paper routes on
school-day mornings. The hour of beginning work was unusually
early. All except 7 began before 6 o’clock, generally around 4 or
4.30, and most of them worked at least an hour and a half before
breakfast. Although the larger number of the 36 who began before
6 a. m. were 12 years of age or older, including a number of 14 or 15
year old boys, 7 were 10 or 11 years of age and 2 were children under
10. Five of the morning carriers had afternoon routes.
On Sunday mornings 298 of the 342 boys who had but one street
job including the boys with afternoon routes, the special Sundaypaper carriers, and the regular morning-route boys, delivered papers.
Of these 18 began carrying before 4 a. m. and 196 between 4 and 6.
The great majority of the carriers delivered the evening papers—
285 of those with no other street work than carrying and 11 of the
14 with a secondary street job. All except 28 in the one group and
3 in the other had delivered their last paper before 6 o’clock. Even
these were generally through by 6, though one who began late and
had a large route worked later, usually until 7 or 7.30. One of the
boys said that if the trucks delivered the papers to him promptly
he finished his route by 5, but that they were nearly always behind
schedule, so that he was occasionally as late as 7.
Few, if any, of the afternoon carriers found it necessary to carry
their routes during the family dinner or supper hour, and the morning
carriers usually had breakfast with their families after the morning’s
work; newspaper-route carrying, unlike selling, did not interfere
with the boy’s home life or develop irregular habits of eating. On
Sunday mornings, when many of the routes took longer than on week
days, breakfast was preceded in many cases by several hours of work.
Carriers in Atlanta spent rather more time on their routes than is
customary. Although more than half (59 per cent) carried papers
between one and two hours on school days and 16 per cent worked
less than one hour, a large proportion (25 per cent) spent at least two
hours a day on their routes. (Table 21.) Apparently many of the
routes had an unusually long list of subscribers.
The boys who collected worked longer hours on Saturdays. They
spent several hours in collecting, in addition to the time taken for
settling their bills at the newspaper offices. The majority (57 per
cent) of the carriers worked at least two hours on Saturdays, including
38 per cent who worked at least three hours and 9 per cent who worked

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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

five hours or longer; 33 per cent worked between one and two hours,
and only 9 per cent less than one hour. (Table 22.)
On Sundays, when the papers were unusually heavy and a number
of the boys had extra customers, the hours of work were even longer
than on Saturdays. Only 3 per cent of the carriers could cover their
routes in less than an hour, whereas 33 per cent required between one
and two hours, 64 per cent were obliged to spend two hours or more,
and 26 per cent required at least three hours.
T a b l e 21.— Number of hours of street work on a typical school day, by age period;

newspaper carriers holding a single job, Atlanta, Ga.
Newspaper carriers from 6 to 15 years of age
14 years,
under 16

12 years,
under 14

10 years,
under 12

Total
Number of hours of street work on a
typical school day

Under
10
Per
Per
Per
Per years1
Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent
Num­ cent
ber
distri­
distri­
distri­
ber
ber
ber distri­
bution
bution
bution
bution
342

43

59

119

328

39

56

113

__________ —

121
120

323

100.0

39

56

100.0

111

100.0

117

100.0

51
192
80

15.8
59.4
24.8

13
19
7

10
35
11

17.9
62.5
19.6

14
68
29

12.6
61.3
26.1

14
70
33

12.0
59.8
28.2

4

3

5
14

2

3

6

1

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.
T a b l e 22.— Number of hours of street work on a typical Saturday, by age period;

newspaper carriers holding a single job, Atlanta, Ga.
Newspaper carriers from 6 to 15 years of age

Number of hours of street work on a
typical Saturday

Total___________________ ____ ____

12 years, under 14 years, under
16
14

Total

Under
10
years,
10
Num­ Per cent years1 under Num­ Percent Num­ Per cent
distri­
distri­
12 1 ber
distri­
ber
ber bution
bution
bution
342

43

59

119

312

38

48

108

=====

121
-

118

Total reported..... .............. .......... ......

307

100.0

38

48

106

100.0

115

100.0

Less than 1 hour___________ ____
1 hour, less than 2—........................
2 hours, less than 3..........................
3 hours, less than 5______________
5 hours and o v e r ...........................

29
101
60
90
27

9.4
32.9
19.5
29.3
8.8

10
18
5
4
1

9
18
10
8
3

4
36
23
33
10

3.8
34.0
21.7
31.1
9.4

6
29
22
45
13

5.2
25.2
19.1
39.1
11.3

2

3

5

11

11

3

5
30
1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.


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97

Although the majority of the carriers spent less than 12 hours a
week on their routes, a large proportion (40 per cent) worked at
least 12 hours. (Table 23.) Among the latter were 29 per cent of
the carriers under 12 years of age. Less than 4 hours a week were
needed by 10 per cent of the carriers (including 23 per cent of those
under 12) to deliver their newspapers.
E AR N IN G S

Owing to the different arrangements under which carriers worked
there were several methods of payment. About three-fifths (58 per
cent) of the carriers obtained their papers on credit, in almost all
cases by the week, and collected from the customers. A great
many carriers (36 per cent), however, received a fixed wage for
their services, either from adult employers or from other boys who
had hired them. A few paid for their papers as they got them and
made their own collections, and a few were paid varying amounts or
collected from some of their customers and received a fixed sum for
delivering to others. Seven boys worked as helpers for pleasure, or
for “ treats,” or because their parents made them help their brothers,
receiving no money for their services.
Of the carriers who did no other street work, 131 (39 per cent)
earned less than $3 a week. Half the helpers received less than $1,
generally small amounts such as 25 or 50 cents. Excluding these,
only one-fourth of the carriers earned less than $3. The median
earnings for all were between $3 and $4. About one-fourth (29 per
cent) reported that they made at least $5. (Table 23.)
Losses on account of customers who did not pay were common.
Carriers in Atlanta did not complain on this score, however, as did
those in other cities included in the Children’s Bureau study where
carriers were obliged to make collections, for those who did their own
collecting made a considerably higher profit than those who did not
care to assume the risk. Boys did complain that they were cheated
by the circulation men. “ You have to watch the man in the circu­
lation department so that he treats you squarely,” said a 13-year-old
carrier. “ M y pay is never quite correct. It’s generally less than
it should be,” said another boy, adding that many of the boys had
told him of having the same experience. A boy who was convinced
that the newspaper cheated him said that his father checked up on
his accounts and always found that he was given less than the amount
due him.
The carrier seldom received tips. Only about one-eighth of the
243 boys reporting on this point were usually tipped. An older boy,
a carrier for one of the evening papers, said that his newspaper had
forbidden the boys to accept tips.


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T

CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

able

23.— Earnings during a typical week, by number of hours engaged; news­
paper carriers holding a single job, Atlanta, Ga.
Newspaper carriers from 6 to 15 years of age
Total

Earnings during a typical
week

Working specified number of hours per week

4 hours, less 8 hours, less 12 hours, less
than 8
than 12
than 16
Hours
Per
16 not re­
Less
ported1
Num­ cent than
hours
4
ber distri­
Per
Per
and
Per
bution hours1Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent over1
ber distri­ ber distri­ ber distri­
bution
bution
bution

Total______________

342

33

52

Total reported___________

337

100.0

32

51

100.0

117

100.0

89

100.0

9
19
27
33
43
59
41
28
69
9

2.7
5.6
8.0
9.8
12.8
17.5
12.2
8.3
20.5
2.7

6
8
7
'4
3

1
4
6
12
13
7
4

2.0
7.8
11.8
23.5
25.5
13.7
7.8

4

2
2

3.9
3.9

1
5
7
10
16
27
21
12
18

.9
4.3
6.0
8.5
13.7
23.1
17.9
10.3
15.4

1
2
6
7
6
17
9
11
27
3

1.1
2.2
6.7
7.9
6.7
19.1
10.1
12.4
30.3
3.4

1

1

Less than $0.25_______
$0.25, less than $0.50__
$0.50, less than $1.00--.
$1.00, less than $2.00__
$2.00, less than $3.00__
$3.00, less than $4.00__
$4.00, less than $5.00...
$5.00, less than $6.00__
$6.00 and over......... .
No earnings..................
Not reported____________

5

89

118

44

6

44

4

1
3
7
6
6
22

1

2
1
1

2

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.
N E E D F O R E A R N IN G S

The carriers came from families which were superior both socially
and economically to those of the Atlanta newspaper sellers. Although
the heads of households represented in their occupations practically
all classes from the domestic servant to merchants and professional
men, their distribution in the various occupational groups was
closely analogous to that for the male population 20 years of age
and over for the city as a whole,16 and did not show, as did the
occupational distribution of the street sellers’ chief breadwinners, a
preponderance of the less skilled and less well paid groups. In the
manufacturing and mechanical occupations, relatively about as many
carriers’ as sellers’ fathers, or other heads of households, were
mechanics, artisans, and machinists, but relatively somewhat fewer
were factory operatives and several times as many were foremen in
factories and superintendents or owners of plants. Only one car­
rier’s father was a peddler, representing a proportion less than onetwentieth of that for the newspaper sellers, and fewer carriers’
fathers were small storekeepers. In occupations classified under
transportation, relatively less than half as many of the carriers’
fathers were teamsters, drivers, and chauffeurs; but eight times as
many were railroad conductors, engineers, and other trainmen.
Scarcely more than half as many of the heads of carriers’ families
as of other newsboys earned their living by domestic and personal
service; but more than twice as many had clerical positions and
eight times as many were professional workers.
The great majority of the chief breadwinners had had steady
work during the year immediately preceding the study, judging from
m Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. IV, Population, Occupations, pp. 1054-1055.


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the carriers’ families that were visited. Of the 74 chief breadwinners
in these families, 47 (64 per cent) had had no unemployment during
the year, and only 9 (12 per cent) had had as much as three months’
unemployment.
jk Much more generally than the street sellers the carriers came
from normal homes— those in which the child’s own father and
mother lived together and the father supported the family. Among
the white carriers 80 per cent were in such families, a proportion
that is 78 per cent even when the negro carriers are included. Father­
less carriers numbered 48 (13 per cent), not counting 10 who had
lost their own fathers but had stepfathers or foster fathers. The
mothers of 34 boys, 28 white and 6 negro, or 10 per cent of the group,
were the chief support of their families, about one-half being in
domestic service.
Besides those carriers whose mothers supported their families, 46
(33 white and 13 negro) had mothers who worked, not including
women who kept boarders or lodgers. These represented 11 per
cent of the white carriers in families in which some one other than
the mother furnished at least the greater part of the livelihood, a
proportion very little larger than that found in the Bureau of
Labor Statistics study in Atlanta.17 Almost half these mothers
worked in occupations classified as personal and domestic, the
remainder being chiefly saleswomen and seamstresses.
One-fourth (24 per cent) of the carriers were represented in the
family interviews— 74 families in which were 87 of the carriers in­
cluded in the study.
The information as to the year’s earnings furnished by 58 of the
^ 7 3 chief breadwinners (one family had no chief breadwinner) showed
“ them to be more prosperous than the. average family among the
wage earners and low-salaried men of Atlanta; their median earnings
(even including those of the heads of negro families, which were
smaller than those of the white chief breadwinners) were between
$1,450 and $1,850, compared with $1,246, the average among white
families included in the Bureau of Labor Statistics study.18 Onethird (34 per cent) of the families had chief breadwinners earning
at least $1,850.
The income earned by all members of the carriers’ families was
also above the average; the median family earnings in the 50 car­
riers’ families reporting were $1,850 or more, whereas the average
in the white families included in the Bureau of Labor Statistics
study was $1,366.19 The carriers’ families averaged six members,
the families included in the other Federal study averaging five, a
fact that may explain in part the higher income, as well as indicating
that the advantage was less than appears, as the carriers’ family
incomes had to support a larger number. (See footnote 10, p. 83.)
More than twice as many carriers’ families, in proportion to their
number, owned their dwellings, compared with all the families in
the city—-relatively almost three times as many as among the families
of the street-sales boys. (See p. 84.) The carriers’ families had
houses containing on an average five rooms and average households
17 Monthly Labor Review (U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), Vol. IX , No. 6 (December, 1919), pp.
W 36, 38.
T w ibid., p. 36.
I* Idem.


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of six persons, so that overcrowding among them offered even less
of a problem than among the families of the newsboys. (See p. 84.)
Almost none of the carriers came from families that had ever
found it necessary to accept aid from charity. Only one, a boy in
a white family, had received charitable aid during the year immedi­
ately preceding the study, and only eight other families, all white,
had ever received assistance from charitable organizations.
R E A S O N S F O R U N D E R T A K IN G S T R E E T W O R K

Thirty-eight carriers (11 per cent) said that family need had
caused them to get a street job. These included a large proportion
(29 per cent) of the 58 who had lost their own fathers.
Most of the boys (75 per cent) had begun to work in order to earn
some money for themselves or to do what others were doing and
“ have some fun.” Seventeen per cent had wanted to earn spending
money; 15 per cent had wanted money to gratify such specific ambi­
tions and desires as saving for college, buying a scout suit or a radio,
or starting a savings account; 14 per cent had wanted something
to do— “ I felt cooped up in the house and wanted exercise,” said
one boy from one of the more prosperous homes; “ I wanted to get
off from home,” admitted one of the younger carriers; 17 per cent
had merely followed the example of other boys; and 12 per cent had
started because friends or brothers needed helpers. A few (7 per
cent) had begun to work because representatives of the newspapers
had solicited route boys. The other boys (5 per cent) had begun
to work for such reasons as “ my father wanted me to have a job
and not play all the time,” or “ my mother wanted me to get the
training,” or “ my mother told me to take my brother's route when^
he gave it u p.”
;
.
^
Most of the parents who were interviewed heartily approved of
newspaper carrying. Only 4 of the 74 disapproved, and 9 were
indifferent, saying that “ carrying papers will not hurt him ” or
“ we have no objection.” The parents who disapproved of the
work did so on the ground that the papers were too heavy, that boys
who worked go beyond their parents’ supervision and control, that
“ a boy should just be a boy,” or that carrying newspapers was
beneath the social position of the family. Those who were glad to
have their boys carry papers believed that the work kept them
out of mischief or was good training, making the boys systematic
and teaching them how to keep accounts and to understand the
value of money, though a few expressed only financial reasons for
their approval.
Considering the rather high level of prosperity among them,
an unexpectedly large number of the carriers’ families which were
visited (18 or 24 per cent) said that the boys’ earnings were necessary
for family expenses, not counting many who regarded them as a great
help, or as necessary because they enabled the boys to have better
clothes than the parents could afford, or to take music lessons, or
even because without them the boys could not continue in high school.
D IS P O S IT IO N OF E AR N IN G S

Comparatively few of the carriers (27 per cent) contributed directly^
to the support of their families. In this group were 11 boys (3 per
cent of all the carriers) who gave all their earnings to their families.

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Besides these, 17 boys (5 per cent) spent all their earnings from their
paper routes on clothing and other necessities for themselves, and
11 others (3 per cent) used all their money to help their families
and to buy their own necessities. Only 11 per cent in all had none
of the money that they earned to use as they wished. (Table 24.)
The proportion of fatherless boys who gave direct assistance
to their families was more than twice that of boys whose own fathers
were living— 48 per cent in the one case and only 22 per cent in the
other. The prosperity of the family gauged by the chief bread­
winner’s earnings also made a great difference, for of 27 boys in the
group visited at home whose fathers or other chief breadwinners
had made less than $1,450, 11 contributed some of their earnings
toward family support, whereas of 31 boys in whose families the
head made at least $1,450, only 7 helped with family expenses.
A very much larger proportion of boys who earned at least $3 a week
than of those earning less helped out at home.
T a b l e 24. — Disposition of earnings; newspaper carriers, Atlanta, Ga.

Newspaper carriers
from 6 to 15 years
of age.
Disposition of earnings
Number

Per cent
distri­
bution

Total_____________________________________

356

^Total reported______________ u___ ________________

354

100.0

All for self_______________________ ___________

248

70.1

Spent for necessities.._______ ____________
Spent for luxuries________________ _____ _
Spent for necessities and luxuries................ .
Saved..................... ........... ........................ .
Saved and spent for necessities____________
Saved and spent for luxuries________ _____ _
Saved and spent for necessities and luxuries.

17
9
19
25
54
36
88

4.8
2.5
5.4
7.1
15.3
10.2
24,9

Part to family and part for self2—.......................

86

24.3

Spent for necessities....... .............. ................
Spent for luxuries___ _____ _________;_____
Spent for necessities and luxuries__________
Saved.._______________ __________________
Saved and spent for necessities............. .......
Saved and spent for luxuries______________
Saved and spent for necessities and luxuries.

11
6
6
7
11
13
32

3.1
1.7
1.7
2.0
3.1
3.7
9.0

All to family.................................. ......................
No earnings____________ ____ ______ ______ ___

11
9

3.1
2.5

Not reported____________________________________

2

1 Earnings spent for necessities, luxuries, or both, may include expenses of job.
2 Subsidiary items show disposition of part spent for self.

Many carriers were of great help to their families because they
bought at least some of their clothing; 67 per cent reported that
they paid for some of their necessities, including those whose entire
earnings were needed to do so. The proportion who helped to clothe
themselves or bought other personal necessities was even larger than
^pKhat (59 per cent) who had some of their earnings for spending
money. Only six boys kept all that they made to spend on their
own amusements and luxuries.

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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

An unusually large number of the boys (266, or 75 per cent) had
savings as a result of their work; among these were 25 who saved
all that they earned.
Some of the carriers had spent or were planning to spend part of
the money they made in ways that could not be classified in any of
the groups discussed; for example, they were saving for Christmas
presents, had paid dentists’ or doctors’ bills, or were earning their
school tuition.
The following cases, selected at random from the group whose
parents were interviewed, will give a concrete idea of ways in which
carriers’ earnings were spent:
The 12-year-old son (one of six children under 14) of a railroad conductor
earning $1,800 a year, made $3.50 weekly on his paper route. He gave part of
the money to his mother, saved some, and bought his clothes. Both parents
considered the boy’s money a great help to them. H e bought all his clothes,
even his suits, “ and that alone is a mighty help” they said, “ with so many chil­
dren and boys like him wearing out so many shoes and pants. Besides, he buys
all his school supplies and lunches and pays car fare. I t ’s only because of his
earnings he can still stay in school.”
A 13-year-old carrier making $3 a week bought all his own clothes and had
some spending money, which his mother said he could not otherwise have had,
as the father earned only about $1,350 a year.

A carrier earning $6 a week bought all his clothes, went to two picture shows
a week, and was able to put something in the school bank. The father, a ma­
chinist, had earned only $1,040 during the year, and there were five children
under 16 in the family. The mother said that the carrier’s earnings “ helped
out.”
A boy of 12 whose father had earned more than $2,500 during the year in
spite of a long illness was said to be of real assistance to the fam ily, as his earn­
ings of $4.87 a week helped to buy his clothes. In addition, he saved $1 a week
and had $1 for school lunches, car fares, and spending money.

A plumber’s 11-year-old son made $2.50 a week on his paper route. H e said
that he gave most of his money to his mother for his own clothes and family
expenses, put something in the school bank, and spent some on baseball games
and picture shows. His mother admitted that the boy’s earnings “ helped out
som e” but apparently did not regard them as of much assistance. The father’s
earnings during the year had been about $2,000, and the family was of moderate
size.
A carrier making $3 a week contributed some of his money toward family
expenses, paid for his clothes, and had spending money. His father, a carpenter,
had earned only about $1,100 during the year, and there were four children
under 16 years of age. His mother felt that the boy’s earnings were a great
help to the family.
C A R R IE R S IN S C H O O L

Many of the carriers (22 per cent) were high-school boys, the
proportion being four times as large as that for newspaper sellers.
Attendance.

School-attendance records were obtained for 75 of the 108 carriers
who had worked long enough for inclusion in the school-record study...
(See p. 89.) Their average percentage of attendance was 95, which
is higher than that of the newspaper sellers. Only 7 carriers had
been present less than 90 per cent of the term (that is, had had

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absences of 18 days or more), and these absences apparently had no
connection with the fact that the boys had routes.
Deportment.

The median mark in deportment for the 73 carriers for whom
deportment marks were available was between 80 and 90, 19 boys
having marks under 80, 29 between 80 and 90, and 25 marks of 90
or higher. Their deportment in school appeared to average about
the same as that of the newsboys.
Progress and scholarship.

About one-third of the carriers between 8 and 16 years of age
(35 per cent) were overage for their grades, and 7 per cent were
accelerated in school. (See footnote 38, p. 22.) The exclusion of
the 36 negro carriers in these age groups reduces the proportion who
were retarded to 34 per cent, and the exclusion of both the negro
carriers and the 18 carriers whose parents were foreign born raises
it to 36 per cent. The percentage of retarded, though considerably
lower than among the newsboys, was a little larger than that among
all white boys of the same ages in the Atlanta public schools. (See
p. 89.) Any effect of long working hours was not apparent in the
carriers’ school progress; although 32 per cent of those working less
than 12 hours a week and 38 per cent of those working 12 hours or
longer were retarded, the slight difference is probably accounted
for by the larger proportion of older boys in the latter group. The
boys who had carried papers for several years (that is, the steadiest
workers), were less retarded than those who had had their routes
for a shorter time; 36 per cent of those who had worked less than
two years and only 27 per cent of those who had worked two years
or longer were overage for their grades, whereas only 5 per cent of the
first group but 15 per cent of the second were in advanced grades
for their years.
The results of mental tests given in the schools 20 show that carriers
were of about average intelligence. The intelligence quotients of
the 147 white carriers 21 who were tested indicated that 76 per cent
were of average or of superior intelligence, compared with the norm
of 80 per cent, though these included only 10 per cent with ratings
that were better than average compared with 20 per cent in the
control group.22
2o The tests had been given to all pupils in some of the schools and to all sixth and seventh grade pupils
and miscellaneous classes in others, principals and teachers giving the tests under the general direction
of the director of vocational guidance and educational research of the Atlanta public schools. The Illinois
University General Intelligence Scale was used.
81 Mental tests which in the opinion of the director of vocational guidance and educational research were
sufficiently reliable to be used could not be obtained for negro carriers.
83 The distribution of intelligence quotients derived from the Illinois General Intelligence Scale and the
degree of brightness that the intelligence quotients indicate is as follows:
Degree of brightness
“ Near” genius or genius..___________________________________________
Very superior____"___________________________________________________
Normal or average._____ ____ ______ ______ ___ ____ ___ _____ __________
Dull....................................................................................................................

Intelligence
quotient

125-139
115-124
85-114
75- 84
60- 74
Below 60

Normal
distri­
bution
1
6
13
60
13
6
1

(See the Illinois Examination I and II, Teachers’ Handbook, prepared by Dr. W. S. Monroe and Dr.
B. It. Buckingham, p. 25.)

75034°— 28------- 8


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The average scholarship marks were no better than those of the
newspaper sellers. Of the 85 carriers for whom information on
scholarship was obtained, 2 had averages under 70, 29 had averages
between 70 and 80, 43 had averages between 80 and 90, and 11 had
averages between 90 and 100. The average was 81.
DELINQUENCY AM ONG CARRIERS

The juvenile-court records contained the names of but 7 of the
carriers included in the study, 6 white and 1 negro— that is, 2 per
cent of the entire group of carriers. Of the 7, 4 had never been delin­
quent until they had begun to do street work. In no case, however,
did the offense or the fact of delinquency appear to be connected in
any way with newspaper carrying. An 8-year-old boy, who was 11
at the time of the study, had been brought to court for selling
papers while under age.
PEDDLERS
RACE AND NATIONALITY OF FATHERS

Ninety-three (42 per cent) of the 222 boy peddlers in Atlanta
and 2 of the 17 girl peddlers were negroes.23 Only 1, the child of a
.Russian Jew, was of foreign-born parentage.
AGE OF PEDDLERS

The peddlers on the whole were younger than the newsboys, the
average age of the boys being 11.2 years and of thé girls 10.7 years.
One hundred and twenty boys (54 per cent) were under 12 years of
age, and 46 were 6, 7, 8, or 9 years. Three of the girls were under
10, 7 were 10 or 11, and 7 were 12 years or older.
W ORK EXPERIENCE

Although 99 of fhe boys had never done any other kind of work
than the job in which they were engaged when the inquiry was made,
^&d one to four or more other street jobs, generally peddling,
though a few had carried or sold newspapers or done one or two
other kinds of street work. Only 2 girls had had other street-work
experience, both in peddling jobs. At the time of the study 5 boys
had a secondary street job, of whom 4 were junk collectors and 1 had
two different huckstering jobs.
Peddling, or huckstering, was work in which many children engaged
for only a short time. The median duration was between 2 and 4
months for both boys and girls. Sixty-three of the boys and 5 of the
17 girls had worked between 1 and 2 months. On the other hand,
» ooy® (31 Per cent) and 4 girls had held their jobs at least a year,
including 45 boys and 2 girls who had been working 2 years or longer, 28
boys who had been working at least 3 years, and 13 who had been
working at least 4 years.
CONDITIONS OF WORK

Among the 129 white boy peddlers, 45 were hucksters. A few of
these were apple sellers who went about the streets with baskets of
apples or accompanied adult “ basket peddlers.” Twenty of the
white boys sold potato chips, some of them adding sandwiches or
23 Girls are not included in the tables.


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105

pies to their stocks; 14 sold peanuts; 10, candy; 6, flowers; the
remaining 34 peddled various other articles, including soft drinks,
pop corn, seeds, bread, soap, willow furniture, writing tablets, chicken
and eggs, butter, shoe polish, glue, wood, ice, and radio sets. The
largest number (39) of the 93 negro boy peddlers peddled coal, coal
and wood, or coal and ice, from door to door; 24 others peddled ice;
15, including 1 apple seller, peddled fruit or vegetables; and the
remaining 15 sold other articles, such as meat, milk, flowers, wood,
brushes, cosmetics, and kerosene. The girls sold candy, salve, toilet
goods, and several other articles; none of them huckstered produce.
The peddlers of staple foods or of household commodities worked
in residential sections of the city; but 46 boys and 4 girls did all their
selling down town, and 15 boys worked in the down-town as well as
in the residential sections. The boys working in residential sections
included a few who sold peanuts and candy to the Sunday crowds
in one of the larger parks. The down-town workers included the
apple sellers; peanut, pop com, and candy vendors; boys with flowers
for sale; and those peddling potato chips and other similar articles
such as would be likely to attract persons going to and from offices
and stores or passing along the down-town streets. Some of them
went the rounds of the office buildings or high-school and college
buildings or stood at the doorways of banks or stores or at busy
street corners, such as those in the vicinity of the capitol building or
the courthouse. The proportion of young children among the down­
town peddlers was rather large; 7 of the 46 boys and 2 of the 4 girls
who always worked down town and 3 of the 15 who sometimes
worked down town were under 10. Some of these went with their par­
ents or with other adults who in some cases confessed that the presence
of the little boy increased their sales to sympathetic passersby.
Many more of the boys were employed by others (60 per cent)
than sold on their own account (30 per cent). Three helped other
children, and 20 worked both as helpers and on their own account.
The employed boys most often helped hucksters or wood, coal, or
ice peddlers, though some boys doing peddling of this kind procured
their own commodities and sold for profit, and some selling candy
and flowers worked for wages. In a great many cases the employer
was the boy’s own father. The father would own a horse and wagon
in which he hauled coal from door to door, taking the boy with him
to carry in baskets of coal, or he himself would peddle fruit or flowers
on the streets and insist on the boy’s accompanying him. In other
cases a neighbor who was a huckster or peddled coal or ice hired the
boy, but an occasional child said that he “ asked any man for a jo b ”
or “ worked for a cripple (don’t know his name), met him in the
street and he asked me to help.” One man hired a number of small
boys to sell for him in one of the parks, the boy furnishing a basket
which the man fitted out with merchandise worth about $1 or $1.50
and which the boy carried out among the crowds. A school principal
said that this man was reported as attempting to evade the law against
cigarette selling to minors by getting the small boys to sell the
cigarettes for hipi and then pleading that the boys were unaware of
the law.
An occasional case of exploitation by a parent was also found.
Probably the most extreme instance of this kind was that of two
white boys, one 13 and the other 10 years of age, who supported their

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father and a recently acquired stepmother by peddling fruit. The
father said he had been unable to work for more than a year on ac­
count of rheumatism and that he was unable to go out with the boys,
as he did not feel like walking so far. “ Besides, they sell better than
I can,” he added. He bought apples and bananas each morning,
and the boys sold them, walking around down town in the neighbor­
hood of the courthouse and the stores from 1.30 to 7 on school days
and from 9 a. m. to 9 p. m. on Saturdays. A t the time of the visit
to the family during school hours the 10-year-old child was at home,
and his father was getting bananas ready for him to take out to sell.
According to the records of the Associated Charities he would not per­
mit the boys to go to live with more prosperous relatives who wanted
to take them. In one neighborhood and school a veritable epidemic
of potato-chip peddling was in progress owing to the activities of the
father of one of the boys. His only occupation was making potato
chips and sandwiches which he disposed of through school-boy
peddlers, having sometimes as many as 12 boys on the streets with
his goods. In one family a woman lodger who made paper flowers
asked the boys to go out and sell them whenever she “ got out of
money.” Most of the girls sold on their own account, but several
were employed by their parents.
i
Fights among the boys over their merchandise and their cus­
tomers occurred frequently. At the time of the interview a 10-yearold boy had a badly cut face which he said had been acquired in a
fight with another peddler over merchandise. The mother of a
9-year-old candy seller deplored the fact that the older boys stole
the candy out of his boxes because he was “ not big enough to fight
back.”
Seventy-five boys worked only on Saturdays or Sundays, or both,
generally only on Saturdays; and others worked one or more school
days, in some cases in addition to Saturday or Sunday; and 96 boys
(43 per cent) peddled 6 or 7 days a week. Eight of the 17 girls
worked every week day.
Early-morning work was rather uncommon; 37 boys peddled such
articles as ice, milk, coal, and wood, and one girl peddled willow
tables, on the mornings of school days. Of these only 13 began work
before 7; the morning selling hours were generally from after break­
fast to noon, and the morning peddlers were often children who
attended afternoon school. A few began early, however— 3 before
5 a. m. and 5 between 5 and 6. Of these 6 were ice peddlers; 1 boy
sold milk, and 1 helped his father, a huckster, working from 4 to
5.30 a. m. and going out again after school for several hours. The
week-end morning workers, of whom there were 129 boys and 1 girl,
almost all working on Saturday mornings, usually did not begin
work until after a normal breakfast hour.
The majority were not out on the streets late at night. Of the
142 boys working on any school day 101 reported their hour of
stopping work as before 6 p. m. However, 31 worked until between
6 and 8, and 10 until between 8 and 10, even on school-day evenings.
These late workers included almost all the apple sellers, several
flower vendors, and a peanut peddler, all white, working down town
generally until 8 and in several cases until 9 or 9.30 p. m. One of
these, a 12-year-old apple seller was said to go to sleep in school


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ATLANTA, GA.

owing to his late hours down town, and the year before the study
the Associated Charities had aided the family so that he and his
brother could stop peddling and do better work in school. Among
the late workers were 9 negro boys selling coal or ice in residential
£ districts until 7, 8, or, in one case, 9 o ’clock. An 11-year-old white
^ boy selling fruit in residential streets also worked until 7 on the
evenings of all school days as well as Saturdays. Only 4 of the girls
worked as late as 6 p. m., including 2 sisters, 7 and 8 years old, who
sold candy made by their mother until 8 o ’clock every school-day
evening.
On Saturdays a somewhat larger number of boys worked late.
(Table 25.) Of the 193 Saturday workers 112 finished their peddling
before 6 p. m. Some of these worked only in the morning; but 35
worked at least until 8, and 16 did not stop until 10 or later. These
were fruit, peanut, and flower sellers (white boys) who stayed down
town in a few cases until midnight Saturday nights, and coal, wood,
and ice peddlers and produce hucksters (negro boys), who were out
on their wagons until 10, 11, or 12 p. m.
Many of these boys spent very long hours on the streets. (Table
26.) Of the 142 peddling on a school day 119 (83 per cent) worked
at least 2 hours and 78 (55 per cent) at least 3 hours, of whom 38
spent 5 hours or more peddling in addition to the hours spent at
school. Of the 17 girls, 11 worked 2 hours or more on at least one
school day, and 3 worked at least 5 hours.
T a b l e 25.— Hour of ending work on a typical Saturday night, by age period;

peddlers holding a single job, Atlanta, Ga.
Peddlers from 6 to 15 years of age

Hour or ending work on a typical
Saturday night

10 years, under
12
Under
10
cent years1 Num­ Per cent
Num­ Per
distri­
distri­
ber
ber
bution
bution
Total

12 years, under
14

14
years,
under
cent
Num­ Per
if*
distri­
ber
bution

217

46

72

71

28

193

39

67

61

26

Total reported.........................

187

100.0

34

66

100.0

61

100.0

26

Before 6 p. m .....................
6 p. m., before 8_________
8 p. m., before 10________
10 p. m., before 12________
12 p. m. and after..............

112
40
19
11
5

59.9
21.4
10.2
5.9
2.7

18
11
1
3
1

43
10
12
1

65.2
15.2
18.2
1.5

37
14
4
3
3

60.7
23.0
6.6
4.9
4.9

14
5
2
4
1

6

5

1

No street work on Saturday..........

24

7

5

i per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.


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2

108
T

CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

able

2 6 . — Number of hours of street work on a typical school day, by age period;

peddlers holding a single job, Atlanta, Ga.

Peddlers from 6 to 15 years of age
Number of hours of street work on a
typical school day

Total
Per cent
Number distribu­
tion

Under 10 10 years, 12 years, 14 years,
yearsi under 121 under 14 > under 161

Total_____________________

217

46

72

71

28

Street work on school day________

142

34

41

47

20

Total reported................................
Less than 2 hours________
2 hours, less than 3______
3 hours, less than 5.........
5 hours and over_____ _____
Not reported.............................
No street work on school day__

137

100.0

31

40

46

20

18
41
40
38

13.1
29.9
29.2
27.7

7
9
7
8

4
16
10
10

5
10
17
14

2
6
6
6

3

1

75 ................

12

31

. 24

8

5

• Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

Thirty of the 38 boys working at least 5 hours on school days were
coal, wood, or ice peddlers, almost all negro boys, but 7 were basket
peddlers, white boys selling apples and other fruit, peanuts, and
flowers on the down-town streets, and 1 was a huckster’s helper.
Many of the helpers on coal, wood, ice, and produce wagons or trucks
attended school only in the morning or in the afternoon and worked
in the afternoon or in the morning, but a few went to night school
(see p. 73) and worked all day— some of them 10 or 11 hours. Several
also worked both before and after school. An 11-year-old child
helped his father peddle ice 3)^ hours before going to school, begin­
ning at 4 a. m., and for 3 hours in the afternoon, beginning at 1, an
hour after he was dismissed from school. Another child, a white boy
of 13, rose at 4 a. m., and accompanied his father to market where
he held the mule while his father bought the day’s stock of fruit and
vegetables; he went to school, in the third grade, from 8.30 to 1.45,
but about 2 p. m. started out on his peddling rounds, coming in at 6.
The 7 down-town peddlers working 5 hours or more a day (all under
14 years of age, 4 under 12, and the youngest only 8) started as soon
as possible after school, about 2 or 3 p. m., and worked until 7, 8, or
9.30 p. m. One of these, a white boy of 11, worked until 9.30 p. m.
every school day. When only 10 years old he had been kept out of
school half a year to sell peanuts on the streets, as his father had
deserted and the boy was the only wage earner in the family. Most
of the girls who worked long hours were candy sellers.
Of the 186 Saturday peddlers among the boys reporting the num­
ber of hours that they spent in their street work, 177 (95 per cent)
worked at least 2 hours, 161 (87 per cent) at least 3 hours, and 142
(76 per cent) at least 5 hours. (Table 27.) The latter included 33
boys who were out peddling between 8 and 10 hours and 56 who
worked 10 or more hours. About half of those with a working day
on Saturdays of 10 hours or more were the negro boys who peddled r
coal, wood, or ice, some of whom worked 13, 14, 15, and, in one case,

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ATLANTA, GA.

16 hours. The majority of the others were hucksters' helpers. A
few of them worked as much as 13 or 14 hours on Saturdays (some
of them working only one day a week), but among them were 9
peddlers of peanuts, chewing gum, apples, bananas, and flowers, who
sold from 10 to 13 hours. A mother whose 9-year-old boy helped
a peddler from 8 a. m. until 6 p. m. on Saturdays, with half an hour
off in the middle of the day, said that she had made the boy stop,
though she needed his earnings for school books and clothes, as he
used to get so tired that he could not sleep at night. Only 4 of the
girls worked more than 3 or 4 hours on Saturdays.
T a b l e 27.— Number of hours of street work on a typical Saturday, by age period;

peddlers holding a single job, Atlanta, Ga.
Peddlers from 6 to 15 years of age

liNumber of hours of street work
on a typical Saturday

10 years, under
12

Total

12 years, under
14

14
Under
years,
10
under
cent years1 Num­ Per cent Num­ Per cent 161
Num­ Per
distri­
distri­
distri­
ber
ber
ber
bution
bution
bution
28

Total........- ------ ----------------

217

46

72

71

Street work on Saturday-------------

193

39

67

61

Total reported______________

186

100.0

34

66

100.0

60

100.0

26

9

4.8

5
3

2

3.3

1
4

19
142

10.2
76.3

1.5
13.6
13.6
71.2

6
52

10.0
86.7

21

2 hours, loss than 3___—
—
—
—
—

1

22

1
9
9
47

7

5

1

. 1

24

7

5

10

ft fi

26

2

Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

Twenty-three of the boy peddlers or hucksters were Sunday
workers. Of these 15 were ice peddlers, but 6 peddled peanuts or
pop corn. All worked at least 3 hours, and 15 at least 5 hours.
Of the 207 boys with only one street job, 89 worked less than 12
hours a week, but 57 worked at least 24 hours j 30 of the latter worked
36 hours or longer. (Table 28.) Among these 30 were 19 coal,
wood, and ice peddlers (12 under 10 years of age, 6 aged 10 or 11,
7 aged 12, and 4 aged 14 or 15), 1 of whom, a 15-year-old boy going
to night school, peddled up to 61/^ hours a week, and 7 of whom
(5 attending day school) worked at least 44 hours a week. 1 he
others included a few hucksters but were chiefly basket peddlers,
whose hours on the streets, school children though they were, m
several cases totaled more than 40 hours a week. Seven of the
girls worked at least 12 hours a week, including 3 selling candy for
a woman who spent 28 hours a week on the work.


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

T a b l e 28.— Number of hours of street work during a typical week, by age period;
peddlers holding a single job, Atlanta, Ga.

Peddlers from 6 to 15 years of age

Number of hours of street work
during a typical week

10 years, under 12 years, under
12
14
14
Under
years,
10
under
Per
cent
years
1
Per
cent
Per cent
Num­ distri-.
Num­
161
distri­ Num­
distri­
ber
ber
ber
bution
bution
bution
Total

Total.............................. ......

217

46

72

Total reported......... ......................

207

100.0

41

71

100.0

69

100.0

26

Less than 12 h o u rs...............
12 hours, less than 24...............
24 hours, less than 3 6 ............ .
36 hours and over __________

89
61
27
30

43.0
29.5
13.0
14.5

16
15
6
4

39
17
6
9

54.9
23.9
8.5
12.7

27
19
11
12

39.1
27.5
15.9
17.4

7
10
4
5

Not reported..._________ _______

10

5

1

71

28

2

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.
E A R N IN G S

Fifteen boys working for their parents or for premiums were not
paid in cash for their work, and 57 earned less than $1 a week. The
median earnings were between $1 and $2, but 22 boys earned at
least $5. The peddlers of candy, fruit, and floWers in the business
districts made the most money. Two brothers, 10 and 12 years of
age, whose sister was the main support of the family as the father
had pellagra and was partly insane, and who peddled apples from A
the time they .left school until bedtime, made $9.50 in one case and *
$14 in the other, including tips. The older boy, ragged and appeal­
ing, said that he took in $2 a week in tips. A 12-year-old flower
peddler, who was out from 2.30 until 8 on school days and all day
Saturdays, said that he averaged a little more than $8 a week,
though one Saturday he had made $9; in this family the father when
at work made only $35 a month, and the entire family income, ex­
clusive of the boy’s earnings, had been only $367. A 10-year-old
boy, one of two brothers who supported their father and stepmother
by peddling apples and bananas in the neighborhood of the court­
house, made $7 a week. Contrasted with this boy was a 10-year-old
boy who was a huckster’s helper and who said he earned 50 cents a
week working on Saturdays. The child’s mother said that his step­
father threatened to punish him if he worked for less than $1, and
that she was afraid to let him know that the child was working, as
she was sure he could not earn $1 a day for some time to come.
Among the girls, two sold for premiums and four worked for their
parents without pay. The others earned from 10 cents to $6 a week,
the latter amount being reported by a child who sold flowers on
down-town streets. The mother of two little girls of 7 and 8 years
said that once the children had taken in $27 in two days selling
candy that she had made.
Twenty-six of the boy peddlers reported receiving tips; 18 were
under 12 and 9 under 10 years of age. Two girls who sold candy in W
shops and offices were tipped.


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ATLANTA, GA.

I ll

N E E D F O R E AR N IN G S

A few of the children engaging in this kind of work were from
prosperous families, to judge by the occupation of the head of the
household. A civil engineer’s 10-year-old son peddled flowers of
his own raising several hours on Saturdays, putting part of his earn­
ings in the school bank and giving the rest to an orphans’ home.
The 7-year-old son of a shoe-store owner had asked him how to make
money, and the father had suggested his selling shoe polish which
he brought home to the child from his store. The 11-year-old son
of the head of a department in a large corporation sold flower seeds
to get money to feed his pets. But, on the whole, though they
represented almost all occupational groups, an unusually large num­
ber of the boy peddlers were from families of unskilled workers.
More of the chief breadwinners (16 per cent) were peddlers than were
in any other one occupational group except domestic and personal
service. An even larger proportion (18 per cent) were in, domestic
and personal service than among newsboys’ chief breadwinners
(see p. 82), including more than one-third of the chief breadwinners
in the negro families. None of the girls was from a family in which
the chief breadwinner was employed in domestic and personal
service; two were the children of peddlers.
Many were from homes disrupted by the death or desertion of
father or mother or crippled by the father’s inability or unwillingness
to support the family. Fifty-one per cent of the 93 negro boys and
26 per cent of the 129 white boys were in such families, so that only
64 per cent of the group had normal homes. Twelve of the 17 girls
were from such homes. Twenty-four of the 222 boys and 1 of the
17 girls had stepfathers or foster fathers, such as grandfathers and
uncles, and 40 (18 per cent) of the boys and 4 of the girls had no one
taking the place of a father. The mothers of 12 (9 per cent) of the
white boys and 23 (25 per cent) of the negro boys were the main
support of their families. Two girls were supported by their mothers,
1 by an older sister, and 1 by an older brother. Exclusive of these
and of women who kept lodgers or boarders, 15 per cent of the white
boys, 57 per cent of the negro boys, and 6 of the 14 girls had mothers
who were gainfully employed.
Twelve families in which were 13 (6 per cent) of the peddlers in the
study, 11 white and 2 negro, had been helped during the year pre­
ceding the study by city charitable agencies. Fifteen boys (13 white
and 2 negro) were in families which had at some time been recipients
of relief. Many of these families had been known to the Associated
Charities for a long time, some of them for years. Among them were
country people who owing to their failure to make a living on the
farms had come into Atlanta, where the father was often unable to
get any work.
More detailed information in regard to home conditions was ob­
tained from the families that were visited. In 41 boys’ families
visited were 50 (23 per cent) of the boy peddlers. The median arniual
earnings of the chief breadwinners in the 17 white families giving
information were between $1,050 and $1,250, the same as for the chief
breadwinners in newsboys’ families (see p. 83); 5 reported less than
$850 as the chief breadwinner’s annual earnings, 2 between $850 and
$1,050, 2 between $1,050 and $1,250, 5 between $1,250 and $1,450,
and 3 at least $1,450, the highest being $2,400. Of the 13 negro chief

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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

breadwinners reporting, 10 earned less than $850; the highest income
in the negro families was that of a brick mason, who had earned
between $1,850 and $2,250 during the year. The annual earnings of
the negro families included in the Bureau of Labor Statistics study
were $995,24 indicating a higher level of prosperity for the aver­
age negro family in Atlanta than that enjoyed by the negro
peddlers’ families. Four white families, in which were 5 of the girl
peddlers, were visited. The chief breadwinner’s earnings in these
families had averaged $1,383. Excluding one family in which the
father earned $2,400 a year and the mother did not know that the
girl worked, the average was $1,014.
A somewhat larger proportion of the peddlers’ dwellings than all
Atlanta dwellings were owned, at least in part,- by their occupants—•
12 of the 41. (See p. 84.)
It appears that though a small proportion of the white peddlers
came from homes of dire poverty, the average home of the white
children was only slightly less prosperous than that of the average
wage earner in Atlanta. The negro boys, however, were from con­
siderably less prosperous families than the average negro workman’s
family in the city.
Seven of the 22 white boys’ families visited, 6 of the 19 negro fami­
lies, and 3 of the 4 girls’ families said that the peddlers’ earnings were
needed to help support the household.
R E A S O N S F O R U N D E R T A K IN G S T R E E T W O R K

The peddlers much less commonly than other groups of street
traders said that they had begun their street work of their own initiative
or because of their own desire to work or to earn money. Only 26
boys (12 per cent) had been actuated by the desire to get money to
gratify some special wish or to carry out some special plan, only
16 (7 per cent) had had spending money uppermost in their minds,
only 18 (8 per cent) had been drawn to the work because, as an
11- year-old ice peddler phrased it, they “ weren’t doing nothing but
playing.” Unlike the newsboy the peddler seldom started to work
to imitate other boys or to help boy acquaintances; only 12 (5
per cent) gave this as the reason they had begun to peddle.
The need to help support the family was given as the reason for
working by 47 of the boy peddlers (21 per cent), a smaller propor­
tion of those under 12 than of the older boys. Forty-five others
(20 per cent) said that their parents had told them that they must
work. The great majority of the latter were children employed by
their own parents who were themselves hucksters or peddlers and
“ needed a b o y ” or who furnished the goods for sale, like several
mothers who made candy or flowers and sent the children out to sell
them; but a few parents had urged the boys to peddle even when
the work was not a family enterprise. “ M y mother said I stayed
around the house too much and ought to earn m oney,” said the
12- year-old son of a widow who sewed for a living.
“ M y father
made me go to work—he ain’t got much money and he wants us
children to work,” explained an 8-year-old white boy who sold
potato chips, candy, and sandwiches in the post-office building and
whose father was a pie vendor. The girls gave about the same
>* Monthly Labor Review (U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), Vol. IX , No. 6 (December, 1919), p. 38.


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113

ATLANTA, GA.

reasons for peddling as the boys; 3 said that their families needed
their earnings.
In 30 of the 41 boy peddlers’ families and in 3 of the 4 girls’ families
visited the parents or the parent interviewed approved of the work
jfc generally because of the money earned or because the child’s father
^ needed him, but in some cases because work taught regular habits
and thrift or at least was better than “ playing idly on the streets.”
Only 3 parents disapproved— older boys teased the child, the associ­
ates might not be good, the child got too tired. Three expressed
themselves as indifferent. The other 5 said that they had not known
the children were peddling or denied that they were doing it.
A large proportion (20 per cent) of the boy peddlers had begun to
work at the suggestion of adults other than their parents. Almost
all these adults were the men who were hiring the boys. “ The
Greek asked me to help him,” “ The man on the coal wagon wanted
me to work,” “ M y mother let me because the man wanted me to,”
“ The peddler asked me as I was playing on the street,” “ The man
came after me to work for him till I did,” and similar remarks were
very common. A number of these were under 12 years of age.
D IS P O S IT IO N OF E A R N IN G S

Comparatively few (38 per cent) of the boys and only 6 of the 17
girls reported that any of their earnings were used to help pay house­
hold expenses. About one-fifth of the boys (19 per cent) turned in
all their earnings to the family or all except the amount spent on
their own clothing, and 2 girls did so. Including 17 boys all of whose
earnings went for clothing and other personal necessities, 107 boys
^ ( 4 8 per cent) and 2 girls helped to buy their clothes, and 110 boys
™ (50 per cent) and 5 girls had part of their earnings to spend. About
half had savings as a result of their work, of whom 22 boys and 2
girls saved all their money.
In the group of 64 boys whose own fathers were dead or away
from home, 37 contributed directly toward the support of the family,
a proportion (58 per cent) more than twice as large as that (28 per
cent) among boys whose own fathers were in the home.
Table 29 shows the disposition of the earnings of the boy peddlers.
T a b l e 29. — Disposition of earnings; peddlers, Atlanta, Ga.

Peddlers from 6 to
15 years of age
Disposition of earnings1

Spent for necessities________________________ _____ ______ _______ ___ _____

Saved and spent for necessities and luxuries_________________ _______ ________
i Earnings spent for necessities, luxuries, or both, may include expenses of job.


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Per cent
Number distribu­
tion
222

100.0

123

55.4

17
9
9
27
17
26
18

7.7
4.1
4.1
12.2
7.7
11.7
8.1

114

CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K
T a b l e 29 . — Disposition of earnings; peddlers, Atlanta, Ga.— Continued

Peddlers from 6 to
15 years of age
Disposition of earnings
Per cent
Number distribu­
tion
Part to family and part for self2______________
Spent for necessities______________ ______
Spent for luxuries___________ _______ _____
Spent for necessities and luxuries__________
Saved________________________ __________
Saved and spent for necessities____________
Saved and spent for luxuries............... .........
Saved and spent for necessities and luxuries
All to family.
No earnings..

71

32.0

12

9
9

5.4
5.9
7.7
1.4
3.6
4.1
4.1

13
15

5.9
6.8

13
17
3
8

' f t

2 Subsidiary items show disposition of part spent for self.
P E D D L E R S IN S C H O O L

A few peddlers attended night school (see p. 73)— three white
boys, one 13 years old, and two 14, who worked from 6 ^ to 11 hours
a day peddling strawberries, vegetables, and ice; and two negro boys,
aged 12 and 15 years, who worked 9 Y i hours a day peddling coal and
ice. A 12-year-old negro wood peddler interviewed on the street
was not in school.
The school-record study (see p. 89) included 38 white and 25
negro boy peddlers and 2 girl peddlers, but records could be obtained
for only 25 white boys, 14 negro boys, and 2 girls. The average per- £
centage of school attendance during the year was 95, 90, and 85,
respectively.
Deportment marks were found for 26 white boys, 12 negro boys,
and 2 girls; the average for the white boys was found to be 86 per
cent, for the negro boys 82 per cent (about the same as that found
for street newsboys and for newspaper-route carriers), and for the
girls 90 per cent.
The proportion of peddlers who had failed to make normal progress
in school was very high. Fifty per cent of the white boys from 8 to
15 years of age and 52 per cent of the negro boys were retarded
(see footnote 38, p. 22), about the same as the rate for street newsboys
in Atlanta but considerably larger than that for the route carriers
and more than twice the rate for magazine carriers and sellers.
(See pp. 89, 103,117.) Only 6 of the 16 girls from 8 to 15 were over .
age for their grades.
The boys who worked less than 12 hours a week showed better
progress in school than those working 12 hours or more, the percentage
of retarded being only 36 for the one group but 58 for the other.
Peddlers of several years’ standing had about the same proportion
of retarded among them as those who had worked too short a time
for their school progress to show the effects of their work; 52 per cent
of those who had worked less than 2 years were below normal grades
for their ages, and 22 of the 44 who had worked 2 years or longer.
However, the number who had worked at least 2 years is too small ^
to furnish a reliable basis for conclusions.


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A TLA N TA , GcA.

115

The average scholastic standing of the 25 white boys for whom
school marks were obtained was 82, somewhat lower than the average
for any of the other groups of Atlanta street traders, and that for
the 12 negro boys was 72. The one girl for whom a record of school
standing was found had an average of 85 per cent.
D E LIN Q U E N C Y A M O N G P E D D L E R S

Juvenile-court records were found for 7 (3 per cent) of the peddlers,
4 white and 3 negro. One peddled willow tables made by his mother,
1 sold peanuts in a park on Saturdays, 2 helped produce hucksters,
1 helped his father peddle coal and wood. None of the girls had
court records.
Five of the boys (2 per cent) had begun to do street work before
their delinquency. The 8 offenses committed were: By white boys—•
stealing (2), throwing rocks (1), and ‘‘ incorrigibility ’ ’ (1); by negro
boys-—larceny (1), breaking glass (1), turning in a false alarm (1),
and idling on the streets at 3 a. m. (1). The boy against whom the
last two complaints were made helped a huckster until 10 p. m. on
Saturday nights.
MAGAZINE SELLERS AND CARRIERS
R A C E AN D N A T IO N A L IT Y OF F A T H E R S

Seventy-eight boys sold or carried magazines on a route, and 2
canvassed for magazine subscriptions. Only 2 of the 80 were negroes,
and only 3 of the white children had foreign-born fathers.
AGE OF W O R K E R S

The average age of the magazine sellers and carriers was 11.1 years,
but 24 boys were under 10 years of age, 10 being 8 and 2 only 7
years old.
W O R K E X PE R IE N C E

Only 1 of the magazine workers, a boy who helped carry a news­
paper route, did any street work except carry or sell magazines or
solicit subscriptions for them. A number had had experience in
other street work; 13 had had newspaper routes, 4 had peddled, and
2 had other street jobs, such as distributing handbills.
Thirty-five of the boys had worked less than three months, and
55 less than six months. Fourteen had worked a year or longer,
including a 15-year-old boy who had sold magazines from the
age of 6.
C O N D IT IO N S O F W O R K

Most of the children handled women’s magazines, coming out once
a month, or one of several popular weeklies; but a few sold or carried
such publications as the Boy Scout magazine or trade journals. A
few sold several magazines.
Almost all the boys sold or carried on their own account, but six
helped brothers or friends and one was employed by his uncle to
carry an automobile trade paper. The boys were generally supplied
by local magazine agents, who delivered the magazines at drug
stores or grocery stores near the boys’ homes or at their houses.
One agent went once a week to the schools and persuaded as many

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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

116

C H IL D R E N

IN

STREET

W ORK

boys as he could to take some magazines to sell. Some of the boys
dealt directly with the publishing company, which sent them the
magazines by mail.
The majority (52) worked only in residential districts, including
even many of the sellers,, but 28 boys, of whom 23 were sellers, went
down town, selling their magazines both on the streets and in the
office buildings.
The boys who sold or carried monthly magazines worked only one
or two weeks each month. Those selling weekly magazines usually
worked one or two days a week. In their busiest week 38 of the 80
children worked only on one day, almost all of them on a school day,
and 12 others worked only on two days. A few worked so irregularly
that they could give no account of their hours. “ No special time,”
these boys reported, “ just when I happen to feel like it.” Twentyfive reported working on at least three days; only 9 worked every
week day even in their busiest weeks. One boy, who went to school
in the afternoon, worked mornings from 10 to 12. Only 13 were
out with their magazines as late as 6 p. m., and 10 o f these stopped
at 6. Two of these boys went out after the evening meal, selling
until 6.30 and 8. The great majority (51) worked less than 6 hours
in their busiest week, and 61 worked less than 12 hours; only 9
worked 12 hours or more, 10 being unable to say how many hours
they usually worked.
E AR N IN G S

The money earned was almost negligible in many cases. Prizes
and premiums appeared to be the great inducement; some of the
boys had earned watches, motion-picture machines, flashlights,
electric cars, and other coveted objects as well as a small amount in
cash. Of the 80 boys, 5 received no cash, 23 earned less than 25
cents a week, and 46 made less than 50 cents. Only 11 boys made
as much as $1 a week. A few (11 of the 50 reporting on this point)
said that they received a little in tips.
N E E D F O R E A R N IN G S

The great majority (84 per cent) of the boys carrying or selling or
soliciting subscriptions for magazines came from homes in which
both the child’s father and mother were living and in which the father
furnished the livelihood. (For comparison of this proportion with
unselected groups, see footnote 49, p. 29.) Thirteen children came
from families in which some unusual situation existed; 5 were sup­
ported by mothers, 4 by other relatives, and 2 by pensions or com­
pensation; 2 boys had lost their mothers.
The boys came from families that on the whole were above the
average in prosperity. The fathers of 6 were in professional pur­
suits— physicians, engineers, clergymen, teachers; the fathers of 6
were owners of considerable business enterprises, 8 were managers of
businesses, 1 was the vice president of a corporation, 1 was a broker,
1 was a bank president; 15 were salesmen, and 6 were clerks. A
number of the fathers were skilled manual workers, but few were
unskilled or semiskilled laborers or factory operatives. Only one
family, in which the father was alcoholic, had ever received any
charitable assistance, and that had been many years before the
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Nine families, in which were 10 of the magazines carriers or sellers,
were visited. Exclusive of 2 families in which the chief breadwinner’s
earnings for the year were not reported and 1 in which the family
had lived principally on the father’s insurance, the annual earnings
of the fathers or other chief breadwinners had ranged from $1,559 to
$2,880, in 3 cases being at least $2,400.
R E A S O N S F O R U N D E R T A K IN G S T R E E T W O R K

Only 1 boy, whose father was the foreman of a stone cutter’s crew
and whose mother worked in a garment factory, said that his reason
for beginning to sell magazines was to help out at home, in hjs case
by buying his clothes. The largest number of boys (21) said that
they had begun to sell or carry magazines because an agent of the
magazines had solicited their services or because they had been
attracted by an advertisement for workers. Seventeen had started
at the suggestion of brothers or friends, and 15 had wanted to earn
money for some special purpose, such as to save in the school bank, to
get a scout suit, or to pay for summer camp. Seven boys had been
led into the work by a desire to do something, 9 had begun in order
to earn spending money, and 6 had been urged by parents or other
adults to undertake the job.
In the nine families visited the parent who was interviewed ap­
proved of the work in five cases, disapproved in three, and was
indifferent in one case. Where it was approved, the work was
encouraged because it taught regular habits and thrift, kept the
boy busy or provided an interest, and furnished spending money.
Parents who objected wanted the boys to put all spare time on
lessons.
D IS P O S IT IO N OF E AR N IN G S

None of the boys turned over all their earnings to their families,
and only 2 (3 per cent) gave any direct help at home. Twenty-three
boys (29 per cent) spent some on their necessities, including 1 boy
who spent all that he earned in this way. Generally, the boys saved
a little and used the rest for spending money. Forty-five (56 per
cent) used some of the money for spending money, including 4 who
spent all that they made on personal luxuries and 62 (78 per cent)
who saved some of the amount earned, including 18 who saved all
that they made.
SCH OOL A TTEN D AN CE AND PR O G R E SS

In spite of the low average age of the magazine carriers and sellers,
10 of the 80 were high-school boys. Only 10 were eligible for inclu­
sion in the school-record study (see p. 89), and records could be ob­
tained for only 5 of these. These boys had had an average percent­
age of attendance of 95. Deportment marks, found for 6, averaged
90, and scholarship marks 83. None of the boys had received less
than a passing grade in his studies. Of the 73 who were between
8 and 16 years of age and for whom grade was reported (see
footnote 38, p. 22), 16 (22 per cent) were retarded, a proportion that
is lower than that of any other group of Atlanta street workers.
D E LIN Q U EN C Y

Three (4 per cent) of the magazine sellers, two white and one
negro, had juvenile-court records. Their offenses appeared to have

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no connection with their magazine work. One of the boys had been
arrested at 13 years of age for failing to make returns after collecting
for a newspaper that he had carried on a route.
MISCELLANEOUS STREET WORKERS
O C C U P A T IO N S A N D W O R K E X P E R IE N C E

Table 30 shows the occupations and ages of the 79 miscellaneous
boy street workers. Of the 9 girls in this group 4 were junk col­
lectors, all under 10 years of age; 3 were stand tenders, aged 7, 11,
and 14 years; and 2 were canvassers, 9 and 14 years of age. Only
2 of the boys had a second street job at the time of the study, a
10-year-old bootblack who sold papers and a 12-year-old junk col­
lector who helped a coal peddler, but 16 had other street-work
experience. Four handbill distributors, a canvasser, a route inspec­
tor, and a stand keeper had had newspaper routes; 2 bill distributors
and a stand keeper had sold papers or magazines; 3 bill distributors,
a bootblack, a route inspector, and 2 stand keepers had peddled;
a junk collector had helped on a dray; and a stand keeper had watched
parked automobiles.
T a b l e 30. — O ccu p a tion and age period , m iscella n eou s street w ork in g b o y s,
A tla n ta , Ga.

Boys from 6 to 15 years of age in street work
Occupation
Total

Total................................................................ .
Junk collector_______ ____ _______ ____ _______ ____
Handbill distributor______________________________
Stand tender-------- ------ ---------------------------------------Other______ _____ _____ ____ ____ ____ _____ - .........

10 years, 12 years, 14 years,
Under 10 under
12 under 14 under 16
years
years
years
years

79

12

25

27

15

29
20
8
7
1 15

5
3
2

9
10
1
2
3

11
4
3
5
4

4
3
2

2

6

i Includes 4 boys guarding automobiles, 4 workers on drays, 3 assisting blind men or women, 1 news­
paper-route inspector, 1 collector of milk bottles, 1 collector, 1 canvasser for newspaper.

Thirty-five of the 79 boys and 3 of the 9 girls had been working
less than 3 months at the jobs in which they were engaged at the
time of the inquiry. Twenty boys (25 per cent) and four girls had
held their jobs one year or longer— 7 junk collectors, 2 handbill
distributors, 3 stand keepers, 2 bootblacks, 2 boys who accompanied
blind beggars, and 4 dray helpers among the boys; 2 junk collectors,
a canvasser, and a stand keeper among the girls. A 7-year-old negro
boy had accompanied a blind negro woman to her corner and had
held her tin cup since he was 5, and an 11-year-old negro boy had
accompanied his blind father on his begging tours about the streets
for four years, and at the time of the inquiry was being kept out of
school for the purpose.
R A C E A N D N A T IO N A L IT Y OF F A T H E R S

About half the miscellaneous workers (42 of the 79 boys and 4
of the 9 girls) were negroes; only 1 boy and 1 girl were of foreign
parentage, the son of a Greek restaurant keeper, who helped at his


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uncle’s fruit stand, and the daughter of a Polish Jew who helped her
father tend his sock and stocking stand. All except 4 of the 33 junk
collectors were negroes, as were 5 of the 7 bootblacks, the 4 dray
helpers, the 3 who led blind men, and several others. On the other
hand all except 3 of the 20 handbill distributors, the 8 stand keepers,
the automobile caretakers, the canvasser, the collector, the route
inspector, and a few others were white.
C O N D IT IO N S OF W O R K

About half (15) the junk collectors were hired to do the work,
usually by fathers, older brothers or other relatives, or neighbors,
and received a fixed sum a day or a week. These boys as a rule went
about with an older person in a horse and wagon collecting old papers.
Those who collected junk independently usually had a small wagon
in which they collected newspapers, or tin cans and bottles. Almost
all the hired boys and several of the others (15 in all) worked 6 days
a week. Few reported that they collected junk only two or three
times a week or irregularly. The majority (17) worked at least 12
hours a week, and among the hired boys 24 hours of work a week
and even longer was common. Some of them started at 5.30 or
6 in the morning, working an hour or so before school, or if they did
not go to school until the afternoon, continuing to work throughout
the morning. Others attending morning sessions of school began in
the early afternoon and worked until 5 or 6. A few worked both
before and after school. Those who disposed of their own junk made
a cent or two on a can or a bottle or from 50 to 75 cents a hundred
pounds of paper, netting on their deals about the same as the wages
£ paid hired boys. Most of the latter received at least $1 a week for
their work; the others most often made between 50 cents and $1
and several made under 50 cents, but a few made considerably more
than hired boys.
Handbill distributors were hired by stores, newspapers, physicians,
manufacturing companies, correspondence schools, and cafés. A few
worked in business sections of the city (one boy toured down-town
parking spaces, throwing circulars into automobiles), but generally
the work was done from house to house. The majority did the work
once a week either on Saturday or in the late afternoon on a school day.
Only five reported spending as much as six hours a week on the work.
Most were paid a fixed sum, such as 25, 35, or 50 cents a day, but
others were paid by the hour or the number of circulars distributed.
More than half made less than $1 a week, a number less than 50 cents.
Several of the stand tenders were hired by market-stand keepers
or others, but three boys kept soft-drink stands of their own, in front
of their own houses or in parks, and a 13-year-old Jewish boy ran a
little outdoor notion stand. Four boys and two girls worked 6 days
a week, four who were hired and two who conducted their own busi­
ness; the others, at most 3 or 4 days. Several stand tenders worked
after 6 p. m.— a fruit-stand helper worked from 6.30 to 8 every schoolday evening; the two market-stand tenders worked until 10 or 11
Saturday nights (in each case a 13-hour day); the notion-stand
keeper worked until 7.30 on Saturday nights; and a hired stand keeper
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worked until 7 on school-day evenings and until 9.30 on Saturday
nights. All except three worked at least
hours a week. The boys
made $1.25 to $ , but no girl made more than $ .
One of the bootblacks, a -year-old boy, was hired at $2.50 a week
by a man keeping a news stand. The others worked on their own
account, making $2 to $4.50 a week, including tips. Four of the ♦
seven worked every school day, including two who worked 7 days
a week; the others worked only
or
or 3 days. All except one
worked at least 12 hours, and three at least 24 hours a week. Several
worked 3, 4, or 5 hours on school days. Only one, the boy hired by
the news-stand operator, stayed out as late as 7 on school-day
evenings. On Saturday nights the latter worked until 9 and another
boy worked until 7.
The four boys guarding automobiles in the theater districts worked
in the evening. The youngest was
, the oldest 15. They worked
from 7 or 7.30 until 9.30, 10.30, 11.30, or 12, generally every schoolday evening as well as Saturday nights. They reported making
from $5 to $18, getting 25 cents a car and tips.
The four dray boys hauled furniture or other articles, sometimes on
their own account, in some cases as employees. One worked twice a
days, from 9 to 33 hours, usually finishing
week, the others 5 or
their day’s work about p. m.
The three children who assisted blind men and women worked 26
^ , and 49 hours a week. One was not in school, an
-year old
boy going out with his father every week day from 9.30 to 5, with half
an hour off at noon; on Saturdays the stopping hour was postponed to
7.30. A child of 7 who accompanied a blind woman every day from 1
to 9 p. m. and on Saturdays from to 5, received $1.10 a week. The
third boy, also
years of age, was employed by a blind man at 60 #
cents a week, working from to p. m. on three school days and from
a. m. to p. m. on Saturdays, with half an hour off at noon. One of
the blind men played a mouth organ, while the boy collected the
money in a tin cup, but the others apparently made no pretense of
offering either goods or services.

12

6

10

1

1 2

12

6
6

4412

11

11

9

9

8
1 6

N E E D F O R E A R N IN G S

Of the 42 white boys and girls, 33 lived with their own fathers and
mothers in families supported principally by the fathers, but of
the 46 negro boys and girls only 24 were from such homes; thus, the
proportion of children from normal homes was only 65 per cent. The
mothers of
(14 per cent) of the
children supported their families,
and 27 others had mothers who were gainfully employed, not including
those keeping boarders or lodgers.
The fathers or other chief breadwinners of two-fifths of the children
were unskilled workers, such as servants, janitors, junk collectors,
stockyard and railroad laborers, “ handy men,” street vendors,
teamsters or drivers, and telegraph messengers. Most of the others
were carpenters, cotton-mill operatives or other factory workers, rail­
road workers, tailors, cabinetmakers, automobile mechanics, miners,
¡policemen, machinists, butchers, and boilermakers. Relatively few
boys had fathers who were clerks or salesmen, or managers or owners
of stores or other business establishments. Although the proportion ^
in domestic and personal service was more than twice that for all the

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employed males 20 years of age and over in the city, that of clerks was
only about half.26
Thirteen families in which there were 14 (16 per cent) of the
miscellaneous street traders were visited. The annual earnings dur­
ing the year preceding the inquiry were reported for 10 chief bread­
winners. They had averaged $999 for the 4 white heads of house­
holds (representing the families of 2 automobile guards, a stand tender,
and a newspaper-route inspector), and $801 for the six negro chief
breadwinners (representing the families of 5 junk collectors and a
bootblack). The earnings of the white chief breadwinners were
smaller than those reported for any other group of white street
workers in Atlanta. The negro chief wage-earners’ incomes were
about the same as those in the families of negro peddlers, and smaller
than the average in unselected negro families in Atlanta. (See
pp. 111-112.) It is possible that families visited, though they were
selected at random (see p. 6) and though they represent 16 per cent
of the miscellaneous street workers, were a little less prosperous than
the entire group of families.
During the year immediately preceding the study one white family
had been aided by the Associated Charities, representing 1 per cent of
the miscellaneous street workers. Prior to that year two other
families, one white and one negro, had been in receipt of relief.
Parents who were interviewed in the 13 families visited said definitely
in four of these families that the child’s earnings were needed for
support.
R E A S O N S F O R U N D E R T A K IN G S T R E E T W O R K

Twelve boys and one girl (15 per cent) in this group of workers—
5 junk collectors, a stand tender, a bootblack, a newspaper-route
inspector, a boy leading a blind beggar, 2 dray boys, and 2 automo­
bile caretakers— said that they had been obliged to go to work to
help their families financially, a smaller proportion than that among
Atlanta newspaper sellers or peddlers and somewhat larger than that
among newspaper-route carriers. (See pp. 86,100,112.)
The following cases of boys who gave this as their reason for doing
street work are cited as typical of this group:
A first-year high-school boy, acting as route inspector for a newspaper at $6
a week, was the oldest of three children of a street-car conductor living in a
well-kept house in an attractive suburb. The father reported his earnings for
the year as $1,560, the only income the family had. He said that it was necessary
for the boy to earn money in order to complete his high-school course.

An 11-year-old negro boy had begun to help a blind beggar several months
before the study began because, he said, his father had deserted the family, his
•mother was ill, and his earnings were needed. He and his mother lived with
the blind man and his wife, a relative, who was also blind. In return for cooking
for the couple, the mother received her own and the boy’s food, and in return
for the boy’s help they received lodging and 60 cents a week.

. An unusually large number of the miscellaneous workers (17, or
19 per cent) had gone to work at the insistence or suggestion of their
parents, about half of them because the father’s or an older brother’s
work supplied the opportunity.
Thirteen boys and 1 girl (16 per cent)— junk collectors, automobile
caretakers, bootblacks, stand tenders, and others— had been attracted
« Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. IV, Population, Occupations, pp. 1053-1055.


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by the work because it was “ lots of fun to do it” (this from a 14year-old boy who stayed out until midnight five nights a week
“ watching cars,” and who had run away from home and been m the
juvenile court for truancy), or because they “ liked to work.”
The desire to have spending money had been the principal motive
for nine boys (10 per cent) seeking their jobs, and seven boys (8 per
cent) had wanted to earn some money for Christmas, for savings, or
for gifts. Their employers or other adults had persuaded 10 boys
and 1 girl, chiefly the hand-bill distributors, to undertake the work,
and 11 boys and 1 girl (13 per cent) had been led into it in imitation
of acquaintances or of older brothers.
D IS P O S IT IO N OF E A R N IN G S

Fourteen boys and four girls (20 per cent) used all their money
for family support or for their own clothing and other necessities or
for both. Twenty-nine boys and five girls (38 per cent) gave some
of their earnings to their families, including those who gave every­
thing, and 37 boys and 6 girls (49 per cent) spent at least part of their
earnings on their own necessities. Forty-four children (50 per cent)
spent some on luxuries of their own, including 6 boys who spent all
in that way. Forty (45 per cent) saved some, including 4 who saved
all
SCHOOL ATTENDANCE AND PR O G R E SS
In this group of workers were two negro junk collectors one 12
years of age, the other, who attended night school, 14 years— and an
11-year-old negro, begging on the streets with his blind father, who
had left school.
, ,
. . . . .
Only 16 boys and 1 girl had worked long enough for inclusion in
the school-record study. Attendance records were obtained for 8
boys, 2 white and 6 negro. The average percentage of attendance
for the white boys was 85 and for the negroes, 92.
The average scholarship mark for the 8 boys and 1 girl lor whom
reports were obtained was 78 for the white boys, 80 for the negroes,
(rather lower averages than those of newspaper sellers or carriers), and
89 for the girl. Both the white and the negro boys had averaged
80 in deportment which is about the same as was found for the boys
doing other kinds of street work. The girl had an average of 85 in
deportment.
. T1
The school progress of the miscellaneous street workers, especially
that of the negroes, had been unusually slow— 13 of the 34 white
boy workers between 8 and 16 years of age who were attending
school, 27 of the 35 negro boys, and 2 of the 6 girls for whom age
and grade were reported were retarded. (See footnote 38, p. 22.)
D E LIN Q U E N C Y

Two stand tenders, an automobile guard, and two junk collectors
had juvenile-court records, a total of five boys (6 per cent of the
group). No girls had been delinquent. The charge was stealing in
all cases except that of the boy watching automobiles, who had been
charged with truancy and running away from home. No direct con­
nection between the child’s work at the time of the inquiry and his
delinquency was discernible. Two of the boys had been delmquent
before and three had been delinquent after they had begun street
work.

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COLUMBUS, OHIO
INTRODUCTION

The down-town section of Columbus centers around the statehouse
and its grounds, forming a 10-acre square, around which are located
offices, banks, stores and shops, theaters and motion-picture houses,
restaurants, cafeterias, hotels, and various public buildings. The
main offices of the principal newspapers are also in the immediate
neighborhood. High Street, which passes the statehouse, is one. of
the main business thoroughfares. M ost of the down-town news­
paper selling is done on High Street between the statehouse and the
union station, a distance of about 10 blocks, and on the streets sur­
rounding the statehouse; and many of the juvenile peddlers also sell
their* candy, popcorn, and other wares in the office buildings around
the statehouse park. The city is large enough, however, to make the
young street workers rather inconspicuous. It is only when a small
newsboy is seen standing at the entrance to a restaurant or in a hotel
doorway after dark on a cold or snowy winter evening that attention
is arrested. Much more conspicuous than the boys are the blind
and crippled men selling papers on the comers and along the principal
business streets. (See p. 127.)
The Children's Bureau survey was made in the winter months
(December, 1922, and January and February, 1923), when it is
probable that fewer children were working on the streets than would
have been working in warmer seasons. In June, 1926, a representa­
tive of the bureau revisited Columbus and interviewed the chief
attendance office of the public schools, the director of the boys' work
of the Young Men's Christian Association, the director of the Jewish
Welfare Federation, a number of boys who sold papers, and the man­
ager of one of the newspaper-distributing stations, in order to learn
in what respects, if any, conditions had changed since 1923.26 Boys
selling papers on the streets also were observed at work throughout
the day and early evening hours and around the entrances to the
newspaper-distribution rooms at hours when the daily returns were
being made. According to the information obtained at this time
conditions were substantially the same in 1926 as in 1923. Any
change in conditions of work reported by any of the informants has
been noted in the report. The statistics are those gathered in the
original study in 1923.
Table 1 (p. 8) shows the number of boys in each kind of street
work who reported that they were working at the time the inquiry
was made and who had done street work for at least one month
during the year preceding the interview. (For details in regard to
the selection of the children included in the survey see p. 5.)
LEGAL REGULATION OF STREET WORK

The Ohio child labor law at the time of the study had no provision
regarding street trades. A city ordinance provided that parents who
permitted children under 8 years of age to sell newspapers, chewing
28 The inquiry in June, 1926, was confined to newspaper selling and carrying.

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gum, or “ other wares and merchandise/’ on the streets should be
fined.27 The police department reported, however, that in clearing
the streets of children found selling after 8 p. m.— which it was
reported that they were active in doing— they worked under an
order from the juvenile court and not under this ordinance nor under
an old curfew law that was in existence.
NEWSPAPER SELLERS

The study of newspaper sellers in Columbus, Ohio, includes 273
boys under 16 years of age, all of whom had sold papers at least 30
days of the previous year and were selling at the date of the inter­
view. Several boys said that their sisters helped them to sell their
papers, and occasionally several girls were seen selling papers on the
streets. But no girl reported having sold papers a month or longer.
R A C E A N D N A T IO N A L IT Y OF F A T H E R S

Selling papers was more popular among both negro boys and those
of foreign parentage than among boys in native white families, for
44 (16 per cent) of the newsboys were negroes, compared with 9 per
centpf negroes in the total city population, and 70 (26 per cent) had
at least one foreign parent and 20 (7 per cent) had themselves been born
outside the United States, compared with 23 per cent of foreign
birth or of foreign or mixed parentage in the population of the city
as a whole.28 The preponderance of newsboys from foreign families
would be even more striking, no doubt, if comparison could be made
with children under 16 years of age of foreign birth or parentage, as
the adult population undoubtedly contained a much larger percent­
age of immigrants and children of immigrants than did the popula­
tion under 16 years of age. As in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Toledo
(other Ohio cities where surveys of newsboys have been made) a
large proportion of the foreign newsboys were Jews; among the Colum­
bus newsboys were also small numbers of Italians, Germans, Aus­
trians, Hungarians, and Russians, and a few of English-speaking
but non-American parentage. (Table 8, p. 25.)
Although comparatively more boys in immigrant families and more
negro boys sold newspapers, the proportion of newsboys of native
white parentage was striking in view of the findings in most surveys.
The preponderance of natives in the population of Columbus accounts,
of course, to a considerable extent for the large number of children
of native parentage selling papers, though in Cincinnati, where the
foreign-bom population is small, Hexter found comparatively few
children of native parentage working as newsboys.29 The news­
papers, moreover, reported that they made a real effort to recruit
boys from responsible and well-regulated homes such as were more
likely to be represented by those of the native white population.
The idea, also, that the newsboy receives valuable training and is a
business man in the making was uncommonly prevalent, owing
partly, it may be, to the existence in Columbus of the “ Charity
Newsies,” a group of prominent and successful citizens who had once
been newsboys and who sold papers on the streets one day a year at
Ordinance No. 29056, approved Nov. 22,1915.
Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. Ill, Population, p. 784.
2» Hexter, Maurice B.: The Newsboys of Cincinnati, p. 131.

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Christmas time, giving the proceeds of their selling to charity.
Whatever the reason for the interest in newspaper selling found in
many of the American homes of Columbus a little more than half
the newsboys were of native white parentage.
•

A G E OF N E W S B O Y S

The Columbus newsboys were younger on the whole than newsboys
in most other cities where surveys have been made in recent years.
(Table 2, p. 9.) In spite of the ordinance with its low minimum age
of 8, 13 boys of 6 or 7 years of age reported that they were selling
papers on the streets. The prevalence of little newsboys in Columbus
is partly explained by the custom among the older newsboys holding
busy corners of engaging as a helper a little boy too young perhaps
“ to go in business” for himself, but boys so littler that the tops of
their heads were almost on a level with the counters were seen to
negotiate directly with the circulation men in the distributing rooms.
The proportion who were at least 14 (20 per cent), however, was
larger than in the other cities in the survey where children might
leave school for work at the age of 14, but about the same as was
found in surveys of street workers in Toledo (22 per cent) and Cleve­
land (23 per cent). Under the child labor law of Ohio the minimum
age for the employment of children during school hours is 16,30 and
this probably accounts for the fact that many boys of 14 and 15 were
selling newspapers in Ohio cities, as selling and carrying newspapers
were among the few things open to them outside school hours.
Many of the parents interviewed in the Children’s Bureau study in
Columbus expressed the opinion that at 14 or 15 years of age a boy
.should be earning something.
W O R K E X PE R IE N C E

Many of the boys had had some experience outside the job at
which they were working at the time of the survey, in street work or
other kinds of work or both. At the time of the interview 59 did
some other kind of street work; 46 carried newspapers, 6 sold maga­
zines, 2 tended market stands, 2 distributed handbills, and 1 each
peddled, blacked boots, and led a blind man about the streets.
A few (26) had some other work in addition to their street jobs, such
as delivery work or work in a grocery store or a barber shop; of these
17 were under 14 years of age.
About one-fifth of the newsboys had had at least one job at some
time in their lives other than street work. Almost half (127 boys)
had done some street work prior to the job that they held when they
were interviewed, usually either selling or carrying newspapers.
Some boys had worked only a few weeks in these jobs, others had
held them for considerable periods. An 11-year-old seller of news­
papers and magazines, for example, had taken a newspaper route at
the age of 9 and had held it for a year and a half. A 14-year-old
newsboy had carried papers for six months when he was 10. Another
newsboy, aged 12, had sold newspapers off and on for a year when
he was 11, had sold regularly for a month just before the study
wbegan, and was again selling every day at the time of the study; he
whad also worked one month in a livery stable when he was 10 years old.
so Ohio, Acts of 1921, p. 376, as amended by Acts of 1925, p. 63.


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The most common age for beginning newspaper selling was 9 years,
and the next most common ages were 10 and 11. The children of
native white parents were about as likely as those of immigrants to
begin work under the age of 10, the proportion of newsboys begin­
ning to sell papers before they were 10 years old being 49 per cent ^
for children of foreign-born fathers and 43 per cent for children of™
native parentage.
Unlike newsboys in some cities, the majority of the Columbus
boys did not sell papers without interruption for long periods. Only
38 per cent had held the selling jobs that they had when interviewed
for one year or longer. The conditions of work (see p. 128) were
more exacting in Columbus than in some places, and this may have
discouraged many boys from continuing after a few months’ trial.
It was not unusual for boys to report that they “ lost money on their
corners” and that they were going to give up selling on that account.
However, 23 per cent of the boys had sold papers steadily for at
least 2 years and 17 per cent for at least 3 years, and some had worked
for 4, 5, or 6 years. (Table 31.)
T a b l e 3 1 . — P r ev io u s d u ra tio n o f j o b held at date o f in terv iew , b y a ge p e r io d ;
n e w sp a p er sellers, C o lu m b u s , O h io

Newspaper sellers from 6 to 15 years of age

Previous duration of job held
at date of interview

Total
/

Under 10
years

10 years,
under 12

12 years,
under 14

14 years,
under 16

Age
Per
Per
Per
Per
Per not re­
cent Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent ported K
Num­ distri­
distri­
distri­
ber bu­ ber distri­
ber distri­
bu­
bu­ ber bu­ ber bu­
tion
tion
tion
tion
tion

i

Total__________________

273

53

70

94

55

271 100.0

51 100.0

70 100.0

94 100.0

55 100.0

1

Less than 1 year__________

168

62.0

42

82.4

46

65.7

55

58.5

24

43.6

1

Less than 6 months___

131

48.3

33

64.7

35

50.0

43

45.7

19

34.5

1

53

19.6

9

17.6

16

22.9

20

21.3

8

14.5

53

19.6

17

33.3

11

15.7

18

19.1

7

12.7

25

9.2

7

13.7

8

11.4

5

5.3

4

7.3

Total reported_______________

Less than 2 months.
2 months, less than
4 -..........................
4 months, less than
6 months, less than 1
year...........................
1 year, less than 2..
2 years, less than 3.
3 years and ov er...
Not reported.

1

37

13.7

9

17.6

11

15.7

12

12.8

5

9.1

41
17
45

15.1
6.3
16.6

4
4
1

7.8
7.8
2.0

14
4
6

20.0
5.7
8.6

17
6
16

18.1
6.4
17.0

6
3
22

10.9
5.5
40.0

2

1

2

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

Among these more seasoned workers was a Jewish boy of 15, who
had sold evening papers steadily for five years; he had first begun
to sell at the age of 8 because he “ liked excitement and wanted
spending money.” One of the newsboys had such a passion for sell­
ing that at the age of 8— four years before the study— he had rum*
away from home after being refused money to buy papers and hati
stayed away all night, returning with money that he had earned

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selling newspapers; he had continued to sell ever since. A 13-yearold boy had sold papers from the age of 6, working at the time of
the study 46 hours a week. Another newsboy, aged 12, had begun
to sell when only 7, saying in explanation of his beginning that
“ some boy took me up.” A boy of 14 had begun at the age of 7
^ i n order to help his family financially; after selling for two years he
stopped, but a year later he began to sell again and at the time of
the interview had been selling without interruption since he was 10
years old.
C O N D IT IO N S O F W O R K A N D E N V IR O N M E N T

Organization of newspaper distribution.

Most of the newsboys in Columbus sold one of three papers, of
which two were evening dailies (one with a Sunday edition) and one
was a morning paper. A few boys reported selling out-of-town
papers, but these appeared to be sold chiefly by boys of 16 or older.
Each of the evening papers issued three editions. Except on
Saturdays, when some of the boys were on the streets all day, men
sold the “ noons,” issued at 9.45 a. m., and men and high-school boys,
as a rule, sold the “ homes,” which came out at 2.30 p. m. The boys
included in the study generally sold the “ night finals,” appearing at
4.30 in the afternoon.
. . .
.
An interesting feature of the system of distribution m Columbus
was the use of blind men and cripples to sell newspapers. The news­
papers reported that this policy had originated as the result of the
desire on the part of the newspaper owners to cooperate with the
school authorities in enforcing the school attendance law; others
interviewed said that it had grown out of a movement a few years
^ b e fo re the present study to clear the streets of beggars by giving
them legitimate work. The fact that Columbus is something of a
medical and institutional center for the State made it comparatively
easy to recruit men from the ranks of the physically handicapped.
The Volunteers of America, the Salvation Army, and the Ohio State
Commission for the Blind cooperated, it was said, by notifying men
of the work. Men selling papers usually left the streets at about
the time the newsboys came out. The morning papers used adults
entirely for the sale of the papers on down-town streets, permitting
schoolboys to sell only on outlying corners. (See footnote 33, p. 131.)
The system used by the newspapers of assigning boys to street
corners was said to have been in existence for about 20 years and
was well established. Boys were allowed to sell only on the corners
to which they had been assigned (an 8-year-old newsboy with a poor
corner confessed that he walked down near the next comer, which
was a good one to sell, “ but not near enough to be seen” ). Each of
the evening papers stationed a boy at each comer to sell in competi­
tion. So far as could be learned this rivalry was friendly in the mam.
Although boys were supposed to sell only one of the evening papers,
a few boys reported that they sold both, and passers-by were some­
times offered both by the same boy. New boys were tried out on
inferior comers and moved to better ones if they were successful.
Each comer was calculated to be “ good fo r” a certain number of
^ pa p ers, and the boy assigned to it was given that number to sell.
^ A ccord in g to representatives of the newspapers, their policy was not
to permit the return of unsold papers. Some of the boys themselves

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said that unsold copies could be returned unless the circulation man
was in a bad humor or thought the boy had been loafing on the job,
in which case he would require the boy to keep and pay for at least
a few of the left-overs and tell him to go out and try to sell them.
However, if the newsboy kept on turning in unsold papers he f o r - 0
feited his corner. Some stories of injustice in connection with returns
were related. One boy complained that “ they stack you up with
enough papers to last a month,” and the newspaper sellers returning
to the distribution room of one of the newspapers at settling-up time
were observed to have piles of unsold papers under their arms.31
Another newsboy told how the rivalry between two young assistants
in the circulating room for a raise in pay had resulted in their forcing
the boys to take more papers than they could sell in order to bring
up their own circulation figures, and to pay for unsold copies. This,
the boy said, had caused “ a lot of quarreling and fighting.”
Boys lost their corners also if they did not sell regularly or if they
were late. Older boys with good corners hired younger ones to help
them sell. Sometimes boys with corners disposed of some of their
papers to other boys who sold them up and down the streets, “ bootjacking,” as they called it. At intervals during the hours of selling
a truck with a load of papers was sent past the corners to supply the
boys with more papers if they had exhausted their stocks.
Each of the evening papers required, the boys to return to the office
at 7 o ’clock in order to “ settle u p ” for their papers, as it was cus­
tomary to give credit for the day’s papers until after they had been
sold. Of the 273 newsboys included in the study, 160 obtained credit
from the newspaper offices and 67 boys paid cash for their papers
either at the office or to another boy. Fifty worked as helpers t<ki
other boys, 21 receiving a fixed sum for their work. A few boysw
worked both independently and for others.
Proprietors and managers of the newspapers in Columbus were
insistent that they “ had a business proposition” for the newsboys.
It is certainly true that the system of assigning corners encouraged
promptness and regularity; that a certain amount of supervision
over the work was provided through the periodical rounds of the truck
supplying boys at the corners with additional papers,^ and that a<
degree of responsibility was inculcated through the giving of credit
and the requirement that the boys return at a fixed hour each even­
ing to settle the day’s accounts. One of the papers endeavored to
foster an esprit de corps among the boys and to strengthen their
loyalty to the paper by issuing a miniature newspaper, chiefly for
carriers but containing a section known as “ Street boys column”
for the sellers, with short items about the sales of different newsboys
and their successes and failures,
All the papers operated substations and branch offices, so that the
majority of the boys were not obliged to go down town to the main
distributing offices. Most of the branch offices were in small stores
usually candy, stationery, or tobacco stores— and were in charge of the
proprietors of the stores. Boys of high-school age working on a salary
had charge of most of the substations, though in a few instances men,
some of them old employees of the newspapers, managed substations.
Both substations and branch offices were to some extent under t h ^
si This observation was made in June, 1926.


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129

supervision of the circulation managers for their districts, but the
newsboys worked directly under the person in charge, who gave
credit and assigned corners. As many as 30 boys, carriers and
sellers, worked from some of the substations and as many as 10 from
some of the branch offices. The boys called at these offices for their
* papers at distribution hours, were given numbers in the order of
their application, later receiving their assignments and papers in
that order, and did the necessary inserting (or “ shoving,” as putting
together the different sections of the newspaper was called in Colum­
bus)— followed the same procedure, in a word, as boys calling at the
main offices.
M ost of the substations and branch offices were visited by a repre­
sentative of the Children’s Bureau. The substations were small,
separate buildings, many of them new tin shanties (the system of
substations had been in operation only about 18 months), usually
clean and in good order. Those visited were in residential neighbor­
hoods, with entrances on the street. It was reported to the Children’s
Bureau by the local parent-teacher association that one of the parents
had complained that whisky had been in the possession of boys at
one of the substations, and that complaints had been made regarding
wrestling among the boys, the “ hanging about” of girls, and bad
language. No improprieties of any kind were observed by the
Children’s Bureau representative at any of the stations or branches
visited during distributing hours.
|
. . " .
The system of substations, though subject to abuse if the substa­
tions are in undesirable buildings or neighborhoods ox are in charge
of persons likely to have a bad influence over the boys in their charge,
appeared to minimize the disadvantages of bringing the boys to a
* central place.
. . .
Each newspaper had also a distributing room at the mam office in
charge of a manager of street sales. Newsboys did not go to the main
office of the morning paper because of the rule excluding schoolboys
from selling the morning paper in the down-town section. But the
main offices of the evening daffies were patronized by the down-town
sellers. These were rooms on the ground floor of the newspaper
buildings opening on narrow, alleylike side streets. At distribu­
tion hours thè places were noisy and confused, the boys pushing and
jostling each other about and shouting for their papers and their
assignments, the confusion being increased by the fact that each
newsboy was obliged to “ shove,” or put together the different sections
of the papers.
,
The newsboys here were the typical down-town group, much
rougher in appearance and manners than the boys going_ to the
substations. Many of the parents expressed disapproval of the main
offices o f the newspapers because of the “ roughness” or “ badness”
of the boys going there. According to a 13-year-old boy, who ob­
tained his papers at one of the main offices, it was frequented by a
“ rough crowd— they throw you around and hit you.” Swearing
and vulgar talk were indulged in and smoking and gambling went
on, despite the efforts of the management to prevent it. One of the
managers said that after repeated warnings to the boys to stop crap
shooting
he had had the police raid the place and some arrests had
*
been made, but that, even since then, he had had occasion to con­
fiscate dice from some of the boys. An unusually bright 12-year-old

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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

newsboy, after describing the fighting and gambling that went on
m and around the distributing rooms, said that gambling among the
bi?yS
more common there than elsewhere because the boys when
they did not make as much money on their papers as they expected
took a chance/7 to use his words, on making up the amount by
pitching pennies and shooting dice.
The employees in these offices appeared to be, for the most part,
steady, responsible men. One of the newspaper managers maintamed that Columbus newspapers were able to get a better type of
man for their part-time work than the newspapers in some cities
because they were able to hire university students for much of this
work. The newsboys did not come in contact in the down-town
oJwcqs with the men who sold newspapers on the streets, owing to
the fact that almost none of these men sold the late editions that
most of the boys sold.32
Street life.

The great majority of the newsboys worked in business or semi­
business districts, only 50 (18 per cent) selling solely in residential
districts. Boys sold papers in and around office buildings, at car
barns, railroad shops, clubs, markets, railroad stations, hotels, steel
mills, theaters, and up and down all the principal thoroughfares.
The most popular down-town section was around the statehouse;
between 5 and 6 o clock one February afternoon 67 newsboys under
16 years of age were interviewed by agents of the Children’s Bureau
on the street^ in the vicinity of the statehouse and between the
statehouse and a few blocks north of the station.
Even among boys in the less crowded sections of the city “ hopping
cars” was an established practice. By agreement with the s tr e e t-^
car companies, newsboys were allowed to ride one block free of
charge if they displayed a badge. The badge was furnished by the
newspaper office, a deposit in some cases as high as $1 being required
(the deposit was refunded when the badge was returned), though
some boys reported that the badge was loaned without a deposit.
That this feature of street life was much prized by some of the boys
goes without saying. “ Hopping cars is all the fun I want” was a
typical remark; or, from a disillusioned boy, “ I thought selling papers
was nothing but hopping cars.” Many of the parents, however,
expressed their fears of automobile and street-car accidents when
their boys were selling on the cars or in the crowded down-town
section. That their fears were not without foundation is shown by
the story of one boy who had been injured while selling newspapers
on street cars. At 12 years of age he had been “ hopping cars” for
5 years, but the spring before the Children’s Bureau study, while
getting off a car with his papers, he had been struck by an automobile,
he said, receiving such severe injuries that an operation had been
necessary and he still suffered with pains in his head. Although it
was chiefly dangers from traffic that parents feared, one of the news­
boys, 9 years of age, had been hit by a freight elevator in an office
building where he had been selling papers, and as a result he had
been out of school for 12 weeks.
33 In the summer of 1926 when hoys sold on the streets all day, as it was vacation time, some of the newsboys complained that negro men selling papers on the comers hit the boys and fought tthem, accusing
them of “ stealing” their sales.


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Because of the hours during which boys sold (see pp. 132-133)
the majority of the newsboys selling evening papers were able to have
their meals at home, though the 7 o ’clock “ settling u p ” made it
impossible for many of the boys to have dinner with their families.
They usually had this meal alone between 7 and 8, with “ something
hoV’ that their mothers had kept for them. A few boys, perhaps
half a dozen, ate dinner down town regularly. More bought their
Saturday lunch or dinner at a restaurant.
Among boys selling in the morning some instances of what appeared
to be real hardship in regard to meals were reported. A 14-year-old
boy whose morning selling hours were from 4.45 to 7.30 never ate
breakfast until he had sold his last paper. “ You get used to it,” he
said. A 13-year-old boy sold for an hour or so before buying his
10-cent breakfast. A 12-year-old boy who sold out-of-town papers
11 hours on Sundays’ had a hot breakfast before setting out between
5 and 6 a. m. and did not eat again until he returned home at 5 in
the afternoon. Another newsboy, only 11 years of age, who sold
10 hours on Sundays, ate no breakfast, getting his first meal after
1 p. m. Another ate nothing between his 3 a. m. breakfast and his
2 o’clock dinner. “ If you’re making money,” said one of the boys,
“ you don’t feel hungry.”
REGULARITY OF W ORK

The assignment of the best street corners to boys who sold papers
every day offered an incentive to regular work that is lacking where
the occasional seller may compete on equal terms with the boy who
makes selling a daily occupation. Whether or not this is the explana­
tion of their regularity, a larger proportion of the Columbus news­
boys sold six or seven days a week than has been found to be the
case among newsboys in some other cities. One hundred and
ninety-eight boys (73 per cent) sold every school day and either
Saturday or Sunday or both. Only 30 boys (11 per cent) sold papers
only on Saturday or Sunday or both.
HOURS OF W ORK

About half the boys (136) sold morning papers— the majority only
on Sunday, but 51 reported selling on school days.33 More boys
(193) sold evening papers, including 50 who also sold morning papers,
though only 4 of these sold both morning and afternoon on school
days.
Morning hours were early. Most commonly on school days news­
boys were out on the streets selling between 5 and 6 a. m.; 34 of the
51 reporting selling on school days began before 6 and 11* before 5,
all except 5 of the 34 going out every school day. Their hours were
also long. All except 2 of the 34 beginning before 6 o’clock sold papers
for two hours or more, the great majority (23) for at least three hours,
before going to school. The Sunday newsboys were not obliged
to be out so early as those selling on week days. But 41 boys began
selling Sunday papers before 6 a. m., among them several who
reported having their Sunday breakfast at 3 or 4 o’clock.
33 In June, 1926, it was reported that the morning newspaper had stationed boxes around the outlying
sections of the city, with one newsboy in charge of a number of boxes, so that the number of boys selling the
morning paper may have decreased.


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For boys to be out selling papers late at night was unusual in Colum­
bus. (Table 3, p. 11.) As both the evening newspapers required a
settlement at 7 o’clock,34 that hour was the most common for stopping.
Of the 163 boys selling the evening dailies and doing no other street
work 78 stopped selling between 7 and 8 o ’clock, usually at 7 or shortly
after the hour, and 30 stopped between 6 and 7, usually just before 7.
The 34 newsboys selling evening papers and also carrying on some
other street work stopped at about the same hours as the others, as
their street jobs were often carried on simultaneously. The 21 boys
in both groups who reported selling until at least 8 o ’clock— 12 of
whom said that they sold papers until 10 o ’clock or later on school
nights— were chiefly the boys who bought papers from other boys
on the street and so had no occasion to return to the newspaper office
to settle for their papers. Among them, however, were some who
obtained papers directly from the newspaper offices. One of these
said that he settled for his papers at 7 and then returned to the
streets to sell until he had disposed of those left on his hands, working
usually until about 9. A 10-year-old white boy reporting that »he
obtained his papers at the main office on credit nevertheless said that
he sold until 9 or 10 o’clock, working near the statehouse with a
younger negro boy, earning, he said, “ a tin can half full of money.”
A few of the other boys selling until 8 or later got their papers at
branch offices; one boy said that the branch from which he worked
did not close until 9 and that he usually stayed out as late as that.
Other boys owed their late hours to some unusual circumstance;
one boy, for example, sold a Greek newspaper, coming in on a late
train, until 9.30 p. m. every week day.
In addition to the 7 o’clock rule of the newspaper management,
another factor in sending the newsboys home earlier than in some
places was the stand taken by the police department in clearing the
streets of children out after 8 p. m. (See p. 124.) Only a few boys,
therefore, were out on the streets late at night, but though the 7
o’clock hour for settling up operated to' send boys home earlier than
they might otherwise have gone it also kept out until that hour many
boys who might have left the streets earlier if they could have done so.
The presence of many small boys on the streets after 6 o’clock in the
evening, especially in bad weather, was particularly noticeable during
the winter months when by 6 or 7 it has already been dark for an hour
or two. “ The boss won’t let us stop until 7,” or “ If I sell all my
papers before 7 I have to take more,” and similar remarks were very
common.
In connection with the subject of late hours the statement of one
of the circulation managers in regard to “ extras” is interesting.
When an extra paper came out, according to this statement, the
newsboys in the outlying neighborhoods were called and notified that
a certain number of papers were being sent to them. “ A boy takes
out 100 papers,” said the manager, “ jumps around his block, the
papers are gone, he is home in bed in no time.” Presumably such a
call might come at any hour of the night, though it was, of course, of
comparatively rare occurrence.
Practically no late Saturday night selling was found among school­
boys in Columbus. A patrol on High Street one Saturday night
3* The hour for settlement was reported as 7.30 in the summer.


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ht

discovered only seven boys out as late as 7.50 p. m., of whom three
were boys of 14 or 15 and three were about 12, though one was a
child of 6, from whom a newspaper was bought after 8 p. m. the same
evening. By 10.30 only four boys (the older ones) were out. Several
boys included in the survey sold Chicago, Pittsburgh, and other
out-of-town papers until 12 or later Saturday nights. One 13-yearold boy, the son of a rabbi, started selling at 4 o ’clock Saturday
afternoon, remaining on his corner down town until 12.30; he then
went -to the agent’s, where he ate the lunch that he had taken with
him from home and went to sleep “ on a bag under a bench” until
the agent had made up his accounts, when he took him home about
3.30 or 4 a. m. Sunday. The child when seen on a Monday morning
in December had a very bad cold and was very hoarse from “ holler­
ing.” One other boy reported that he slept at this agent’s after
midnight selling.
If Columbus newsboys, on the whole, did not sell at particularly
undesirable times they were on the streets a great many hours.
(Table 32.) Of the 186 boys whose only street work was selling
papers and who worked on school days, 83 per cent worked two hours
or more a day and 58 per cent worked at least three hours. Those
who sold papers in connection with some other street job did not sell
quite such long hours. The fact that in Columbus boys selling
evening papers had to sell a certain number of papers or lose money
and also that the settlement hour was 7 probably explains the
unusually long hours.
T a b l e 32.— Number of hours of street work on a typical school day, by age period;
newspaper sellers holding a single job, Columbus, Ohio

#
Newspaper sellers from 6 to 15 years of age

Number of hours of street work on
a typical school day

12 years, under 14

Total
10
Under years,
10
under
cent years1 121
Num­ Per
distri­
ber
bution

14
Age
years, not
re­
under
cent
ported i
Num­ Per
161
distri­
ber
bution

Total_____________________

214

47

54

69

43

Street work on school days_______

186

40

48

60

38

Total reported_______________

185

100.0

40

47

60

100.0

38

Less than 1 hour.......... ......
1 hour, less than 2________
2 hours, less than 3............
3 hours, less than 5________
5 hours and over__________

7
24
46
94
14

3.8
13.0
24.9
50.8
7.6

2
6
11
19
2

4
10
14
18
1

1
6
13
33
7

1.7
10.0
21.7
55.0
11.7

2
8
24
4

No street work on school days........

28

7

6

1

1

1

9

5

1

i Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 5().

On Saturdays the hours were even longer, for the boys, not having
to go to school, could sell the earlier editions of the evening papers.35
*

38 All-day selling was common during the summer vacation. In June, 1926, boys were observed selling
papers on the streets throughout the day, some of them provided with small packing boxes on which to
sit when business was dull.


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Of the 184 boys who worked on Saturday and had no other street
work except selling papers, 86 per cent worked at least two hours and
67 per cent worked three hours or more.
Sunday selling did not require quite as. long hours as either week­
day or Saturday work. Sixty-four newsboys doing no other street
work and 17 with some other job than selling sold Sunday papers.
Almost two-thirds (41) of those doing no other street work and 9 of
those doing other street work worked three or more hours on Sun­
days.
As most of the newsboys in Columbus sold every day, or nearly
every day, their weekly hours were in many cases excessive. More
than half (52 per cent) the 214 boys whose only street work was
newspaper selling worked 16 to 32 or more hours, and 33 per cent
worked at least 24 hours, usually in addition to about 25 hours of
school. Among these, and typical of the older boys working long
hours, was a 15-year-old boy who spent 5 hours a day selling on
school days and sold papers altogether 38}4 hours a week. News­
boys with a secondary street job sold papers somewhat fewer hours
than did those whose only street work was selling papers; only 9 of
59 sold 24 hours or more a week. Of the 79 boys in both groups selling
papers at least 24 hours a week 26 (33 per cent) were under 12 years
of age and 12 (15 per cent) were under 10.
These hours mean that for the majority of the newsboys the hours
a week given to work and school, not including the preparation of
home lessons, were at least 41; for approximately one-third the
weekly hours of school and work were at least 49. Such hours ap­
proximate and even surpass the hours of work of many adult workers.
They leave little time for recreation and relaxation, and, consider­
ing the nerve-taxing nature of street selling, in an overstimulating
environment such as the busy down-town comers and in keen com­
petition, the long hours must have made heavy demands upon
physical and nervous energy, making it doubtful whether, as one
father said, “ it was just what the boy needed.”
EARNINGS

Almost all the newsboys were able to estimate the amount that
they usually made a week from the sale of newspapers fairly accurately
as many of them held the same comers and sold about the same
number of papers week after week. The weekly earnings of these
boys would differ from week to week only as the amount of their
tips rose or fell, which in turn depended, according to one 8-year-old
newsboy, on whether you have “ the pennies to make change” or on
a “ rich man coming along.”
The earnings reported by Columbus newsboys, in spite of the
greater number of hours that they devoted to the work, were about
the same as those reported by newsboys in other surveys of street
traders; 28 per cent of those doing no other street work and reporting
their earnings were found to have made less than $1 a week, 40 per
cent earned at least $3, and 20 per cent made $5 or more. (Table 33.)
Of the 35 boys employed as helpers by older newsboys who did no
other street work and reported their earnings only 1 made as much
as $5. The others making $5 or more were chiefly boys who had
regular comers, including some of those with the best locations in
the city.

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COLUM BUS, OHIO

T a b l e 33.— Earnings during a typical week, by number of hours engaged; news­
paper sellers holding a single job, Columbus, Ohio
Newspaper sellers from 6 to 15 years of age
Total

Earnings during a typical week

Less than 12 12 hours, less 24 hours and
over
than 24
hours
Hours
Per
not re­
cent
ported1
Num­ dis­
Per
Per
Per
ber tribu­
cent Num­ cent Num­ cent
dis­
dis­
tion Num­
dis­
ber tribu­ ber tribu­ ber tribu­
tion
tion
tion

Total............ ...... ..................... .

214

Total reported____________________

196

Less than $0.25__________- ____
$0.25, less than $0.50___________
$0.50, less than $1.00............. .......
$1.00, less than $2.00.... ......... .....
$2.00, less than $3.00.............. .....
$3.00, less than $4.00.... ............. j .
$4.00, less than $5.00___________
$5.00 and over..............................
No earnings and no cash earnings

Working specified number of hours per week

72
100.0

67

70
100.0

4.6
8.7
14.8
16.8
12.2
11.2
8.2
20.4
3.1

13.4
19.4
22.4
22.4
10.4
3.0
3.0
1.5
4.5

63

100.0

3.2
20.6
19.0
20.6
7.9
9.5
19.0

64
1.6

1.6

9.4
6.3
23.4
10.9
42.2
4.7

Not reported_____________________
1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

Older boys earned the most. Of the 88 boys under 12 years of age
whose only street work was selling newspapers and who reported the
amount of their earnings, 66 per cent made less than $2 a week,
whereas of the 107 boys 12 years of age and older only 27 per cent
made less than $2. No boy under 10 made as much as $4 a week,
only 5 of the 49 boys of 10 and 11 years who reported what they earned
and only 27 of the 64 who were 12 or 13 made as much as $4, whereas
24 of the 43 boys who were 14 or 15 years old made at least $4 a week.
The difference in earnings is partly explained by the fact that boys
under 12 did not work such long hours as the older boys; 41 per cent
worked at least 16 hours and 24 per cent at least 24 hours, compared
with 63 per cent and 41 per cent, respectively, of the boys who were
12 years of age and over. It may be that the more youthful newsboy
could earn more money than an older one if he worked just as long,
but the fact is that he seldom spends as much time on the street and
so does not make as much money for himself and the paper that he
sells.
A close correlation between the number of hours spent on the street
and earnings was found; for example, 78 per cent of those reporting
hours of work who spent less than 12 hours selling made less than $2
a week, whereas only 45 per cent of those working between 12 and 24
hours and only 13 per cent of those working at least 24 hours made
less than $2.
The amounts that the boys reported as earnings included tips.
Report as to the receipt of tips was obtained from 253 of the 273
newsboys. One hundred and ninety (75 per cent) of the 253 stated
that they received tips. Tipping of newsboys of all ages was fairly
75034°— 28------ 10


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

common, but boys 10 to 12 years of age were tipped most frequently.
Fifty-six (86 per cent) of the 65 boys of this age period who reported
stated that they received tips, as compared with 34 of the 45 boys
under 10 years of age, 64 (72 per cent) of the 89 boys 12 to 14 years of
age, and 35 (66 per cent) of the 53 boys 14 years of age and over.
Whether the lack of pennies for change or the incidence of “ rich
men’ ’ among purchasers accounted for the tipping, or whether the
inability to give the correct change was genuine or not, is not known.
Several social workers and others reported that a good deal of begging
by small children went on around theaters and in other public places,
and some of the newsboys said that selling papers was used as a cloak
for this practice. The danger in receiving tips, of course, lies in
suggesting, as it does, that money can be obtained without work and
that the sympathy and generosity of the public can be capitalized
easily. The remarks of some of the newsboys indicated that a con­
siderable part of the money they took in was unearned. A 9-year-old
child, for example, said that about two-thirds of his earnings were in
tips; a 12-year-old boy said that his daily tips averaged 25 cents
but that one day he took home 60 cents, though his actual earnings
amounted to only 18 cents. An 11-year-old boy reported tips
amounting to $1.50 a week. The fact that the study was made
near Christmas may account for the prevalence of tipping that was
found in Columbus.
NEED FOR EARNINGS

Seventy-two per cent of the boys were in families in which both
father and mother were present and the father supported the family.
Fifty-six boys (21 per cent) had lost their own fathers; of these only
16 had either stepfathers or foster fathers to earn the family living,
39 had neither, and 1 was not reported upon. For 33 newsboys
(12 per cent)— including 8 of the 44 negro and 25 of the 229 white
boys— the mother was the chief breadwinner of the family.
Occupationally the fathers or other chief breadwinners in the news­
boys’ families were only fairly representative of the city as a whole.
There was a slight preponderance of industrial workers; 54 per cent,
compared with 46 per cent of the male workers 20 years of age and
oyer in the city, were in manufacturing or mechanical industries. A
disproportionately large number of chief breadwinners in newsboys’
families were in domestic and personal service— 11 per cent compared
with 5 per cent— accounted for largely by the mothers who supported
their families by keeping boarders and lodgers and by doing laundry
work and housework. The chief breadwinners in the families of 4
per cent of the newsboys were in clerical or professional pursuits
compared with 13 per cent of the male workers at least 20 years of
age in Columbus.36
Although its diversified industries probably made for steadiness of
employment, Columbus had been affected during the year covered
by the study by the railroad-shop strike beginning in July, 1922, and
continuing into the winter. The majority of the heads of families
of the newsboys studied had had little or no unemployment, but 18
per cent had been unemployed at least three months during the year,
most of them as a result of the strike.
36 Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. IV, Population, Occupations, pp. 1088-1090.


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137

Many of the mothers worked. Exclusive of those who were not the
main support of their families and of those who may have kept
boarders or lodgers to supplement the family income the mothers of
74 boys (less than one-fifth of the white boys and more than half the
negro boys with some other chief breadwinner than their mothers)
had a gainful occupation, chiefly laundry or housework, though some
were factory workers, others worked in shops, restaurants, or cafete­
rias, and a few did sewing or tailoring. That the number of working
mothers was unusually large is seen by a comparison of these propor­
tions with the findings in a study of the sources of income in the
families of wage earners and small-salaried workers made by the
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics in Columbus in 1919, in
which it was found that in only 9 per cent of the white and 29 per
cent of the negro families did the mother contribute to the family
earnings.37
In the smaller group, the 91 selected families visited, in which were
116 (42 per cent) of the newsboys, 60 per cent of the 70 chief bread­
winners reporting earned less than $1,250 during the year. The
median falls between $1,050 and $1,250. The average earnings
reported for chief breadwinners in the Bureau of Labor Statistics
study just referred to were a little higher— $1,295 for white and $1,122
for negro families.38 (See also footnote 10,,p. 83. The incomes of
the chief breadwinners of the newsboys were those of approximately
the year 1922.)
The earnings of the chief breadwinners in the newsboys’ families
were supplemented to some extent by those of other members of the
family. Of the 56 families visited reporting the total annual earnings
of the family,39 28 earned less than $1,450, the median falling between
$1,050 and $1,450. This amount is approximately the same as the
average family earnings in families included in the Bureau of Labor
Statistics study, in which it was found that the earned income of
white families averaged $1,328 and that of negro families averaged
$1,198.40 It would appear that the family income was brought up
to average from the comparatively small earnings of the heads of
households by the earnings of other members of the families, chiefly
those of wives judging from the prevalence of employment among the
boys’ mothers. Although the amount is about the same as the aver­
age in Columbus wage-earning families that is shown by the Bureau
of Labor Statistics study, it represents a rather lower level of prosper­
ity, for the newsboys’ families were a little larger than the average,
55 per cent of those reporting family earnings having more than five
members. The average size of the sellers’ families was 6.2 as com­
pared with 4.8 in the Bureau of Labor Statistics study
The proportion of the families visited who owned their houses with
or without encumbrance (35 per cent) compares favorably with that
for the entire city. Thirty-six per cent of the dwellings in Columbus
were owned either with or without mortgages, according to the United
States Census of 1920.42
37 Monthly Labor Review (U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), Vol. IX , No. 6 (December, 1919), pp.31, 32.
88 Ibid., pp. 36,38.
,
_
. . . .
,
.....
88 The number of families reporting family earnings was considerably reduced by the number of families
unable to report earnings from boarders and lodgers. Total family earnings included the earnings of all
members of the family 16 years of age and over.
v
„ r
to Monthly Labor Review (U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), Vol. IX , No. 6 (December, 1919), pp. 36,38.
41 Ibid., pp. 36, 38. (See footnote 11, p. 84.)
« Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. II, Population, p. 1297.


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

An examination of the records of Columbus social agencies revealed
that 15 white families in which were 17 newsboys and 10 negro fam­
ilies in which were 12 newsboys had received aid from charitable
organizations, some of them from several organizations, during 1922.43
The newsboys in these families constituted 7 per cent of the 229
white boys included in the study and 27 per cent of the 44 negro
boys, or 11 per cent of all the newsboys included in the study. Prior
to 1922, 15 other families (including 1 negro family), in which were
18 newsboys, had received aid.44 Four mothers, some of whom had
had other assistance, were in receipt of mothers’ aid. In 20 of the
25 families receiving relief in 1922 the father was the chief bread­
winner; in the negro families most of these fathers cpuld not get
work, but the majority of the white fathers whose families had to
seek aid were unsteady or intemperate. The amount of relief given
varied from several dollars or some grocery orders or a few months’
rent to a regular sum each month paid over a considerable period.
The following cases are typical both of the families receiving.relief
and of the extent of the relief given:
A white family consisting of father, mother, seven children from 2 months to
14 years of age, and two older children, and living in an eight-room rented house,
had first come to the attention of the family-service society in 1918, when the
school asked an investigation. The father drank and was out of work frequently,
and the mother did whatevel work she could get. N o aid was given until April,
1922, when the society gave $8 because the father was out of work. When the
family was visited by an agent of the Children’s Bureau in February, 1923,
the mother said that the father had worked for the railroad, but had gone out on
the railroad strike of 1921 and had not worked steadily since. He had gone to
work in the car shops in the spring of 1922 only to go out again on strike in
July, and during the year covered by the study he had earned only $788. A t
the time of the interview he was employed in a shoe factory at $20 a week. An
18-year-old daughter had worked in a candy kitchen 25 weeks during the year
at $10 a week, and a 17-year-old son had been a telegraph messenger for about
four months and was then employed in the stock room of a shoe factory at $14
a week. One younger boy had a paper route, and an 11 year-old boy sold papers,
earning 90 cents a week. H e had been selling for six months, first going to work,
he said, because a newspaper agent had come to the house and urged the boys
to sell and carry for the paper. The mother said that it was necessary for the
boys to work, as they had to buy their clothes. She would have preferred not
to have them do the street work, as she was afraid of accidents, but she thought
paper selling was better than the paper route, as customers on the route did not
pay. According to the child, all his earnings went to the family and for cloth­
ing. The family earnings had amounted to a little more than $1,600 during
the year covered by the study.
A negro family that had come to Columbus in 1918 from Alabama had five
children under 16 and two older ones. The father was frequently out of work
and in 1920 deserted the family for three months, during which time a 17-year-old
daughter supported the family. The family-service society had helped the fam­
ily every year since 1918, usually in the winter, when the father was out of work.
When interviewed by the Children’s Bureau agent early in 1923, the father was
employed as a laborer for the city at $20 a week and had earned $867 during the
year preceding the interview. H e had been unable to get work in the spring of
1922, and the family-service society at that time had given $39 and a ton of coal.
N o one else in the family was reported as working during the year except two
boys, under 14, who sold papers. One of the boys sold evening papers about
two hours every day “ anywhere” and the other several times a week down
« This does not include families that had been registered with hospitals, clinics, dispensaries, the Dis­
trict Nursing Association, the Tuberculosis Society, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, day nurseries,
benevolent societies, or social settlements. It includes one white boy who had received shoes through the
school-attendance department.
n Includes 2 white boys in 2 families who received shoes through the school-attendance_department.


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COLUMBUS, OHIO
town, both of them stopping not later than 7 o’clock. The family lived
flimsily built shanty of three rooms, which they owned. The mother said
the family needed the money that Pete and Jake earned ($1.70 a week) to
along.” The boys themselves said that they gave all their money to help
family expenses except “ perhaps a dime a week.”

139
in a
that
“ get
with

A Hungarian family with 10 children under 16 years of age had been reported
by a neighbor to the family-service society early in 1921, because the father was
ill. He was not strong, but did all he could to support the family. During the
year preceding the study the society gave $180. W hen the family was inter­
viewed by the Children’s Bureau agent in February, 1923, the mother reported
that the father had worked in the car shops until the strike in July and since that
time had had only odd jobs. They were buying the four-room house in which
the family of 12 were living; the father had repaired and painted it and had made
a garden. The only other income during the year besides the father’s earnings
of $817 was $40 in union benefits and the earnings of two of the boys who sold
and carried papers. The one who sold papers was 11 years old and had been a
newsboy for two months. He sold a morning paper every day from 5.30 to 7.30
and a little longer on Sundays, and he carried a few papers also, earning $3.10
a week. The mother felt that they needed his money, all of which went to the
family.

W

A negro family in which the father had deserted, had come to the attention of
the family-service society in 1915. During the year preceding the study the
society had given the family $7 a week besides paying for rent and fuel occasion­
ally. The family had no other income. The oldest of the five children was
a 9-year-old boy who said he stayed out selling papers around the statehouse
sometimes until 10 or 11 o’clock at night, spending all that he earned (the amount
of which he did not know) on his own pleasures. He was reported as a habitual
truant and runaway, though normal mentally. Just prior to the study he had
been put in the opportunity school (a public school for difficult and for subnormal
children), which he seemed to enjoy and which he attended regularly. N o visit
was paid to this family.

What does this array of facts signify? It would appear that a
small proportion of the newsboys’ families were actually necessitous
and could not manage to live, even though the boys worked, without
calling upon public agencies. A small proportion were fatherless
families; few of them had been obliged to seek financial aid, but they
appeared to need the money that their boys earned selling papers.
Representative of these was a family in which the mother received
mothers’ aid. She had five children under 15 and no help except
her grant of $36 a month and something from a married daughter
whose husband earned $30 a week as a salesman. In regard to the
work of her 13-year-old boy, who earned $6.50 a week selling papers,
this mother said, “ Unless he sells papers he won’t have any clothes,”
adding that his earnings clothed all five children. Among the families
with fathers also were some in which the father’s earnings were small
and the family large, and the newsboy’s earnings were almost as
much needed as in widows’ families. For example, a railroad clerk
earning $1,200 a year had a family of six children. The oldest, a
14-year-old-boy, earned $10 a week selling papers; the mother said
that the family could not pay for food nor clothe the children with­
out his earnings; often she could not buy groceries until he brought
in the money from his papers.
But on the whole the earnings of the chief breadwinners in the
newsboys’ families were but little below those of the average wage
earner in Columbus, and they exceeded the average if the widows
who were the chief support of their families are not included. Un
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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

doubtedly these earnings were small compared with budgetary
standards recognized as providing a minimum of comfort and decency,
and even when they were supplemented by the wages of wives and
by “ doubling u p” in the homes— overcrowding was very common in
the living quarters of newsboys’ families, almost one-fourth of whom
kept boarders or lodgers— the newsboys’ earnings must have been
in many of the homes a welcome addition to the family income.
For example, of the 22 newsboys whose fathers made less than
$1,050 a year and who had no other street job, '9 made at least $3 a
week, and 4 made at least $5 a week— sums which may have been of
some real help.
Typical of families in which the earnings from selling papers were
useful but could hardly be regarded as absolutely necessary was that
of a 9-year-old seller and carrier, whose 13-year-old brother also
carried papers. The younger child sold papers in front of a hospital
from 6 to 8 every evening. His father, a polisher in a shoe factory,
had earned $1,274 during the year of the study, and two sisters, 19
and 21 years of age, had together earned $1,488, so that the family
income for the four adults and four children was $2,762. The
nine-room house in which they lived was fully paid for, and the family
was buying another house. The 9-year-old newsboy earned $2 a
week, with which he clothed himself and his 6-year-old brother.
The facts seem to warrant the statement repeatedly made by cir­
culation managers and others connected with the newspapers that
they aimed to recruit their newsboys from the better types of home,
those in which the money was not actually needed, and they also
seem to bear out the statement made by some of the social workers in
Columbus that children from the poorest families did not sell papers. ^
The testimony of the parents who were interviewed also tends to ^
confirm the conclusion that only a minority actually needed the money
earned in selling papers. In the 91 families visited only 23 parents
said definitely that they needed the newsboys’ earnings; 39 other
parents said that the earnings were a help; 13 parents said that the
boys’ earnings were of no help to the family; and 18 did not report
whether or not the family needed the money or found it helpful.
That this method of supplying family needs— that is, by the employ­
ment of young children— is a costly one for society is generally
accepted. It is to prevent exactly this solution of family problems
that mothers’ aid and other forms of relief are provided.
REASONS FOR UNDERTAKING STREET W ORK

The largest number of the newsboys (131, or 48 per cent of the 273)
said that they had first undertaken street work because they wanted
to— 27 per cent to earn spending money, 14 per cent to satisfy a
desire to work, and 7 per cent to buy some object which they especially
wished to have. Besides these boys, many of whom undoubtedly
had been stimulated by the example of other newsboys, a number said
that they had first done the work for the sake of helping out some other
boy (9 per cent) or at the suggestion of their companions (14 per cent).
A few (9 per cent) reported that they had begun to sell papers at the
suggestion of a representative of the newspaper.
The proportion (13 per cent) that claimed economic necessity as
the principal reason for first taking their jobs is rather small. Pos-


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^

COLUMBUS, OHIO

141

sibly some of the 14 boys (5 per cent) who said that they had gone to
work because their parents had urged them to do so may have been
from necessitous families; in a few instances the need of the b oy’s
earnings had arisen after the boy had begun to work for some other
reason, as in some of the families of car-shop employees who were on
strike. Of the boys whose own fathers were living and at home 18
said that they had begun street work because of financial pressure at
home; 14 of the 39 fatherless boys gave this reason.
Whether or not the money was needed the majority of the parents
(66 of the 91 interviewed) approved of their boys’ work. Only 2
parents said that they did not know that their boys were selling
papers, and only 1 denied that the child was a newsboy. Generally
they approved because it kept the boys out of mischief or kept them
from “ bumming.” Some of the parents, however, had other reasons
for desiring the work for their children; they thought it taught the
boy to save, or taught him business methods and made him alert and
energetic. The mother of a 13-year-old newsboy selling every week
day from 3.30 to 7 p. m. liked him to do this work “ because it kept
him busy and she knew where he was and what he was doing,” and
because the boy met high-grade business men and lawyers in the
buildings where he sold and these she hoped would be a help to him.
The fact that the organization of newspaper selling in Columbus im­
posed certain definite responsibilities upon the regular sellers (see
p. 128) may account for the unusual prevalence of the parents’ belief
in the educative value of the newsboy’s work.
However, some of the parents (16 of the 91) definitely disapproved
of their boys selling papers on the streets. A negro mother, for
example, said that she liked to have her 14-year-old son earn money,
but was afraid to have him down town, where he learned to “ shoot
dice” and smoke; the boy had been in the reform school for truancy.
The mother of a 10-year-old newsboy of Jewish parentage said that
an older boy used to “ drag him off to sell” ; that he Came home tired
and sick; that in the business districts he shot craps and learned
“ terrible” language and spent the money he earned on things to eat
that made him ill; she was also afraid of accidents from automobiles.
In vain some parents objected to the work, reporting that the boy
“ slipped o u t” and did it or that he “ just will work because other
boys do.” The father of a 13-year-old boy did not like to have him
sell morning papers because of the early hours and the danger of
street accidents; he tried to get the boy to stop selling by promising
to give him $1.50 a week if he would stop, but the boy insisted on get­
ting up at 3 o ’clock every morning to go out and help a friend.
How far the boys sold papers in order to satisfy their instinct for
adventurous play and exciting companionship it is hard to say. In
Columbus the relatively exacting character of newspaper selling,
the greater supervision over boys on the corners, the fact that many
of the newsboys obtained their papers in their own neighborhoods,
that they had to stay at their comers, and that late selling was little
done probably stripped the job of much of its glamour. Although it
was clear that the street had a great fascination for some— one small
boy complained that he never got down town unless he sold papers,
another had run away from home to sell; others liked selling “ better
than play” or “ better than anything,” or, like a 9-year-old news-


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boy, thought it was “ fun hopping cars, playing, and selling” — now
and then a boy would confess that he liked it only “ pretty well” or
“ didn’ t like it at all,” or “ didn’t like it, but now I started to I have
to.” The desire to work and earn money either for themselves or
for their families seems to have been a more compelling motive for
street work in Columbus than the satisfaction of the desire for play.
Although only 12 playgrounds were maintained in the city, and
these were open only during the summer, certain recreational facilities
for boys of the less prosperous families were fairly well developed.
Eleven social settlements or community houses or centers, most of
them with recreational and gymnasium classes for boys and some
with Boy Scout troops, made a special effort to reach such boys.
In one settlement the scout troop was especially active and included
both newsboys and newspaper carriers. The Young M en’s Chris­
tian Association maintained a club supposedly for newsboys, but it
was not restricted to newsboys and the leaders did not know how
many of the boys belonging to it sold papers. This club met every
Saturday evening at 6.30 (an hour when the regular sellers of after­
noon papers could not attend) for a program including swimming
gymnasium work, motion pictures, and Bible stories. The news­
papers cooperated in promoting the popularity of the club among
the newsboys.
D IS P O S IT IO N O F E A R N IN G S

Now and then parents who were questioned about their boys’
work would say, “ I like George to get the business experience, but
I have a hard time keeping him from spending all his money on
candy,” or “ It would be all right if Cecil brought home any money,
but he never does.” One of the newspaper circulation managers
also complained that the boys spent their money foolishly. But the
large proportion of parents who regarded the earnings from news­
paper selling as of real assistance to them (see p. 140) and the remark
frequently made by parents that the money was very worth while
to the boy seemed to indicate that at least some of the money earned
by many of the newsboys was put to good use.
One hundred and four newsboys (39 per cent) reported that they
contributed at least part of their earnings to the family, including
8 boys who contributed all that they earned and 17 who used it afi
for their families and their own “ shoes and pants,” as one little
Italian boy said. Five other boys spent all that they made on
their own clothes or other necessities. Altogether, 30 boys (11
per cent of the total number) used their entire earnings for neces­
sities for themselves or in support of their families. Only 7 of the 56
whose own fathers were dead or away from home used their earnings
in this way. The proportion thus having none of the money that
they earned for their own pleasures and amusements or even savings,
and even the proportion who gave any help to their families is smaller
than studies of newsboys in other cities have shown. (Table 34.)


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COLUMBUS, OHIO
T able

34.— Disposition of earnings; newspaper sellers, Columbus, Ohio
Newspaper sellers 6
to 15 years of age
Disposition of earnings

Total_____________________________________

Per cent
Number distribu­
tion
273

Total reported............................................................. .

272

1 0 0 .0

All for self..............- ...........- ................................. .

158

58.1

Spent for necessities______________________
Spent for luxuries............................- .............,
Spent for necessities and luxuries------ --------Saved---------- ----------------------------- ------ -----Saved and spent for necessities....................
Saved and spent for luxuries.--------------- ....
Saved and spent for necessities and luxuries.

5
18

1 .8
6 .6
8 .1

41
37

9.9
2.9
15.1
13.6

Part to family and part for self 2..............—- .......

99

36.4

Spent for necessities------------------------ --------Spent for luxuries-----------------------------------Spent for necessities and luxuries............ .
Saved.____________________ ____ ________ _
Saved and spent for necessities-----------------Saved and spent for luxuries____ _____ . . . . .
Saved and spent for necessities and luxuries.
Not specified-------------------------------------------

17

6.3
7.4
9.2
1.1

All to family...........................- ......................................... .................................... 7 —
No earnings and no cash earnings--------------------------------------- --------- ------------

Not reported.
1
2

22

27
8

20

25
3
6
4
23

2.2

1

1.5
8.5
0.4

®
<

^.9
4P

1

Earnings spent for necessities, luxuries, or both may include expenses of job.
Subsidiary itemsjshow disposition of part spent for self.

Many boys (53 per cent) used at least some of their money for
clothes, dentistry, schoolbooks, or other necessities for themselves,
though most of these kept some to spend on their own pleasures or
for their banks; and even more (70 per cent) spent some of their
earnings on candies, motion-picture shows, toys, or other pleasures
and luxuries, including 18 boys who used in this way all that they
made from selling papers. These 18 /boys usually earned very small
amounts. The following are typical cases of boys who spent every­
thing that they earned on their own pleasures: A 9-year-old boy
earning 20 cents a week spent it on shows, though he took Mom
to shows when she didn't have any money." A 7-year-old boy
selling papers in a residential neighborhood from 4 to 5 every week­
day afternoon and earning 20 cents a week spent it all on shows and
candy. A 12-year-old negro boy whose mother supported the family
by collecting rags reported that selling two or three tunes a week
he earned about 45 cents, all of which he spent for candy except
that he paid for the penny lunch at school. One older newsboy
spent his 65 cents a week on violin lessons, and another who had sold
papers for four years spent his $2.50 a week on installments for a
radio set, for which he said he had paid $100. A 12-year-old boy
bought Boy Scout clothes with his 50 cents a week, and an 11-yearold boy earning 16 cents a week helping his brother had bought a
$2.50 pair of skates.
More than half (55 per cent) of the boys saved some of their earn­
ings, including 27 boys (10 per cent) who saved the entire amount.

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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

Among these was a 9-year-old boy, working three-quarters of an
hour every week day, who was saving all his money to go to the uni­
versity. A boy of 15 who had sold papers eight years and who was
making $8 a week at the time of the survey had saved $400. A few
other boys were saving for Christmas, for Young M en’s Christian
Association fees, or for other special purposes. ■
Most characteristic probably of the manner in which earnings were
spent were those cases where there was considerable diversity in the
uses to which the money was put. One 14-year-old boy, for example,
who had been a newsboy for three years, earned $9.80 a week, work­
ing every school day from about half past 2 until 7 o ’clock, 10 hours
on Saturday and 8 on Sunday; he put half his money in the bank,
had 15 cents a week spending money, and used the rest to buy his
clothes and to help toward family'expenses, as his father, a butcher,
earned only $20 a week. Another 14-year-old boy earning $3.50 a
week for 18 hours’ work, gave all except $1 to his mother for family
expenses, using the $1 for spending money, clothes, and some sav­
ings. An 11-year-old child, selling down town about 38 hours a week
and earning with tips $6, contributed some of his money to the
family, had saved $8, bought shoes and shirts for himself, bought
breakfast and dinner down town on Sundays, rode down for his
papers in the street car each day, went to a show three times a week,
and bought candy.
The proportions of boys disposing of their earnings in the various
ways (that is, the proportion giving all to their families, giving some
to their families, using part for their own necessities, spending part
on pleasures) were about the same in the more prosperous and the
less prosperous families, judging prosperity by the chief breadwinner’s
earnings, but the amount expended for each item may have differed
greatly according to the circumstances in the homes.
The larger the amounts the boys earned the larger the proportion
contributing ah their earnings and the proportion contributing some
of their earnings to the support of their families. Boys making at
least $2 a week were twice as likely to give all, or twice as likely to
give some, of their earnings to their families as those earning less
than $2. It seems safe to conclude, especially in view of the fact
that on the whole boys in families in which the chief breadwinners
had the lowest incomes made the largest amounts (see p. 140), that
boys in needy homes were more regular and energetic workers, as
well as that when the amount earned was significant the parents were
more likely to claim at least some of it.

m

NEWSBOYS IN SCHOOL

Most of the newsboys were in the elementary grades. Only 17
(6 per cent) of the 273 were high-school boys; that is, were in the
ninth or a higher grade.45
Attendance.
School records of attendance were copied wherever they were
found, for all newsboys (146) who had worked in the school semester
ended June, 1922, the last semester that had been completed when the
study was made. Records were obtained for 124 boys, of whom the
great majority had worked throughout the semester. The average
<« Some of the 17 hoys were in the ninth grade of the junior high school.


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COLUMBUS, OHIO

145

percentage of attendance for these boys was found to be 94. It is
impossible to make a direct comparison of this attendance record with
that of all Columbus school boys, as the available statistics on attend­
ance in the Columbus public schools are for both boys and girls.
These statistics show that the average attendance in the elementary
schools was about 88 per cent, in junior high schools 90 per cent, and
in senior high schools 92 per cent.46 Even assuming, on the one hand,
that the attendance of boys is superior to that of girls (and some
evidence exists to support this assumption47) and taking into consid­
eration, on the other hand, the fact that a large proportion of the
newsboys were in the higher elementary grades where there is less
absence for illness than among younger children, no great difference
appears to exist between the attendance of newsboys and other boys
in Columbus.
A small proportion (17 boys, or 14 per cent) of the Columbus
newsboys had been absent from school at least 10 per cent of the
term; that is, approximately 19 days, or one school month. For
many of these boys- the street work may have been an indirect if not
a direct cause of absence by making excessive demands on his time
and strength or by causing a distaste for the routine of the school­
room in contrast with the hours of greater freedom on the streets.
Among the 17 was one boy 1*4 years of age who slept on a bench at
a newspaper agent’s all Saturday night, after selling until 1 a. m.;
13 others sold papers more than 12 hours a week, and 9 sold from
22 to 46 hours a week, including a 13-year-old newsboy who sold
papers 7 hours every week day and 4 hours on Sunday, beginning
his work soon after 4 a. m. on school days. Nine of the 17 boys had
juvenile-court records, and 2 were said to be habitual truants. Tru­
ancy records could not be obtained for the Columbus newsboys.
Deportment.
If, as some writers have maintained, the newsboy because of his
experience in dealing with the public has become a better judge of
the moods of his elders and has acquired more skill and tact in adapt­
ing himself to their moods than the average schoolboy, he might be
expected to show greater discretion in his deportment while at
school; at least he would be a better judge of “ how far he could
g o ” with safety. Whether or not this is the explanation, the ma­
jority of the newsboys in Columbus conformed fairly well to the
teacher’s standard as shown by the last school deportment marks
that they had received. Marks were obtained for 107 boys who had
worked during a completed school semester. Of these 69 (64 per
cent) had been marked 80 or higher in deportment, and 17 (16 per
cent) had a mark of 90 or more. On the other hand, 12 newsboys
(11 per cent) had averaged less than 70 in deportment and so had
failed to pass. These marks were not so good as those of Columbus
boys who had newspaper routes; for instance, among the route
carriers only 3 per cent had failed to pass in deportment, and 22 per
cent had been marked at least 90 compared with only 16 per cent of
the street sellers. The boys who sold on the streets came from less
fortunate homes, on the whole, than the route carriers, and their
work, more particularly that of the ones who sold down town, exposed
« Figures furnished b y attendance d epartm en t, C o lu m b u s P u b lic Schools.
« See B ureau o f C om p u lsory E d u ca tio n , Philadelph ia, R e p o rt for th e Y e a r E n d e d June 30, 1925, p . 15.


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

them to certain influences and made certain demands upon them
from which carriers were generally free and which may have reacted
unfavorably on their attitude toward school standards. To which
of these sets of circumstances (if, indeed, either offers an explanation)
the less satisfactory deportment of street sellers may be chiefly
attributed it is impossible to say. It can be said, however, that the
boys with poor marks in deportment had sold papers longer than the
others. Seven of the 12 marked less than 70 had sold papers at least
two years. Also, boys who worked fewer hours on the streets showed
a tendency to behave better in school than those who were out
unusually long hours— although of the 107 newsboys for whom
marks in deportment were obtained, 40 per cent had worked at
least 24 hours a week; of the 69 who had achieved a mark of at least
80, only 35 per cent had worked as long as 24 hours. The number
involved is too small to be more than merely suggestive.
Progress and scholarship.

Thirty-six per cent of the Columbus newspaper sellers were re­
tarded (see footnote 38, p. 22) in school, 54 per cent were in normal
grades for their ages, and 10 per cent were advanced. The proportion
of all Columbus public-school children, including girls, of the same ages
who were retarded in June, 1925, the only statistics available for com­
parison of the retardation of newsboys with an unselected group in
Columbus, is 25 per cent.48 The street sellers were considerably more
retarded than the route carriers, only 15 per cent of whom were
retarded (see p. 161). The greater amount of retardation among the
newspaper sellers is not accounted for by the greater number among
the newsboys of children of foreign and of negro parentage, as the
proportion of retarded newsboys even among those of native white
parentage was 28 per cent.
In regard to school attendance, the main factor in school progress
provided children are of normal mentality,49 the Columbus newsboys,
so far as can be determined, were about as regular as other boys.
Long hours of work, however, made heavy demands on the newsboys’
time, possibly also on their strength. The percentage of retardation
was slightly greater among newsboys who worked longer hours, but
the differences in the percentages are so slight that no real relation­
ship can be shown between the number of hours worked a week and
retardation. That the hours of work seemed to influence school prog­
ress as little as they did may be laid perhaps to the fact that street
selling in Columbus was lacking in some of the more romantic aspects
(such as selling late at night and sleeping at newspaper offices with
the opportunity to associate with all types of men and boys) that
make newspaper selling in some places dangerously stimulating for
the schoolboy, capturing his interest to the neglect of his school work.
The relatively exacting conditions of work also may account for
the fact that the percentage of retarded boys is slightly smaller (31
per cent) for boys who had been selling at least three years than that
(35 per cent) for boys who had been selling less than one year or that
(40 per cent) for boys who had sold newspapers between one and
three years. By imposing a certain amount of responsibility and
by penalizing the unsteady or the lazy boy, newspaper selling in
48Compiled from unpublished figures furnished by the attendance department, Columbus Public Schools.
49 Psychological examinations had been given to the entire enrollment of a number of the public schools
in Columbus, but too few newsboys were among those who had been tested to justify analysis.


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COLUMBUS, OHIO

Columbus may have weeded out from its ranks the majority of the
boys who were too dull or too irresponsible to keep up with their
grades in school.
School standing is more immediately responsive than school prog­
ress to unfavorable influences, such as street work might be expected
to create. The following list shows the semester’s average in studies
obtained from school records for 123 boys who had worked during a
completed school semester, most of them throughout the semester.50
•
Average standing

Number
of boys

Total__________________________________________
Less than 70-------------------------------------------------------70, less than 8 0 ----------------80, less than 9 0 ----------------------------------------------------------90 or m ore____________________________________________

123
3
41
70
0

Percent
distribution

100
2
33
57
7

The marks are inferior to the scholarship marks of route carriers
in Columbus (see p. 162), the only large group of boys in Columbus
for whom similar information has been compiled.
D E LIN Q U E N C Y A M O N G N E W S B O Y S

The records of the Franklin County juvenile court showed that 34
of the Columbus newsboys had been before the court, including 25
of the 229 white newsboys and 9 of the 44 negroes, or 12 per cent of
the total. Nineteen of these boys had first been delinquent since
they had begun to sell newspapers; 15 of the 19 had sold papers or
done other street work for at least two years prior to their delin­
quency, and 11 were on the streets at the time of the survey selling
at least 24 hours a week.
.
Many of the charges against the newsboys were serious. The 52
offenses for which the 34 boys had been brought into court were
stealing (28), in many cases combined with breaking into stores or
houses, truancy (8), loitering around railroad property or injuring
property (3), “ incorrigibility” (6), stabbing or shooting (2), and
breaking windows or throwing stones (5). The records of three
boys identified in the index files of the court were not found, and the
nature of their delinquency therefore is not known.
The records of the cases were so brief that it was seldom possible
to determine whether or not the b oy’s work had been a factor in his
committing the offense with which he was charged. The following
cases, however, showed that newspaper selling furnished the motive
or supplied the environment for the delinquency:
An Italian newsboy, who was 15 years of age at the time of the study, said
that he had begun to sell papers at the age of 12. In 1917, however, more than
five years before the study, he’ had been arrested for stealing newspapers; m
1918 his parents had been arrested for allowing their children to be on the streets
late at night and had been ordered not to allow the boys to sell newspapers; again
in 1918 his parents were fined for allowing three children, aged 3, 5, and 8 years,
to sell papers; and two months later he himself was arrested for stealing news­
papers from a crippled newsboy and was ordered not to sell papers for a year.
In 1920, his father having died and his mother having been committed to an
insane asylum, he and his brothers and sisters were committed to the county
children’s home. H e ran away from the home, and though only 12 years of age,
was declared to be incorrigible and to have a bad influence on the other boys
in the home, and was committed to an industrial school for one year. About a
to The marks in the various studies given in the school records for the semester were averaged to obtain
one mark for the semester’s work in all studies.


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

year after leaving the school and just before the study, he was charged with
stealing a bicycle and was put on a suspended sentence to the industrial school.
He had been diagnosed as feeble-minded and psychopathic and was in an ungraded
class at the opportunity school. He sold three or four hours every school day.

A 13-year-old newsboy whose father, a native white, had deserted him, lived
with an uncle. H e had been selling papers for three years in order to keep
himself in clothes, selling down town from 4.30 to 7 daily. Almost a year before
he was interviewed he had been taken before the court for stealing newspapers
and had been forbidden to sell for 60 days.

A 13-year-old boy of native white parentage had sold papers from the age of
9. A t the time of the study he sold only on Sunday from 4.30 a. m. to 1.30 p. m.
He had had four court charges against him. When only 8 he was charged with
breaking into a business establishment with intent to steal And had been put
on probation. Two years later he stole $10 worth of cigarettes from a con­
fectionery company. In January, 1923, he was charged with littering the public
streets with bottles, and in February, 1923, with stealing newspapers. A t that
time the court forbade his selling newspapers for six months.

Two negro brothers, 12 and 11 years old at the time of the study, had been
arrested in 1921, 1922, and in February, 1923, for stealing. The third charge
was of stealing money from milk bottles on the steps of the customers who
bought papers from them. As a result they had been forbidden to sell papers
for a year.

A 13-year-old boy of native white parentage, who had begun to sell papers ^
at the age of 11, had been arrested in June, 1922, for stealing newspapers and W
had been ordered not to sell again for six months. When interviewed in Novem ­
ber, 1922, however, he reported that he was selling daily.

A boy of Russian-Jewish parentage, who had sold papers for five years, begin­
ning at the age of 10, had been brought to court in January, 1921, for truancy,
and the following September for stealing from newsboys.

A negro boy, 13 years of age, selling daily, had begun to sell papers at the age
of 8. When 10 he had been charged with truancy. When 11 he was again
in court for stealing newspapers from stands and porches, and was forbidden
to sell papers for a year.
N E W S P A P E R CAR R IE R S

In addition to the three principal daily newspapers of Columbus,
all of which were distributed to subscribers as well as sold on the
streets, several others (among them a German newspaper issued
several times a week and a newspaper published daily by the State
university) employed a few route boys. A few boys also delivered
out-of-town Sunday papers.
The Children’s Bureau study included 986 newspaper-route boys,
of whom 826 attended public schools and 160 attended parochial
schools. Seventeen girls also reported that they had delivered news-1Wt
papers, and one had collected on a newspaper route, long enough to


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COLUMBUS, OHIO

149

be included in the study. The girls are not included in the tabula­
tion for this report or in the following discussion.61
R AC E A N D N A T IO N A L IT Y OF F A T H E R S

The newspaper carriers were chiefly from native white families.
(Table 8, p. 25.) Only 12 per cent, compared with 26 per cent of the
newsboys, had foreign-born fathers, and only 4 per cent, compared'
with 16 per cent of the newsboys, were negroes. The carriers of
foreign parentage as a rule were from the older immigrant families,
predominantly of German stock; only 11 per cent, compared with
43 per cent of the newsboys, were Russian Jews. Sixteen carriers
had been born outside the United States, a very much smaller pro­
portion than that of newsboys who were of foreign birth.
A GE OF C A R R IE R S

The age distribution of the Columbus carriers was very similar to
that of carriers in other cities; 29 per cent were 14 and under 16
years, 38 per cent were 12 and under 14, and 33 per cent were under
12 years of age. The average age of the carriers was 12.2.
One-third of the carriers under 12 years of age were only helpers to
other boys, often their older brothers, but the majority, even among
this younger group, had their own routes. Almost all the helpers
were under 12 years of age.
W O R K E X PE R IE N C E

The great majority of the carriers had never done any street work
except carry newspapers, most of them only on the route which they
had at the time of the study. However, when interviewed 80
carriers were engaging in some other form of street work, almost
always newspaper selling, and 422 (more than two-fifths) at some
time in their lives had had other street work than the newspaper
route on which they were employed at that time, generally either
carrying on another route or selling papers. Very few of the carriers
at the date of interview had any kind of work except street work, but
34 had such jobs as that of errand boy or helper in a grocery store,
and 199 at some time had had some work experience other than
street work— caddying, working in drug stores, etc.— most of them in
only one job.
More than two-fifths (43 per cent) of the Columbus carriers had
carried newspapers without interruption less than six months, the
median duration being between six and eight months. (Table 35.)
On the other hand, 23 per cent had had newspaper routes continu­
ously for at least two years, and 13 per cent (123 boys) had had them
for three to nine years. The group which had carried the longest
period included some of the younger as well as older boys. For
example, a boy of 11 had been carrying on the same route for three
and one-half years, acting as helper to his older brother but receiving
his share of the earnings; he had started “ for fun” but at the time of
Of the 18 girls 10 were employed to help brothers, 1 helped an older sister, and 1 helped another girl.
The remaining 6 had routes of their own. All were white, and only 3 reported foreign parentage. Five
were under 10 years, 4 were between 10 and 12, 8 were between 12 and 14, and 1 was 14. All worked in the
afternoon except a 12-year-old girl, who delivered papers between 6 and 8 a. m. on Sundays. The maximum
number of hours worked per week was 12, and most of the girls worked only a few hours a week. Five of
the 18 had worked at least one year. All except 2 reported receiving some money for their work; most of
those helping other route carriers earned less than $1 a week, but most of those working independently
made.’at. least $1. .None contributed any of their earnings toward family support.


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

the study was buying all his clothes and helping his mother, who was
supporting the family because of his father’s chronic illness. This
boy was in the sixth grade and had an average of more than 90 in his
studies. Like newspaper selling, though for somewhat different
reasons, delivering papers in Columbus was an exacting job (see pp.
151, 152), so that the less intelligent or less persistent boys got tired
of it and quit after a few months.
T a b l e 35.

Previous duration of job held at date of interview, by aye period; news­
paper carriers, Columbus, Ohio
Newspaper carriers from 6 to 15 years of age
Total

Previous duration of job
held at date of interview

Under 10
years

10 years,
under 12

12 years,
under 14

14 years,
under 16

Age
Per
Per
Per
Per
Per not re­
port­
cent
cent
cent
cent
cent
Num­
ed 1
dis­ Num­ dis­ Num­ dis­ Num­ dis­ Num­ dis­
ber
tribu­ ber tribu­ ber tribu­ ber tribu­ ber tribu­
tion
tion
tion
tion
tion

Total______________

986

Total reported.......... ......

984

102
100.0

101

217
100.0

217

376
100.0

376

288
100.0

287

3
100.0

3
1

Less than 1 year______

605

61.5

75

74.3

148

68.2

231

61.4

150

52.3

Less than 6 months

424

43.1

64

63.4

103

47.5

151

40.2

106

36.9

Less than 2
months____
2 months, less
than 4_____
4 months, less
than 6______
6 months, less than
1 year__________
1 year, less than 2.
2 years, less than 3
3 years and over........
Not reported............

1

121

12.3

23

22.8

33

15.2

42

11.2

23

8.0

162

16.5

24

23.8

39

18.0

60

16.0

39

13.6

141

14.3

17

16.8

31

14.3

49

13.0

44

15.3

181

18.4

11

10.9

45

20.7

80

21.3

44

15.3

155
101
123

15.8
10.3
12.5

21
3

20.8
3.0
2.0

36
20
13

16.6
9.2
6.0

49
44
52

13.0
11.7
13.8

49
34
54

17.1
11.8
18.8

2

1

tv » *« *

1

1

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.
C O N D IT IO N S OF E M P L O Y M E N T

Carriers in Columbus, as a rule, were not employed by the news­
paper offices. They generally had so-called independent routes,
over which they had full control, even of the right to sell the route,
and for which they had full responsibility, including the responsibility
of making collections and of meeting deficits if customers failed to
pay. ^ They were not independent carriers, however, in the sense
used in many places (that is, carriers who work on their own account
purchasing their papers like the street seller and like him making
whatever disposition of them they wished), for on the one hand
they were given credit, usually weekly, for the papers that they took
out, and on the other hand they were part of a carefully organized
system which enforced definite regulations and exacted a special
type of service.
At least two of the newspapers, however, had a few “ office routes. ”
Boys carrying on these routes were paid a fixed salary, and collections
were made by the office; or if the boy collected and was unsuccessful,
he was given assistance from the office in making the collection.

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Before giving A boy a route all the principal newspapers made a
point of sending a representative to call on the boy s parents m
order to get their consent and cooperation and to explain to them tne
nature of the work, and throughout the boy’s employment visits were
made to discuss the boy’s progress with his parents.
Fifteen per cent of the boys m the C hildren s Bureau survey
worked only for another carrier, including about half those who were
under 10 years of age and one-fourth of those who were between 10
Although some of the carriers went to the main offices down town
for their papers and others received their papers at street corners
near their routes, where they were sent by truck or trolley, the
larger number, like the newspaper sellers, called for their papers at
the substations and branch offices. In fact, according to one of the
circulation managers, one of the reasons for instituting the system of
substations had been to meet the objections of carriers parents who
did not wish their sons to come in contact with the newsboys at the
main offices. Conditions at the substations and branch offices, as
well as at the main offices, were the same for carriers as for newspaper
sellers (see pp. 128-130), though only carriers worked from some ot
the substations.
_
.
. A
Bovs delivering any considerable number of papers carried them m
a canvas sack slung over the shoulders, or in two sacks; others used
small express wagons; both sacks and wagons were sometimes given
as prizes for new customers. The majority of the boys delivered at
least 50 papers; 261 delivered between 25 and 50, and 152 boys
(15 per cent) delivered at least 100 papers, the weight of which was
1 ^
“ u t ^ o f t K a ^ e r involved a good deal of responsibility.
Carriers were required to learn and abide by certain rides, such as
sending a substitute in case of illness, reporting orders to stop subscriptions or changes of address, and reporting on collections at, 8
specified time; and penalties were imposed for breaking the rules,
“ skipping” customers, etc. The carriers were expected to enlarge
their routes (though at least one newspaper office reserved the right
to split independent routes that had grown too large by paying
bov for the customers that were withdrawn from his route), and
prizes were given to encourage them to get new subscriptions. I heir
duties obliged them, also, to learn a certain amount of simple book­
keeping, keeping of accounts, and filling m of forms. They were
given some instruction in how to meet with the public by the older
boys in charge of the substations. At least one of the newspapers
had a regular weekly meeting of substation managers
managers in order to keep up interest in the work and help the boys
with their problems of supervision over the earners. Another paper
published a small four-page newspaper addressed chiefly to route
boys, printing articles, such as “ Every customer once a prospect, ^
“ Good carriers’ creed,” and “ See that you are not the weak link ,
advertisements of prizes for new subscriptions; list of pnze winners
instructions to new boys; news items about mdividual camers a
letters from district managers commenting on the work ot tne boys
I in their districts. Some of the newspaper proprietors and circulation
* managers.maintained that the carrier’s work had definite promotional
75034°— 28-------11


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

possibilities; the best of the route boys, they said, had the oppor­
tunity of becoming substation managers at a small but regular
salary, and the training and experience gained and the contacts made
m this position were valuable assets if they were interested in enter­
ing the circulation department of a newspaper organization.
R EG U L A R IT Y O F W O R K

Even more generally than that of the newspaper sellers, whose
work in Columbus was unusually regular, the carrier’s job was a
daily one. The principal papers were issued daily, and two of the
three had Sunday editions. Almost all the carriers included in the
g 2 per cent) worked every day or every day except Sunday,
486 oi the 986 working every week day and 420 others working Seven
days a week. Only 12 boys worked Saturdays or Sundays only or
both; these boys had routes for out-of-town papers. Some of the
other boys who did not work every day carried a newspaper issued
three times a week, and others helped regular carriers on days when
their papers were unusually heavy or acted as substitutes when
regular carriers were unable to work.
H OURS OF W O RK

Only a few of the boys included in the study carried the daily mornmg newspaper and so worked in the morning on school days, but the
majority worked on Sunday mornings delivering the Sunday edi­
tion ot the afternoon dailies. Of the 48 carriers working in the morn­
ing on school days, 41 began before 6 a. m., of whom 14 reported
beginning before 4.30, the others around 5 or 5.30. Many of the
carriers getting out very early in the morning were boys of 14 or 15
years of age, but 21,of the 41 were under 14. One 12-year-old boy
and two 13 years of age said that they started work about 3 30
Une ol these boys maintained that he got eight or nine hours’ sleep
by talang a nap after school and going to bed at 6 p. m. On Sunday
mornings 390 boys with no other street job carried papers, 247 of
them beginning before 6 a. m. and 43' before 4 o’clock. Most of
these 43 boys began delivering their papers at 3 or 3.30, besides
WOTkmg every week-day afternoon; 9 were under 12 years of age
ih e great majority of the carriers worked in the afternoon after
school. Almost all (96 per cent) of the 866 whose only street work
was carrying papers ended their work before 6 o’clock. M ost of
those who did not finish their routes by 6 or shortly after that hour
also sold newspapers, generally while on their way from house to
house or office to office delivering their papers, and this made them
later than boys who only carried. A few boys, however, had unusually
heavy or scattered routes or were kept out because of some other
unusual feature of their work. For example, one boy delivered his
own papers between 3.30 and 5, went back to the distributing agent
to get a list of “ misses” reported for other carriers, and delivered
the papers to these customers between 6.30 and 7.30. Another boy
delivered New York papers every evening on a round of hotels
between 6.45 and 7.15 or 7 and 8.30.
Unlike the boys selling papers on the streets, afternoon carriers 1
usually comDleted their work in time to join their families for the


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COLUMBUS, OHIO

evening meal. Some of the morning carriers got a bite to eat before
starting out on their routes, but it seemed to be more customary to
have breakfast with the family after the morning’s work was done.
Sunday carriers often worked two or three hours before breakfast.
Some of the circulation managers reported that efforts were made
to regulate the routes so that less than an hour s work a day would
be required of the carriers. The majority (57 per cent) of the boys
themselves reported that on school days they spent between one and
two hours on their routes, though 31 per cent spent less than an hour
(Table 37). These hours included “ shoving,” or putting together
the different sections of the papers, four or five days a week, work that
took 15 or 20 minutes a day and was done under rather trymg cir­
cumstances because of the crowded rooms and the haste. A 13-yearold boy said that at his substation the younger carriers could not get
away until after the older ones had finished their shoving, as the
larger and stronger boys monopolized all the space available for
shoving, pushing the smaller boys out of the way. A small proportion
of the carriers (107, or 12 per cent) worked at least two hours a day,
including a number under 12 years of age. Some of these boys had
heavy routes (that is, routes of 100 customers or more), but others
delivered “ misses” made by other carriers or left bundles of papers
at stores or news stands (without extra pay), or had both morning
and afternoon routes. Typical of the last group were two boys, one
14 years old, the other 9. The older boy, who was employed by a
branch office, delivered and sold 148 morning papers between 5 and
7.30 a. m. and carried an afternoon paper from 3.15 to 5, working 4M
hours on school days, 4 % hours on Saturdays, and 3 hours on Sundays.
The younger boy also worked from a branch office, carrymg the
morning paper for l}4 hours and one of the evening papers for threequarters of an hour.
T able

37.— Number of hours of street work on a typical school day, by age period;
newspaper carriers holding a single job, Columbus, Ohio
Newspaper carriers from 6 to 15 years of age

Total
Number of hours of street
work on a typical school
day.

Under 10
years

10 years,
under 12

12 years,
under 14

14 years,
under 16

Age
re­
Per not
Per
Per
Per
Per
port­
cent Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent
cent
ed
1
Num­
Num­ dis­
dis­
dis­
dis­
dis­
ber tribu­ ber tribu­ ber tribu­ ber tribu­ ber tribuì
tion
tion
tion
tion
tion

Total______________

906

91

195

351

268

1

Street work on school days.

898

89

193

348

267

1

Total reported-----------

895

100.0

89

100.0

192

100.0

347

100.0

266

100.0

1

Less than 1 hour—
1 hour, less than 2.
2 hours and over...

280
508
107

31.3
56.8
12.0

40
39
10

44.9
43.8
11.2

65
108
19

33.9
56.3
9.9

98
215
34

28.2
62.0
9.8

77
145
44

28.9
54.5
16.5

1

3
No street work on school
days----------------------- -—

8

2

1

1

1

2

3

1

i Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

Because of the time that they were obliged to give to collecting the
Z e± J ^ m ent fr° mt
cust°mers, making their returns, and
settling their own weekly bills, carriers’ hours were much longer on
Saturdays than on other days. Almost half (46 per cent) the boys
iin S tV I T 1
h° Urs ?n Sat.urday s> a not negligible propor­
tion of the total (12 per cent) working five hours or more. Some of
the carriers said that it took them practically all day Saturday to
Saturday^1117 269 b°yS 32 per cent^ worked less than two hours on
The hours on Sunday, though not so long as on Saturday, were
longer than on school days. Almost half (45 per cent) the 390 Sundav
carriers worked at least two hours, and 13 per cent at least three hours
~undY ? aperS wJere1much heavier than the week-day editions, so
mat the boys made slower progress on their routes.
As almost all the carriers worked six or seven days a week their
weekly hours were long. Although 11 per cent of all of them and 20
per cent of those under 12 years of age worked less than four hours a
week on their newspaper routes, 25 per cent (including 16 per cent
of the boys under 12 years) worked at least 12 hours a week Co­
lumbus newspaper carriers worked much longer hours than news­
paper-route boys m other cities.
. I^ fhis connection it was interesting to find that some of the more
intelligent parents deplored the fact that the newspaper work took
so much time that their boys had too little left for recreation: others
made the same comment, though from the opposite angle, when thev
congratulated themselves that the boys “ had no time for mischief
not even on Saturdays.” Some of the boys, also, reported that they
were much too busy to mdulge in any form of recreation, though it
was seldom that any of them voiced a complaint like that of one 11year-old earner who said, “ It kind of takes away all my playtime.”
E AR N IN G S

Under,tke independent-carrier system in Columbus carriers made
a profit ol three-fourths of a cent on each daily paper delivered and 2 A
l
cents to %/i cents on Sunday papers, usually getting the papers on
credit by the week and makmg their own collections. The great
majority of the carriers were paid in this way; only-5 per cent paid
for .then* papers as they got them and delivered to their customers
entirely on their own account, and only 20 per cent were paid a fixed
sum. Bess than half those being paid a fixed sum were boys having
office routes who were paid a regular weekly wage by the newspaper
company, the others being only helpers or substitutes paid by the
boys for whom they worked. All except 15 of the helpers were paid
for them work, more than half of them less than $1.
Of the 893 carriers who did no other street work and who were able
I»
ai?2U\nt
made a week, 54 per cent made less than
$o. fia b le 38.) -Excluding those who were only helpers, 48 per
cent made less than $3. A not inconsiderable proportion (18 per
cent) of all the carriers earned at least $5, a few boys reporting
weekly earnings of $8, $10, or even larger sums.
6


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CÔLtfMBÜS, ÔHIÔ

T a b l e 38.— Earnings during a typical week, by number of hours engaged, newspaper
carriers holding a single job, Columbus, Ohio
Newspaper carriers from 6 to 15 years of age

71

104

273

290

158

Total reported— ^---------------- 893 100.0

102 100.0

271 100.0

285 100.0

156 100.0

21
37
63
185
172
140
102
08
80

2.4
4.1
7.1
20.7
19.3
15.7
11.4
7. 6
10.0

14 13.7
13 12.7
20 19.6
40 39.2
5.9
6
1
1.0

.4
1
5.5
15
8.9
24
75 27.7
75 27.7
34 12.5
8.1
22
3.3
9
4.1
11

2
7
13
49
57
62
42
25
26

.7
2.5
4.6
17.2
20.0
21.8
14.7
8.8
9.1

4
1
4
13
23
31
25
23
31

16

1.8
■

1.8

2

.7

1

Total___________

Less than $0.25____
$0.25, less than $0.50
$0.50, less than $1.—
$1, less than $2____
$2, less than $3____
$3, less than $4------$4, less than $5____
$5, less than $6------$6 and over_______
N o earnings and no cash
.
earnings________

906

Not reported-------------

7.8

8

5
2

1

5

2

Per cent dis­
tribution

£

|Number

O

16 hours
and over

Per cent dis­
tribution

U

12 hours,
less than
16

Number

Per cent dis­
tribution

8 hours,
less than
12
Per cent dis­
tribution

4 hours,
less than
8

Number

Per cent dis­
tribution

Number

Less than
4 hours

Number

Total
Earnings during a typical
week

Per cent dis­
tribution

Working specified number of hours per week

71 100.0

2.6
.6
2.6
8.3
14.7
19.9
16.0
14.7
19.9

1
5
10
11
12
11
21

1.4
7.0
14.1
15.5
16.9
15.5
29.6

.6 . . . .

1

'

i Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

As in the majority of instances earnings varied directly with the
number of customers, they varied directly also with the length of
time given to the work (though they were affected by other elements,
such as the distance between customers ’ houses) and especially with
the b o y ’s collecting ability. A number of boys reported that they
should earn more than the amount that they named but that they
could never collect from their customers the full amount due.
Comments like the following were rather common from both the car­
riers and their parents: “ Boys have to stand all losses when customers
m ove,” “ One lady owed Bennie 72 cents, and she finally paid 55
cents. The paper man don’t care whether people pay as long as he
gets his money. One week he didn’t give Bennie nothing.
1
should make $2.44 a week, but I never made more than $1.50 except
once. If I stopped serving them the substation man would ja ise the
dickens and dock me 15 cents for each customer each time.
lh e
monev helps the family, but he loses some by customers not paying,
unless I help.” “ He is unable to collect all the money due him even
when I help. I don’t care to give him the money to pay his weekly
bill, and I want him to give up his route.” “ Bob quit last Saturday
because he had so much trouble collecting his money, and 1 often had
to help pay for the papers.” “ He doesn’t earn enough to count.
It should be more, but he loses through customers moving or failing
to pay. The newspapers don ’t help the children or give them proper
backing when they lose.” “ I really earn $6.40 a week but am never
able to collect it.”


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

The earnings that carriers reported included tips if they received
them. It appeared to be more customary in Columbus than in other
places to give the carrier a tip; about one-third of the carriers reported
that they usually received from at least some of their customers
something more than the amount owed them. The fact that the
weekly bill for most customers was 22 cents probably accounts for
some of the tipping; it was easier to let the boy “ keep the change”
a quarter than to wait. The fact that the study was mtde
at the Christmas season also explams part of the tipping reported.
N E E D F O R E A R N IN G S

The carriers came from rather more prosperous families than news­
paper sellers, if the occupation of the chief breadwinner may be taken
as an indication Among them were relatively more skilled mechanics
and machinists than among the newspaper sellers, more commercial
travelers and salesmen, more professional men, and three times as
many clerks. Fewer carriers ’ fathers were factory workers or laborers,
and only about half as many fathers or mothers were in occupations
classihed as domestic and personal service. The occupations of the
chief breadwinners were fairly representative of those of all the male
workers 20 years of age and over.52 They included about the same
proportion of railroad employees and other transportation workers
a slightly larger proportion of salesmen, proprietors and managers of
stores, and others m trade, almost as many clerks and not many
more factory workers, mechanics, and artisans; but only half as many
were m professional pursuits or in public service, and the same pro­
portion were m domestic and personal service.
,i
“ ?,uck larger proportion of the newspaper-route carriers than of
the sellers came from families m which father and mother were living
together and the father was supporting the family. The proportion
of normal homes (81 per cent) was about the same as had been found
m unselected groups of boys. (See p. 29.) On the other hand
many of the carriers were fatherless— 134 boys had lost their ow i
fathers but 42 of these had stepfathers or others taking the place of
their fathers; so that 92 boys (9 per cent) were in what may be termed
widowed homes. In the families of 64 boys (6 per cent) the mother
was the main support, working chiefly in domestic service, though a
lew were factory operatives or saleswomen or had other occupations
In order to get more specific mformation as to their social and
economic standing carriers’ families, like those of the newsboys
were visited Visits were made to 112 families in which were 142
(15 per cent) of the carriers included in the study.
The earnings of the chief breadwinners in the carriers’ families
were about the same as those of Columbus wage earners as shown in
e a r n S ^ o f the
f i atlsi Cf? stud^
<Se.e P- 137,) The median
nm1
u 95
breadwinners reportmg were between $1,250
" ¿ S ? ; whereas the average for white families in the Bureau of
Labor Statistics study was $1,295 and for negro families was lower.53
i air ? a*Fe proportion (29 per cent) of the carriers were in families
e ffathers
e r edwith
*• i,850
° r-m0re;
ly 9 as
Per$1,850.
^
of A majority
newspaper
sellers thad
earnmgs
as rlarge
of
83 f c t h l y L a b o ^ v i i w ^ ^ B ^ S ^ L i b O T
O ^ n i^ tio n s , PP. 1088-1090.
See footnote 101, p. 83.
'
‘
eau 01 ■Lat)0r statistics), Vol. IX , No. 6 (December, 1919), pp. 36,38.


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157

the heads of carriers’ families had had no unemployment, but a
small proportion (13 per cent)— almost as many as among newspaper
sellers—had been unemployed three months or longer during the
year preceding the interview with the family.
Family earnings seemed to be somewhat larger than those of the
families of Columbus wage earners included in the Bureau of Labor
Statistics study, for the median annual earnings in the 79 families
reporting (see footnote 39, p. 137) were between $1,450 and $1,850,
whereas in the families included in the Bureau of Labor Statistics
study the average earned income ranged from $1,198 in negro families
to $1,328 in white families.84 The carriers’ families were a little
larger than those included in the Bureau of Labor Statistics study,
averaging 6.1 compared with an average of 4.8 members. (See
footnote 11, p. 84.)
The proportion of gainfully employed mothers was a little larger
than the average shown in the Bureau of Labor Statistics survey of
wage earners’ incomes in Columbus; 12 per cent of the carriers,
exclusive of those whose mothers earned the family living, had mothers
who were employed, not including those who may have kept boarders
or lodgers, compared with 9 per cent of the white mothers in the
Federal study of family incomes.65 The difference is probably fully
accounted for by the number of carriers’ mothers who were widows
or deserted wives though not the main support of their families, for
the Bureau of Labor Statistics study included no family in which
the father was not present.
That on the whole the carriers’ families were rather above the
average in prosperity is shown also by the fact that half of those to
whom visits were paid were buying or had bought the houses in which
they lived. About one-third of the dwelling houses in the city of
Columbus were owned either in whole or in part by their tenants.56
At the time of the study 11 carriers’ mothers were in receipt of
mothers’ pensions. A very small percentage of the carriers’ families
had received relief from charitable organizations. (See footnote 43,
p. 138.) In 1922 or 1923 (that is, approximately in the year preceding
the reading of the agency record) 21 white families in which were 26
carriers and 5 negro families with 5 carriers had received aid, consti­
tuting 3 per cent of' the 946 white carriers and 13 per cent of the 40
negro carriers included in the study. Before 1922 charitable assistance
had been given to 28 other families of carriers. Typical of families
receiving more than a few grocery orders or perhaps a small amount
of money once or twice were the following:
A native white family in which the father was dead was supported by the
mother who worked as extra waitress at a tea room and had a mothers’ pension
of $36 a month. A t the time of the survey the family consisted of four children
from 5 to 14 years of age. A 9-year-old boy earned 50 cents a week helping
another boy deliver papers and $1.50 a week helping a grocer, working eight
hours a week on his paper route and three hours a day (from 6.30 to 8 a. m.
and 4.30 to 6 p. m.) every week day in the grocery store. The family-service
society had aided with $8 a week since 1921. The boy reported that he bought
all his clothing, saved some of his money, and had some for spending money.
A n oth er n ativ e w h ite fa m ily , w ith tw o ch ildren u n der 16 w h ose pa ren ts w ere
d iv o rce d , w as Supported b y th e m oth er, w h o w ork ed in a 5 -a n d -1 0 -cen t store,
MIbid., pp. 36, 38.
56 Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Voi. II, Population, p. 1297;


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

receiving $11 a week. A 15-year-old boy earned $2 a week on his paper route.
The family-service society gave $8 a week during an illness of the mother and
paid the rent.
A native white family in which were four children from 7 to 14 years of age
was supported by the father’s earnings of about $15 a week as a house-to-house
canvasser on commission. The father was a carpenter but was not strong enough
to work at his trade. The mother did washing and cleaning when she was able,
but she was suffering from goiter. Two boys, 13 and 14 years old, had paper
routes, earning together a little more than $5. The family-service society had
given almost continuous relief for 10 years, and during the year preceding the study
had contributed $10 a week.
R E A S O N S F O R U N D E R T A K IN G S T R E E T W O R K

When the carriers were asked why they had first taken newspaper
routes or had first sold papers or done their first street work, what­
ever it may have been, 536 of the 986 gave a personal reason; 25 per
cent had wanted spending money, 17 per cent had wanted to work,
and 12 per cent had wanted to earn money for some special object or
hobby. A few boys (5 per cent), it appeared, would not have gone
into the work except for the suggestion of a representative of the
newspaper or the desire to win prizes offered by the newspapers.
Eighteen per cent had begun to work because their friends were
doing it and 9 per cent in order to help another boy.
Only a small number (41 boys) said that their reason for going to
work had been the need to earn money to help out at home. This
proportion (4 per cent) is less than one-third that of newspaper
sellers who said that they had been obliged to go to work because of
poverty. (See p. 140.) The boys’ statements on this point, as well
as the financial status of the families, when compared with that of
other wage earners’ families and the mode of living, all indicate that
only rarely was the carriers’ job undertaken to relieve actual need.
Although only 6 per cent of all the boys said that they had first
gone into street work at their parents’ instigation, a large majority
of the carriers’ families visited (88 per cent) were emphatic in their
approval of newspaper-route work. Only nine parents expressed
disapproval, generally because the boys lost money on their collec­
tions, and only a few were indifferent. The fact that the news­
papers made a point of seeking the parents’ cooperation may account
for this attitude. (See p. 151.) Some parents even gave active
assistance; fathers drove their boys to the substations for their
papers or on Sundays even helped them deliver the papers, and
mothers supervised accounts and helped to make collections. One
of the best examples of such cooperation was in a family in which
three boys, 10, 13, and 14 years of age, respectively, had routes.
The mother had advanced money for the routes which they had
bought at various times, and had helped them divide the routes
among them. She computed their earnings twice a week, checked
up their accounts, and took charge of their earnings. She approved
of the work because it “ kept them off the streets” and because she
wanted them to learn to take care of themselves. The money helped
to clothe the boys, repair their shoes, etc. In general the same
reasons for approving of the work were expressed by carriers’ parents
as by those of newspaper sellers. (See p. 141.)
Only 21 per cent of the 112 carriers’ families visited said definitely
that they needed the carriers’ earnings, but an additional 23 per
cent said that they were a real aid, either in supporting the family
or in buying the boys’ clothing, school books, or other necessities.

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159

That the boys’ earnings were helpful in those families (51 per cent
of the total) in which the head of the family earned less than $1,450
a year is self-evident.
D IS P O S IT IO N O P E A R N IN G S

As might be expected from the fact that the carriers’ families in
the main were better off financially than the newspaper sellers’
families, fewer carriers than sellers contributed any of their earnings
toward the support of their families, and relatively only about half as
many had to turn in to the family all that they made from their
newspaper routes. The proportion of carriers helping with family
expenses was only 25 per cent. (Table 39.) These included 13
boys contributing all their earnings and 25 using all either for family
or for personal necessities; moreover, 23 other boys spent all their
earnings on clothes, school books and supplies, and other necessities,
so that altogether 61 boys (6 per cent) had none of their money for
pocket money or savings. One of these boys earned $6.75 a week;
he helped with family expenses, spent $50 a year for his school
tuition, and bought his clothes. The father owned a store and
had three children. Another was the son of a watchman at a rail­
road crossing who, owing to illness, had earned only $511 during
the year preceding the interview, though he had been assisted by a
fraternal society and had a small sum from the rental of part of his
house, which he owned. The earnings of the 13-year-old boy, the
oldest of three children, were all used for family expenses. Another
13-year-old boy, earning $1.15 a week from his paper route, was the
oldest of three children in a thrifty German family. The mother
jjjf reported the father’s earnings as $1,500 and her own as a laundress
as about $87 during the preceding year. The family owned the
house in which they lived. She said that they would not let the
boy work, because it was “ awful hard in winter,” except that they
needed the money, all of which went toward the support of the
family. These three cases are probably typical of the families in
which all the carriers’ earnings were used for necessities.
The number of boys reporting that at least some of their money
went for clothes and other necessary personal expenses was rather
surprisingly large; these boys constituted 61 per cent of all the carriers,
compared with only 53 per cent of the newspaper sellers. A large
proportion (75 per cent) also used some of their money for pleasures
and amusements, including 44 boys who said that all their earnings
went in that way. One of the 44 selected at random from the group
was a 10-year-old boy earning 50 cents a week; his father, the pro­
prietor of a confectionery store, reported an income of about $4,000
a year.
Two-thirds of the carriers (67 per cent) saved at least part of the
money they earned , including 6 per cent who saved all. Among those
saving all was a 9-year-old carrier, again selected at random, making
$1.65 a week on an afternoon route; his father earned about $2,100
a year as a sales manager, and there were six children in the family.
Nevertheless, the boy was permitted to save all that he earned in
^ order to teach him to save, though his mother said that occasionally
" she bought something for him from his savings so that he might have
the pleasure of saying that he had earned it.

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T able

3 9 . — D is p o s itio n o f ea r n in g s; n e w sp a p er ca rriers, C o lu m b u s, O hio

N ew sp ap er carriers
to 15 years o f
age

6

D isp o sitio n o f earnings 2
N um ber

P er cen t
distri­
b u tio n

T o ta l............................ ...... ............................

986

Total reported_________________ _______ _________

982

100.0

All for self.............................................................

719

73.2

Spent for necessities_______ _______ ______
Spent for luxuries________________________
Spent for necessities and luxuries__________
Saved______________________ _______ ____ _
Saved and spent for necessities____________
Saved and spent for luxuries______________
Saved and spent for necessities and luxuries

23
44
89
60

2.3
4.5
9.1

148
269

15.1
27.4

Part to family and part for self2.........................

86

6.1
8.8

233

23.7

Spent for necessities.................................... .
Spent for luxuries________________________
Spent for necessities and luxuries__________
Saved.-....... ...................................................
Saved and spent for necessities____________
Saved and spent for luxuries______________
Saved and spent for necessities and luxuries

25
56
60

2.5
5.7

11

6.1
1.1

9
37
35

.9
3.8
3.6

All to family.........................................................
No earnings and no cash earnings.......................

13
17

1.3
1.7

Not reported______________________ ______ - .........

4

1 E arnings spen t for necessities, luxuries, or b o th , m a y in clu d e expenses o f jo b .
S u bsid iary item s sh o w disp osition o f part spen t for self.

2

Of the 90 carriers who were fatherless 30 per cent helped their
families as compared with 22 per cent of those whose fathers were in
the home. Fewer fatherless boys were able to save, and fewer had
any of their money to spend on themselves. The differences between
the two groups in the distribution of the boys’ earnings were slight,
though, as was pointed out in regard to newspaper sellers, the amounts
for each item may have differed considerably for fatherless boys and
boys with fathers at home and working. Greater differences in the
distribution of earnings were found on comparing carriers in families
whose chief breadwinners earned at least $1,450 with those in families
whose chief breadwinners earned less than $1,450. The numbers are
small, but it is interesting to note that 38 per cent of the boys in the
poorer homes and only 14 per cent of .those in the more prosperous
ones reported contributing anything toward family expenses. The
proportion using their money for Christmas gifts, radio sets, toys, and
the like was more than twice as large among carriers coming from the
more prosperous homes than among those who were less well off.
C A R R IE R S IN S C H O O L

One hundred and forty (14 per cent) of the carriers were high-school
boys.57 This proportion is twice as large as the proportion of news­
boys who attended high school, though the proportion of carriers who
were 14 or older (that is, of an age to enter high school) was 29 per
cent, compared with 20 per cent of the newsboys.
Som e o f th e 140 b o y s w ere in the n in th grade o f th e ju n io r high school.


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Attendance.

School-attendance records were found for 475 (87 per cent) of the
548 carriers who had worked at least part of the school semester
ended June, 1922. The average percentage of attendance was 95,
which is a somewhat better record than for all children in the Colum­
bus public schools. (See p. 145.) All except 47 boys (10 per cent) had
been present at least 90 per cent of the semester. No apparent con­
nection existed between the fact that these boys were absent ap­
proximately 19 days or more of the term and their work as newspaper
carriers.
Deportment.

The deportment of the carriers appeared to be equally satisfactory.
Of the 339 boys for whom semester marks in deportment were
obtained, 22 per cent had marks of at least 90, and 82 per cent had
been marked at least 80. Fifteen per cent had received marks of
between 70 and 80 in deportment and only 3 per cent less than 70
(the passing mark). These marks were decidedly better than the
deportment marks of the boys who sold papers on the streets. (See
p. 145.)
Progress and scholarship.

w

,

The carriers’ progress in school seems to indicate that, so far as
ability goes, they were a picked group. The proportion of carriers
who were retarded in school (see footnote 38, p. 22) was only 15 per
cent, less than half that of the newspaper sellers and much less than
that of all Columbus public-school children of the same ages (see
p. 146). Eighteen per cent of the carriers were in higher than average
grades for their ages, a proportion that is almost twice that of the
newspaper sellers in higher than average grades. The carriers who
worked long hours had advanced in school as rapidly as those who
worked comparatively few hours, for although 16 per cent of the
boys spending at least 12 hours a week on their route work were re­
tarded, compared with only 14 per cent of those working under 12
hours, the difference is so slight as probably to be accounted for by
differences in the ages of the two groups; the group working the
longer hours contained more of the older boys, and the percentage
of retarded among any group of school children increases with the
ages of the children.
.
. .
,
As was pointed out earlier in this report (see p. 23) the adverse
effects on school progress of the work that the boys did, if adverse
effects there were, would not have been felt by those who had engaged
in it for only a short time. Boys who had been working two years or
more, however, might be expected to show by their success or failure
in making normal progress whether or not the demands of their job
interfered with their ability to do satisfactory school work. An
examination of the facts in regard to the Columbus newspaper-route
carriers shows that 15 per cent of those who had had their routes less
than two years were retarded in school, but only 14 per cent of those
who had kept their routes at least two years were retarded. More­
over, a large proportion (21 per cent) of the boys working two years or
more were in higher grades than children usually are at their ages an
even larger proportion than that (16 per cent) of those who had
worked less than two years.


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

The semester marks in their studies, which were obtained for 504
carriers who had worked in the semester ended June, 1922, tell much
the same story, as the following summary of the averages shows:
Number
of boys

Average grade

T o t a l . ____ __
Less than 70__
_ __ _
70, less than 80 _ _ _ _
80, less than 90
90 or m ore___
_
_ _

___ __
____

_

_______

_ 504

_____________
_____________
________
_____________

7
130
306
61

Per cent
distribution

100
1
26
61
12

Only 1 per cent of these carriers had failed to make a passing aver­
age, and the large majority had made an average of at least 80 in
their studies.
D E LIN Q U EN C Y A M O N G C A R R IE R S

The conditions of work in Columbus probably put in the way of
carriers few or no opportunities to become delinquent. Only 93 of
the 986 carriers had routes in business districts; the others delivered
papers, if not in the immediate vicinity of their homes, at least in
residential neighborhoods. Only a few of the boys went to the main
offices of the newspapers for their papers; at the substations they
were likely to meet only a small group, including chiefly boys who
lived in their own residential district. Carriers were enjoined on
penalty of losing their routes not to loiter while delivering their papers,
so that while they were at work at least they were, as many parents
declared, “ kept out of mischief.” In these circumstances the danger
of forming undesirable associates and habits and hence of falling into
delinquency was reduced to a minimum.
Only 27 of the carriers (3 per cent) were found to have had court
records, 11 of them in 1922 or 1923— a proportion only one-fourth
that among the Columbus boys who slold papers. All the delinquent
carriers were white boys. In 3 of the 11 cases brought before the
juvenile court in 1922 or 1923, the charge was stealing newspapers.
In the other cases no connection between the offense and the boy’s
work or the conditions of his work was apparent.
P E D D LE R S A N D M IS C E L L A N E O U S S T R E E T W O R K E R S
O C C U P A T IO N S A N D W O R K E XP E R IE N C E

Besides the children connected with the sale and distribution of
newspapers 195 others were engaged in different kinds of street work.
These included 66 peddlers and miscellaneous street workers, 58
children who tended market stands, 44 magazine carriers or sellers,
and 27 handbill distributors. The peddlers, of whom there were 55,
sold a great variety of articles— candy, nuts, chewing gum, fruit,
vegetables, maple sirup, brooms, toys, bread, butter, buttermilk,
wood, salve, horse-radish, sausages, flowers, sachet, and miscellaneous
goods from a mail-order house. The 11 miscellaneous workers were
bootblacks, junk collectors, carriers of advertising signs, a news-stand
assistant, and a boy who led about the street a blind man selling
magazines. Only 2 of the 66 children had a second street job at the
time of the study— 1 worked at a market stand and 1 carried news­
papers— but 23 of the boys and 2 of the girls at some time in their
lives had had other street jobs than those in which they were engaged

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when interviewed— such as selling or carrying papers or magazines,
peddling other articles, or helping at market stands. '
Twenty-six (40 per cent) had been peddling or doing other street
work for at least one year and 16 (25 per cent) had worked two
years or more. A few hucksters and one or two candy sellers had
worked for at least three years. A 13-year-old girl who sold candy
every afternoon in the post office and on one of the main business
streets said she had been doing it for seven years, though that was
her first year in Columbus. About one-third (35 per cent) had
been working on the street less than six months.
R A C E A N D N A T IO N A L IT Y O F F A T H E R S A N D A G E O F W O R K E R S

Among the peddlers and miscellaneous street workers were 16
who had foreign-born fathers, chiefly Russian or other foreign-born
Jews and Italians,, and 7 children were negroes; the remaining 43
were of native white parentage.
The peddlers averaged 11.4 years of age and the miscellaneous
workers 12.2 years. However, of the 66 peddlers and miscellaneous
workers, 8 were under 10 years of age, 27 were 10 and 11 years, 19
were 12 and 13 years, and 12 were 14 years of age or over.
C O N D IT IO N S O F W O R K

Only 15 of the 66 children worked on their own account— 8 candy,
nut, and chewing-gum sellers, 3 other peddlers, and 4 miscellaneous
workers; 51 were hired— 24 by their parents, 6 by other relatives,
and 21 by other employers. All the fruit or vegetable hucksters
were employed, chiefly by their own parents, and a surprising number
of the peddlers of confectionery were hired— 7 by parents, 2 by
other relatives, and 7 by persons outside their families or by candy
firms.
About half the peddlers (25 of the 55) sold in business streets,
including 19 candy, nut, and chewing-gum sellers, of whom 5 were
girls from 8 to 13 years of age, who went in and out of the down­
town offices and stores offering their wares. Among the candy sellers
working down town on the streets and in the post office and other
office buildings was a 13-year-old girl who was reported as offering
her candy to men in the streets with false tales as to the illness of
her father, who, according to the family-service society, was working
and able to support his family. Two other little girls, one 8 and
the other 12 years old, were sent out by their mother to sell candy
in down-town office buildings every week day and sometimes on
Sundays. The father, earning $30 a week, worked steadily as an
electrician, and there were only four children in the family. The
family-service society had attempted to find places such as the
Woman's Exchange for the mother to sell the candy that she made,
but their attempts had not been successful and the children continued
to go on the streets with the candy, as they had done for several
years. One of the girls was described a s “ a very good little beggar.”
The older one related how one evening in a hotel a man had taken their
basket and sold all their candy for them in the lobby, taking in between
$5 and $10. Three brothers, 10, 11, and 13 years old, all rather
pale and delicate-looking children, sold candy and pop corn regularly
every week-day afternoon, making the rounds of the office buildings,
and three times a week on school-day evenings they sold in motion
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picture houses. The majority of the peddlers, however, went from
door to door in residential sections of the city. A 10-year-old boy
went with his father, who was blind, to sell candy and sachet powder
on the streets of Columbus and in Lancaster, Dayton, and other
Ohio cities and towns during vacations. The State commission for
the blind, which had assisted this boy’s father to learn basket making
and had found him a place in a factory at $3 a day, reported that
the organization could do nothing with the man; he had left the
position to go begging on the streets and had been arrested in several
cities for begging. According to the commission the boy also had
learned to beg. A 14-year-old girl in another family also accom­
panied her blind father as he went from house to house selling
brooms which he made himself; the commission regarded this work
as entirely suitable for the girl.
Twenty-three of the 66 peddlers and miscellaneous workers worked
only on Saturdays, but 24 worked at least 6 days a week and 18
worked on at least 2 days of the week. M ost of the candy sellers
worked every day except Sunday, and most of the hucksters worked
only on Saturdays. All except two 10-year-old brothers, who sold
milk from house to house every morning, worked after school, usually
not later than 6 o’clock, or on Saturday morning after breakfast.
Of the 58 workers who reported their hours, 40 worked less than
12 hours a week and 26 (45 per cent) worked less than 8 hours.
But 18 worked 12 hours or more, of whom 11 were candy, chewinggum, and nut sellers.
E A R N IN G S

A few children— 2 girls working for prizes and 6 boys helping their
fathers on hucksters’ wagons— received no money for their work, w
and 9 children did not know the amount of their earnings. These 9
were usually children who sold some commodity the profit on which
they did not know, though they knew the amount for which the
article sold and usually how much money they took in. Judging from
those who did report their earnings, peddling seems to have been
profitable for the time given to it; 17 of the 47 children reporting their
earnings earned $4 or more a week, and 37 earned at least SI, including
14 of the 17 candy sellers. Tips were only fairly common; 30 children
reported that they did not get tips, and 16 (including 7 candy sellers)
reported that they did.
N E E D F O R E A R N IN G S

About one-fourth of these children came from “ broken” homes—
only 76 per cent were in families in which both the father and mother
were present, and only 74 per cent were from families in which both
the father and mother were present and the father supported the
family. Even where the father was at home and supporting the
family, they were often far from prosperous. For example, the main
support in the families of 14 of the 66 workers was a peddler or a
huckster, 1 was a garbage collector, 1 a laundress, 1 a cook, and 1,
the father of a colored bootblack, though a “ preacher” on Sunday,
was an odd-job man and junk collector during the week. Some of
the children, however, had fathers who were in some skilled trade or ^
clerical position or who owned a small business, and a few were
well-to-do. For example, the 12-year-old son of a traveling salesman

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earning more titan $4,000 a year sold almonds to make money for
college; and a lawyer’s son, aged 11, sold butter twice a week for a
concern in which his father had an interest, earning $1.50 a week.
The mothers of 13 of the 53 boys and 9 of the 13 girls were em­
ployed, exclusive of those who may have kept boarders or lodgers;
8 did housework or laundry work, 2 peddled, 3 worked in a factory,
3 were saleswomen or kept a market stand, 4 made candy or sausages,
1 was a stenographer, and 1 took orders for dry goods. Two of these
women were the main support of their families.
Visits were paid to 15 families in which there were 17 peddlers and
miscellaneous street traders— about one-fourth of this group of
workers. Only 8 reported the chief breadwinner’s annual earnings,
which in 3 families were less than $1,050, and in 5 were at least $1,250,
1 being more than $3,000 and 1 more than $4,000. Practically all
(13) of the families visited approved of the work the children were
doing, generally because they believed that it gave the child valuable
experience or because they thought that ‘‘ children should help their
parents.” One mother, however, disapproved of her 10-year-old
son’s leading a blind man about the street, as she thought it too much
responsibility for him, and another was indifferent, saying that the
child’s work did not amount to much.
Fourteen families had received aid from charitable organizations
at some time. (See footnote 43, p. 138.) Nine families, in which were
9 of the street traders in this group, had received assistance in 1922.
In all the families receiving aid the fathers (of whom two were step­
fathers) were the chief breadwinners, but they had been unable to
take care of their families chiefly because of unemployment or illness.
R E A S O N S F O R U N D E R T A K IN G S T R E E T W O R K

Seven of the 54 boys and 7 of the 12 girls said that they had first
gone to work in order to help their families financially. Nine of
these 14 children had own fathers who were reported as the main
support of their families, but the fathers of 4 of them were ill, those
of 3 others were peddlers earning comparatively little, and those of
2 were out of work; 3 of the 14 had stepfathers, of whom 2 were
peddlers and 1 a cook whose 9-year-old stepdaughter volunteered the
information that he was “ no account— might just as well not work
as he don’t do no good” ; 2 of the 14 were supported by brothers,
who were factory hands. The 6 girls who did not claim economic
need as their chief reason for working, had begun to sell because they
wanted to help their parents, who peddled or made candy, usually
the mothers, who in this way endeavored to increase the family
income; and many of the boys also had started to work at their
parents’ request. Comparatively few were doing the work just to
make spending money or because the “ other boys were doing it,”
though an occasional boy worked to buy a Boy Scout uniform or a
bicycle.
D IS P O S IT IO N OF E AR N IN G S

^

Only 5 of the 66 children contributed all that'they earned toward
family expenses, but 3 used all for their own clothing— a very ragged
11-year-old junk collector said that he bought all his own clothes
and 2 divided their earnings between the families and their own
necessities, making 10 who did not use any of the money that they


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earned on their own pleasures or for savings. In addition 15 children
contributed something to the family budget, and 21 used part of
their earnings for their own clothing. Only 2 children spent all their
money on pleasures for themselves, but 33 spent some of their earn­
ings for candy, motion pictures, or “ fun.” A fairly large number,
25, saved some of their money, and 5 boys saved it all. A few of the
children had some special object in view for their earnings. The
interviewing was done near Christmas time and 8 children were sav­
ing for Christmas presents; several others were saving for music
lessons, Boy Scout dues, or “ pigs and chickens.”
SCHOOL ATTENDANCE, D E P O R T M E N T , AND PROGRESS

Nine of the 33 children who had worked during the school term for
which records were obtained and for whom records were found had
been absent 10 per cent or more of the term; that is, at least 19 days.
The absence appeared to be unconnected with the child’s work except
possibly in the case of 2 boys. One of these boys worked until 8
o ’clock and the other until 8.30 three or four school nights a week.
Only 1 of the children had failed to pass in deportment— a 12-year-old
fruit peddler whose family was reported as “ no good,” and who had
previously played truant from school to sell papers.
Seventeen of the 65 children between 8 and 16 years of age were
retarded in school (see footnote 38, p. 22), and 11 were advanced
beyond the normal grades for their ages, showing better progress in
school than newsboys.
Only 3 children, a candy peddler and 2 fruit and vegetable ped­
dlers, had a standing of less than 70 in their school work, and 22 of
the 31 for whom reports were obtained had averaged at least 80 in
their studies.
D E LIN Q U E N C Y

Four boys had juvenile-court records. Three brothers, who sold
candy in motion-picture houses at night, had broken into a store
several years before the study (before beginning to sell) and had
stolen $4.50, and in 1922 they were again before the court on a charge
of shooting with an air rifle at the windows of a house. Another boy,
who sold fruit from door to door for his father, had been charged in
1922 with destroying property and being disorderly before a motionpicture house, and in 1923 had stolen milk from a dairy. He had
been working for a year, though only 11 years of age at the time of
the study,
M A R K E T C H IL D R E N
O C C U P A T IO N S A N D W O R K E X P E R IE N C E

Columbus had a number of large markets, the streets surrounding
which were lined with stalls where fruit, vegetables, and, less fre­
quently, other produce or commodities were sold. Most of the 58
market children were stand tenders, but 1 boy was hired to “ put out
benches” on market days and 15 of the boys waited in the streets
around the markets sometimes with little express wagons, offering to
carry market baskets. Five were girls, all stand tenders. A few of
the market boys did other street work; 5 sold newspapers, and 2 had
newspaper routes.

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A number had had other street jobs at some time in their lives;
10 had sold papers, 6 had had newspaper routes, several had either
sold or carried papers or both and had also sold articles on the street
or done bootblacking, and 2 others had peddled. Almost half (26)
had done market work at least one year, and 22 had worked two
years or more, four or five years or more being not uncommon. A
15-year-old native white boy had helped his father sell cider and
vinegar at the market for eight years, and a 12-year-old Russian Jew
had been helping at his father’s fruit stand since he was 5. Twelve
of the 15 market messengers had worked less than 1 year, 6 of them
less than six months.
R A C E AN D N A T IO N A L IT Y OF F A T H E R S A N D A G E O F W O R K E R S

Only 16 of the market children were of native white parentage.
The remainder were negroes (12) or of foreign parentage (29), includ­
ing 19 Jews (18 Russians and 1 Rumanian), 5 Italians, 2 Germans,
and 1 each of several other nationalities.
The market children were somewhat older than other miscellaneous
street workers. The average age was 12 years; but 28 of the 58
were under 12, 7 being under 10, and 15 were 14 or 15 years old.
C O N D IT IO N S OF W O R K

The majority of the 42 stand tenders worked for their own parents
or other relatives, but 11 were employed by other proprietors of
market stalls*
Almost all the market children (52) worked only on Saturdays,
and only 2 worked every week day. One of the daily workers was the
boy who put out market benches, and the other was a 13-year-old
boy who stood at his father’s stand every day from 4.30 to 7 p. m.
and 12)^ hours on Saturday. Although most of the children worked
only one day, their hours were very long; 21 worked at least 12
hours on their market jobs, and a number of others worked between
11 and 12 hours. A market day of 13 to 15 hours or more was not
uncommon, beginning at 5 or 6 in the morning and ending at 9 or
9.30 at night, with a short period out for lunch.
Among the 5 market children who also sold newspapers were 2
whose selling added appreciably to their hours of work. A 12-yearold negro boy sold papers 3 ^ hours daily except Saturday, when he
worked in the market, staying out until 7.30 in the evening; a 13year-old Russian Jew, in addition to his 13 hours of market work,
sold papers almost 4 hours a day four days a week.
E A R N IN G S

As many of the market-stand tenders worked for their own par­
ents, a comparatively large proportion of the market children (12
of the 58) received no money for their work. The largest number
(15) earned between 50 cents and $1, but 11 children, including a
¿4-year-old girl, received $2 or more. Only 7 children received less
than 50 cents; 3 of these carried market baskets, and 4 were 9 or
10 year old stand tenders earning 25 cents for their Saturday’s work.
75034°— 28-------12


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N E E D F O R E AR N IN G S

An unusually large number of children were in families in which
some abnormal social or economic situation existed. Only 39 of
the 58 stand tenders came from homes in which both their own
fathers and own mothers were present and the father was the chief
breadwinner. The mothers of 7 children supported the family, and,
excluding those who may have kept boarders or lodgers, the mothers
of 10 other children were employed—4 as stand keepers in the mar­
ket and 6 at laundry work or day’s work.
The fathers or mothers of a number of the market children (15 of
the 58) kept stands in the market. Some of the other parents earned
only a very modest, if not a precarious living; 4 of the children, for
example, had fathers who were hucksters and among the other 39
chief breadwinners were 3 junk dealers, 1 hotel maid, 1 laundress, 2
trucksters, and 2 laborers. A few skilled workmen were represented,
and there were also a few factory operatives, a few foremen and
clerks, a butcher, and a proprietor of a clothing store.
The families of 24 market children (about two-fifths of this group
of workers) were visited; only 12 of these families reported the chief
breadwinner’s annual earnings, which in 3 families (those of 2 labor­
ers and 1 carpenter) were less than $1,050 and in 6 families were at
least $1,450, one being $1,800 and another $2,100. Five of the
families had received charitable assistance, 3 in 1922. The 3 chil­
dren in these families were 5 per cent of the children in this group.
R E A S O N S F O R U N D E R T A K IN G S T R E E T W O R K

Only four of the market children had done street work first because
of family need; in three of these cases the mother supported the
family from the proceeds of a market stand, and in one the father
was a junk dealer. Most of the stand tenders had begun to work
because their parents needed some one to help them at the market,
and most of the boys who carried baskets had gone down to the
market because they wished to earn a little spending money or
because “ all the boys had a job.”
Many of the parents wanted their boys to work at the market,
chiefly because they needed some one to help them, but five were
indifferent to the boys’ work and three disapproved, saying that
the boys “ got into trouble at the market” or “ got in with a rough
crowd.” Several parents said that they wished their boys could earn
more, as they needed the money; a number believed in the work
because it kept the child from “ bumming” or “ devilment,” and
others wanted to teach their children through work the value of
money or wanted to “ bring them up to work.”
D IS P O S IT IO N OF E A R N IN G S

Only 1 of the market children contributed all his earnings toward
the support of the family, a 10-year-old boy earning 50 cents a week
whose father was in a penitentiary and whose family was supported
by charity. Two children gave all their earnings to their families
except what they spent on clothing for themselves. Fourteen others
(24 per cent) of the 58 children contributed some of their money to
their families, and 16 (28 per cent), besides the 2 who divided their

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COLUMBUS, OHIO

169

earnings between family support and the purchase of their own
clothing, spent some on necessities for themselves; 28 (48 per cent)
spent some on pleasures, and 4 spent in this way all that they earned;
18 (31 per cent) saved some money, 3 boys saved all that they earned,
and 3 others were saving all that they made for Christmas presents.
SCHOOL ATTENDANCE, D E P O R T M E N T , AND PR O G R E SS

Of the 32 market children whose school records were obtained—
21 children had worked too short a time for inclusion in the schoolrecord study and records for 5 could not be obtained— 10 had been
absent from school at least 10 per cent of the school term. No
obvious connection existed between the child’s work and his school
absences. Two boys, a 15-year-old Russian Jewish stand keeper in
the ninth grade and a 9-year-old Italian market helper in the second
grade, had been marked below passing in deportment. Of the 32
children whose school records were obtained, 14 had made a rating
in their studies of between 70 and 80, and 15 between 80 and 90;
and a 9-year-old girl in the fourth grade had an average of 91. ,» A
9-year-old Italian boy in the second grade with an intelligence
quotient of 88 had averaged only 69, the only market child who had
failed to pass in his studies.
Fifteen of the 58 market children between 8 and 16 years of age
were retarded in school (see footnote 38, p. 22), so that their progress
in school compared favorably with that of the newsboys but was
inferior to that of the carriers in Columbus (see pp. 146, 161).
D E LIN Q U EN C Y

Three stand tenders and one market messenger had court records.
All had been truant, and one had been convicted of stealing.
M A G A Z IN E C ARRIERS A N D SE LLER S A N D BILL D IST R IB U T O R S
O C C U P A T IO N S A N D W O R K E X P E R IE N C E

Thirty-four boys and 1 girl included in the study carried magazines,
3 boys and 1 girl sold them, and 5 boys both sold and carried them.
The 27 children who “ passed” bills were all boys. Only 3 of these
71 workers had a second street job; 1 carried a paper route, 1 maga­
zine distributor “ passed” bills, and 1 bill distributor had a magazine
route. A fairly large proportion (20 of the 71) had previously had
some other kind of street work; 12 boys had had a paper route, 1 had
sold papers, 4 had both sold and carried papers, 3 had peddled, and
1 had tended a market stand.
For most boys distributing bills is.a very temporary job ; 23 of the
27 had worked less than six months, though 2 boys had worked at
least one year. One of these had distributed theater programs once
a week for three years, ever since he was 10 years old, earning $1 a
week, which he saved for music lessons. The magazine carriers and
sellers as a rule continued the work for a somewhat longer time.
Although 15 had worked less than six months, the majority (24) had
carried or sold magazines at least one year.


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK
R A C E A N D N A T IO N A L IT Y O F F A T H E R S A N D A G E O F W O R K E R S

There was only one negro boy in this group, and only 6 of the 70
white children had foreign-born fathers. The average age of the
workers was 11.2 years, but 13 were under 10, 25 were between 12
and 14, and 9 were between 14 and 16 years of age.
C O N D IT IO N S OF W O R K

The bill distributors worked for theaters and motion-picture
houses, stores, a chiropractor, and a church society. They were all
hired, though 3 boys who distributed theater programs received no
money for their work, being paid in the form of passes to the theater.
All except 9 of the magazine carriers or sellers worked entirely on
their own account. Almost all the handbill distributors went from
house to house in residential streets throwing the bills or programs in
the doorways, but 3 worked down town. Only 9 of the magazine
carriers or sellers worked in business districts, chiefly carriers, some
of „whom had routes in down-town offices.
Almost all the children worked only once a week (all except 8 mag­
azine children and 6 bill distributors), the bill distributors generally
on Saturdays, the others most often on a school day, when their
magazines came out. Only 1 boy— a bill distributor— worked as
much as six days a week. As a consequence the hours of work a
week were few. Only 5 of the magazine workers worked four hours
or more a week, and only 1 worked as much as eight hours. This
was a 14-year-old boy who had been carrying magazines for almost
two years, and who delivered 90 weekly and 50 monthly magazines,
working about nine hours a week. M ost of the children worked
only an hour or two a week, almost always in the afternoons. Only
2 bill distributors worked as much as eight hours a week, and 13 of
the 27 worked less than four. No children worked early-morning or
late-evening hours; those who worked on Saturday morning usually
finished by noon, and afternoon workers were through distributing
their bills before 6 o ’clock, as a rule.

^
™

E A R N IN G S

The earnings in both kinds of work were small; 12 of the 24 bill
distributors who received cash earnings and 28 of the 44 magazine
workers made under 50 cents a week, and only 4 boys in each group
made as much as $1. Some of the bill distributors who received a
very small amount for their work, such as 25 cents, were given
theater passes in addition to the money.
N E E D F O R E A R N IN G S

Almost all the children— 39 of the 44 magazine workers and 25 of
the 27 bill distributors, 'making 90 per cent of the two groups— were
from homes in which both father and mother were present and the
father supported the family. The mother was the chief support in
the family of one boy in each group, one keeping a boarding house,
the other being a clerk. A few other boys’ mothers worked— those
of 5 of the bill distributors, generally at cleaning, laundry, or factory
work, and those of 4 of the magazine workers, chiefly in some pro­
fessional occupation.

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^

COLUMBUS, OHIO

171

The occupations of the fathers, or other chief breadwinners, cov­
ered a wide range. In the case of bill distributors they included a
professional man, a butcher, several clerks and salesmen, a jeweler,
an automobile mechanic, street-car conductors, a building contractor,
blacksmiths, a few laborers, 6 factory operatives, a telegraph opera­
tor, a foreman, an electrician, and a machinist. Among the chief
breadwinners of the magazine carriers or sellers were a president of a
corporation, 2 lawyers, a civil engineer, a mechanical engineer, a
broker, several store managers, 10 salesmen, a bank cashier, several
clerks, proprietors of stores, and 2 building contractors; no unskilled
laborers and few skilled laborers or artisans were among them.
Visits were paid to five families of magazine workers, all of whom
were apparently prosperous. In the three families reporting earn­
ings, the father’s earnings were more than $2,000 a year, including
one family in which the father’s earnings were more than $4,000 a
year. These were families with not more than three children. In
three of these five families the boy’s work was thoroughly approved
of. In one family carrying magazines was a tradition, the route
being handed down to the younger brother as soon as the older boy
felt himself too grown up for the work; one father, a traveling sales­
man, wanted his son to carry and sell magazines because he believed
it was good business training; in another family both parents wished
their 11-year-old child to earn and save money for his university
education and they insisted on the work. But one mother, whose
husband was ill, wished that her 13-year-old boy would get a news­
paper route, as she said his magazine work amounted to very little,
and another mother disapproved of the carrying that her 10-year-old
son did because he went down town to the main office for his
magazines.
The three families of bill distributors appeared to be rather less
prosperous than those of the magazine carriers and sellers. One was
that of a 12-year-old boy, one of nine children under 16, whose father
was a moulder. The father’s income for the year had been $1,259,
but this was supplemented by earnings of two brothers over 16. The
boy had delivered bills for a theater for 25 cents a week and a ticket
to the show for five weeks. His mother did not mind his doing the
work as it took very little of his time, only two and one-half hours on
Saturday morning. A second 12-year-old boy also worked about
two hours on Saturday mornings, earning 45 cents. He was the son
of a blacksmith with five children under 16, earning $1,733 a year,
the only earnings coming into the household. This boy gave some
of his money to the family and used the remainder for spending
money. The parents liked the boy to have some work to do. The
third boy whose home was visited was also 12 years old; he had dis­
tributed bills for a grocery store Thursday afternoons for seven
months, earning $1 a week. He saved 75 cents of his money and
spent the remaining 25 cents; he had $30 in the bank. His father
was an account clerk earning between $2,250 and $2,650 a year, and
the home, in which there were only two children, gave every evi­
dence of prosperity. The parents liked the boy to have some regular
duty and thought that one afternoon a week was sufficient.
Two white families in which were threer bill passers had received
aid from charitable organizations, both in 1922. ^In both cases the
father was out of work and both had large families; one had nine

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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

children, the other five, under 15 years of age. One magazine car­
rier’s mother had a mothers’ allowance, but none of the magazine
carriers’ families had received relief.
R E A S O N S F O R U N D E R T A K IN G S T R E E T W O R K

None of the children in either group had begun to do street work
because of financial need in the family. Most of the magazine car­
riers and sellers had begun working because they wished to obtain
a prize or a premium offered by the magazine, because they wished
spending money or money to save, because they wanted something
to do after school, or because they saw other boys doing similar
work and they wanted to try it. M ost of the bill distributors also
“ wanted some money to spend” or “ wanted something to do.”
D IS P O S IT IO N O F E AR N IN G S

None of the children in either group gave all their earnings to their
families or used them all on clothing or other necessities of their own.
Only 5 of the 44 magazine workers and 3 of the 27 bill distributors
contributed anything to the family support, and only 5 bill distrib­
utors and 12 magazine workers used any of their money for their
own clothes, school books, or the like. About half— 24 of the maga­
zine workers and 13 of the bill distributors— used some of their
earnings for spending money, and 4 of the magazine workers and 5
of the bill distributors used all that they earned on their own pleas­
ures. In each group were 5 boys who saved all that they earned,
and 24 other magazine workers and 5 other bill distributors saved
at least part of their earnings. A few others were saving for bicycles,
toys, or Christmas gifts.
-0
S C H O O L A T T E N D A N C E , D E P O R T M E N T , AN D P R O G R E S S

School-attendance records were obtained for 31 children who had
attended school for one semester during the school term, most of the
remainder having worked too short a time to be included in the
study of school records. Only two of these children had been absent
10 per cent or more of the term, apparently for no reason connected
with their work, a much smaller proportion than among peddlers
and market children. Only one boy had a deportment mark below
passing— an 11-year-old magazine carrier, one of a few who worked
before school in the morning. He worked once a week from 6 to
7.30 a. m. and again in the afternoon. None of the 30 children
whose school standing was ascertained had made less than a passing
mark in their studies, 26 making at least 80 and 7 at least 90.
Twelve children— 3 of the 42 magazine carriers or sellers between
8 and 16 years of age and 9 of the 27 bill distributors— were retarded
in school (see footnote 38, p. 22), and 18 of the former and 2 of the
latter were advanced. The school progress of the magazine carriers
was superior to that of any of the other street workers, and superior
also to the average among Columbus schoolboys. (See p. 146.)
D E LIN Q U EN C Y

A handbill distributor 11 years of age had a court record. He had
broken railroad switch fights with a sling shot. The proportion of ^
the group that had been before the juvenile court was therefore only
1 per cent.

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*

OMAHA, NEBR.
IN T R O D U C T IO N

The main business district of Omaha consists of a section approxi­
mately 9 blocks long and 11 blocks wide; some distance away are
several secondary business sections. Thus the city has an unusually
large number of “ busy corners/’ where the patrons of retail stores,
theaters, hotels, banks, and public buildings afford a constant stream
of customers for the newsboys. Hardly one of these corners is with­
out its group of newspaper sellers, and the best of them are occupied
by newsboys from the early hours of the morning until late at night.
The newspaper sellers are not always boys-—a number of men (both
elderly and crippled men and young men in their late teens and
early twenties), and even a few women, sell papers on the streets
of Omaha.
'
.
T T
The survey in Omaha was made in M ay and June, 1923. In June,
1926, a representative of the' bureau revisited the city for the purpose
of learning whether or not conditions with respect to street work had
changed.58 The chief probation officer of the juvenile court, the
chief attendance officer of the city school system, the secretary ot
boys’ work of the Jewish Welfare Federation, and the secretary ot
boys’ work of the Young M en’s Christian Association, a number ot
boys selling papers on the streets, several newspaper carriers, and the
manager of a carriers’ substation were interviewed. Boys selling
papers on the streets were observed at work throughout the day and
evening, including Saturday night up to 12 o clock, and around the
entrances to the distribution rooms of the various newspapers.
The consensus of opinion among the adults interviewed was that
probably a slight improvement in some of the conditions under which
newsboys work had taken place since 1923. The information given
by the boys themselves and observation, especially as regards the
number of boys selling, their ages and their hours of work, indicated
that conditions were substantially the same in 1926 as m 1923.
Wherever a change in conditions of work was reported by any ot the
persons interviewed it has been noted in the report. The statistics
are those gathered in the original study in 1923.
Table 1 (p. 8) shows the number of boys m each kmd ot street
work who reported that they were working at the time the inquiry
was made and who had done street work for at least one month
during the year preceding the interview. (For details m regard to
the selection of the children included in the survey, see p. 5.)
LEG AL R E G U L A T IO N OF S T R E E T W O R K

Under its dependency laws Nebraska has a provision, state-wide
in its application, whereby “ any child under 10 who is found peddling
or selling any article upon the street, or who accompanies or is used
In the aid of any person so doing, is deemed dependent and neglected


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

and may be declared a ward of the court.” 59 The Douglas County
juvenile court attempts to enforce this provision in Omaha, and it is
generally conceded by the local school department, social workers, and
others in close touch with the newsboys and their activities that the
number of newsboys under 10 years o f age has greatly decreased.
The enforcement of such a provision, however, lacking as it does
a permit or badge requirement, and without penalties of any kind,
requires eternal vigilance, and that in turn an adequate enforcement
staff; whereas the probation staff of the juvenile court in Omaha
is small and supervision of street workers only one of its numerous
duties.
N E W S P A P E R SE LLE R S 60
R A C E A N D ” N A TIO N A L I T Y O F N E W S B O Y S A N D T H E IR F A T H E R S

Many of the Omaha newsboys were of foreign birth; 66 (21 per
cent) had been born outside the United States, chiefly in Italy,
Russia, or Poland, though one was a Mexican, another a native of
Argentina, one Danish, another Scotch. Many were Jews. The
majority, though themselves native born, were the children of
immigrant parents. Sixty-nine per cent of the total had foreignborn fathers, a much larger proportion than that (49 per cent) of the
general population who were of foreign birth or of foreign or mixed
parentage; these were chiefly the children of Italians and of Jewish
immigrants from Russia and Poland. The German, Czechoslovakian,
and Scandinavian elements in the population, though by far the most
numerous, supplied few newsboys; as soon as the immigrant family
becomes Americanized and thoroughly assimilated into the life of the
community its children rarely sell papers on the streets. The pro­
portion of newsboys who were Negroes (4 per cent) was about t h e 0
same as that of Negroes in the population as a whole. Only about
one-fourth of the newsboys were native white of native parentage.61
(Table 40.)
T a b l e 40.— Race and nationality of father; newspaper sellers, Omaha, Nebr.
Newspaper
sellers from 6
to 15 years of
age
Race and nationality^ father

Newspaper
sellers from 6
to 15 years of
age
Race and nationality of father

cent
Num­ Per
distri­
ber
bution
Total......................... .............

320

100.0

White____________________ _____

306

95.6

N ative........... .........................
Foreign born________________

81
221

25.3
69.1

Italian___ _______ _____
Russian Jewish._________
Other Jewish.. _______
German______________

97
61
12
7

30.3
19.1
3.8
2.2

Num­ Per cent
distri­
ber
bution
Foreign born—Continued
3

.9

36

11 3

Other foreign born and
foreign born not other-

Negro____

4

1.3

14

4.4

*•Nebr., Comp. Stat. 1922, sec.:H73, p. 445.
60 The only girl who reported selling newspapers was 10 years of age, of native white parentage. Her
father and mother were separated, and her mother was a chocolate dipper in a candy factory. The child
had begun to sell papers two months before the inquiry in order to help her mother with family expenses,
and her earnings of $3 a week went for groceries and clothing. She sold papers from 4 to 6 every week day
in a store, a theater, and a hotel, obtaining her papers at a down-town corner from a newspaper truck.
This girl is not included in the tables.
si Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. Ill, Population, p. 604. Washington, 1922.


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OMAHA, N EB R .

175

A G E OF N E W S B O Y S

Probably as a result of the work of the juvenile court the propor­
tion of newsboys under 10 years of age included in the study was
smaller in Omaha than in the other cities in which the Children’s
Bureau made surveys of street workers. Nevertheless, this propor­
tion was 12 per cent. The proportion who were at least 14 years of
age (27 per cent) was larger than in most other places for which
information was available. (Table 2, p. 9.) The average age of
the street newsboy was 12.1 years.
W O R K E XP E R IE N C E

At the time of the survey another street job in addition to paper
selling was held by 67 of the newsboys, of whom all except 8 carried
newspapers on a route. Usually these carriers had only a few cus­
tomers, not a regular route. Excluding those who at the time of the
survey had two or more street jobs,;99 boys (39 per cent) had had
some experience in another street job, though in most cases this was
only another period of selling newspapers. For example, a Rumanian
boy of 12 had sold papers irregularly about two months at a time every
year since he was 6 years old. Another boy, though only 10 years
of age, had had two other newspaper-selling experiences before his
present one. He had begun at the age of 7 and had sold papers
regularly for a year; when he was 8 he had begun selling irregularly;
when he was 10 he had begun to sell regularly again (that is, every
day) and had been selling regularly about six weeks when he was
interviewed.
The largest number of the newsboys (55) had begun street work at
^the age of 9, though almost as many (51 in each case) had begun when
10 or 11. Almost half (46 per cent) of the newspaper sellers said
they had begun before they were 10 years of age, the proportion being
the same for the children of native white parents as for those in immi­
grant families. Only 5 per cent had not begun until they were 14
or 15 years of age, and only 21 per cent had been as old as 12.
As the Children’s Bureau survey was confined to those who had
worked at least one month the most casual and irregular workers do
not appear. Almost half (48 per cent) the boys included in the
study had worked at the newspaper-selling job in which they were
engaged at the time of the study (that is, had sold papers without
interruption) for at least one year, the median duration being between
10 and 12 months. An even larger number of boys had had more
than a year’s experience in newspaper selling, if those who had sold
at several different periods are included. Thus a 15-year-old highschool boy when interviewed had been selling steadily for only about
20 months; he had begun to sell papers, however, at the age of 9 and
had sold regularly for four years, when he had stopped selling for
about a year. A 13-year-old Russian Jew had sold his first papers
when 10 years old; he had had three periods of newspaper selling,
each lasting eight or nine months, as he always stopped selling in
summer because of the heat. A large proportion (31 per cent) had
sold papers steadily for two years or longer, 19 per cent had sold at
^east three years, and a number had worked from four to nine years.
(Table 41.)

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176

CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

These veteran newsboys had begun selling at very early ages. A
15-year-old boy had sold papers ever since he was 6 years of age; at
the time of the study he was selling both before and after school.
Another boy had begun when only 5 and had been selling regularly
for eight years. A 13-year-old boy of Syrian parentage had been
selling for seven years, having started in order to help his brother;
he said that he liked it when he began but “ hated it now ” because
he had to stand up all the time. An Italian boy had been selling
morning papers five years, a boy friend having taken him down to
the newspaper office to get papers when he was only 6; he had been
selling so long, he said, that he no longer got sleepy m school as he
had at first. A 15-year-old newsboy had first sold at the age of 10
because “ some guy told my father to make us sell papers.” Another
boy had begun at the age of 5 and had been selling seven years; he
said that when he first began selling a probation officer had told him
he must quit because he was too young, but he had continued to sell
and had not been disturbed again.
T a b l e 41.— Previous duration of job held at date of interview, by age period; news­
paper sellers, Omaha, Nebr.
Newspaper sellers from 6 to 15 years of age
10 years,
under 12

Total
Previous duration of job held at date of
interview

12 years,
under 14

14 years,
under 16

Under
10
Per
Per
Per
Per years1
Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent
Num­ cent
distri-^
ber
distri­
ber
ber distri­
ber distri­
b u tioij^
bution
bution
bution
87

115

37

81

Total reported -------------------------------------

318

100.0

37

81

100.0

114

100.0

86

100.0

Less than 1 year.....................——........

165

51.9

23

50

61.7

63

55.3

29

33.7

113

35.5

21

35

43.2

38

33.3

19

22.1

Less than 2 months_________
2 months, less than 4 --------4 months, less than 6 ...........

55
45
13

17.3
14.2
4.1

13
6
2

11
19
5

13.6
23.5
6.2

18
16
4

15.8
14.0
3.5

13
4
2

15.1
4.7
2.3

6 months, less than 1 year ...........

52

16.4

2

15

18.5

25

21.9

10

11.6

1 year, less than 2.................................
2 years, less than 3--------------------------3 years and over------------------------------

54
39
60

17.0
12.3
18.9

6
5
3

16
10
5

19.8
12.3
6.2

16
10
25

14.0
8.8
21.9

16
14
27

18.6
16.3
31.4

Total________________ ___________

Less than 6 m onths............ ........

320

2
1

1

1

Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

About one-fifth of the Omaha newsboys had had some other kind
of paid work in their lives in addition to street jobs, and at the time
of the survey 22 boys (of whom 14 were under 14 years of age)
reported that they were doing some other kind of work, chiefly cad­
dying or errand or delivery work, which could be done on Saturdays
or before or after school (school was in session at the time of the in­
terview). The vacation work experiences of some of these boys had
been many and diverse. One had bootblacked for two summers an<||
had driven a peddler's horse a third summer; another reported that
for two years, during vacation and on Saturdays, beginning at the

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OMAHA, NEBR.

177

age of 7, he had filled sacks at a granary; a 15-year-old boy had
worked for a farmer five summers and had caddied one summer;
another boy, besides shining shoes and selling papers, had spent four
months during the summer preceding the interview, when he had
been 12, helping to load cars with bricks; a negro boy of 15, whose
mother supported the family by laundry work, had had a variety of
jobs besides his newspaper selling. His first work experience had
been hauling junk, beginning at the age of 8 and continuing until he
was 13; at 14 he had helped a huckster for two months, had helped
on a garbage wagon for one month, and had swept up the floors at
the stock market for two months.
C O N D IT IO N S OF W O R K A N D E N V IR O N M E N T

Organization of newspaper distribution.

. Omaha had three _important daily newspapers, each of which was
issued five or six times a day. Two of them had early morning
editions and each had an edition that was issued about 4.30 or
5 p. m.62 According to the publishers’ statement of circulation, ap­
proximately 27,000 copies of these newspapers were sold on the streets
daily. Each of the three had a Sunday edition, which appeared
Saturday evening. On school days boys sold only the early morning
or the late afternoon papers, but on Saturdays and during vacations
the numerous editions provided an opportunity to sell papers all day
and well into the night.
The business arrangements between the newspapers and the boys
were seriously affected at the time of the study by the bitter rivalry
between one of the newspapers and the other two. Some months
before the study began, according to one circulation manager, one of
the newspapers had brought into town a street circulator who hadhad orders to drive the other two papers off the streets; he was reported
to have had put at his disposal a fund of $15,000 with which to
accomplish the work, with the result that professional “ hustlers”
were employed and bonuses to sell that paper exclusively were
freely bestowed. This paper, however, charged the other two with
combining to monopolize sales by forbidding boys selling them to
sell the third paper. Whatever the origin and history of the con­
troversy, when the survey was made newsboys selling one of the
papers were not permitted to sell the other two, and vice versa,
and bonuses in varying amounts were paid by one of the papers
provided the newsboys refrained from handling its rivals.63 Despite
the rule and the acceptance of the bonus, many boys sold all three
newspapers, often obtaining the rival sheets from other boys at the
wholesale price or trading some of their own papers for them.64
“ I put t h e ----------on top when the ----------- truck comes around,”
was a typical explanation of the procedure. Young men and boys,
generally known as “ tramp newsboys” and “ hobo newsies,” were
hired to sell, and, according to some of the younger newsboys, these
“ hustlers” were given room and board in addition to a cash bonus
and the regular commission on their sales. The younger newsboys
62 In June, 1926, it was reported that each newspaper was issuing also a daily “ bulldog” edition at
9 p. m. (see footnote 66, p. 183).
> 63 In 1926 boys selling this paper on the streets reported that they were not given bonuses, though one
boy said that he believed out-of-town boys and men selling in Omaha received a bonus
Mi n 1 9 2 6 boys were openly selling all three newspapers. Some of them said that this was permitted,
but one boy reported that he was not allowed to do it.


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

were encouraged by prizes, such as knives and baseball bats, small
amounts of cash, picnics, and passes to motion-picture shows.
Boys working directly for the newspapers were allocated to comers
in accordance with their selling ability, subject to the promptness
of their arrival at the office, and were required to take out as many
papers as the street-sales manager believed could be disposed of on a
particular comer. Boys lost their comers if they did not sell regularly
or were late. Each of the papers required the street newsboys to
settle at the end of each day’s sales for the papers that they had
taken out. Representatives of the different newspapers said that
full returns were allowed, but many complaints ware made by the
boys in regard to returns. The intense competition between the
papers made the matter of increasing street sales more than ordinarily
urgent, and it was clear that the circulation men often took unfair
advantage of the boys to make a good showing for themselves.
One newspaper especially (a paper which had been dropped from the
audit bureau of circulation, supposedly because of “ padding” its
circulation) was accused of making the boys “ eat” papers (that is,
pay for those that they failed to sell), though the circulation men
on all three newspapers sometimes refused to allow the return of
unsold papers. “ Bill makes me take out 50 or 60 papers, though I
know I can’t sell more than 40, and I have to eat the rest” ; “ Some­
times I lose 25 cents a day because they won’t let me turn in the
papers I don’t sell, and last spring they beat me up because I hadn’t
sold any” ; “ This newspaper makes me eat on an average of 25 papers
a week” ; “ They canned me because I wasn’ t selling enough papers;
I often got stuck with 10 and had to pay for them,” were typical
comments. In order to make a good reputation for themselves with
the circulation manager and his assistants boys would sell the papers0
below the regular price or sell papers at the wholesale price to other
newsboys who either did not wish to deal with the office or who
could not get papers for themselves because they were known to sell
the rival papers; others threw away copies that they were unable to
sell. The truck drivers who delivered late editions of the papers
to the boys on their corners and made some collections were accused
of abusing the boys as well as of cheating them. It was reported
that they sometimes slapped and cursed the boys, twisted their arms
behind them, searched them for money, left papers on their comers
that they did not want and made them pay for them. One boy said
that a policeman watched him and came to his aid if a driver attacked
him, and a circulation manager reported that one of the circulation
men had been arrested for ill-treating a newsboy.
Some of the boys reported that they were cheated in other ways;
for example, the promised bonus was not always paid, or the distrib­
uting men would claim that they had given a boy more papers than
they really had and would make him pay for the extra ones.
Although some of the newsboys received and paid for their papers
at the street corners, having all their dealings with the truck drivers,
and a few obtained their papers' at carriers’ substations (see p. 204),
almost all went to the main offices of the various newspapers to get
their stock and returned there to pay for it after the day’s work was
done. One paper required a settlement at the office at 7 o’clock,
and the newsboys were required to stay on their corners until that^p
hour, though most of the business was over by 6.30. Boys said that

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OMAHA, NEBK.

st

179

~ ,*-s*w— ,'a“

“ from 6.30 to 7 -t h e y want you to c o ™ back for m

f c

S

f t K

S

" ft th6m “ d “

^ t p ^

turn them baPekPthe

Some of the boys refused to have any dealings with the npwsn»nfir

; Sasjsc

Conditions in distributing rooms.

One of the newspapers had a distributing room on the ground floor
with an entrance on the street. The others used basement rooms
entered down narrow stairways, one from an afley, the other from
the street, though it abutted onto an alley. All these rooms w eS
ark. One, consisting of a small space where the boys made their
returns, under the sidewalk and next to a foul-smelling toilet and
H v L argf uSPf e (ab.01i t 2 0 * * * & 40 ^et), where the papers w ire
Kolfb ° Ut’ h5d ,110 Windows All were equipped-with long tables or
benches used during distributing hours for sorting and counting
papers and at other times for lounging and sleeping
g
At almost any hour of the day or night newsboys and older bovs
and young men could be seen in and around some of the distributing
rooms. Without supervision except that of the street circulators
and truck drivers, the boys smoked, played cards and craps and
carried on other forms of gambling. Cursing and vulgar language
were common, lying and stealing were regarded as jokes, a n d X w s
m Afliai I i rreSt WaS a slgnal.for ,the crowd to repair to the police station.
newspapers permitted the newsboys to sleep on their premises*
o u n X nL r ° yS dld S0> es5ec;ally on Saturday nights when they were
out late selling papers and planned to sell also on Sunday morning «
They lay on the long benches or on boxes, or even on a cem en tX or
sometimes with a few papers under them, covered in cold weather
J o i , X i b aP ^ gS ° r m th newspapers. As a rule, little sleeping was
done-throw ing paper wads or snuff, or deluging one another S
f l i g h t r s e X G1
a w T g the.niore innocent pastimes of
X™ k
66 P’ 18° ) ~ tl:iough at 1 a. m. m awmdowless distributing
h T l b° y \ T rel ee\ by t b e bnreau representative fast asleep on the
benches, while other boys talked and played about the room, some of
home at2^or';S^clocl^i^the^moraing^

^

^

to

them

m ld e fh e T p ^ c u la r iy 6 undeshaSf l o u n g i n g ‘ p “a c e s X ^ t h e
m c X X ne)vsb1oy?' F °r this reason one of the newspapers, accordmg to its circulation manager, had issued orders that no ' ‘ floaters”
would be employed or allowed in the distributing room. The other
hoZ - YeTl gave sPecial encouragement to this type of
nf i b f k Z PWvJding lodgings for them at small near-by hotelSyPOne
of the boys included m the study had spent a week at one of these
hotels with the tramp newsboys ” before the school authorities, at the


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

instigation of his mother, had prevailed upon him to return home.
Some of the “ hobo newsies” were young boys who had run away
from home, some were young men out to see the country by “ bum­
ming rides,” others, no doubt, were ordinary tramps. Most of them
would not work and sold papers only long enough to get a free bed
and earn a few dollars for food; others, though professional “ hust­
lers,” were too restless to stay long in one place and spent their tune
“ bumming” their way from city to city wherever they heard that a
paper was booming its circulation.
The younger newsboys and their parents accused these older
boys and men of dishonest or unwholesome practices of varying
degrees of seriousness. They urged the boys to practice various
tricks on the public in order to sell papers, and themselves set the
example and boasted of it. They taught the boys to gamble and
kept them playing cards all night, cheating them and taking away
their money. One boy said, that the men urged them to steal and
bought the stolen goods from them, so that the newsboys “ got to
be regular crooks.” One of the older newsboys, a local young man
for whom a number of boys worked and of whom one of the boys
said that he stayed in the distributing room with the boys Saturday
night in order to protect them, said that he had known of instances
of the use of newsboys by the “ hobo newsies” for immoral practices.
Meals.

For boys who sold papers after school until at least 6.30 or 7 p. m., an
evening meal with their families was usually out of the question.
Only 66 of the 320 newsboys reported that they did not sell papers
at mealtime on any day. The larger number of the others had supper,
or, if they sold morning papers, breakfast at home, but far more often
than not they were obliged to eat alone some time after the family
meal cold leftovers or something kept hot, or, in the case of a few
especiallyTucky boys, a meal cooked for them. Many had no supper
of any kind until 8 p. m. or later, and a few merely picked up a bite
to eat in the intervals of their work or went without supper. Twelve
boys regularly had their evening meal, and several regularly break­
fasted at down-town restaurants, and others said that they some­
times did so. On Saturdays, when many boys sold practically all
day, a few took lunches from home with them, and in some cases
had no supper until they reached home late at night. But news­
paper managements quite generally gave meal tickets for Saturday
night supper to their regular newsboys, and 26 of the boys included
in the study said that they ate Saturday supper at restaurants.
Among the sellers of daily morning papers were five who said that
they ate no breakfast, and several had none until they returned
home after two hours or more of selling papers. Many of the boys
who were on the streets early breakfasted at 5 or earlier at home,
sold until 8 or 8.30, and then rushed off to school. On Sunday
mornings a number ate at restaurants.
<
The following cases illustrate some of these different situations and
give a fair picture of conditions among the large group of boys whose
work kept them away from home at meal time:
A boy of 10 selling papers from 5.15 to 8.30 every school-day morning had
breakfast before leaving home— “ just coffee, but sometimes corn flakes.


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181

A boy of 12 selling every school day from 3.30 to 7 p. m. had his supper at
home after 7. On Saturdays he worked' from 7 a. m. to 7 p. m. H e had an
early breakfast at home, and sometimes he bought a “ Coney Island sandwich”
at noon, but the Saturday before the interview he had had no lunch. “ Twice
he caught me leaning against a building,” said this child, referring to the streetcirculation man. “ He told me I ought to stand up straight and keep at work.”

A boy of 13 who sold from 3.30 to 7.30 every school day and most of Saturday
afternoon and evening up to 1 a. m ., said that he had supper at a restaurant
Saturday nights, and at 1 o’clock his employer, an adult newspaper seller who
had a number of boys working for him, gave him 30 cents for food. The boy
was paying on an endowment-insurance policy and two accident-insurance
policies, and his mother said that she regarded the money he earned as of value
chiefly because he was learning to save.

A 9-year-old boy working from 3.30 to 7.30 every school day said that his
stepmother warmed up his supper, which he had between 7.30 and 8 p. m ., but
that he also bought sandwiches (three for 5 cents) on his way home.

A boy of 11 who sold papers every school-day afternoon until 7 o’clock, in
th.6 mornings from 5.30 to 8.30 several days a week, and all afternoon and evening
on Saturdays, staying out until 1 a. m. and sleeping at one of the distribution
rooms, bought both his breakfast and his supper at a down-town restaurant,
having doughnuts and coffee for both meals, though he sometimes ordered meat
for supper and bought bananas and apples. “ D on’t wanta eat hom e,” he said,
adding that his mother “ worried” and he did not want to worry her, but he
wanted to eat down town with the boys. H e had been selling papers for three
years.
A boy of 11 who sold papers several hours before going to school, every after­
noon, all day Saturday, and Sunday mornings had his meals at home, his supper
between 7 and 7.30. His breakfast, prepared by his mother, he had at 4 a. m .,
sold papers until 8.30, and was taken to school on the newspaper truck.

A boy who. sold, several hours every school day and Saturday afternoons and
evenings until after 1 a. m. had supper on school-day evenings at 7.30 or 8. This
meal his mother kept hot for him. On Saturday nights he had a 25-cent meal
at a restaurant.
Two brothers sold after school until 8 every night, getting warmed-up leftovers
from the family meal about 8.30 p. m. The younger boy at 9 already had a
truancy record.
A 12-year-old boy who wanted to make money to buy clothes for his graduation
from the eighth grade sold papers every afternoon, except Saturdays and Sundays,
up to 7 p. m ., having a supper of bread and milk on reaching home. On Saturdays
he sold practically all day until past midnight, having a late breakfast at home,
no lunch, and supper, consisting of “ hot dogs” and pie, at a restaurant.

Another boy of 12, who worked only an hour and a half on school days but
was out selling papers Saturday nights until 2 a. m ., had a warmed-over supper
at 8 at home on school-day evenings, and on Saturdays had supper at a cafeteria
about midnight milk, pancakes, bread, and meat. He said he was troubled
with rheumatism and was so tired Saturday nights after selling so many hours
that he could hardly stand up. H e had been selling papers about 10 months.


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

A boy who sold several hours both before and after school had breakfast and
supper down town when he got tips.

Two Italian boys, one 11, the other 8, whose father wanted them to sell papers
in order to learn English, had supper at home school-day evenings after they
had sold out about 7 p. m. On Saturdays they sold all day up to 7 p. m ., buying
cakes for their lunch and their supper.

^
“

A 10-year-old boy who sold from 5 to 8.30 every school-day morning had
breakfast before he left home, but he also bought pie and cookies to eat just
before going to school.
One of the oldest boys sold morning papers from 5 to 8, leaving home at
4 a. m. and walking 2 miles down town. Ordinarily he ate no breakfast, but if
he “ made a lot” he would get coffee and hot cakes down town. H e said he
might lose his corner if he stopped for breakfast before he started to sell. This
boy had long truancy and juvenile-court records.
R E G U L A R IT Y O F W O R K

The bonus and prizes offered by the newspapers were given only to
steady workers. Moreover, boys who did not sell every day were
penalized by assignment to the least profitable corners or to a dif­
ferent corner each time they sold, so that they were unable to acquire
regular customers. Thus, every encouragement was given to sell
daily. The proportion of Omaha newsboys who sold every day, or
every day except Sunday, was unusually large. Of the 253 boys
whose only street work was newspaper selling 76 per cent and of the
67 with a second street job 82 per cent worked every day, and in spite 0
of the fact that at the time of the interviews school was in session
only 28 (11 per cent) of the first group and only 3 of the second
came out to sell papers only on Saturdays or on Sundays or both.
H OURS OF W O R K

,

Most of the boys sold the evening papers and their Sunday morning
editions, but 54 sold daily morning papers.
The boys who sold morning papers on school days usually began
between 5 and 6; 40 of the 54 were out on the streets before 6 a. m.,
2 of them before 5. Almost all of them sold every morning. Onethird of these morning sellers were 14 or 15 year old boys, but the
others represented all age groups, including several under 10. The
majority (32) sold papers three hours or more before going to school,
those with down-town corners being taken to school on one of the
newspaper trucks. Some of the younger boys said that their work
in the morning made them sleepy in school. Among these were two
boys, one 12 years old, the other 13, who could not keep awake in
school. A 15-year-old boy who had sold morning papers for two
weeks had been obliged to stop because he used to go to sleep at his
desk, and on his way home would be so sleepy that he would call out,
“ Papers, Mister?” though he had no papers to sell. The chief
attendance officer, also, said that teachers sometimes complained to
the attendance department that newsboys went to sleep in school. ^
A fairly large proportion of the morning sellers (19 of the 54) sold
papers in the afternoon as well as in the morning, thus working

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OMAHA, NEBR.

183

under a double strain, and almost all of them sold every school day.
One boy who sold papers in the morning delivered papers in the
afternoon. Of the 20, 2 were only 9 years of age and 6 were 11, the
others being from 12 to 15.
Although only 24 of the 98 boys selling on Sunday morning were
out on the streets before 6, some of them, especially those who sold
on down-town corners, spent Saturday night in the distributing
rooms, saying that it was not worth while to go home for the few
hours elapsing between the time they stopped Saturday night and
the time they began Sunday morning. Typical of these was a
10-year-old boy who with his two brothers sold papers until midnight
on Saturdays, bought a breakfast of Hamburger sandwiches and
coffee, and went to one of the newspaper offices, where he slept from
1.30 to 5, the hour for starting his Sunday morning’s work. Another
boy, 14 years of age, who turned in at the newspaper office around
12.30 Saturday nights, was out selling again on Sunday mornings
at 4.
Boys selling evening papers usually stopped on school nights about
6.30 or 7. By 7 the demand for papers was practically over.66 Of
the 194 boys selling papers after school and having no other street
work, 21 stopped selling before 6 o ’clock and 166 between 6 and 8, of
whom only a small number sold after 7. A few, however, reported
very late hours. For example, a 15-year-old boy sold at a news­
stand until 11 every night except Sunday, and two brothers, aged
10 and 13 years, stayed out selling papers until 10.30 three nights a
week and until 12 other nights.
On Saturday nights the down-town streets were full of boys calling
the Sunday morning papers, which were issued about 8 p. m. Leav­
ing their stock of papers spread out in piles on the pavement, weighted
down by bricks and sometimes in the custody of an older boy, the
younger boys would take 10 or 12 papers under their arms and sally
out among the crowds “ hollering” for all they were worth. Hardly
a comer in the down-town district was without its little group of
newsboys. About 11 o ’clock they congregated about the theater
entrances and for a short time did a brisk business. Even after the
theater crowds had dispersed, however, they continued to sell for
an hour or so. Of the boys included in the study who sold Saturday
evenings and had no other street job, 69 (31 per cent), and 20 of the
67 boys with a secondary street job, said that they sold papers on
Saturday nights until 10 o ’clock or later. (Table 42.) In the first
group 46 boys were under 14 years of age, 12 under 12 years, and of the
second group 14 boys were under 14 and 4 under 12. Fifty-four boys
(25 per cent) of those with one street job selling on Saturdays and
16 of the boys with a secondary street job were out until midnight
at least, including 9 boys who said that they usually stayed out all
Saturday night. Of these 70 boys, 2 were under 10, 8 were 10 or 11,
and 35 were 12 or 13 years of age. A 10-year-old boy said that the
66 In June, 1926, the chief probation officer of the juvenile court reported that the daily “ bulldog” edition
at 9 p. m., which for some months had been issued by all three of the newspapers, had created a new problem—
that of newsboys selling papers until a late hour on the evenings of school days. After a conference with
representatives of the newspapers, who had agreed to cooperate, the court had fixed 15 years as the mini­
mum age for selling this edition. A boy under the age of 15 found by probation officers selling the late
edition was stopped, under the general power of the court to deal with neglected children, unless a home
investigation indicated that the family needed his earnings, in which case the boy was given a written
permit t;o sell.
i

75034°—23— 13

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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

police made him “ quit hollering” at 11, though he continued to sell
until 12, stopping then because he was too young to sell later than
that. One or 2 a. m. was a common hour for the after-midnight
sellers to stop. After that time the boys who were out all night
usually slept or stayed in the newspaper-distributing rooms.
T able

42.—

H o u r o f en d in g w ork o n a typ ic a l S a tu rd a y n igh t, b y age p eriod ;
n e w sp a p er sellers holding a sin g le jo b , O m a ha, N eb r.

Newspaper sellers from 6 to 15 years of age
10 years,
under 12

Total
Hour of ending work on a typical
Saturday night.

Total_______ ____________________
Street work on Saturday_______________

12 years,
under 14

14 years,
under 16

Un­
der
Per
Per
Per
Per
10
Num­ cent
years1 Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent
dis­
dis­
dis­
dis­
ber tribu­
ber tribu­
ber tribu­
ber tribu­
tion
tion
tion
tion
253

36

65

88

221

28

52

82

64
59

Total reported.......................................

220

100.0

28

52

100.0

81

100.0

59

100.0

Before 6 p. m ..... ................ ........... :
6 p. m., before 8____ ____________
8 p. m., before 1 0 .............. ...........
10 p. m., before 12______________
12 p. m. and after_______________

51
94
6
15
54

23.2
42.7
2.7
6.8
24.5

6
17
2
1
2

18
22
3
3
6

34.6
42.3
5.8
5.8
11.5

15
31
1
7
27

18.5
38.3
1.2
8.6
33.3

12
24

20.3
40.7

4
19

6.8
32.2

8

13

Not reported.........................................

1

No street work on Saturday......................

32

1
6

5

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

The Saturday-night newsboys had ample opportunity to observe
the night life of the city. Some of them counted on the Saturdaynight “ drunks” to buy them out; they often paid as much as $1 for
10 newspapers and then returned the newspapers to the boy to be
resold. Sometimes they “ got rough,” in the language of the youth­
ful narrators, but more often they were “ just funny.” A charac­
teristic antic was one described by a 13-year-old boy as occurring
the Saturday night before he was interviewed. A man and a woman
emerging from a restaurant had borrowed the boy’s newspaper
wagon (the usual toy express wagon); the man had ridden the woman
about the streets in it for about five minutes and had given the news­
boy a dollar.
A city ordinance 67 prohibited children under 18 from being on
the streets of Omaha after 9 p. m. from March 1 to August 31 and
after 8 p. m. from September 1 to the last day of February, but this
so-called curfew law was apparently a dead letter at the time of the
Children’s Bureau survey.
Very few of the Omaha newsboys sold less than two hours a day.
(Table 43.) Of the boys working on school days and not having
any other street job, 90 per cent sold for two hours or more on a typical
school day and 68 per cent sold at least three hours.
Ordinance No- 9762,


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OMAHA, NEBR.

T a b l e 4'3.— N u m b e r o f hou rs o f street w ork o n a typ ica l school d a y , b y age p e r io d ;
n ew sp a p er sellers holding a sin g le j o b , O m a h a , N eb r.

'

Newspaper sellers from 6 to 15 years of age
i
Number of hours of street work on a
typical school day

10 years,
under 12

12 years,
14 years,
under 14
under 16
Un­
der
Per
Per
Per
! Per
10
Num­ cent years1Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent
dis­
dis­
dis­
dis­
ber tribu­
ber tribu­ ber
tribu­ ber tribu­
tion
tion
tion
tion

j

Totali

Total_______ ___________________

253

36

65

88

Street work on school days_____________

225

31

57

78

Total reported_____________________

224

100.0

31

57

100.0

Less than 1 hour__________
1 hour, less than 2______________
2 hours, less than 3.... ........... ........
3 hours! less than 5....
5 hours and over________ _______

4
19
50
139
12

1.8
8.5
22.3
62.1
5.4

8
5
16
2

3
5
13
32
4

5.3
8.8
22.8
56.1
7.0

5

8

Not reported.........................................
N o street work on school days

1
28

77
3
21
51
2

64
59
100.0

59

100.0

3.9
27.3
66.2
2.6

1
3
11
40
4

1.7
5.1
18.6
67.8
6.8

1
10

5

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

The numerous editions of the three papers made it possible for
boys to sell all day Saturdays, and many of them did so. Almost all
(97 per cent) of the newsboys selling on Saturday and doing no other
street work sold at least two hours, 87 per cent sold at least three
hours, and a large majority (59 per cent) sold five hours or longer.
(Table 44.) Many boys sold on Saturdays from 8 to 13 hours or
more. The following accounts are representative of the hours of
these boys:
A 12-year-old newsboy of native white parentage, who had been selling papers
from the age of 7, began selling down town at 11 Saturday mornings and sold
until 7 p. m ., having had lunch before leaving home; at 7 he had a 25-cent supper
at a restaurant, began to sell again at 8, and continued selling until midnight.
An Italian boy 15 years old sold papers from 5 to 10.30 Saturday mornings,
and beginning again in the afternoon at about half past 1 he sold until 7, and
again from 8 to midnight, making a 15-hour day. A 12-year-old boy started
selling at 2 Saturday afternoon and continued to sell until 1 o’clock Sunday
morning. A boy of 11 sold continuously from 11 Saturday morning until 12.30
at night, except for an hour between 7 and 8, when he stopped to get a supper
of “ hot dogs” and pie at a restaurant. A 10-year-old boy of native white
parentage went down towii at 10 Saturday morning with two brothers and sold
papers until 1 o’ clock; between 1 and 3, he said, he “ monkeyed around the
office or went to a show, ” but beginning at 3 he sold again until about 1 o’clock
Sunday morning, and then slept at the newspaper office on bags (“ if some of
the big kids did not come in and jerk them from under him ” ) until 5 o’ clock
Sunday morning, when he again went out on the streets to sell for two hours.
He and his brother ate three successive meals down town at a restaurant fre­
quented by a rough type of men. An 11-year-old boy, the child of Italian
immigrants, worked on Saturdays 14}4 hours; he sold morning papers from 5.30
to 10, and after lunch sold from 1.30 to 7 and from 8.30 to 1, going to the dis­
tribution room, where he slept on benches or played around until 4,30 Sunday
morning, the hour at which he began to sell again.


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

T a b l e 4 4 . — N u m b e r o f hours o f street w ork o n a typ ica l S a tu rd a y, b y age p e rio d ;
n e w sp a p er sellers holding a sin g le jo b , O m a ha, N eb r.

Newspaper sellers from 6 to 15 years of age
10 years,
under 12

Total
Number of hours of street work on a
typical Saturday

12 years,
under 14

14 years,
under 16

Un­
der
Per
Per
Per
Per
10
cent
Num­
Num­ cent
years1
Num­ cent
Num­ cent
dis­
dis­
dis­
dis­
ber
ber tribu­ ber
tribu­
tribu­ ber tribu­
tion
tion
tion
tion

Total_________ _______ ___________

253

36

65

88

Street work on Saturday.'_______________

221

28

52

82

Total reported..... ................... .............

219

100.0

28

52

100.0

81

100.0

58

100.0

Less than 1 hour...........................
1 hour, less than 2______ ________
2 hours, less than 3........ ...............
3 hours, less than 5 . . .............. ......
5 hours and over..... .......................

2
5
21
61
130

.9
2.3
9.6
27.9
59.4

2
3
5
18

2
1
6
14
29

3.8
1.9
11.5
26.9
55.8

1
8
23
49

1.2
9.9
28.4
60.5

1
4
19
34

1.7
6.9
32.8
58.6

8

13

Not reported...... ..................................

2

No street work on Saturday____________

32

64
59

1

1

6

5

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

Besides the boys who continued to sell after midnight on Saturdays,
80 newsboys with no other street job and 18 others sold papers on
Sundays. More than half (47) of the group with no other street
job and 11 of the others worked at least five hours on Sundays.
Although a few of the newsboys who worked late Saturday night ^
and early Sunday morning did not sell papers during the week, the
great majority of all the Omaha newsboys sold papers every day.
(See p. 182.) The hours a week for many were so long that taken in
conjunction with the number of hours spent in school they constituted
a working week considerably longer than that of most adult workers
and resulted in virtual separation of the boy from his home and
family. The great majority of the boys whose only street work was
newspaper selling worked 16 to 53 hours (in two cases), and 43
per cent worked at least 24 hours a week. Thus, with about 25
hours of school, two-fifths of the boys had a working week of at
least 49 hours. Of the 107 boys selling papers at least 24 hours a
week (excluding those who worked 24 hours or more both selling
papers and doing some other street work) 37 (35 per cent) were under
12 years and 14 (13 per cent) were under 10. In some cases the
very long weekly hours resulted from long daily hours, as did those
of an 11-year-old boy who sold from 4 to 9 p. m. every week day.
In other instances the hours on school days were somewhat shorter,
but an 8 or a 10 hour day on Saturday, with perhaps several hours of
selling on Sunday, brought the weekly hours up; thus a 12-year-old
boy sold 34J^ hours a week (4 hours every school day,
hours
on Saturday, and 6 on Sunday); an 11-year-old boy selling 4 hours
each school day, spent 103^ hours in selling on Saturday and more
than 7 on Sunday, making a total of 38 hours a week. The longest
weekly hours among boys doing no street work except selling were
reported by those who sold both morning and afternoon papers.

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OMAHA, NEBR.

187

The worst case was that of an Italian boy only 11 years of age
who worked 53)4 hours a week; he sold papers each day about 4
hours before going to school, and in the afternoon for 3 hours, selling
also all day Saturday until 7 in the evening and again early Sunday
morning. A number of other boys selling morning and evening papers
worked at least 40 hours a week.
The long hours on the streets kept the boys away from their families,
in many instances even at mealtimes, so that they were at home
hardly any of their waking hours. This was particularly unfortunate
in immigrant families, where the mother especially often finds her
Americanized boys getting out of hand at an early age because she
can not keep in touch with them and their activities. Physically,
also, so many hours of work could hardly fail to have been exhausting.
The newsboys were on their feet many hours at a time; the strain
of calling their papers must have been considerable; they were
obliged to be constantly on the alert— even though a boy relaxed a
moment to engage in playful wrestling or boxing with his fellow
newsboy on the comer or to take a brief turn around the comer in
his little newspaper wagon, it was clear to an onlooker that he kept
an eye out for possible customers. The boys were urged to stand up
straight and keep at work on penalty of losing their comers. “ Say,
I wan’ you to sell papers and quit holdup up that buildup. If you
don' some one else will,” was a typical remark in the distributing
room. Now and then a boy complained of being too tired to sell or so
tired that he could not stand on his feet; one boy, nicknamed
“ Graveyard” because he was said to fall asleep on even the busiest
comers, was probably not so much indifferent to his work as he was
exhausted by it. Certainly on Saturday nights the newsboys on the
down-town streets, with few exceptions, looked worn out; their
shoulders drooped and they were hollow eyed and pale under the
bright lights.
E A R N IN G S

a

W

The earnings of newsboys in Omaha were unusually large. Besides
their regular profits— 1 cent on the 2-cent dailies and 2 cents on the
5-cent Sunday papers— the steady workers selling one of the news­
papers received bonuses, amounting in some cases to as much as
S3 or $4 a week. Only 13 per cent— a much smaller proportion than
has been found in other surveys of newsboys— received less than
$1 a week, including tips. A large majority (60 per cent) made at
least S3 a week, the median earnings being between S3 and $4.
More than one-fourth (27 per cent) of the boys earned at least S5,
and a few of the older boys made S8, $9, or S10 or more. (Table 45.)
The earnings of boys under 12 were much smaller than those of
boys of 12 or over, and in general the older the newsboy the more he
earned. Of the 101 boys under 12 years of age whose only street
work was selling newspapers 42 per cent made less than S2, whereas
only 13 per cent of the 152 boys who were from 12 to 15 years old
made less than $2. Only 2 of the 36 boys under 10 made as much as
$5, only 9 of the 65 who were between 10 and 12 and only 22 of the 88
who were 12 or 13 made as much as $5. Of the 64 boys who were
14 or 15 years of age, however, 33 made $5 or more a week.


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T able

CHILDREN IN STREET WORK
45.—

E a r n in g s d u rin g a typ ic a l w eek, b y n u m b er o f hours en ga ged; n e w s­
p a p er sellers holding a sin gle j o b , O m a ha, N eb r.

Newspaper sellers from 6 to 15 years of age
Working specified numbers of
hours per w6ek

Total

Earnings during a typical week

12 hours, less 24 hours and
Hours
than 24
over

not re­

Per
Less
ported i
Num­ cent than
12
Per
Per
ber distri­
bution hours 1Num­ cent Num­ cent
ber distri­ ber distri­
bution
bution
Total_____ __________________

253

50

Total reported______________ ______

100.0

Less than $0.25____________ ____
$0.25, less than $0.50....... ...... ........
$0.50, less than $1.00......................
$1.00, less than $2.00________ ___
$2.00, less than $3.00-____ _______
$3.00, less than $4.00____________
$4.00, less than $5.00-.....................
$5.00, less than $6.00____________
$6.00 and over______ ___________
No earnings and no cash earnings

1.6

5.7
5.3
12.7
13.9
20.1

13.1
9.4
17.6
.4

47

92

103
1.1
2.2

16.3
14.1
31.5
19.6
5.4

4.9
15.5
16.5
12.6

16.5
33.0
1.0

Not reported______________________
i Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

Although even the younger newsboys in Omaha spent a great deal
of time on the streets, they did not work so steadily as the older
boys— 60 per cent of the boys under 12 worked 16 hours or more and
37 per cent at least 24 hours, compared with 77 per cent and 46 per
cent, respectively, of the boys from 12 to 15 years of age— a fact that
accounts very largely for their lower earning power and suggests that
the boy under 12 or even under 14 years is not such an asset to the
newspapers as his older brother. The hours count in newspaper
selling; 67 per cent of the Omaha newsboys who sold papers less than
16 hours a week made less than $2 a week, compared with only 10
per cent of those working 16 to 24 hours and only 5 per cent of those
working 24 hours or longer.
Boys of all ages reported that they were generally tipped by some
of their customers, though 96 of the 320 said that they did not receive
tips, Twenty-four of the 33 boys under 10 and 56 of the 74 who were
10 or 11 years of age received them. The proportion was 70 per cent
of the 103 boys between 12 and 14 reporting on this point and 52 per
cent of the 79 between 14 and 16. In some instances tips amounted
to very little— 25 or 30 cents a week; to quote one of the boys, they
were given “ quarters and nickels— mostly nickels.” However, in a
number of cases, a considerable part of the boy’s income from papers
was unearned. A dwarf, who though he was 15 was only about 3 feet
tall, said that he took in from 15 to 20 cents a night in tips— more than
most of the boys did— because of his size. And little boys, especially,
reported 25 cents a day, or $1 or $1.50 a week, in tips, and more on
Saturdays; a few said that they habitually received very large tips,
such as “ $1 on Saturday night,” or “ 50 cents for a Sunday paper,”
or “ 25 cents for one paper.”

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N E E D F O R E AR N IN G S

Some of the circulation men and business managers of the Omaha
newspapers said that the majority of the newsboys sold papers because
their families were in need of the money, one circulation manager
putting this proportion at 90 per cent; others believed that the need
was not general.
Judging from the information on the economic and social status of
the boys included in the study it is undoubtedly true that on the whole
the newsboys’ families were poor; to what extent they were dependent
upon the children’s earnings from newspaper selling to keep them
from falling into debt or seeking the aid of charity is more difficult
to determine.
The majority (71 per cent) of the newsboys came from families in
which the parents lived together and the father was the main support.
This means, however, that a not inconsiderable proportion were
fatherless or motherless, or were not supported by their fathers.
About 17 per cent had lost their own fathers through death or other
causes. In the families of 17 (5 per cent) the mother supported the
family, and 17 others had no father— not even a stepfather or a foster
father— to whom they could look for support; 34 boys (11 per cent),
therefore, may be regarded as coming from fatherless homes.
Occupationally the newsboys’ fathers or other chief breadwinners
represented the least skilled and the least well paid groups. Although
the proportion of industrial workers and of persons in trade and in
occupations classified under transportation is about the same for the
chief breadwinners in newsboys’ families as for all the male workers
20 years of age and over in the city, only a few were skilled artisans
or mechanics, very few were salesmen, and even fewer had responsible
positions on the railroad, such as that of motorman or conductor.
They were chiefly factory operatives, small-store keepers (usually
grocery stores or second-hand clothing or furniture stores), peddlers,
and laborers on the railroad. Almost twice as many of the chief
breadwinners in newsboys’ families as of all the male workers 20
years of age and over in Omaha were in personal and domestic service,
because most of the newsboys’ mothers supporting their families were
laundresses or servants, and only 7 per cent were in clerical or profes­
sional occupations, compared with 15 per cent of the male workers at
least 20 years of age.68 The majority of the heads of families had had
steady employment during the year immediately preceding the study,
judging from the sample represented by the families that were visited
(see p. 6), but a small number (14 per cent) had had as much as
three months’ unemployment.
It was evidently necessary for the mothers of many of the news­
boys to work. N ot including the mothers who supported their
families chiefly or entirely, or those who may have kept boarders or
lodgers to supplement the income, the mothers of 52 of the newsboys
(15 per cent of the white boys and 6 of the 11 negro boys having
some other chief breadwinner than their mothers, or 17 per cent
of both white and negro) were employed. Some of them were sales­
women or factory workers, and a few did sewing or other kinds of
work, but the majority took in washing or did housework. The
68
Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. IV, Population, Occupations, pp. 1188-1189.
Washington, 1923.


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics study of sources of income
in Omaha families in 1919 showed that in only 9 per cent of the
families of white wage earners and small-salaried men did the mothers
work.69 The larger proportion of working mothers in the newsboys’
families seems to indicate economic pressure above the average.
Information on the amount of their earned incomes was obtained
for only the families that were visited. In these 59 families were 89
(28 per cent) of the Omaha newsboys included in the study. Only
48 chief breadwinners reported their annual earnings. More than
half (28 of the 48) had earned less than $1,050 during the year pre­
ceding the visit, the median being between $850 and $1,050. These
earnings are much smaller than the average for wage earners and
small-salaried men in Omaha, as indicated by the Bureau of Labor
Statistics study, in which it was found that the annual earnings of
white chief breadwinners for the year covered in the study averaged
$1,417.70
In the newsboys’ families the mothers’ earnings and those of other
members of the family were insufficient to bring the family income
up to average. The median annual family earnings, including
those of all members 16 years of age and over, were between $1,050
and $1,250; 28 of the 46 families reported having earned less than
$1,250. In the Bureau of Labor Statistics study the earned income
of the white families averaged $1,503. The newsboys’ families,
moreover, were larger than those included in the Bureau of Labor
Statistics study, averaging seven members compared with only
five.71 (See footnote 10, p. 83. The earnings of the newsboys’ chief
breadwinners were those of the year M ay 1, 1922, to April 30,1923.)
An unusually large percentage of the homes in Omaha are owned,
and the same tendency to own the home is shown among the news­
boys’ families. Almost half (49 per cent) of the families visited
either were buying or had paid for the houses in which they lived,
almost the proportion (47 per cent) of the homes in Omaha which
were reported in the United States census of 1920 as owned, either
with or without encumbrance.72
The houses were small, however, and the families large. Moreover,
10 of the 59 families visited kept lodgers. The result was a con­
siderable degree of overcrowding. Half the families had at least
1.5 persons per room, which means that a family of parents and four
children would occupy at the most only four rooms.
Further evidence as to the economic condition of the newsboys’
families was sought in the records of the local charitable organiza­
tions. All the families represented in the bureau study were cleared
with the confidential exchange, and the records of all families reg­
istered with the exchange by any relief agency were read if they were
available in the files of the agency. As some of the local agencies,
however, did not register with the exchange or registered only some
of their cases, the proportion of families found to have received aid
is probably an understatement of the extent to which the families
of newsboys in Omaha had been recipients of relief. It was found
that 10 families, in which were 14 (4 per cent) of the boys included
69 Monthly Labor Review, (U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), Vol. IX , No. 6 (December, 1919), p. 31.
Figures for negro families in Omaha are not given in this study.
70 Ibid., p. 36. Only two negro families were included in the newsboys’ families visited.
« Ibid., pp. 33, 36, 38.
79 Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. II, Population, p. 1294. Washington, 1922.


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O M AHA, N EB R .

^
"

191

in the study, had received relief during the last six months of 1922
or the first six months of 1923; that is, approximately during the
year preceding the study. Prior to the middle of the year 1922
charitable organizations had given aid to 15 other families, in which
were 20 of the newsboys.
In most instances the aid given during the year preceding the study
amounted to little more than clothing or shoes for the children or a
grocery order or two, but several of the families receiving relief might
be considered regular charges. These were a peddler’s family in
which the mother was dead and the oldest girl was enabled to remain
at home to care for the children because the family received in aid
from the organization the amount that she would have earned in a
factory; a laborer’s family in which were 11 children, so that when­
ever the father was out of work the organization had to aid; and a
deserted mother in receipt of mothers’ aid who was given $40 a
month by the organization in addition to rent and coal. The news­
boys in these families were, respectively, 11, 9, and 10 years of age
and earned from $2.50 to $7 a week selling papers.
Aside from those who were below the poverty fine, a small propor­
tion of the families were probably dependent on the newsboys’
earnings for some of the necessities of life. These included the
families of some of the fatherless boys, some of the boys whose
mothers were at work, and some of the families visited in which the
chief breadwinner had been unemployed three months or longer
during the year. For example, in an Italian family with seven
children under 16, the father, a laborer in a railroad car shop, had
earned only $482 during the year, as he had been unemployed about
six months; the family income had been brought to $748 by the
earnings of an older son who also worked in the car shops. In
addition five of the boys together earned about $30 a week selling
and carrying papers; one of them, a 13-year-old boy, earned $5.70 a
week working about four and one-half hours every week day and
two hours on Sunday, and used all his earnings for family expenses
and his own clothes. Another family, typical of those in which the
newsboys’ money was apparently needed, was that of a freight
checker with three children. He had been unemployed four months
dining the year owing to an old injury to his leg that still troubled
him at times, and had earned only $613.50— the entire family income
except the $3 a week eariied by a 15-year-old boy selling papers.
In these families with very low incomes the boys’ contributions
formed no doubt a significant proportion of the total. Of the 24
newsboys visited in whose families the chief breadwinners had earned
less than $1,050 during the year, 17 made at least $3 a week selling
newspapers, and their median earnings had been between $3 and $4.
But though some of the newsboys’ families undoubtedly would
have found it impossible, without charitable assistance, to meet
their expenses unless they had had help from the boys, more commonly
the families, though many of them were poor, could probably have
managed to get along without the newsboys’ earnings. Typical of
these was an Italian family having six children under 16 in which
the main support was an older son, who, as a boiler maker, had earned
$784 during the year; the mother took in washing and an older
daughter had earned $5 a week, bringing the family earnings up to
$1,109, In addition the mother owned property from which she


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CHILDREN1 IN STREET W O R K

received $8 a month rent, and the house in which the family lived
was partly paid for. The 13-year-old newsboy in this family earned
$6.90 a week selling papers, and besides helping the family and
clothing himself he spent some of his money on motion pictures and
saved 25 cents a week, with which he hoped to “ buy a house lot.”
The average newsboy’s family in Omaha was the one in which the
father supported the family and earned between $850 and $1,050,
and in these families the newsboys’ earnings, though they were
usually of assistance and in some instances were relied on, were not
regarded as absolutely essential unless there were many young
children. Among these the following are representative:
A Swedish father, a tally man at the Omaha grain exchange, had earned $1,015
during the year, having had about six weeks’ unemployment owing to illness.
Of the 11 in the family, 5 children were under 14, and 3 older children were at
work, bringing the family earnings up to $1,994. The 12-year-old newsboy
earned $3 a week, which he said he spent on his own pleasures and amusements
and which the family said was not of much help to them.

A Sicilian truck farmer, who estimated his year’s earnings at $1,000, had 3
children under 16. No one else in the family except the 15-year-old newsboy
was at work. The boy earned $6.50 a week; he spent 10 cents a day for candy,
went to the motion pictures once a week, and in five years of newspaper selling
had saved $127. The parents, who said that the boy’s earnings were of assistance
to them, were “ willing for him to help a little but did not force him .”

A Polish laborer in a meat-packing house, with six children under 14, had
earned $1,040 during the year. The mother also worked in the packing house
and two older girls worked, so that the family earnings were between $1,850 and
$2,250. A 13-year-old boy in the family earned about $4 a week selling and
carrying papers, contributing some of his earnings to the family, using some for
his clothes and other necessities, and having 25 cents a week for spending money.
The mother said that she wanted the boy to work because they needed the money
to support their large family and to help pay taxes and other expenses on their
house, which they owned.
An Italian laborer working for a gas company had six children under 16 and
earned $1,080 a year, the only income in the family except what the boys received
selling newspapers and doing other jobs. The mother said that she could not get
along without their earnings in buying the children’s clothes and helping out in
other ways. The 10-year-old newsboy said that he earned $3.20 selling papers
and that he gave the money to his mother for food and clothing, having 10 cents
a week for spending money.
•

In such families as these, and even in those enjoying a somewhat
greater degree of prosperity, it is only natural that parents should
say, as some of them did, that the newsboys’ earnings “ came in
handy for clothes,” or even “ if he has clothes he must earn them,”
or that they made it possible for the boys to have better clothes or
something for the school bank. Of the 14 boys representing the
families visited who did no other street work and whose fathers or
other chief breadwinners made at least $1,050 during the year, 7
made at least $4 a week, the median earnings being $4. The amounts
the boys could earn therefore were sufficiently large in proportion to
the other income to be appreciated. Nevertheless, the earnings
from newspaper selling were apparently not necessary to the actual
maintenance of these families.
The proportion of families which claimed that the boys’ earnings
were needed parallels rather closely that (31 per cent) in which the

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193

chief breadwinner earned less than $850. Of the 59 families visited
21 reported that the newsboys’ earnings were necessary to support
the family. Of the 59 families 33 said that the amounts earned were
sufficient to be of real assistance, 3 others said that they were of
only a little help, and 3 that they were too small to be of any help.
In 9 of the other 20 families the mother or father said that they did
not use the boy’s money for necessities, in 10 they expressed no
definite opinion in regard to it, and in 1 they denied that the boy
sold papers.
In connection with the subject of the need of the money that the
boys earned selling papers it was interesting to find that during the
year preceding the study the median earnings of the chief bread­
winners of 13 boys who were out selling on Saturday nights until
11 or 12 o ’clock or later and whose homes were visited had been the
same as that of the chief breadwinners of the 59 families visited, and
that in only four of these families did the parents say that they
needed their children’s earnings from newspaper selling.
R E A S O N S F O R U N D E R T A K IN G S T R E E T W O R K

^
w

"

Many (20 per cent) of the newsboys in Omaha had first begun to
sell .papers or to do other street work because the money was needed
at home. This need seemed to have resulted less from widowhood
or from desertion by the father than from the inability of the boys’
fathers to make a living for large families, judging from information
obtained in visiting the families of the boys giving need as their
reason for working, and also from the fact that 19 per cent even of
the boys with fathers at home said that they had first gone to work
on the streets in order to help out financially. A number (11 per
cent) had begun to sell papers chiefly because their fathers or mothers
had told them to do so or had insisted upon the work. In desiring
their boys to work some of these parents had had other than financial
reasons— they wanted the boy to learn how to work, they feared he
would ‘ Team bad habits just playing around,” or they desired, to
keep him from fighting, the mother wanted the boy out of the house
or did not want him “ loafing around,” or the father wanted him to
learn English, to quote a few of these reasons— but in some instances
it was clear from the circumstances of the family or from the boy’s
explanation, even though he did not admit need, that the whole
question had been one of money, as in the case of a 10-year-old
child who said, “ M y mother get mad at me. ‘ Why don’t you sell?
Make m oney!’ ”
Even when they had not urged or suggested the work the greater
number of the parents interviewed (43 of the 59) approved of it,
though two whose boys sold in the morning disapproved of evening
selling. Very few of the parents who approved of newspaper selling
claimed any reason for their attitude beyond desire for the money.
A few believed that the work “ made men of them,” or taught boys
to handle or to count money or to save, or taught them “ business
tactics,” and a few others believed in the work because it gave
their boys something to do to keep them out of mischief or because
all the boys in the neighborhood did it. Ten parents disapproved
of newspaper selling, generally because of the bad influences of the
street or of the distributing rooms. “ It makes them little bummies,”


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

“ The boys get spoiled and spend their money shooting craps and
playing cards for money,” “ Afraid he will become a tramp,” were
characteristic objections.
The great majority of the newsboys had not gone to work either
because of economic need in the home or because their parents wanted
them to sell papers; only about one-third of them gave either of these
as the principal reason for their having become newsboys. The
largest number (122 of the 320) had had some personal reason; 14
per cent had wanted to earn their spending money; 14 per cent had
wanted to do some work; 7 per cent had had some special object in
view— a graduation suit, for example, or money for the school bank,
or the repayment of passage money to this country— and 3 per cent
gave miscellaneous personal reasons for beginning. Twenty-two per
cent had started in order to help another boy, in 4 per cent of the
cases an older brother, and in 18 per cent because other boys were
selling papers. Some of these boys had been persuaded by friends
(“ He called me crazy till I went down with him and did it,” said
one boy), but more often the boy had been eager for the experience.
“ It’s fun to hustle and there’s nothing to do at home,” “ I saw other
kids making money and I wanted to have a pretty good time,”
“ Had nothing to do,” “ Got tired o ’ stayin’ home,” “ It was fun to
find out what it was like,” “ Just thought it would be fun,” “ I saw
other boys doing it and said to myself, ‘ I believe I ’ll sell papers’ ” —
such remarks as these were very common. A few boys (3 per cent)
had begun to sell papers at the suggestion of an employee of the
newspaper, as for example the truck drivers who went to school to
take the newsboys down town or to recruit sellers.
D IS P O S IT IO N O F E A R N IN G S

In homes of the type from which most of the newsboys in Omaha
came it would be expected that the children would contribute at
least part of their earnings to the family. Not only were the incomes
small, but it was the custom especially among the Italian and Jewish
families, for every member of the family to share in its support as
soon as he was able to do so. More than two-thirds (69 per cent) of
the boys reported that they contributed at least some of their earn­
ings toward family expenses. (Table 46.) These included 25 boys
who contributed all their earnings and 11 who contributed all except
the amount spent for their own clothes and personal necessities. In
addition to the 36 were 2 boys who used all their money for their
own necessities, so that 38 boys (12 per cent) retained nothing out
of the money they earned for spending money or even savings. The
proportion helping out at home was a little larger among boys with
fathers than among those who were supported by stepfathers or
others.
Half the boys helped to clothe themselves, including the boys
whose entire earnings went for clothes or other personal necessities,
and three-fourths used some of their money for spending money,
including 11 who admitted that all they made went for candy,
shows, and other personal luxuries. Almost all these 11 sold papers
only once or twice a week, earning not more than 50 cents.


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T a b l e 46.— Disposition of earnings; newspaper sellers, Omaha, Nebr.

Newspaper sellers
from 6 to 15 years
of age
Disposition of earnings1
Per cent
Number distribu­
tion

T o t a l.
A ll for self.

Spent for necessities......................
Spent for luxuries...................
Spent for necessities and luxuries.
Saved______
Saved and spent for necessities......................
Saved and spent for luxuries-------- -------- ---Saved and spent for necessities and luxuries.
Part to family and part for self2.
Spent for necessities---------------------------------Spent for luxuries...........................................
Spent for necessities and luxuries...................
Saved__________________ __________ ______
Saved and spent for necessities....... ..............
Saved and spent for luxuries...................---Saved and spent for necessities and luxuries.
All to family......................... .........
No earnings and no cash earmngs.

100.0

30.6

0.6
3.4
4.4
2.5

1.6

10.9
7.2

61.3
3.4

8.1
6.6
2.8

15.6

10.3
14.4
7.8
.3

1 Earnings spent for necessities, luxuries, or both may include expenses of job.
3 Subsidiary items show disposition of part spent for self.

About half the boys put some of their money in the bank, includ­
ing 8 boys who saved their entire earnings. The school bank was
especially popular.
.
j7 ,
v tV ,
The larger the amount of the newsboy’s earnings the less likely he
was to contribute all that he made to the support of the family, but
the more likely he was to contribute something. Boys who made
at least $4 a week were only half as likely as boys who made less than
$4 to give all their money to their families, but rather more likely
to give some of it. The porportion using some of their earnings
for savings, spending money, and necessities, respectively, did not
differ greatly for fatherless boys and boys with fathers, though the
distribution of the earnings among the different types of expenditure
was undoubtedly different for the two groups. For example, the
proportion of fatherless boys who spent some of their earnings tor
clothes was no larger than that of boys whose fathers were at home,
but more of the fatherless boys probably clothed themselves entirely,
whereas many of the others bought only stockings or neckties or an
occasional article.
.
,
The following cases selected at random illustrate the variety ol
uses to which the earnings were put in most instances, and the details
of expenditure:
The 13-year-old son of an Italian street-car motorman earned $3 a week selling
and carrying papers and gave his money to his mother f o r § r0?®£ies’ .ei c£
j
cents that he kept for spending money. He had also saved $10 with which he had
bought a suit.
________
A 13-year-old boy, who earned $8.25 a week, helped his family (the father was
window washer), bought his clothes, and put $1 a week m the school bank.
H e had saved $42 toward a car that he wished to buy.

a


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

A boy of 10 earning $2.40 a week bought his clothes, put 10 cents a week in the;
school bank, had 10 cents “ for a show,” and gave the rest to the family.

The 12-year-old son of a plumber earned $2.55 selling papers and magazines..
He gave some of his money to his mother “ to use for dresses,” saved 10 cents a
week, spent 20 cents a week on his own pleasures, and bought milk and doughnuts,
once a week down town while selling.

A negro boy, whose father was a barber, earned $4.90 a week selling papers..
H e kept 25 cents a week to spend, saved some— he had $9 in the school bank and
a sum in another bank, after three years as a newsboy— bought his clothes, and
helped his family.

A 10-year-old Syrian boy whose father was an automobile mechanic, earned'
$3.60 a week. He had been selling papers a month and had $1.35 in the school
bank. He bought some of his clothes, contributed some to the family, and had
10 cents a week “ for shows.”

A 13-year-old boy with his two brothers earned $10.50 a week selling papers.
They bought dinner and supper Saturday and breakfast Sunday down town and
paid carfare to go down town to sell. The rest was used for family expenses.
“ W e ’re poor and mother can ’t give us any to spend,” he said. The father was
a laborer frequently out of work, and the family had received aid during the year
from the Associated Charities.

A 15-year-old Italian boy whose father was a laborer and whose family had
been assisted by charity said that he contributed all his earnings— $3 a week—
toward family expenses, because, he said, he “ did not want any spending m oney,”

The 10-year-old son of an Italian baker gave the $2.20 a week that he earned
selling morning papers to his mother to “ buy things to eat,” though he also bought
his clothes, had saved 40 cents, and had 5 cents a week to spend in addition to
what he spent for pie and cookies between selling out and going to school.

A Russian Jew, who was 14 years of age, earned $10.25 a week selling and
carrying papers. H e had 50 cents to spend, spent a nickel or a dime for a
sandwich when he finished selling late Saturday night, saved some, and gave
the rest to his family. He had saved $75 toward a college education. His
father was a baker.

A 13-year-old boy, son of a Russian-Jewish manufacturer, earned about $7 a
week selling and carrying papers. He contributed none of his earnings toward
the support of the family but helped buy his own clothes, put $5 a week in the
bank, and had 75 cents for spending money.

The 14-year-old son of a Russian-Jewish hotel keeper earned $13.75 a week.
He spent all his money for himself— clothes, shows, and meals down town when
he sold late.

A Polish boy of 11, whose father was a peddler, earned $3.96 selling and carry­
ing papers. H e was s a y in g all h is money in t h e s c h o o l bank to have when he
‘ grew up big,”


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OMAHA, NEBR.

197

A 12-year-old boy whose sister, a stenographer, was the chief support of the
family, earned $10.45 a week selling and carrying papers. H e spent 50 cents a
week on motion pictures and candy and sometimes bought doughnuts and fruit
when selling down town, but gave the rest of his money to the family. He had
had $15 in the bank but had drawn it out to help pay rent.

Another 12-year-old boy earned a little more than $7 a week selling and carry­
ing papers. His sister supported the family by working as a multigrapher. He
had gone to work when 6 because “ the family was getting short” and had needed
his help. Out of his earnings he bought his clothes, put $5 in the bank every
two weeks, paid for violin lessons, and helped the family.
N E W S B O Y S IN SC H O O L

Attendance.

The newsboys were in all grades from the first to the tenth, 17 (5
per cent) being high-school boys. The median grade completed at
the beginning of the school year in which the interview was held
was the fourth.
Records of school attendance were obtained- for 122 of the 145
newsboys who had worked a complete school semester during the
school year ended June, 1922. The average percentage of attend­
ance for these boys for the year was found to be 93. No figure show­
ing the average percentage of attendance among all elementary
public-school boys in Omaha is available for comparison.
A small proportion of the newsboys had been absent from school
10 per cent or more of the term; that is, at least 18 days. Among
the 19 who had had absences amounting to as much as 10 per cent
of the term were a number whose street work was of such a character
that it might well have interfered with school attendance. Five of
¡jjjjthe boys, from 11 to 14 years of age, worked from 2 % to 33/2 hours
every morning before school, of whom two sold papers also two or
more hours after school; nine worked from 24% to 33 hours a week;
five were among the late Saturday night sellers.
The presumption is at least admissible that some of these boys
were working so many hours and at such unsuitable times as to over­
tax their strength and their physical resistance and so render them
less fit for regular attendance at school than the more protected boy,
even if the street life had had no demoralizing effects that would
predispose to truancy.
Truancy.

According to the records of the school-attendance department 23
of the 320 newsboys (7 per cent) had been reported to the truant
officers during the school year in which the survey was made. Three
boys had court records as habitual truants. Twenty of the 23 truants
had done street work prior to their truancy and 11 had begun their
street-selling careers before reaching the age of 10. The majority
(13) may be regarded as “ professional” newsboys, as they had sold
papers at least two years. No information on the amount of truancy
among nonstreet-working boys in the Omaha schools was available
for comparison. That truancy among the newsboys was more
common than among others is indicated, however, by the fact that
relatively less than half as many of the newspaper-route carriers
Jk (whose associations and contacts were in general more those of the
^ average, normal boy) as of the boys who sold papers on the streets
.had been truant. (See p. 215.)

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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

Seven of the truants sold papers Saturday nights until midnight
at least, some of them going home in the newspaper trucks in the
early hours of the morning or spending the night in the distribution
rooms. Three had been found selling papers on the streets during
school hours, and three others, though they were not selling papers,
had been picked up by truant officers on the streets. One other
boy, who regularly sold papers until 2.30 Sunday mornings, had been
reported to the truant officer as having been away from home for
two days.
Home conditions in some of the truants’ families— such as extreme
poverty, neglect by the parents, death of the mother, or desertion by
the father— no doubt played their part in bringing about the boys’
maladjustments. Some of the conditions of street selling in Omaha—
late Saturday-night selling, sleeping away from home, association in
the distribution rooms with the itinerant men and boys with their
tales of wandering and adventure— were such as to foster unrest and
discontent with authority and the established routine even in boys
from normal homes; in the case of boys with no counteracting influ­
ence in the home such conditions as surrounded some of the news­
boys make the task of the schools in developing law-abiding citizens
seem an impossible one.
Progress and scholarship.

The percentage of boys who were retarded in school was very large.
Forty-four per cent were below the grades that their ages warranted
(see footnote 38, p. 22). They were retarded to a far greater extent
than Omaha public-school boys as a whole, among whom 21 per cent
were reported as overage for their grades in 1925, the only year for
which a comparable figure could be furnished.72a
^
It might be assumed that the greater retardation among the ^
newsboys was due to the large proportion among them of boys with
foreign-born parents, as such boys presumably were more handicapped
in American schools than children of native parentage. But only
41 per cent of the newsboys with foreign-born fathers were retarded
in school, whereas 45 per cent of those of native white fathers had
failed to make average progress, though only 6 per cent of the former,
compared with 13 per cent of the latter, were advanced for their
ages.
The fact that boys working the longer hours were more retarded
than those who spent comparatively little of their time selling papers
offers some evidence that the street work had a detrimental effect on
school progress. This might have been expected; aside from those
boys to whom school life and its interests and ambitions must have
seemed shadowy indeed compared with the exciting life of the down­
town corners, the newspaper trucks, and the distribution rooms,
those who worked such long hours as have been described (see pp.
182—187) must have had no time, if they had had the energy, for
preparation of home lessons, and must have regarded as the more
important the pursuit that claimed most of their time and brought
visible rewards. The figures tend to confirm this expectation. Of
the 47 newsboys working less than 12 hours a week, 17 (36 per cent)
were retarded in school, and of the 64 working at least 28 hours 30
(47 per cent) were retarded. The difference in the average age of 4^
Figures furnished by attendance department, Omaha Public Schools.


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OMAHA, NUBE.

the two groups— somewhat less than 2 years— is sufficient to account
for at least part of the retardation among the group selling the longer
hours.
The proportion of retarded (43 per cent) among those who had sold
papers less than one year was much smaller than that (53 per cent)
among those who had sold between one and two years. On the
other hand, the proportion of retarded was least (42 per cent) among
those who had sold at least two years, the group in which it might
have been expected that street selling would begin to show its effects
on school progress. Possibly one explanation of the relatively good
school progress of the boys who had sold papers for several years is
that in the keen competition of newspaper selling only the brighter
boys survive and become “ professional” newsboys.
The newsboys’ averages in their studies show that very few of
them were below the passing grade. Records covering a semester’s
work were obtained for 120 boys who had worked at least one semester
in the school year completed in June, 1922.73 These records gave
the following average semester grades:
Average grade

Number
of boys

T otal___________________
Less than 7 0 ______________________________
70, less than 8 0 _____________ :__________ _______________
80, less than 9 0 _______
90 or m ore_________

Per cent distribution

120

100

3
31
78
8

3
26
65
7

Similar information for nonworking schoolboys in Omaha is not
available. Compared with the Omaha newspaper carriers (see p. 216)
the marks indicate somewhat inferior school standing for newsboys.
D E LIN Q U E N C Y A M O N G N E W S B O Y S

Examination of the records of the Douglas County juvenile court
showed that 19 (6 per cent) of the newsboys included in the study
had court records, of whom 12 had been delinquent only after they
had begun to sell newspapers. Whether the Omaha newsboys were
more or less delinquent than the general run of school boys who had
not suffered |the disadvantages of street life can not be inferred from
this percentage of delinquents among them. No similar percentage
for Omaha boys who did not sell papers is available for comparison,
nor can comparison be made with the percentage of delinquents in the
child population of the few cities for which such statistics are avail­
able, because of the widely different classifications in use. (See
p. 27.) Compared with the proportion (2 per cent) of the Omaha
newspaper-route carriers who had had court records it would seem
that the street sellers were decidedly more likely to get into trouble.
(See p. 216.)
A number of the newsboys against whom charges had been preferred
in court were repeated offenders. Not counting six delinquents
whose complete records were not found, the 19 boys had a record
of 55 offenses, as follows: Stealing, 33; injuring or destroying prop­
erty, 7; truancy, 5; “ incorrigibility” or “ delinquency,” 3; fighting,
2; charges in connection with liquor, 2; annoying little girls, 1;
shooting craps, 1; trespassing, 1.
7S The school records indicated in letters the grade attained by the pupil in each study. In order to
obtain an average tor all studies a number was assigned to each letter, as 95 for A, 85 for B, etc.

75034°— 28------ 14


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

It is impossible, in the absence of more detailed information than
that supplied by the court records, to establish a direct relation, if a
direct relation did, in fact, exist, between delinquency and news­
paper selling. The following cases are cited as representative of the
difficulties which had brought before the court the more typical of
the newsboy delinquents; that is, those who had sold papers for a
long time or who spent much of their time on the street selling,
or both:
A boy of 12 who had sold papers from the age of 10 was brought into court
for habitual truancy. He had stayed out of school an entire term. Hom e con­
ditions were fairly good, though the father was not living with the family and
the income was small.
A boy of 14 who had been selling papers for five years and before that had
been a bootblack, had been charged at the time he was a bootblack with stealing
pencils and small sums of money, and had been placed in a detention home for
a week. Less than a year later he had stolen a watch and other articles and
had been committed again to the detention home for several weeks. Again, less
than a year later, when only 10, he had broken into a house and stolen $10,
which had resulted in his being committed to a home for delinquent boys. When
11 he was brought into the court as incorrigible; he stayed out late at night,
sometimes until 2 in the morning, and had stolen a revolver. He was committed
to the State industrial school, but the sentence was suspended and he was sent
instead to the detention home. Here he stole $2 from one of the teachers and
was sent to the industrial school. A few months later he was released but accord­
ing to the court record did so badly that he was returned to the school a month
after his release. A t the time of the study, a year and a half later, he was selling
papers morning and afternoon, over 49 hours a week, but he said that he did not
sell Saturday nights as his mother objected. This boy-had a stepfather, and
just before the boy’s first offense the mother, at that time in receipt of mothers’
aid, had been charged with neglect of her children.

A 14-year-old boy had sold papers for two months when he was 9 years of
age and had been selling again for six months when hfe was interviewed. H e sold
papers more than three hours a day on school days, stopping at 7 p. m ., and 11
hours on Saturday, staying out until 1 o’clock Sunday morning. On Saturdays
he ate two meals at a down-town restaurant. H e said that he kept $1.50 of
his weekly earnings for spending money. After beginning his second period of
newspaper selling he had been implicated with another boy in the theft of $46
and had been committed to a detention home. The father and mother of this
boy were living together, and the father supported the family. Both father and
mother were illiterate.
A 12-year-old boy, who had first sold papers at the age of 7 but had sold only
about 15 months in all, sold from 3.30 to 7 p. m. on school days and from 3.30 to
midnight on Saturdays. A few weeks before being interviewed he had been
implicated in stealing coal from railroad yards. The boy was committed to a
detention home, where he remained a few weeks. The parents of this boy lived
together, both were illiterate, and the father was a peddler.

A boy of 12 of Syrian parentage who had been selling papers for two years had
been arrested for breaking into a freight car and stealing watermelons shortly
after he had begun to sell. About a year later he was again in court charged
with stealing bottles from a bottling company and selling them, and had been
sent to a detention home for a week. A t the time of the study he was selling
papers down town from 5 until 7 p. m. every school day and on Saturdays until
2 o’clock in the morning. Just prior to the Children’s Bureau study the parents
had been charged in the juvenile court with neglecting their five children, who
“ ran w ild” and played truant from school. One of the younger boys, only 10
years of age, sold papers until midnight Saturday nights. Both father and mother
were literate and the father was a mechanic.


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201

A 13-year-old newsboy had sold papers without interruption since he was 9
years of age. A t the time of the study he was selling about three hours on school
days and on Saturdays all the afternoon and evening until 1.30 Sunday morning.
H e had dinner at home at 7.30 or 8 on school nights and ate down town at a res­
taurant on Saturday evenings. He had a long truancy record and had been in
court four times for truancy. The boy’s father and mother were living and the
father supported the family by hauling coal for a fuel company. Both parents
were illiterate.

Of the social agencies in Omaha the juvenile court and the local
Jewish Welfare Federation concerned themselves especially with the
newsboys and the conditions under which they worked.74 The federa­
tion conducted three newsboys’ clubs with a combined membership
of about 45 boys. The members were allowed the use of the federa­
tion clubhouse gymnasium free of charge. Attempts were made to
hold regular meetings, but the boys were reported as hard to handle,
and the question of leadership had not been solved. The Young
M en’s Christian Association in Omaha did no work with newsboys,
because, according to the secretary of boys’ work of the association,
it could not reach the Italian and Jewish boys, who composed most
of the newsboy group.
N E W S P A P E R CARRIERS

More than three-fifths of the city circulation of the three principal
newspapers was distributed by route carriers, and a few schoolboy
carriers were employed by a foreign-language daily paper not sold
on the streets. Several other foreign-language newspapers and a few
weekly papers published in Omaha were distributed by mail.
The newspaper-route carriers included in the study numbered 740
boys, of whom 81 were found in the parochial schools, and 10 girls.
The girls have not been included in the statistical analysis.75
R A C E A N D N A TIO N A LITY OF F A T H E R S

Unlike the street sellers the majority of the carriers were of native
white parentage. The 41 per cent who had foreign-born fathers were
chiefly of Scandinavian, of Czechoslovakian, and of Russian-Jewish
stock. Unlike the street sellers very few were Italians. (Table 47.)
A few of the carriers (33) themselves were foreign born, relatively
only one-fifth as many as foreign-born boys selling papers on the
Omaha streets.
AG E O F C A R R IE R S

The average age of the carriers was 12.7 years. Many were older,
however, 41 per cent being 14 or 15 years of age. (Table 2, p. 9.)
Of the 179 carriers who were under 12, including all those who were
only 7 or 8 years old, 112 merely acted as helpers, usually for their
brothers, but 67, the great majority of whom were 11 years of age,
though a few were 10 or even 9, had routes of their own.
74 In 1919 an Omaha school principal made a survey of about 200 newspaper sellers attending the public
schools through a questionnaire filled in by the boys’ teachers. This survey covered home and working
conditions and school records.
75 Of the 10 girls 6 were employed to help brothers, 1 helped an older sister, and 1 helped a boy who was
not her brother. Only 2 had routes of their own. All were white and all except 1 of native parentage.
Two were under 10 years, 2 were between 10 and 12, 5 were 12, and 1 was 14. All worked in the afternoon
except the 14-year-old girl, who delivered papers between 5.30 and 7 a. m. every day. The maximum num­
ber of horns worked per week was 15J4 the minimum was 2 % . Five of the 10 had worked at least one year.
All except 3 received some money for their work; those helping other route carriers earned from 10 cents
to $1.20 a week; the 2 girls working independently made about $4 a week. Only 1 girl (with a stepfather")
contributed any of her earnings toward family support.


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

T able

4 7 .—

Race and nationality of father; newspaper carriers, Omaha, Nehr.

Newspaper
carriers from
6 to 15 years
of age

Newspaper car­
riers from 6 to
15 years of age
Race and nationality of father

Race and nationality of father
Per
Num­
cent
ber
distri­
bution

T otal........... .........................

740

100.0

White..............................— ...........

731

98.8

Native. ......... ...................... .
Foreign born________________

412
303

55.7
40.9

Scandinavian_______ ____
Czechoslovakian_________
Russian Jewish________ _

60
52
51

8.1
7.0
6.9

Per
Num­ cent
ber
distri­
bution
White—Continued
Foreign bom—Continued
German_____ ___________
Italian.................................
Other Jewish____________
Other foreign born and
foreign born not otherwise specified_____ _____

37
15
6

5.0
2.0
.8

82

11.1

Nativity not reported......... .

16

2.2

9

1.2

Negro.

_______________________

W O R K E X P E R IE N C E

Many of the carriers had never done any street work except to
carry newspapers, though the;great majority had had several news­
paper routes. On the other hand, at the time’ of the study 37 boys
were doing some other kind of street work, and 116 others had pre­
viously had a street job other than their newspaper routes. M ost of
those who had had other street-work experience had sold newspapers.
A few boys (33) had work other than street work at the time of the
study, generally helping in grocery stores, and 160 others had had
previous working experience. This was chiefly caddying and farm
work, though some had been grocery or delivery boys, and a few had
worked as helpers in drug stores, as special delivery and messenger
boys, ticket sellers at motion-picture houses, barber-shop helpers,
helpers in dairies and in garages, water boys, bottle washers, and at
setting up pins in bowling alleys and sweeping out theaters and office
buildings.
The majority (52 per cent) of the carriers had had at least six
months the newspaper routes that they were carrying when the study
was made, between six and eight months being the median duration.
Many boys (18 per cent) had held their routes for two years or longer,
and some (10 per cent) had carried papers without interruption at
least three years. (Table 48.) As has been said, probably most of
the boys had previously had one or more newspaper routes at which
they had worked a few months at different times. Thus, to cite a
typical example, a 13-year-old carrier, who had had his route for a
year, had worked as a helper for more than a year beginning at the
age of 9, had had a regular route for three months when he was 10.
and another for four months when he was 11. Of the 740 carriers
28 per cent had first carried papers before the age of 10, and 65 per
cent before 12; only 7 per cent had been 14 or 15 when they started
carrying papers.


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O M AH A, N E B R .

T a b l e 48.-— Previous duration of job held at date of interview, by age period; newspaper carriers, Omaha, Nebr.
Newspaper carriers from 6 to 15 years of age
10 years,
under 12

Total
Previous duration of job held at date of
interview

Under
Per
10
years* Num­
Num­ cent
dis­
ber tribu­
ber
tion

12 years,
under 14

14 years,
under 16

Per
Per
Per
cent Num­ cent Num­ cent
dis­
dis­
dis­
tribu­ ber tribu­ ber tribu­
tion
tion
tion

Total______ _____________________

740

45

134

Total reported.............................................

738

100.0

45

133

100.0

259

100.0

301

Less than 1 year_______________ ,____

518

70.2

35

109

82.0

191

73.7

183

60.8

Less than 6 months_____________

356

48.2

31

81

60.9

139

53.7

105

34.9

Less than 2 months_________
2 months, less than 4________
4 months, less than 6________

174
115
67

23.6
15.6
9.1

17
10
4

38
29
14

28.6
21.8
10.5

74
38
27

28.6
14.7
10.4

45
38
22

15.0
12.6
7.3

259

302
100.0

6 months, less than 1 year.............

162

22.0

4

28

21.1

52

20.1

78

25.9

1 year, less than 2.................................
2 years, less than 3__________________
3 years and over____________________

87
56
77

11.8
7.6
10.4

7
2
1

8
11
5

6.0
8.3
3.8

30
16
22

11.6
6.2
8; 5

42
27
49

14.0
9.0
16.3

Not reported.......... ....................................

2

1

1

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.
C O N D IT IO N S O F E M P L O Y M E N T

Almost all the carriers for the three principal newspapers had
independent routes in the sense that they did not receive wages for
their work but were obliged to make their own collections, out of
which they paid for the papers and took their own profits, standing
all losses when customers did not pay. However, their work was
under the supervision of the newspaper offices, and they were subject
to fines and penalties for unsatisfactory service or for failure to
observe the regulations laid down by the office. Weekly credit was
given in most cases, and the boys were bonded, generally for twice
the sum of their weekly bill, out of which a substantial amount
was taken if the carrier failed to give the required notice before
giving up his route. In some cases boys were allowed to pay their
bonds in installments. The bond not only covered the ».mount of
credit given, but it also made the parents feel more responsibility
for the boy’s work. Table 49 shows the types of carriers’ employer.


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T able

CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K
49.— Type of employer, by age period of carrier; newspaper carriers,
Omaha, Nebr.

Newspaper carriers from 6 to 15 years of age
10 years,
under 12

Total
Type of employer

12 years,
under 14

14 years,
under 16

Under
10
Per years1
Per
Per
Per
cent
cent Num­ cent
Num­ dis­
Num­ cent
dis­ Num­
dis­
dis­
ber
ber
tribu­
tribu­ ber tribu­ ber tribu­
tion
tion
tion
tion

Total________________ _____ ______

740

100.0

Newspaper company or agent__________
S elf,................................................
Other carrier_______________ ____
Self and newspaper company or agent...
Newspaper company or agent and other
carrier_____________________
Self and other carrier.... .......................

12
395
199
132

1.6
53.4
26.9
17.8

1
1

.1
.1

45

134

100.0

259

100.0

302

100.0

6
39

2
45
71
16

1.-.5
33.6
53.0
11.9

4
142
66
47

1.5
54.8
25.5
18.1

6
202
23
69

2.0
66.9
7.6
22.8

1
1

.3
.3

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

Newspapers for the carriers of morning routes were deposited by
truck or street car at convenient street corners. Carriers of evening
routes obtained their newspapers at substations. The substations
were maintained by each of the newspapers 76 in different sections of
the city. Most of them were wooden buildings, consisting of one
very small room with a counter at which the boys received their
papers and “ stuffed” them when necessary. Each of the news­
papers also had a substation for route carriers at the main office—
a separate room with its own manager operating under exactly the
same, rules as the other substations. Generally only carriers used
the substations, so that they did not come in contact with news­
boys. Each substation was in charge of its own manager. Repre­
sentatives of the newspapers reported that they made an effort to
get high-grade men (married ones if possible) to fill these positions,
and one newspaper reported paying as much as $50 a week to its
substation managers. However, one of the managers, about whom
a number of boys complained, was said by one of the older carriers
to “ smell of liquor” all the time he was on duty.
The competition between the newspapers which has been described
(see p. 177) reacted unfavorably on the conditions of employment for
carriers as well as sellers. It was customary for the newspapers to
require each carrier to take several papers more than the number
needed for his customers, and these papers, known as extras, the
boys were obliged to pay for. Boys complained that some of the
managers made them take many more than the customary two or
three extras a day. One carrier, for example, said that his route list
contained as many as 15 fake names and addresses and that he was
obliged to take and pay for these papers in spite of his protests;
the manager, he said, threatened to “ beat u p ” boys who tried to
return the extras. Boys complained also that they were often not
permitted to stop delivering a paper even though the customer failed
to pay and they themselves had to stand the loss.
n in June, 1926, one of the newspapers had discontinued almost all its substations and was delivering
the papers to the route carriers.


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205

Carriers were expected to build up their routes, and in some cases
a good deal of pressure was brought to bear to get the boys to solicit
customers. Some of the managers required the boys to go out with
them several nights a week to solicit, keeping them out for this
purpose until 9 or 10 at night. Prizes and cash amounts (15 cents a
subscriber) were also offered-to encourage the carriers to get new
subscribers.
Besides the necessity of building up their routes the carriers had
other duties which imposed greater responsibilities than those of
street sellers. They were expected to furnish substitutes in case of
illness, to pay for special messengers to take papers to customers
who reported not receiving them, and to settle their bills regularly
at a specified time. The work involved also at least a rudimentary
keeping of accounts.
The boys carried their papers in sacks or in small wagons. The
majority delivered fewer than 75 papers daily, but 321 boys (43 per
cent) delivered from 75 to at least 200 newspapers daily and more
than half of these had larger Sunday routes. The weight of one of
the daily papers was about 6 ounces and of a Sunday paper a pound
or more. Both the boys and their parents mentioned the weight of
the papers as a serious drawback to the work. One of the younger
boys who usually carried more than 100 papers said that the school
nurse had noticed that he “ was getting one-sided from carrying
such a heavy bag of papers,” so that he had begun to carry fewer
papers and to shift the bag from shoulder to shoulder.
R E G U L A R IT Y OF W O R K

9'

, Owing to the fact that the principal newspapers had Sunday edi­
tions the great majority of the carriers (81 percent), including those
with more than one street job, carried papers every day in the week,
and almost all (91 per cent) carried at least six days a week. Those
who did not deliver papers every day were helpers or carriers who
hired a helper to carry their routes for them one or more days a week,
or they were employed by a foreign-language paper with no Sunday
edition. Six boys carried only on Saturdays or Sundays or on both
days.
H OURS OF W O R K

Most of the carriers of the daily morning papers in Omaha were
older high-school boys or young men attending the University of
Omaha, and were not included in the study. However, 40 boys
under 16 years of age who were included in the study reported de­
livering papers in the morning on school days. Of these, 29 began
their work before 6 a. m., most of them about 5 or 5.30; 7 began
before 4.30. The 29 boys included 16 under 14 years of age, though
only 2 were under 12. One of these early-morning carriers, a boy
of 14 in the seventh grade, who started on his route at 4 a. m., main­
tained that a few hours7 sleep were enough for him but admitted
that he was sleepy in school. A 9-year-old carrier who began his
work at 4.30 a. m. returned home at 5 a. m. and went to bed in his
clothes, sleeping until 7.30. A number of the boys7mothers objected
H to the early hours even for some of the older boys, saying that they
could not get them to go to bed early enough to get a sufficient num-


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

ber of hours’ sleep. “ He’s burning the candle at both ends,” said
the mother of a 15-year-old high-school boy, adding that she felt
he could not do justice to his school work.
The great majority of the carriers (620, including 17 who had a
second street job) delivered on Sunday mornings; 463 began before
6 o ’clock, of whom 206 began before 5 and 49 before 4 o ’clock. A
few (37) of those who began work before 5 a. m. were under 12 years
of age. These hours included the time spent stuffing papers (that is,
putting together the various sections of the paper), which boys re­
ported took on Sunday mornings from 15 minutes to an hour, ac­
cording to the size of their routes. A few stuffed for other boys,
receiving small amounts for the service.
Almost afi the carriers had afternoon routes. Ninety-one per cent
of the 662 with afternoon routes who had no other street job, finished
delivering their papers before 6 o ’clock, and 24 of the 37 with a second
street job were through before 6. As a rule, the boys who were out
until 6 or later had country routes, as they called routes in unpaved
or wooded sections on the outskirts of the city; or had such large
routes that they carried them in two sections, returning home for the
second lot of papers after delivering the first; or they acted as special
carriers to deliver to customers that the regular carriers had skipped;
or, in the case of the boys with street work other than carrying, they
sold papers on their routes. Even these boys were through before 7,
except in rare instances.
Meals offered no problem to the afternoon carriers, as almost all of
them finished delivering their papers in time to have dinner with their
families. Most of the morning carriers postponed breakfast until
after they had served their routes, though a few took a light lunch at
home before starting out and several bought breakfast at a restaurant.
An hour or an hour and a half a day was usually all the time re­
quired for a route; 61 per cent of the carriers worked between one and
two hours on school days and 27 per cent less than one hour. How­
ever, a small proportion of the boys (12 per cent) spent two hours or
more a day delivering papers. (Table 50.)
Saturday and Sunday hours were much longer. Although some of
the carriers made their collections throughout the week as they de­
livered, most of them spent Saturday morning at least and some spent
almost all day Saturday collecting, including the time given to
settling up with the substation manager for their week’s papers. On
Sundays the papers were much heavier than the week-day issues,
and many of the boys had more Sunday customers than daily ones,
so that routes could not be covered so quickly. Besides, the stuffing
or putting together of the several sections of the Sunday paper took
sometime. (See above.) More than half (59 per cent) of the Sunday
carriers worked at least two hours, and 19 per cent worked at least
three hours. Only 151 boys (23 per cent) delivering on Saturdays
worked less than two hours; 62 per cent worked at least three hours,
and 22 per cent worked five hours or longer. (Table 51.)
Owing chiefly to the hours spent in collecting a large proportion
(42 per cent) of the carriers worked 12 hours or more a week, including


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OMAHA, N EB R .

25 per cent of the boys under 12 years of age. A few boys, however
(7 per cent, and 15 per cent of those under 12), spent less than four
hours a week on their newspaper routes.
T a b l e 50.— Number of hours of street work on a typical school day, by age period;
newspaper carriers holding a single job, Omaha, Nebr.

Newspaper carriers from 6 to 15 years of age
10 years,
under 12

Total
Number of hours of street work on a
typical school day

Total____________ ______ _________

12 years,
under 14

14 years,
under 16

Under
Per
Per
10
Per
Per
cent
Num­ dis­ years1 Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent
dis­
dis­
dis­
ber tribu­
ber tribu­ ber
ber
tribu­
tribu­
tion
tion
tion
tion
703

43

126

244

290

Street work on school days__ *____ . . . .

699

42

126

242

289

Total reported_____________________

695

100.0

40

124

100.0

242

100.0

289

100.0

Less than 1 hour________________
1 hour, less than 2
_____ _
2 hours and o v e r .......................

187
427
81

26.9
61.4
11.7

19
18
3

39
72
13

31.5
58.1
10.5

60
150
32

24,8
62.0
13.2

69
187
33

23. 9
64.7
11.4

2

Not reported........................................

4

2

No street work on school days......... ..........

4

1

1

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

T a b l e 51.— Number of hours of street work on a typical Saturday, by age period,
newspaper carriers holding a single job, Omaha, Nebr.
Newspaper carriers from 6 to 15 years of age
10 years,
under 12

Total
Number of hours of street work on a
typical Saturday

Total________________________

12 years,
under 14

14 years,
under 16

Under
Per
10
Per
Per
Per
cent
.
years1
Num­ dis­
Num­ cent
Num­ cent
Num­ cent
dis­
dis­
dis­
ber tribu­
ber tribu­ ber
tribu­ ber tribu­
tion
tion
tion
tion
703

43

126

244

Street work on Saturday_____ _______ _

662

33

119

229

Total reported_________________

659

100.0

32

117

100.0

229

100.0

281

100.0

54
97
102
263
143

8.2
14.7
15.5
39.9
21.7

9
9
7
6
1

13
32
15
41
16

11.1
27.4
12.8
35.0
13.7

18
28
37
98
48

7.9
12.2
16.2
42.8
21.0

14
28
43
118
■ 78

5. 0
10.0
15.3
42.0
27.8

Less than 1 hour__________
1 hour, less than 2__ _
2 hours, less than 3________ _
3 hours, less than 5 . . .........
5 hours and over___________
Not reported_____________

3

1

2

No street work on Saturday_______

41

10

7

i Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.


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290
281

9

208

CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K
EARNINGS

An afternoon route of 100 customers, including Sunday delivery,
paid $6 a week, and a morning route paid $7; that is, the carrier made
in the one case 6, in the other 7, cents a customer. The carriers on
so-called country routes received a bonus in the form of a deduction
from their weekly bill, which the boy himself collected. The amount
of this bonus the boys reported as from 50 cents to $2.50 a week.
About half (55 per cent) of the carriers were paid entirely on this
basis, but 23 per cent, almost all of whom were either helpers or
substitutes or were carriers for a foreign-language daily, were paid a
regular weekly wage; 19 per cent carried under more than one arrange­
ment— for example, both as independent carriers earning the usual
amount for each customer and as helpers to others at a fixed sum a
week. Six boys who helped brothers or friends received no pay.
Of the 703 carriers who did no other street work, 35 per cent made
less than $3 a week. (Table 52.) Not counting those who were
only helpers, half of whom were paid less than $1 a week, the propor­
tion making less than $3 was only 16 per cent. A large proportion of
the carriers (35 per cent) made at least $5 a week, a number of boys
making up to $8 or $10.
These earnings represent the usual amount actually made, excluding
fines for customers’ complaints, charges for extras, and losses from
customers who did not pay. A great many of the regular carriers
reported their actual earnings as less than the amounts they should
have made according to the number of their customers. Most of
this loss was attributed by the boys to inability to collect from
customers the full amount of their bills. When the customer did not
pay, the carrier lost not only his own profit but also the cost of the
newspaper. One of the substation managers said that the carrier
could count on losing in this way 15 to 30 per cent of his profits. The
most common losses occurred through customers moving away,
especially from apartments and lodging houses; other customers
were thoughtless, postponing paying their bills so that the carrier
was always in arrears, if he did not lose the full amount in the end.
Although 50 cents or $1 a week were the losses most commonly
reported, some boys lost more, according to their own statements;
one carrier at times “ only made his bill” ; another never made more
than half the amount due him on his route of 100 subscribers; another
“ had $12 or $13 coming to him ” from customers who were behind
in their payments; one boy had lost $10 through customers who had
moved without paying their bills, despite the fact that he always
“ run ’em down. Find their new addresses and go after ’em.”
In some cases the newspaper gave a bonus for routes in which col­
lections were exceptionally hard to make, but even with the bonus
the boy sometimes lost. A carrier with a bonus of $1.50, for example,
said that in most weeks his losses amounted to more than $2. Parents
sjaid that the newspaper offices, in spite of their claims to the con­
trary, gave the boys no assistance in collecting bad bills.

x

è


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OM AHA, N E B R .

T a b l e 52.— Earnings during a typical week, by number of hours engaged, news­
paper carriers holding a single job, Omaha, Nebr.
Newspaper carriers from 6 to 15 years of age

Total................................

703

No earnings and no cash

Per cent dis­
tribution

1 Number

Per cent dis­
tribution

Number

Per cent dis­
tribution
1

50 100.0

150

203

197

98

5

145 100.0

198 100.0

191 100.0

95 100.0

3

23
24
59
66
64
91
106
87
151

3.4
3.5
8.7
9.7
9.4
13.3
15.5
12.8
22.1

12
11
14
3
2
4

24.0
22.0
28.0
6.0
4.0
8.0

6
7
31
35
18
13
10
8
14

4.1
4.8
21.4
24.1
12.4
9.0
6.9
5.5
9.7

11

1.6

4

8.0

3

2.1

21

Number

Per cent dis­
tribution

Number

Per cent dis­
tribution

50

Total reported_______________ 682 100.0
$0.25, less than $0.50--------$0.50, less than $1.00______
$1.00, less than $2.00--------$2.00, less than $3.00-.........
$3.00, less than $4.00.........

12 hours, 16 hours,
8 hours,
Less than 4 hours,
4 hours less than 8 less than 12 less than 16 and over

Number

Per cent distribu­
tion

Number

Earnings during a typical
week

j Hours not reported1

Working specified number of horns per week

Total

5

2
4
7
21
21
36
35
28
41
3
5

1.0
2.0
3.5
10.6
10.6
18.2
17.7
14.1
20.7

2
1
5
6
17
28
40
35
57

1.0
.5
2.6
3.1
8.9
14.7
20.9
18.3
29.8

1
1
1
6
10
21
16
39

1.1
1.1
1.1
6.3
10.5
22.1
16.8
41.1

1
Ï
—
—

1
6

3

2

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

A second source of loss in earnings came from fines for complaints.
A complaint from a customer that his paper had not been delivered
cost the carrier 10 or 15 cents for a daily paper and 25 cents for a
Sunday paper, the amounts paid the special carrier who delivered to
the customer who had been skipped. Supposedly these were fixed
charges, but, according to one boy, one of the managers, “ a rough
sort,” charged 25 cents for complaints on dailies and 50 cents for
those on Sunday papers. Both boys and parents complained that
some of the managers charged the carriers for complaints that were
not their fault, though other managers were said to give them full
opportunity to prove that they had not been negligent.
The earnings reported included tips if the carrier customarily
received tips. About one-eighth of the carriers reporting on this
point said that they did, though the amount for each boy was usually
only a nickel or a dime a week. A few boys reported 25 cents or
more, a boy who delivered papers to the soldiers at Fort Omaha
receiving at least $2 a week in tips. Other boys said that tips were
given only at Christmas time or on special occasions, such as snowy
mornings. Several said that the tips they received just about made
up for the extras they were obliged to take.
NEED FOR EARNINGS

A

The carriers’ families appeared to represent a fair cross section of
the city population, judging from the occupations of the chief wage
earners. The proportion in each of the large occupational groups
was almost exactly the same as that of all the male workers 20 years


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

of age and older in the city.” They were on a much higher level,
occupationally, than the families of newspaper sellers. Relatively
many more of the carriers than of the newsboys’ fathers or other
chief breadwinners were skilled mechanics or artisans and machinists;
more than twice as many were commercial travelers and salesmen;
many more were clerks and professional men; relatively fewer carriers’
fathers worked in factories, and of those who did almost one-third
were superintendents, foremen, or owners of factories, more than
twice as many in proportion as newspaper sellers’ fathers occupying
such positions. More of the carriers’ fathers were in trade; but less
than one-tenth as many of the carriers as of the newspaper sellers
in proportion to their number had fathers who were peddlers. Of
carriers’ fathers^ in occupations classified under transportation,
relatively four times as many as sellers’ fathers were conductors,
engineers, or other trainmen, and considerably fewer were teamsters,
chauffeurs, and railroad laborers.
The proportion of homes that might be considered normal, both
economically and socially, though somewhat larger than that among
newspaper sellers, was a little smaller than has been found for carriers
in the other studies. (Table 10, p. 29.) Only 78 per cent of the car­
riers came from families in which both parents were living together
and the father provided the livelihood. Many were fatherless boys;
123 (17 per cent) had lost their own fathers, of whom 35 had step­
fathers or others taking the place of fathers as wage earners in the
family, so that 88 boys (12 per cent) were in homes in which the
mother was the head of the household. In the families of 42 boys
(6 per cent) the mother was the chief breadwinner. Most of these
mothers earned their living by domestic service, though some were
seamstresses or factory workers and several were teachers. Besides
those whose mothers were the main support of their families 14 per
cent of the carriers had mothers gainfully employed, excluding
boarding or lodging housekeepers, a larger proportion than that
(9 per cent) for white families found in the United States Bureau of
Labor Statistics study of sources of income in the families of wage
earners and small-salaried men made in Omaha in 1919.78 This cir­
cumstance is probably accounted for by the number of carriers’
mothers who were widows or deserted wives, even though they did
not wholly support their families, and the fact that the Federal
study of family incomes was confined to families with fathers.
The group of ^families that were visited and from which more
detailed family information was obtained numbered 108, in which
were 146 (20 per cent) of the carriers included in the study.
These families seemed to be of more than average prosperity. Of
the 98 chief breadwinners reporting their earnings for the year pre­
ceding the interview, 59 per cent had earned at least $1,450, and the
median earnings were between $1,450 and $1,850. The average
income earned by the father in the white families included in the
Bureau of Labor Statistics study referred to was $1,417.79 A large
proportion (33 per cent) of the carriers had fathers earning $1,850 or
more. The majority of the heads of carriers’ households had had no
unemployment during the year, but 15 per cent had had at least
Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. IV, Population, Occupations, pp. 1188-1189.
™Monthly Labor Review (U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), Vol. IX , No. 6 (December, 1919), p. 36.
79 Idem.
9
9
H


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OMAHA, NEBR.

211

three months’ unemployment, the same proportion as was found
among the newspaper sellers of Omaha.
When the fathers’ or other chief breadwinners’ earnings were sup­
plemented by those of wives or of sons and daughters over 16 years
of age the total was probably somewhat larger than the average
income of workingmen’s families. The median annual earnings in
the 88 families reporting on family earnings were between $1,450 and
$1,850; 59 of the families had an income of $1,450 or over. Again, a
comparison may be made with figures obtained in the Bureau of Labor
Statistics study, in which it was found that the average earned
f a m i l y income in white families in Omaha was $1,503.79“
The car­
riers’ families were larger, averaging 5.8 persons compared with 4.8
in the families in the Federal study, and probably contained a larger
proportion of adult sons and daughters. (See footnote 11, p. 84.)
Further evidence of the prosperity of carriers’ families was found
in the fact that 75 per cent owned their houses— though some of them
were mortgaged— whereas the proportion of dwelling houses in Omaha
owned by their tenants, whether with or without mortgages, though
unusually large, was only 47 per cent.80 Only 20 per cent of the
families had 1.5 persons or more per room, a proportion less than half
that reported for the newspaper sellers. (See p. 190.)
The number of carriers’ families that had been aided by charitable
organizations (see p. 190) was negligible. From July 1, 1922, to
June 30, 1923 (approximately the year preceding the examination of
records), only two carriers’ families (including 3 of the 740 carriers)
had been in receipt of relief. Only 16 other families were reported
as ever having had aid from relief organizations/ At the time of the
study three mothers were in receipt of mothers’ aid.
R E A S O N S F O R U N D E R T A K IN G S T R E E T W O R K

Comparatively few of the carriers had begun street work because
their families were in need of their earnings. Only 76 boys (10 per
cent) had taken their street jobs for this reason— fathers had died,
mothers needed help, fathers’ wages were too small to support the
family, fathers were in debt, or, as One boy said, “ the family kept
growing.” Half of these 76 boys were fatherless and almost one-third
were in families supported chiefly by the mother, whereas of all the
carriers only 17 per cent had lost their fathers and only 6 per cent
were in families in which the mother was the main support.
M ost of the carriers had done their first street work to satisfy their
own pleasures or desires. Twenty-two per cent wished to earn
spending money; 11 per cent wanted money to gratify some special
wish or for some special object, such as to go to college, to buy a
bicycle or a sled, to put money in the bank, to pay Young M en’s
Christian Association dues, to cover high-school expenses; 17 per cent
wanted something to do or thought the job was fun; 14 per cent had
begun because other boys were doing it; 13 per cent had started in
order to help friends or brothers or to learn the work. A few boys
(5 per cent) could offer no other reason for beginning than that they
had been asked to undertake the work by agents of the newspapers.
The remaining boys (7 per cent) said that they had begun to work at
their parents’ desire, generally, because the parents wished them to
so Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. II, Population, p. 1294.


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

learn to work or to learn to save, though some had apparently no
very seriously considered reason for advocating the job. A 9-year-old
carrier gave the rather amusing reason that his father had asked him
to help another boy with his route because he liked to read that par­
ticular paper and the mother refused to buy it, preferring another for
her own reading.
Approximately four-fifths (81 per cent) of the parents visited
approved of their boys delivering newspapers, chiefly because it
kept them busy and out of mischief or because it developed regular
habits and taught them the value of money. Only 18 parents voiced
objections, such as, “ people don’t pay,” “ associates are bad— shoot
craps, swear, and use indecent language,” “ has to get out too early
Sunday,” “ could use his time to better advantage either playing or
doing his school work,” “ too young— afraid he will get into bad
company,” “ perhaps hard on study,” “ work is hard on Sunday,”
“ doesn’t make enough to pay for his shoe leather,” “ boy is not
strong enough,” “ too small to carry so many papers,” “ should not
carry such a heavy load,” “ most of the boys around the paper office
are tough,” “ has to get up too early and go out in all kinds of weather,”
“ has a long route and gets tired,” “ it gives him no time for play
during the day,” “ it gives boy more spending money than is advis­
able,” “ papers are heavy and in winter he is exposed to bad weather;
associations are poor, also.”
Although one-fourth of the families visited regarded the carriers’
earnings as necessary for support, it should be noted that the large
majority of these were immigrant families (relatively far more than
the proportion of immigrant families in the whole group), among some
of whom it was so customary to expect the children to contribute to
the support of the family as soon as they could that they were likely
to consider such contributions as an absolute necessity. Of the 12
families with foreign-born fathers claiming need of the carriers’
earnings, 4 had incomes earned by the fathers of at least $1,500,
whereas in the 8 native families claiming need only 1 father earned
as much as $1,500. About half the families interviewed regarded
the carriers’ earnings as of assistance to the family, whether or not
they were necessary for its upkeep.
D IS P O S IT IO N O F E A R N IN G S

Many of the carriers (39 per cent) gave some assistance to their
families, though the proportion was little more than half that of
Omaha newspaper sellers who were obliged to help with the family
expenses. Included in this group were 22 boys who said that all
that they earned was used for family support and 9 whose entire
earnings went for clothes and other personal necessities. Counting
10 other boys who divided their earnings between personal necessities
and family expenses, 41 boys (6 per cent) reported having none of
their money for spending money or for savings. (Table 53.) The
following cases were selected at random from this group:
A high-school boy of 15, of Italian parentage, both sold and carried newspapers,
earning $4.50 a week at both jobs, all of which he said was used for family ex­
penses. H e was one of a family of 11, of whom 7 were under 16 years of age.
The father, a street-railway mechanic, made $1,265 a year, and an older brother,
a clerk, made $1,200. The family owned their dwelling. The mother said that
the boys should help because of the size of the family.


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OMAHA, NEBR.

A 15-year-old boy, the only child in a Russian-Jewish family, earned $7 a week
on his route, all of which went for family expenses, clothing, and doctors’ bills.
His mother, the chief support of the family, kept a grocery store from which she
had cleared only $375 during the year preceding the study. They had lived
partly on savings of the father, who had died. When interviewed the mother
said that the boy’s earnings were not at that time necessary to their support but
that until recently they had been. N ow that she was on her feet financially, she
said she would not touch the boy’s money but would have him pay for violin
lessons and save the remainder.

T a b l e 53.— Disposition of earnings; newspaper carriers, Omaha, Nebr.

Newspaper carriers
from 6 to 15 years
of age
Disposition of earnings 1
Per cent
Number distribu­
tion

m

Total___ ___________ ¡1..................................

740

Total reported______ _____ _______ - ........................

738

100.0

All for self____________________ ______ _______

441

59.8

Spent for necessities____________ _________
Spent for luxuries________________________
Spent for necessities and luxuries.................
Saved_______ ____ ______________________
Saved and spent for necessities____________
Saved and spent for luxuries...... .......... ......
Saved and spent for necessities and luxuries.
Saved and not specified.............. ........... .......
Not specified__________ _____ ____________

9
42
72
33
35
94
153
2
1

1.2
5.7
9.8
4.5
4.7
12.7
20.7
.3
.1

Part to family and part for self 2— ............ .........

264

35.8

Spent for necessities________ .___________
Spent for luxuries_________________ ______ _
Spent for necessities and luxuries__________
Saved__________________________ ________
Saved and spent for necessities-----------------Saved and spent for luxuries-------- ------ -----Saved and spent for necessities and luxuries.
Saved and not specified____ ______________
Not specified-------------- ----------------------------

10
40
81
11
25
37
58
1
1

1.4
5.4
11.0
1.5
3.4
5.0
7.9
.1
.1

All to family______________ _________________
No earnings and no cash earnings_____________

22
11

3.0
1.5

Not reported____________________________________

2

1 Earnings spent for necessities, luxuries, or both may include expenses of job.
2 Subsidiary items show disposition of part spent for self.

A 13-year-old boy of Austrian parentage, one of three children under 16, said
that he gave his entire weekly earnings, amounting to $2.25, to his family. The
father was a foreman in a smelting plant, earning $1,910 a year. The family
were buying their house, with a large vegetable garden, and raised chickens and
ducks. The mother said that the object of the boy’*s work was to teach him to
earn money.

Although the great majority of the carriers gave no direct assist­
ance to their families, 60 per cent paid for some of their own neces­
sities, chiefly clothes, out of their earnings. It was customary also
for the boys to keep some of their earnings for spending money; 71
per cent had at least part of their earnings to spend as they chose,
including 29 boys who had all their earnings for pocket money.
The families of 2 of these 29 boys were visited. One was a negro boy,
earning 80 cents a week as a helper, whose father earned over $1,200


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

as a cook and whose aunt said of the boy, “ Money don’t do no good—
he just throws it away” ; the other was the 13-year-old son of a
Swedish father, earning $1,500 a year, who received 50 cents a week
for helping on a route and spent it all on Boy Scout activities.
Saving was popular among the carriers; 60 per cent reported sav­
ing some of their earnings, including 4 per cent who saved everything.
Boys who had lost their fathers showed a greater tendency to help
their families than those whose fathers were living, 54 per cent of
the fatherless boys compared with 35 per cent of those with fathers
reporting that they gave some of their earnings to help support their
families. Carriers whose chief breadwinners earned less than $1,450
a year were apparently much more likely to contribute to the family
support (though the numbers involved are too small to be more
than suggestive) than those with chief breadwinners earning at least
that sum. The differences in the manner of disposing of their earn­
ings between fatherless boys and boys with fathers and between the
more prosperous and the less prosperous boys were in other respects
slight, though the proportion of the earnings spent for the various
items may have differed.
Because the carrier most commonly spent his earnings in a variety
of ways, the following examples of the use of earnings are presented
as characteristic:
A boy of Italian parentage earning 75 cents a week as a carrier’s helper had
10 cents a week for spending money, helped to buy his clothes, and gave the
remainder to his mother for “ groceries and m eat.”

A boy of 11, making $2.66 a week, had 50 cents for spending money and 10
cents for the school bank, the remainder being spent for clothes.

A 14-year-old carrier earning $5 a week put $1 in bank, had 20 cents for candy
and motion pictures, and gave the remainder to his mother for taxes and repairs
on their house.
An 11-year-old son of a publisher earned $2.15 a week on his route, out of
which he paid $1 a week for.violin lessons, paid car fares on his job, had 10 cents
a week for spending money, and had saved $95. H e had had his route for four
years.
A carrier who earned $2.04 a week put 50 cents in the school bank, bought
some of his clothes, and was saving the remainder for a bicycle.

A 15-year-old carrier of Russian-Jewish parentage earned $8.70 a week. H e
spent $1 to $1.50 a week on his own pleasures, helped with necessities of his
own, and saved the remainder. He had $300 in bank toward his college expenses.

A boy of 12 who averaged $4.56 from his route paid for his clothes^ and his
music lessons, had 50 cents for spending money, and paid car fares going after
his papers.
A motorman’s son, aged 13, earned $6 a week. H e spent $1.50 on fun,
bought all his own clothes, and gave the remainder to his family. His parents
did not like to have him do the work, but the money helped so much that they
allowed him to continue.


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215

A 13-year-old carrier earning $2.70 a week paid his car fare to the substation,
saved $1, had 25 cents for spending money, and had “ just paid 35 bucks’:’ for
a suit in which to be confirmed.
A boy who earned $4.62 a week carrying and selling papers paid all his per­
sonal expenses and had 25 to 50 cents a week spending money.

A 15-year-old boy whose mother (a teacher) supported the family earned
$6.83 a week. He put half his money in bank toward his college expenses, used
one-fourth for clothing, and one-fourth for spending money.
C A R R IE R S IN SC H O O L

Attendance.

One hundred and eight of the carriers (15 per cent) were high-school
boys, but 415 (56 per cent) were in the sixth, seventh, or eighth
grade. School-attendance records for 248 of the 279 carriers who
had done street work during the school semester ended June, 1922,
showed that the average percentage of attendance of the carriers
was 93, about the same as that of newspaper sellers. (See p. 197.)
Relatively as many carriers (15 per cent) as sellers had been absent
from school 10 per cent or more of the semester. No connection
between these boys' work and their long absences was apparent.
Truancy.

Nineteen carriers (3 per cent) had been reported to the truant
officer during the school year 1922-23. The records were so brief
that it was not clear even in all these cases whether or not the boy
had been truant (for example, where the only record was “ lectured
boy in school on poor attendance"), but the assumption is that most
cases reported to the truant officer were cases of truancy.
Progress and scholarship.

Carriers' hours of work as a rule were long only on Saturdays and
Sundays, so that it is easily conceivable that school work might not
have been affected by their jobs. Carriers had made better than
average progress in school. Only 19 per cent of those between 8
and 16 years of age were retarded (see footnote 38, p. 22), and 16
per cent were advanced, whereas 21 per cent of all the Omaha publicschool boys of the same ages were overage for their grades. Long
hours of work apparently did not affect the carrier’s progress in school,
for though 23 per cent of those working at least 12 hours a week were
retarded and only 16 per cent of those working less than 12 hours
were below normal grades for their ages, the former group contained
a much larger proportion of t^he older boys, and the common tendency
is for the proportion of retarded pupils to increase with their ages.
Only 16 per cent of those who had had their routes at least two years
were retarded, compared with 20 per cent of those who had worked
less than two years; 22 per cent of the former group compared with 14
per cent of the latter were advanced. Those who had delivered papers
for several years actually surpassed in their school progress those who
had worked a comparatively short time.
The carriers’ standing in school likewise indicates that they were
a superior group. The following is a summary of the average standing
(see footnote 73, p. 199) during the semester ended June, 1922, of the
75034°— 28------ 15


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

245 carriers who had worked during the semester and for whom records
could be found:
Average grade

Number
of boys

Total___________________ ___________ ___________

Per cent
distribution

245

100

Less than 70______________________________________________ 6
70, less than 80_________
69
80, less than 90____________________
146
90 per cent or more_______________
24

2
28
60
10

D E LIN Q U EN C Y A M O N G C A R R IE R S

Only 12 of the Omaha carriers (2 per cent) had juvenile-court
records, 8 of them after they had begun to carry papers. Of the 18
offenses reported, 12 were stealing, 3 truancy, and the remainder
were miscellaneous.
M A G A Z IN E SELLERS A N D C ARRIERS
R A C E AN D N A TIO N A LITY OF F A T H E R S A N D A G E O F W O R K E R S

Ninety-one boys and 1 girl sold magazines, and 13 boys carried
magazines to subscribers’ houses. All were white children, and
all except 25 of the 105 were of native parentage. Those whose
fathers had not been born in the United States were, like the news­
paper carriers, chiefly of Scandinavian stock rather than from
families of the more recent immigration. Only 1 of the children
selling or carrying magazines was himself of foreign birth. These
workers were a little younger than boys in most other types of street
work. The average age of the boys was 10.9 years; the girl was 8.
W O R K E XPE R IE N C E

Very few of the children selling or carrying magazines did any
other street work; 1 carried newspapers, 1 canvassed for newspaper
subscriptions, 1 distributed handbills, and 1 peddled radio sets. A
fairly large proportion (32 of the 104 boys) had previously done some
street work other than that in which they were engaged at the time
of the study; 18 had had newspaper routes, 16 had sold or peddled
various articles, and 5 had sold newspapers.
Magazine selling or carrying for most children appeared to be a
job of short duration. The median length of time the Omaha
children had been selling or carrying magazines was between four
and six months. Only a few boys— 12 sellers and 7 carriers— had
worked a year or longer.
m ■
C O N D IT IO N S OF W O R K

Most of the children sold or carried a popular weekly magazine
or one of the well-known household magazines, or both, obtaining
them through the local agency of the publishing company. The
agent made a practice of going to grade schools about dismissal
time and talking to boys as,they came out, showing them some of
the premiums offered and otherwise trying to interest them in his
proposition. Finally he would give each boy who would take them
several of the magazines. In a few days he would send a letter to
the boys inquiring about their progress and asking them either to
send in the money for the magazines they had sold or to return them.

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O M AHA, N E B R .

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217

Each sale was worth a certain amount of cash or could be accredited
toward a premium selected from a number of things that appeal
to boys. Boys who sold were organized, in accordance with the
company’s national system, into a salesmanship school or league
with junior and senior salesmen, according to the number of sales
of each magazine. The company promised a permanent position
to boys who attained a specified degree of proficiency in selling.
The magazines as a rule were sent out by truck to the salesmen’s
own houses or to near-by drugstores, and the agent collected from
the boys, giving them credit by the week or the month according to
the type of magazine sold.
Almost all the children (88 of the 105) did their selling or carrying
in residential streets, many of them near home or school, but a few
went down town to sell in business offices and in stores, in front of
the larger office buildings, and before the grain-exchange building.
Some of those who handled only monthly magazines worked only
two or three days one or two weeks during the month. The ma­
jority, however, sold or carried a weekly magazine, most of them in
addition to the monthly, working perhaps two or three afternoons a
week after school, or, if they sold a monthly magazine also, working
every week day one week a month and once or twice a week during
the remainder of the month; but there was great variety in the
number of days a week spent at the work. They worked only a
few hours a week in all. Of the 104 boys, 90 were out selling or
carrying magazines even in their busiest weeks less than 12 hours.
The little girl sold only three hours a week. There is no demand for
magazines in the early-morning hours, so that although a few of the
boys went out to sell once or twice a week before going to school, in
some cases in combination with afternoon selling, most of the boys
did the work immediately after school. A few sold later than 6
o ’clock in the evening, including several who reported going out
after dinner and selling until 8 or 9.
E AR N IN G S

The profit on the weekly magazines that the children most gen­
erally sold was from ^ to 2 cents a copy and on the monthly maga­
zines 4 cents a copy. The amounts earned were very small; 70 of
the 104 boys made less than 50 cents a week, 44 less than 25 cents.
Only 5 made as much as SI a week. The girl sold 10 magazines
a month, averaging about 10 cents profit a week. A few children
(9 of the 83 reporting) said that they took in a little in tips. All
these were magazine sellers.

13

N E E D F O R E A R N IN G S

Most of the children selling or carrying magazines could earn only
such insignificant amounts that those whose families were hard
pressed financially were not likely to select it as an occupation.
Eighty-eight of the 104 boys and the girl (85 per cent of the group)
came from homes in which both father and mother were living and
the father supported the family, probably as large a proportion as
& would be found among an unselected group (see p. 29). Judged by
™ the occupations of their fathers, the children selling or carrying
magazines came from the more prosperous elements in the community.

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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

Relatively somewhat more of the boys’ fathers or other chief bread­
winners were professional men than among all the male workers
of the city 20 years of age or over.81 Compared with less than onethird of the employed males in Omaha, more than half were in clerical
positions, many of them of high grade, or in trade, of whom many
were proprietors of considerable establishments. Very few magazine
sellers or carriers came from the homes of unskilled laborers or even
from those of mechanics and artisans. None of the families were
reported as ever having received any charitable aid.
The 11 families visited were probably typical of the entire group.
In these families the annual earnings of the chief breadwinners
averaged $2,229 for the year immediately preceding the study.
The following accounts illustrate the extremes among them:
A wholesale dealer in cigars and tobacco had an income from his business
of about $5,000 a year. There were only two children in the family. The 11year-old boy earned 12 cents a week selling magazines for an hour and a half a
week, except once a month when he sold for two hours. H e had been working
for 4 ^ months and was saving all his earnings. His mother liked the work
because it kept the boy busy and out of mischief, and the father approved because
he felt that it was teaching his son business methods. H e insisted on the boy’s
keeping careful accounts.
A 13-year-old seller had seven younger brothers and sisters. The father, a
native of Switzerland, was a machinist by trade, but had been injured at his
work during the year and had been able to earn only $848 helping his brother in
a real-estate office. T h e‘mother had earned $300 renting rooms in their 10-room
house, which they owned.. The boy sold a monthly magazine an hour or two
every day for a week or 10 days during the month, averaging a profit of 23 cents
a week. His mother approved of his magazine work because it helped him to
pass the time and to make a little extra money, some of which he used to help
pay for his violin lessons.

Probably more typical than either of these is the following:
A stamp seller in the post office had a salary of $2,000 and owned the house
in which he lived. The only child under 16 was a 10-year-old boy. He had been
selling both weekly and monthly magazines for six months, working a little over
nine hours a week in his busiest week and earning 28 cents a week. The boy’s
mother said that he did not want the job, but she insisted on his doing it in order
to give him some regular duty.
R E A S O N S F O R U N D E R T A K IN G S T R E E T W O R K

The largest number of magazine sellers and carriers (51) gave as
their principal reason for beginning to work that they had been
persuaded to try it by the agent of the publishing company, by letters
from the company, or by advertisements in magazines. Compara­
tively few (31) had undertaken it chiefly because of the money or
because they “ wanted something to do.” Only five had been im­
pelled by economic need at home. The others had started the work
because their parents, brothers, or friends had urged them to do it.
Several of the parents in the families visited said that they wished
the boy to do the work because they believed it good training.
All of them approved, except one mother who was indifferent,
regarding it as “ merely a boy’s fad.” The local agent of the com­
pany publishing the magazines said that although the talks and
lessons on salesmanship, which were part of the company’s program
81

Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. IV, Population, Occupations, pp. 1188-1189,


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OMAHA, NEBR.

219

with the boys, were rather above the heads of the younger children
he thought they were of benefit to the older boys in helping them to
meet the public and to learn the rudiments of salesmanship.
D IS P O S IT IO N O F E A R N IN G S

The most common way of using the money earned from magazine
selling (reported by 26 boys) was for the child to save a little and
spend the remainder as he pleased. Only 23 of the 104 boys used any
of their earnings for necessities, either for themselves or for their
families. The majority of these 23 helped only to buy some of their
clothing or other personal necessities. The majority (62 of the 104)
spent some of their money for their own pleasures and amusements-,
including 17 who spent it all in this way. The girl seller and 23 boys
saved all their money, and 36 other boys regularly saved a part of
what they earned. A few other children were saving for some
special object, such as a trip to the country or “ to buy a present for
my mother.”
SCH O OL ATTEN D AN CE AND PR O G R E SS

Magazine selling and carrying among these children was of too
unexacting a nature to affect their school life unfavorably. More­
over, only 19 of them (all boys) had sold or carried magazines for as
long as a year. Only 15 had worked during a completed school
year, and school records could be found for only 13 of these.
The average percentage of attendance for these children for the
year was 93 per cent, the same percentage as for newsboys. None
of the 13 children selling or carrying magazines for whom school
records could be found had less than a passing mark in his studies,
and two had averages of 90 or higher.
Of the 99 boys between 8 and 16 years old, 11 were overage or
retarded, and 20 were in advanced grades for their ages. (See
footnote 38, p. 22.) The proportion of retarded children was only
about one-fourth that of the Omaha boys who sold newspapers on
the streets and only about half as large as that of the boys with
newspaper routes. The girl was in a normal grade for her age.
TR U A N C Y A N D D E LIN Q U E N C Y

The children who sold or carried magazines were not exposed by
the conditions of their work to temptations or associations that might
reasonably be suspected of contributing to delinquency. Two boys
(2 per cent) had juvenile-court records, the offenses being theft.
One of these boys, who had been before the court twice, had previ­
ously sold newspapers. None of the magazine carriers or sellers had
truancy records.
P E D D L E R S A N D M IS C E L L A N E O U S STR E E T W O R K E R S
C H IL D R E N W O R K IN G F O R P R E M IU M S

Included in the study was a group of 17 boys and 19 girls who
were peddling or canvassing for prizes or premiums. Four boys
were canvassing for newspaper or magazine subscriptions; the others
sold or took orders for various articles obtained from out-of-town
firms, generally garden seeds, perfume and sachet, or post cards.
This group averaged 11 years of age; only 3 of the boys and 5 of the

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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

girls were over 12. They represented almost all social and economic
classes; the occupations of the fathers ranged from laborers in pack­
ing houses to a treasurer of a corporation and a major in the Army,
whose boy was working for a prize to give his mother. Eighteen of
the 36 children had foreign-born fathers and 8 were negroes. M ost of
these children had not been doing the work more than a month or two
and had never done any other kind of street work. The majority
went around from house to house in their own neighborhood several
times a week, but others did the work only once or twice a week;
a few worked so irregularly that they could give no account of their
hours. On the other hand, a few were so zealous that they spent
their after-school hours every day trying to find a market for thenwares. They seldon were out after 5 or 6 in the afternoon, and the
majority worked less than six hours a week.
O T H E R P E D D L E R S A N D M IS C E L L A N E O U S S T R E E T W O R K E R S

Besides the boys and girls who canvassed or peddled for premiums
were 67 other peddlers or canvassers and 30 children engaged in a
miscellany of street occupations. Among these were six girls, all
of whom were peddlers.
Occupations, age, and work experience.

Table 54 shows the occupations and ages of the boys in this
group of workers. Only 7 of the 97 children were attempting to
do more than one street job at the time of the study— one huckster
and one junk collector also sold magazines, two of the other peddlers
sold or carried magazines, one magazine-subscription canvasser
peddled eggs, a junk dealer peddled seeds, and one bill distributor
had a small newspaper route.
T a b l e 54.— Occupation and age period, miscellaneous street-working boys, Omaha,
Nebr.
Boys 6 to 15 years of age
Occupation
Total
Total............................... ...... ..............
Huckster............................... .................. _
Other peddler or canvasser i ____ r________
Bill distributor.............................1______
Junk collector_____________ __________
Bootblack...................... ......................
Stand tender.................... .......................... ......

Under 10 years, 12 years, 14 years,
10 years under 12 under 14 under 16

91

14

22

13
48
11
11
5
3

1
10
1
2

1
12
4
2
2
i

33

22

16

10

1 Boys working for premiums are not included.

A fairly large proportion, however (32 of the 97), had had other
street-work experience— 5 bill distributors, 3 peddlers, 3 hucksters,
and 1 junk collector had carried newspapers or magazines; 3 of the 5
bootblacks, 1 huckster, 3 junk collectors, and 8 peddlers had sold
papers or magazines; 1 junk collector and 2 peddlers had “ huck­
stered,” 1 peddler had been a bootblack, 2 peddlers had distributed
handbills, 1 bill distributor had peddled.
Almost half of these street workers (45 boys) had held their jobs
less than three months, but 32 of the 97 had worked at least a year,

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OMAHA, NEBR.

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including some in each of the various occupations. One boy, for
example, had distributed advertisements for four years, 1 had been
collecting and selling junk for five years, a 12-year-old canvasser for
magazine subscriptions had kept at his job since he was 8, a 13-yearold boy had been bootblacking from the age of 10, and 2 of the 3
stand tenders had worked at least three years. On the other hand, a
large number, especially among the peddlers and the bill distributors,
had been working only a month or two.
Race and nationality of fathers.

The majority of this group of workers were of native white parent­
age; 38 per cent had foreign-born fathers; and 8 per cent were negro
children. Two of the 5 bootblacks were Italian, and 1 was a negro;
6 of the 11 junk collectors had foreign-born fathers (Poles, Italians,
Serbians, and Rumanians), and 1 was a negro; and 16 of the 54
canvassers and peddlers were of various foreign stocks, and 3 were
negroes. In some of the occupations children from immigrant
families predominated; 2 of the 3 stand keepers were Italians, and
11 of the 13 hucksters were of Lithuanian, Bohemian, German, or
Polish parentage. All the bill distributors were of native parentage,
including 3 negro boys. Eight of the 97 workers had been born
outside the United States— 4 peddlers, 2 junk collectors, 1 huckster,
and 1 bootblack.
Conditions of work.

^
^

jÉ

The hucksters were employed by men selling produce from wagons
or pushcarts. Almost all of them worked only on Saturdays, but
2 boys worked after school several times a week, and 4 of the Saturday
hucksters said that during school vacations they worked every day.
For most of them the working-day was from 9 to 12 hours, for which
$1 was the most common compensation, though several of the older
boys made as much as $2 to $4.
The other peddlers and canvassers worked under a great variety of
conditions. Four boys solicited subscriptions for magazines or
newspapers, working from V/v to 1 3 ^ hours a week and receiving
amounts varying from 12 ^ cents to $3 a week, according to the
number of subscriptions they succeeded in getting. Thirteen boys
and 2 girls peddled articles made by their fathers or mothers or
obtained through their parents. For example, a negro girl peddled
cosmetics for which her mother had the local agency, 2 boys peddled
soap that their fathers made, a little boy sold aprons and baby
clothes made by his mother. Four boys sold candy and peanuts at
the baseball park; 9 boys sold candy or pop corn; 1 boy accompanied
a blind man selling brooms; 2 girls made and sold paper flowers;
1 boy peddled asparagus from his grandmother's garden; 1 peddled
onions bought from a neighbor; another sold kindling wood which he
collected; 10 boys sold articles obtained from out-of-town Anns, such
as the children who were working for premiums sold, preferring to be
paid in cash; and 6 boys and girls sold various articles (cheese, spices,
and toilet goods) obtained from local firms. Most of these children
sold on their own account, but a few were employed, chiefly by parents
or relatives at a flat sum. The majority confined their activities to
residential sections of the city, often near home or school, though 1
boy selling spices toured near-by rural sections on horseback. The
21 who sold in business streets included 8 of the 9 candy or pop-corn


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CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

sellers, who sold their wares in garages, in office buildings, and in
front of down-town theaters.
Although 18 of the 54 miscellaneous peddlers worked only 1 or 2
days a week, usually on a school day, 29 worked 5, 6, or, in the case
of boys selling at the baseball park, 7 days. M ost of the children
who sold candy and pop corn and 7 of the 15 selling some article for
their own parents worked at least 5 days a week. The majority
worked less than 12 hours a week, but 22 boys and girls worked 12
hours or more. The extremes were represented by a boy of 9 who
had been selling candy, for a woman who made it, for half an hour on
Wednesdays and a quarter of an hour on Saturdays for a month, and
by a 13-year-old boy of Russian-Jewish parentage who for five years
had sold candy down town and in office buildings 23 hours a week—
from 2]/2 to 5 ^ hours on week days, staying out until 10 one night a
week. Except for this boy, who was out until 7 three nights a week,
and 5 others, the children always stopped selling about 5 or 6 in the
afternoon. The others included a negro boy of 11 who went out
after his supper from 7 to 9 to sell seeds; a pop-corn peddler of
Italian parentage, 10 years of age, who was out from 7 to 9 every
night and from 2 until 8.30 on Sunday evenings; a boy of 13 selling
horse-radish for his father who worked from 3.30 to 7 every week
day; and a girl of 13 who sold paper flowers up to 9 p. m. three nights
a week.
The majority (30) of the peddlers made at least $1 a week, 8 of
them reporting their earnings as $5 or more, but 10 children earned
less than 50 cents, and 5 of the 15 who worked for their parents
received no pay for their work. Several of the boys made very large
amounts. For example, the boy who sold candy in down-town
offices averaged $18.90 a week, a pop-corn seller made $15.83, a boy
who sold pop at the baseball grounds 7 days a week made $16.50.
On the other hand most of the children peddling such articles as
post cards and seeds made only small amounts.
The handbill distributors were employed by theaters, drug stores,
creameries, and other business and manufacturing establishments.
Although a few of them worked three or four times a week, once or
twice was more common, some of them going on their rounds after
school, others on Saturdays. Rarely was any boy out distributing
bills after 6 p. m., and none of them worked early in the morning.
The majority spent less than six hours a week distributing their
bills, some of them as little as one or two hours. About half of
them were paid by the piece— a specified amount for every 1,000
circulars delivered— or by the hour, but a few were employed for a flat
sum. Four boys received no money for their services, being paid in
theater tickets, or, in the case of a boy who worked for a dairy com­
pany, in milk and cheese. The earnings varied considerably; 2
reported earnings of more than $5 a week, 3 had made from $1 to
$2, and 2 had made between 50 cents and $1.
Most of the junk collectors confined their work to one to three
days a week, but several went around the streets and down-town
alleys every day collecting rags, old metal, bottles, and anything
that they could find to dispose of. One of these, an 11-year-old
Italian boy, whose father corroborated his statement that he had
been collecting and selling junk ever since he was 6 years old, found
lumber yards particularly profitable. “ Sometimes,” he said, “ I

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collect four or five whisky bottles a night from behind piles of lumber
where men go to drink.” The majority worked at least 6 hours a
week, and one spent several hours every week day and half an hour
on Sundays, a total of 20 hours a week, collecting and sorting his
junk. The collections were generally disposed of to junkmen, but
two Polish boys, who prowled around behind hotels, wholesale
houses, and stores looking for bottles, said that they sold them to
poolroom keepers and bootleggers, and another disposed of his to a
man who made furniture polish. The most common amount earned
was about $1 a week, but five boys averaged less, the minimum being
25 cents, and one boy made $2.50.
All the bootblacks worked down town, generally in front of hotels
or at the railroad stations. Three of the five worked every week day,
the others only twice a week. One worked until 8 p .m . every week
day, one until 8 and one until 9 on Saturday nights, but the others
always stopped not later than 6.30. All except one worked more
than 12 hours a week and a 14-year-old boy worked 25 hours, 3
hours on each school day and 10 on Saturdays. They all worked
on their own account and averaged earnings of $1.75 to $9.50 a
week, including tips.
Of the three stand keepers, one sold fruit at his father’s down-town
stand, another sold lemonade and pop at his father’s stand on a
down-town corner, and the other sold pop corn at a stand operated
by his grandfather. One worked six days a week, and another (the
pop-corn seller) worked every day including Sundays, the one 18,
the other 15 hours. The third worked on Saturdays for 8k£ hours.
The fruit-stand tender, a 14-year-old boy, who had been doing this
work for four years, sold at the stand from 4 to 7 every Week-day
morning. The others stopped selling at 5 or 6 in the afternoon.
Two of them were paid a flat sum a week for their work, but the
fruit-stand tender received no pay.
Need for earnings.

The proportion of these workers (75 per cent) coming from homes
in which both parents were present and the father supported the
family was a little smaller than that for newspaper-route carriers,
considerably smaller than that for children who sold or carried
magazines, and a little larger than that for boys who sold papers.
(See pp. 189, 210, 212.) The mothers of 6 of the 97 children
were the chief breadwinners in their families, and 23 other mothers
an unusually large proportion (see p. 210), were gainfully employed,
not including those who may have kept boarders or lodgers to sup­
plement the income.
These workers came from many different types of home. Their
fathers were clergymen, peddlers, salesmen, coal dealers, painters,
carpenters, bookkeepers, druggists, janitors, teamsters and truck
drivers, barbers, bakers, laborers in the packing houses, firemen,
watchmen, elevator operators, lawyers, detectives, garage owners.
The number of chief breadwinners in trade and in professional
occupations was relatively the same as for all employed males 20
years and over in the city,82 but more than twice as many chief
breadwinners were in domestic and personal service, only a little less
than one-third as many were in clerical occupations, a somewhat
© Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. IV, Population, Occupations, pp. 1188-1189.


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

larger proportion were in occupations classified as transportation
(chiefly teamsters, drivers, and railroad laborers), and somewhat
fewer were in manufacturing and mechanical pursuits, owing largely
to the few skilled mechanics and artisans whose children did this
kind of work.
The chief breadwinner’s annual earnings for the year were reported
for 24 of the 27 families visited. These had averaged $1,379, and the
average size of these families was 6.3. This amount is larger than
that reported by the families of Omaha newsboys but smaller than
the chief breadwinners’ earnings in the families of route carriers and
much smaller than in those of the children who sold or carried
magazines.
Of the 97 children 2 were in families which were reported as having
received assistance from the Associated Charities during the year
immediately preceding the study, and 8 others were members of
families which had been aided prior to that time. The mother or
father in 7 of the 27 families visited said that the child’s earnings
from his street work were needed to help support the family. An
extreme case of need was that of an Italian family with three children
in which the father had deserted. The family was supported almost
entirely upon the $6 or $7 a week earned by the 12-year-old boy
selling candy bars and ice cream.
Reasons for undertaking street work.

A small proportion (13 of the 97 children) had begun street work
because their families needed the money that they could earn. The
reason for beginning most commonly given was the desire to earn
money; 28 children, not including the 13 who claimed family need,
gave this reason. To help their parents or because their parents
wished it was the reason given by 16 children for undertaking a
street job, and 22 others had been influenced chiefly by seeing other
children at work or by their own desire to be working or busy. The
others gave miscellaneous reasons.
Disposition of earnings.

Of the 84 children receiving pay in cash and reporting the way in
which they spent their earnings, 12 (14 per cent) used all their money
for family expenses or clothing, or both. Thirty others used part of
their money to assist their families, and 37 used a part for clothes or
for other personal necessities. Almost half (38) saved a portion of
their earnings, including 8 children who saved all that they earned.
In addition 2 children were keeping all their money until they should
have enough for a trip or some other special purpose. The majority
(56) had some of their earnings for spending money, including 6
children who spent all they earned on their own pleasure.
School attendance and progress.

The peddlers and miscellaneous street workers had made some­
what better progress in school than newspaper sellers, but their
progress compares unfavorably with that of both newspaper carriers
and the children who «carried or sold magazines. Of the 93 between
8 and 16 years of age, 32 (34 per cent) were below normal grades for
their ages. (See footnote 38, p. 22.)
Only 31 of these workers had been working long enough to be
included in the school-record study, and for 7 of these no records
could be found. The average percentage of attendance for the re
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225

maining 24 children was 93, the same as that for children in each
group of street workers. Of the 24, 2 junk collectors had failed to
make a passing grade in their studies m the last completed school
year, but only 1 child, a boy who helped a blind man sell brooms,
had made an average of 90 or higher.
Truancy and delinquency.

An examination of the truant officer’s record showed that 7 boys
(8 per cent) had been reported, apparently for truancy, during the
school year in which the study was made, though in one case the
report was not found. The 7 included a huckster, a bill distributor,
a stand tender, a peddler, a bootblack, and 2 junk collectors. The
stand tender worked from 4 to 7 every morning, but no apparent
connection, even an indirect one, between their work and truancy
could be traced in the other cases.
Juvenile-court records were found for 6 (3 peddlers, 2 junk collec­
tors, and 1 bill distributor) of the 91 boys, 1 of whom was dismissed
after a hearing. Of the 5 others (5 per cent of the boys) 2 had not
begun street work at the time of their appearance in court.


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WILKES-BARRE, PA.
IN T R O D U C T IO N

Wiikes-Barre is in northeastern Pennsylvania in one of the princi­
pal fields of the anthracite region. It is therefore an “ anthracite
town, as the collieries along the river bear witness. But with its
iron, steel, and textile mills it is an important manufacturing city
also, and m addition is the retail trading and banking center for a
large population concentrated within a comparatively small radius.
About one-fifth of the male workers of Wilkes-Barre proper are
employed m mining; but this does not indicate the full extent to which
toe city is influenced by the mining industry, for surrounding WilkesBarre are numerous small settlements, known as “ the boroughs ”
many of which consist entirely of miners’ cottages clustered about’ a
colliery.' More than one-third of the male workers of Wilkes-Barre
are engaged m manufacturing, however, chiefly in the iron and steel
industry. About one-third of the women workers are factory opera­
tives, chiefly m the silk mills, where many 14 and 15 year old bovs
and girls, especially the latter, also find employment.83
Settled many years before the Revolution by New Englanders
chiefly from Connecticut, Wilkes-Barre still has its “ old families ’’
but the native population of native parentage forms less than twofattos ol the total. Of a population of 73,833, 14,567 are of foreign
birth and 30,000 others are of foreign stock. The earlier Ens;lishspeakmg immigrants— Engflsh, Welsh, and Irish— who between 1840
and 1880 worked most of the mines have been largely displaced by
Poles and by natives of southern and eastern Europe. According to
the United States Census of 1920, Poles constituted one-fifth of the
foreign-bom population of the city, and Poles and Lithuanians
together constituted one-fourth. The only other immigrants of
whom there were 1,000 or more in 1920 were, in the order of their
THsh6™ ^ unPor^ance> Welsh, Germans, Russians, Engflsh, and
The commercial life of the city centers about the Public Sciuare
a 4-acre park into which run the main business streets. The square
is surrounded by stores and shops, moving-picture houses, restaurants,
and cafeterias and within a few minutes’ walk are the principal
hotels and banks and the railroad stations. It is the starting place
the b o ro ijh s1* meS ^
worker.
w

busses gomg to a11 parts of the citJ 911(1 to

sq£ arG ls ^ f^PPy bunting ground for the young street
Before school in the morning, after school until long after

L K o r i m

™

° f the UDited Stat6S’ lfi20’ VoL I V >Population, Occupations, pp. 331-335,472,688.

J9« Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. I ll, Population, pp. 867, 884, 886.

226

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W IL K E S-B A R R E , PA.

227

dark, and all day Saturday, scores of boys hawk their papers there—
so many, in .fact, as to cause one small boy to observe “ Business
don’t go good— too many sellin’.” The bootblack with his kit over
his shoulders, who has all but disappeared from the American scene,
also haunts the Public Square in Wilkes-Barre, chiefly, however,
on Saturday. On Saturday afternoons and evenings, even in the
late fall and in winter, the square and the adjoining streets are
thronged with people, and the street cars coming in from the boroughs
disgorge ever-increasing crowds up to a late hour. There is a holiday
spirit abroad. The stores are open until half-past nine, the theaters
are brilliantly lighted, with crowds continuously coming out and
going in, the pop-corn and peanut vendors do a lively business, and
the hot-chestnut stand whistles and hisses invitingly. The benches
are filled with young men and their sweethearts in their best clothes,
and boys, but yesterday grown up, rove about in noisy groups seeking
what amusement there is to be had. With the crowds, the lights,
the noise, and the excitement, it is small wonder that the little news­
boys and bootblacks, linger as long as they dare. Eleven o’clock
comes before they know it, and it is midnight before some take a
reluctant leave, though their fathers may “ holler” at them and their
mothers may threaten to lock them out if they do not come home
earlier.
It was reported to the Children’s Bureau by school officials, social
workers, and others that many of the boys selling newspapers or
shining shoes on Wilkes-Barre streets came into the city from the
boroughs and that the juvenile street trading problem in WilkesBarre was complicated by the fact that the school authorities had no
'm- jurisdiction over these boys even when they were found at work
during school hours, the boroughs being politically separate units
from Wilkes-Barre proper. Several of the boroughs directly adjoined
the city limits, separated from Wilkes-Barre only by railroad
tracks; others, though lying on the other side of the Susquehanna
River, or several miles distant from the center of the city, with open
fields and country between, were within half an hour’s ride on the
trolley, so that for many boys it would have been easy enough to come
down to the square to sell or shine. In order to ascertain to what
extent this very prevalent impression was correct, the Children’s
Bureau agent interviewed children reporting street work in the
public and parochial schools of seven of the boroughs nearest to the
city: Wilkes-Barre Township, Kingston (including Dorrancetown
and Westmoor), Ashley, Edwardsville, Parsons, Plains (including
Midvale), and Hanover Township. Of the 339 street workers
located in these boroughs, 247 were newspaper carriers, almost all
in their own boroughs; of the remaining 92, 67 (of whom 52 were
from Plains and Kingston) said that they went over to Wilkes-Barre
to work— 30 were newsboys, 30 were bootblacks, 4 had paper routes,
and 3 did other street work. Thus, of the 302 newsboys and bootblacks
in Wilkes-Barre and the neighboring boroughs who worked in WilkesBarre, 20 per cent came from the boroughs. The 339 street workers
living in the boroughs have not been included in the tabulations for
^ Wilkes-Barre.
%
The Children’s Bureau study was made in October, November,
and December, 1922. In January, 1927, a representative of the
Children’s Bureau visited Wilkes-Barre in order to learn in what

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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

respects conditions in regard to juvenile street work had changed
since the survey was made. The chief attendance officer of the public
schools, the director of the United Charities, and the director of the
Young M en’s Christian Association, which maintains a newsboys’
club, were emphatic in their assertions that conditions were the same
as at the time of the study, with thé exception (noted by the chief
attendance officer) of a decline in the number of bootblacks on the
streets. This was believed to have resulted from an increase in
indoor bootblacking stands. The chief attendance officer said that
no special attempt was being made and that none had been made
by his department to enforce the street-trades regulations of the
State child labor law (see below), as the staff of the department was
too small to undertake the responsibility. Members of the civic
committee of the local women’s club, who were interviewed because
it was learned that the committee was planning activities directed
toward better enforcement of the street trades law, reported that the
presence of very young children selling papers on the streets and
selling late at night had become increasingly noticeable. The
Children’s Bureau agent saw newsboys who looked as young as 5
or 6 in the streets around the square, at hotel entrances, and in
restaurants, and, although the weather was unusually cold, many
small boys were selling papers on the streets up to 7.30 or 8. This
was a Monday night, and Saturday-night hours were said to be much
later than hours on other nights, just as they were when the study
was made. The statistics presented in the report are those collected
in 1922.
Table 1 (p. 8) shows the number of boys in each kind of street
work who reported that they were working at the time the inquiry
was made and who had done street work for at least one month during
the year preceding the interview. (For details in regard to the selec­
tion of the children included in the survey see p. 5.)
•
LEGAL REGULATION OF STREET WORK

Wilkes-Barre had no local ordinance regulating street trades.
The street trades law of Pennsylvania, which was state-wide in its
application, provided as follows :
No male minor under 12 years of age, and no female minor, shall distribute,
sen, expose, or offer for sale any newspaper, magazine, periodical, or other publi­
cation, or any article of merchandise of any sort, in any street or public place.
N o male minor under 14 years of age, and no female minor, shall be suffered, em­
ployed, or permitted to work at any time as a scavenger, bootblack, or in any
other trade or occupation performed in any street or public place. N o male
minor under 16 years of age, and no female minor, shall engage in any occupation
mentioned in this section before 6 o’clock in the morning, or after 8 o’ clock in the
evening, of any day.85

If the law had been enforced the majority of the newsboys in
Wilkes-Barre would not have been on the streets at all. But the law
required no permit or badge, without which enforcement is practically
impossible (see p. 53); it also made enforcement the joint responsi­
bility of the school-attendance officers, inspectors of the State depart­
ment of labor and industry, and the police, with the result common
in cases of divided responsibility that the law was practically un88 Pa., Acts of 1915, P. L. 286.


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W IL K E S -B A R R E , PA.

heeded,86 and it failed to penalize the newspaper distributor for fur­
nishing papers to minors under the legal age. The law was ambiguous
as to whether it applied to bootblacks working on their own account.
NEWSPAPER SELLERS, BOOTBLACKS, AND MISCELLANEOUS STREET
WORKERS

Table 55 shows the number of newsboys, bootblacks, and boys
engaged in other street work.87 The miscellaneous group consisted
of 17 peddlers, 16 magazine carriers, 7 handbill distributors, 3 boys
delivering newspapers to subscribers whose regular carriers had failed
to leave the papers, 3 magazine sellers, 1 boy operating a peanut
stand, and 1 boy carrying travelers’ handbags.
RACE AND NATIONALITY OF FATHERS

With the exception of 13 newsboys, 6 bootblacks, and 2 in other
street work, the street workers of Wilkes-Barre were American born.
The great majority of the newsboys and almost all the bootblacks,
however, were the children of immigrants,, about one-fourth of each
being Polish, and close to one-third of the bootblacks being Lithu anian, with Italians and Russians fairly well represented among the
bootblacks, and Italians, Russians, and Russian Jews among the
newsboys. (Table 55.) Among those who made up the miscellane­
ous group of street workers most of the peddlers were immigrants’
children, but the magazine sellers and carriers and the handbill
distributors were chiefly of native stock.
T able

5 5 .— R a c e

and nationality of father; boys engaged in certain types of street
work, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
B o y s from 6 t o 15 years of age

N ew sp ap er sellers

B o o tb la ck s

R a c e and n a tion a lity o f father
O thers 1

N um ber

P er cent
distri­
b u tio n

N um ber

167

100.0

75

100.0

48

166

99.4

75

100.0

48

20
133

12.0
79.6

4
69

5.3
92.0

29
16

P o lis h ________
L ith u a n ia n _______ _____
Italia n _______
R u s sia n .
________
R ussian J e w i s h ____
O ther J ew ish _________________________________
O ther foreign b o rn and foreign b o rn not
otherw ise specified __________________________

41
14
21
3
13
6

24.6
8.4
12. 6
1.8
7.8
3.6

20
23
3
7

26.7
30.7
4.0
9.3

3
1
3

35

21.0

16

21.3

9

N a tiv it y n ot r e p o r te d . .................................................

13

7.8

2

2.7

3

1

.6

T o t a l______________________ _____ ______ ____
W h it e ..................................... ..
N a tiv e
__________
F oreign b o r n .
..........................................................

N e g r o .................................................................................

P er cent
distri­
b u tio n

1 P er cen t d istrib u tion n o t sh ow n w h ere base is less th a n 50.
86 A s a result o f a ch ild -la bor con ference held u n d er th e auspices o f th e State dep a rtm en t o f la b o r and
in d u s try and the State dep artm en t o f p u b lic in stru ction in A p ril, 1926, w h ere it w as re com m en d ed that to
con serve the best interests o f the w o rk in g ch ildren the local school officials s h ou ld tak e th e r e s p on sib ility of
enforcing th e street trades la w , an official co m m u n ica tio n urging sch ool officials t o un dertake this w ork
w as transm itted b y th e su p erintendent o f p u b lic in stru ction to th e local school superintendents throu gh
the P en n sylva n ia S chool Journal for June, 1926 (v o l. 74, N o . 10), p . 662.
87 O ne girl s old paper flow ers, a 10-year-old ch ild o f n a tive w h ite parentage, w h ose m oth er, a w id o w , m ade
th e flowers th at she sold . She w o r k e d four hours a w eek o n S aturdays and h a d been w o rk in g tw o m on th s.
T h is girl is not in clu d ed in th e tables.


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K
AGE OF W ORKERS

The newsboys were the youngest of the Wilkes-Barre street workers.
(Table 2, p. 9.) About one-fifth were under 10 years of age, and
about one-half were under 12. Almost equally popular ages for selling
papers appeared to be 10, 11, 12, and 13, but comparatively few
newsboys were 14 or older. The bootblacks, peddlers, and other
street workers were not so likely as newsboys to ply their trades
before they were 10 years old, but they, too, seldom continued at them
after reaching the age of 14. The newsboys themselves believed
that small boys made the best sales. (But see p. 242.) “ M y little
brother sells m ore/’ said one, himself only 11 years old, “ because
people think he is cute,” and a 9-year-old newcomer in the field
declared that he had first gone with an older brother “ for fun,” but
that when he came home “ my brother says to my mother, ‘ He’s
sellin’ ahead of m e/ and I went back.” The fact that many of the
newsboys, peddlers, and bootblacks were from families in which it
was the custom for the boys to leave school for regular work as soon
as the law allowed accounts in large measure for the falling off in their
ranks after the age of 14.
W O R K EXPERIENCE

Many of the boys had had considerable experience in street work.
Forty-four per cent had had from one to five or more other street
jobs than the one at which they were working at the time of the study.
At the time of the interview 19 of the newsboys did bootblacking, and
3 some other kind of street work; 12 of the bootblacks also sold papers,
and 1 carried traveling bags; and 5 of the other street workers had
some other street job, generally selling papers or bootblacking.
A few boys (25) had some other work in addition to their street
jobs, such as delivering merchandise, cleaning offices or stores,
caddying, helping in newspaper offices, or bootblacking at indoor
stands. About one-fifth of all the boys had had some work experience
other than street work, the majority in one job.
Possibly many boys try selling papers or shining shoes and finding
that they are not attracted by the work, or are not successful in it,
give it up after a few weeks. As the Children’s Bureau study in­
cluded none who had not worked at least one month, such transient
workers are not represented. Three-fifths of the newsboys had held
the street jobs that they held when interviewed at least one year,
two-fifths for at least two years, and one-fifth for at least three years.
(Table 56.) A few had worked for five or six years or longer. Boot­
blacks had had a somewhat longer experience in street work than
newsboys.


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W IL K E S -B A R R E , P A ,

T a b l e 56.— Previous duration of job held at date of interview, by age period; news­
paper sellers and bootblacks, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

B o y s from 6 t o 15 years o f age

10 years,
u n der 12

T o ta l
P revious du ration o f jo b h eld at date
o f in terview

12 years,
u n d e r 14

14
U nder
A ge
years,
P er
10
P er
P er
n o t re­
u
n
der
p o rte d 1
N u m ­ cent y e a r s 1 N u m ­ cent N u m ­ cent
16
i
dis­
dis­
dis­
ber
ber
ber
trib u ­
tribu ­
trib u ­
tio n
tion
tion

NEWSPAPER SELLERS

T o t a l........................................................

167

35

52

165

100.0

34

51

100.0

55

100.0

23

66

40.0

21

20

39.2

17

30.9

7

1

L ess th an 6 m o n th s ...................... .

54

32.7

18

17

33.3

13

23.6

5

1

Less th an 2 m o n t h s ..............
2 m on th s, less than 4 _______
4 m on th s, less th an 6________

23
25
6

13.9
15.2
3.6

7
8
3

8
9

15.7
17.6

4
6
3

7.3
10.9
5.5

3
2

1

T o ta l rep orted _________________
L ess th an 1 y e a r .______________

55

23

6 m on th s ,less than 1 y e a r . . .........

12

7.3

3

3

5.9

4

7.3

1 year, less than 2 ..... .............. .. . . .
2 years, less th an 3 ..................................
3 years a n d o v e r _______ _____ _____

32
32
35

19.4
19.4
21.2

6
6
1

9
11
11

17.6
21. 6
21.6

14
11
13

25 5

1

1

2 .0

N o t re p o r te d ______________________

2

20 O

23! 6

0

2

2
3
4
9

1

BOOTBLACKS

T o t a l_____________________________

75

100. 0

7

28

28

24

32. 0

5

11

5

L ess th a n 6 m o n t h s ................................

20

26.7

4

9

4

L ess th an 2 m on th s ........................
2 m on th s, less th a n 4 ___
4 m on th s, less th an 6 .....................

5
10
5

6.7
13.3
6.7

i

1
3

3
5
1

4

• 5.3

1

2

1

12
19
20

16.0
25.3
26. 7

1
1

5
8
4

3
8
12

Less th an 1 yea r________________

6 m on th s, less th an 1 y e a r____
1 year, less th an 2 ..............................
2 years, less th an 3.....................
3 years a n d o v e r ____________

i1

10

1
1
1

3

1 P er cen t d istrib u tion n o t sh o w n w h ere base is less th an 50.

The most common age among the Wilkes-Barre boys for beginning
street work was 9, and the next most common ages, 8 and 10 years.
Only 18 per cent had begun when they were as old as 12, and only 3
per cent (10 boys), when they were 14 or 15 years of age.
CONDITIONS OF W ORK

Organization of newspaper distribution.

Wilkes-Barre had two evening newspapers, one morning daily,
and two Sunday papers, besides a number of foreign-language
papers. Most of the newsboys sold one of the evening papers, a
few sold the other evening paper, either as their only stock or as one
of several, and fewer still sold the morning paper. The foreignlanguage papers were delivered to subscribers either by mail or by
carriers. Only the Sunday papers— both the local ones and the
Sunday editions of New York, Philadelphia, Scranton, and other
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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

out-of-town papers— vied in popularity among the boys with the
evening paper that the majority of them sold.
As a small city Wilkes-Barre escaped many of the distribution
problems that have been found to react unfavorably on the news­
boys m larger cities. The intense and.often bitter competition that
tne existence of rival newspapers creates was lacking, there was no
assigning of boys to special locations, no struggle for desirable
corners, dther by purchase or by force, no special privileges were
to be had, and therefore there was no occasion to pay or bribe supply
men for privileges, and no substations or branch offices existed such
as are necessary m large cities, sometimes in questionable parts of
t * e c ity or under the supervision of unsuitable persons.
i hree men handled the distribution of all the papers that had
anything more than negligible street sales. One of these was the
distribution agent for both the principal evening paper and one of the
local ounday papers, another handled the distribution of the morning
paper, and the third was the agent for out-of-town papers and the
other local Sunday paper. This third agent was a middle-aged man
with a family, who was said by one of the Wilkes-Barre social workers
to have good control over the boys who sold for him. The other two
were younger men, but they had been in the employ of their respective papers for some years. No complaint of any kind was made of
i ° f , theSeime^ ky either boys or others in discussing street work
from the angle of newspaper distribution. Some older men and boys
sold papers on the streets, chiefly editions issued during the day
y°^nger newsboys were in school, and newsboys came into
httie contact with them. The one regular street news stand, the
permit for which had been granted only after the passage of a special
ordinance, was conducted by a cripple, who according to his own
story, had begun to peddle at the age of 12, -peddled cheap jewelry
up one side of the Hudson and down the other,” had spent several
yearn on the Bowery m New York, and had known “ the racing gang
at Saratoga.
He was apparently well thought of in th e'com ­
munity, which had given him a wheel chair in which to go to and from
his news stand.
The boys were obliged to call for the local daily papers at the main
offices down town and at the agent’s office down town for out-oftown and Sunday papers. The distributing rooms varied in size
and character from a good-sized cheerful office room entered from the
street to a rather dark and dingy basement with an alley entrance.
One of these was
the paper that most of the boys sold. The boys selling this paper
collected as soon as school was over m order to get good numbers for
t e line-up, and as the distributing hour drew near the room was
overflowing with boys, who were crowded out of the basement into
the open spaces and the alley behind the building. The boys waiting
lor the paper to come from press were in a continual hubbub, jostling,
L ° r gl Sh0U
^ g h m g , and calling to each other, but according
to the boys themselves there was “ hardly any fighting.” Pennv
f ap games, however, were carried on in the distributing
alleys, though one of the newspaper managers declared that the
-w f
round of these alleys at distribution time and
had the boys pretty well scared so that they did not do much
penny shooting.
Whether the amount of petty gambling that went

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W IL K E S-B A R R E , P A.

233

on in the alleys was more or less than is indulged in by schoolboys
of a similar type in general is open to question. Certainly school­
boys were sometimes seen “ pitching pennies” on the vacant lots
around the city. But as has been pointed out in other reports on the
subject of street trades, the fact that the newsboy usually has more
money in his pocket than the average nonearning boy gives him
more opportunity to indulge in this form of excitement.
As soon as the boys received their papers they rushed out to the
square or its adjacent streets to begin selling. They had no occasion
to return to the office after they had sold their papers, for cash
payment was the rule for the daily papers.
Newsboys did not sleep or spend the night at the newspaper
offices or in the alleys, but some boys spent Saturday night at the
office of the distributing agent for the Sunday papers. According
to the agent these boys were all “ inserters” (that is, boys who put
the “ mains” or news sections, “ seconds,” or editorials, and the
magazine sections into the “ comics” ), but a few street sellers said
that they spent Saturday nights at the agent’s in order to get their
Sunday papers early, and several were found to be staying there
who were not engaged in inserting. A representative of the Children’s
Bureau with the consent of the newspaper agent spent one Saturday
night in this distributing room. Besides the newspaper agent in
charge, two men were directing the work, and a group of seven young
men (about 20 years old) were inserting. Some of the inserters were
clerks working for extra money, but others had no regular employ­
ment. In addition to the men three boys inserted. At 1.30 a. m.
six boys were spending the night, and some came in later. The
night’s work started about 2 a. m., when out-of-town papers were
brought from the train, and the men and boys began to insert and
to make up orders. While the work was in progress much joking
was carried on and swearing was common, but no vulgar or immoral
conversation was heard. No one attempted to sleep during the night,
but about 7.30 a. m. two boys around 10 years of age were seen curled
up asleep on some old bags. Carriers and newsboys began to arrive
before 6 o’clock, and shortly after 6 these left with their wagonloads
of papers. M ost of the boys who spent the night said that they went
to sleep as soon as they reached home or “ slept all Sunday after­
noon.”
Street life.

All except eight of the newsboys and two of the bootblacks worked
down town in the business district, chiefly in and around the Public
Square, though a number of boys sold papers or did shoe shining up
and down a tawdry business street on which were located many of
the poolrooms of the city. The eight newsboys selling in residential
streets sold only on Saturday or Sunday, and the two bootblacks
worked only once a week. The boys who really made a business of
street work, and many who may have used the street work chiefly as
an escape to freedom and adventure, went down town.
The square was no doubt a fascinating place to the boys, both day
and night (see p. 226). As an 8-year-old newsboy said, “ M y brothers
learned me. It’s good a-goin’ sellin’, they says.” Although some of
the boys had no time between sales or between shines to play, no one
watching them, especially on Saturdays, when the square was alive

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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

with small boys, could fail to see that for many the life of the square
satisfied their instinct for play, companionship, and continual change
and excitement. The newsboy and bootblack are supervised only
by the public, but, though the public which employs them generally
takes but little responsibility for them, in a place like the WilkesBarre Public Square this supervision affords the boys the maximum
amount of safety of which it is capable. Even so, parents and others
expressed their fear and disapproval of the associations that the boys
made on the streets and the bad habits that they formed. Among;
parents whose children worked on the streets such remarks as “ They
learn bad habits, climb street cars, and hear bad language,” “ They
get in with bad boys who steal,” “ It makes the boy dishonest,”
“ He learns to steal and smoke,” “ There are bad boys among the
newsboys,” “ It gets them into mischief,” were very common.
Parents of boys mother street work than selling papers (for example,
those whose sons had regular newspaper routes or carried magazines
or distributed handbills) frequently expressed the opinion that while
they approved of the work their boys were doing they were much
opposed to selling papers because of the street influences. A police­
man whose boy carried an evening paper said that the boys on the
streets learned too much that was not good for them. A mother
whose 14-year-old boy distributed handbills for a grocer once or twice
a week said when asked if she would like to have her boy sell on the
down-town streets, “ Not nohow, I ’d rather go out myself.” A
Polish father would not let his boy sell. “ Boys get spoiled down­
town— too much bumming around,” he said, and others made such
remarks as “ They learn to steal on the streets,”. “ Selling on the
square makes boys too bold,” or “ It makes them little bums.”
Many newsboys and bootblacks worked around hotels and in and
outside of poolrooms. The chief of police reported that several
poolroom owners had asked him to keep boys out of their establish­
ments and that when they went in they did not stay long. An
Italian priest told of a poolroom owner who had asked his advice in
regard to a newsboy who he said used to come to the poolroom every
night and stay until after 2 o ’clock in the morning, when he “ chased
him out.” The same priest told also of finding two other boys,
members of his parish, selling newspapers in the doorway of a dis­
reputable hotel, and of their carrying notes for women in the hotel.
The boys were attracted by the lights and warmth of the poolrooms,
particularly on cold nights. “ Drunks ” were considered fair prey; one
boy explaining the profitableness of late hours on Saturday night,
said that bootblacks got “ lots of shines from drunks.”
A bad feature of street life for some of the boys was their irregular
meals. Some never ate supper, others had no supper on Saturdays,
when they were down town all day until late in the evening. More,
however, bought a meal on the square. They bought such food as
boys would be likely to buy; “ hot dogs and coffee,” or “ hot dogs,
coffee, and pie ” were almost universally favorite meals, though
“ pretzels or stale cakes ” or “ hot dogs, candy, or soda ” were indulged
in. “ I get six pieces of bread, coffee, and hot dogs for 20 cents,”
said an 11-year-old bootblack speaking of his Saturday lunch. But
though most of those who bought meals down town bought only
their Saturday supper or lunch, some boys had their evening meal
down town several times a week or every night. An 11-year-old

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W IL K E S -B A R R E , P A.

235

boy who sold newspapers every night, usually until 8 or later, had no'
regular supper, but bought “ a nickel’s worth of cakes ” when he felt
hungry. • A 13-year-old bootblack shining shoes inside barber shops1
'
down town until 8 o ’clock on school nights and 12 o ’clock on Satur­
days bought “ cakes for about 10 cents a day. It is easier to do that
than to go home.” No doubt the excitement of selling often dulls
the pangs of hunger or completely takes away the appetite. A.
newsboy who bought his supper down town on Saturday night said
that he did not want anything to eat after he got home other nights.
Another 12-year-old newsboy who was out selling until 8, 9, 10, and
11 on school nights said that he never ate more than one meal a day,
though he “ sometimes bought hot dogs.” Some boys took a lunch
in their blacking box or had their meals brought down by their sisters
or younger brothers. Many of the boys who had their meals at
home had to eat alone, usually a cold supper, though some mothers
“ kept it hot.” An 8-year-old newsboy who sold until 9 every school
night and who looked sleepy and tired said that he ate his supper
after he got home, and studied his lessons, spelling and arithmetic,
after that.
.
Some of the newsboys selling mornmg papers sold papers several
hours before having anything to eat, and a few ate no breakfast.
A 10-year-old Italian boy said, “ Sometimes I don t have any break­
fast and sometimes I get it myself” ; and another, aged 12, who rose
every morning about 3.30 and sold papers until 8 and who had been
selling papers since he was 5 years of age said that he went to school
without breakfast if he got “ stuck with his papers.
It was reported that boys going into cafés to sell would be offered
tarsomething to eat by the patrons. “ Hey, kid, want a piece o’ pie?
they would be asked. “ Why, a lot of boys, declared the news­
stand keeper, “ get fed better down here than at home.” This was
undoubtedly true in some cases. In regard also to the popularity of
coffee among these boys it should be remembered that most of them
came from homes where it was customary for children as well as
adults to drink as much coffee as they liked; on the other hand, the
effort to keep alert and energetic up to a late hour on empty stomachs
or nourished only by u &few pretzels?? probably increased the temptation to indulge in excessive coffee drinking.
REGULARITY OP W ORK

Half the newsboys (86) sold papers at least five school days and
Saturday, including 10 who sold every day in the week. Saturday
was the great day for bootblacks. Half of them worked only on
Saturday, and only 3 did not work on Saturday. However, 15
bootblacks worked at least three school days m addition in most
cases to Saturday and in a few cases to Sunday; and 22 worked one or
two school days in addition generally to Saturday, or more rarefy,
to Sunday. The majority of the boys in the miscellaneous group of
street workers worked only once or twice a week,^ generally after
school; some, most of whom were peddlers, worked m the mornmg,
generally only on Saturday.
.

HOURS OF W ORK

■

M ost of the boys selling the daily morning paper (11 of the 19)
began working before 5 a. m. The papers were not given out until
4.30, but ambitious boys arrived at the office as early as 4 o clock m


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

order to get ahead of the others. All the daily morning sellers sold
at least 1Yi hours, and all those who began before 5 o’clock sold
from ^ to 4^2 hours before rushing off to school, sometimes without
their breakfast (see p. 235); 10 (of whom 3 were under 12) of the 19
daily morning newsboys sold papers both morning and afternoon.
On Sunday mornings the newsboys did not find it necessary to be out
on the streets so early as during the week; the majority of the 27
boys selling papers on Sunday mornings did not begin until at least
6 o’clock, and as a rule the morning was well advanced before the
papers were seen spread out in piles on the sidewalk around the
square. Four boys began selling before 5 o’clock even on Sunday
mornings, however. One of these, an 11-year-old Jewish boy with a
school standing of 66 and a deportment mark of 70 habitually spent
Saturday nights at the newspaper agent’s office sleeping on papers on
the floor, and another, 12 years of age, insisted that he stayed out
all night and until 3 o’clock Sunday morning selling Sunday papers,
though his mother said he was “ seldom out until 3 a. m .”
Boys who sold the evening dailies usually stopped selling before
8 o ’clock on school nights, but 22 sold until at least 8 o ’clock. Sat­
urday hours were later. The majority of the newsboys selling on
Saturday afternoons and evenings sold until at least 8 o ’clock, and
24 boys (18 per cent), of whom 7 were under 12 and only 3 were
14 or 15 years of age, reported selling until 8 p. m. or later. Just
before 11 one Saturday night in November, 31 newsboys were counted
in the square and the adjacent streets, most of them selling New
York Sunday papers to the Saturday-night crowds.
Typical of the group of newsboys who kept late hours were two
12-year-old boys, each of whom had sold papers from the age of 7. ~g§
One of these boys sold from 4 or 5 in the afternoon until 8, 9, 10,
or 11 o ’clock school nights, until midnight Saturdays, and almost
all day Sunday; in spite of the fact that he said he ate but one meal
a day he did fairly good school work and was satisfactory in deport­
ment. The other boy, a Syrian, stayed out selling on Saturdays
until 11 p. m. His mother said that he was a good boy but that
she was afraid of the influence of the streets, as the boy’s brother
had been sent the year before to reform school for staying out all
night. The family was fairly prosperous, and the boy, who earned
$8 a week selling papers, had $300 in the savings bank. Among
the younger newsboys who stayed out late was an 8-year-old child
who said that his older brother, a bootblack, stayed out with him
until 12 o ’clock Saturdays, adding that the “ police didn’t bother
them.” A few of the boys who stayed out until 11 or 12 o ’clock
Saturday nights spent the remainder of the night at the newspaper
agent’s distributing room. Among those who sometimes did this
was a 12-year-old high-school boy. Ordinarily he sold until 12 on
Saturday nights, but when he went to the agent’s to help insert he
stopped selling on the streets about 11, slept at the agent’s on a
bed of bags covered with coats until about 2 a. m., and then worked
until 4.30; he slept again until 6 and then gave out papers, after
which he went to sleep again until 8 or so, when he started out on
his Sunday-morning selling.
Late hours were the rule for the bootblacks. Those who did the W
work most regularly (that is, some school days and almost invariably
Saturdays) did not stop work usually before 8 and often worked

23


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WILKES-BARRE, PA.

237

until 9 on school days as well as Saturdays; almost half those who
worked only on Saturdays did not stop until 9 or later. On Satur­
day evenings bootblacks were all over the square, some strolling in
among the crowds with apparent aimlessness, others begging the
m people sitting on the benches for shines. Some of them were out
* until 11 or 12. At 11.20 one Saturday night a little bootblack, who
gave his age as 9 years, was seen at one of the railroad stations. A
few boys stayed out all Saturday night. Of the five who reported
bootblacking on Sunday, three stayed out all night. One of these,
a 15-year-old boy whose father was dead, helped to support his
family by bootblacking from half-past 11 Saturday night until half
past 6 Sunday morning; he had not begun to shine shoes until he
was 13, and possibly this accounts for the fact that his deportment
and school standing in the fourth grade were fairly good. A 12-yearold boy who had been bootblacking for two years and whose deport­
ment and school standing were poor, stayed out all Saturday night
getting shines from “ drunks” ; he said he would not do it when it
got cold (it was then November). A 13-year-old boy who had been
shining shoes for four years went out with his blacking box about
11 Saturday night and stayed out until Sunday at 9 a. m.; he made
$2.35 a week, of which he got 5 cents a week for a show. His father
said, “ Seven children too heavy for me, so the boy works.” Staying
out after 9 on school nights was less common than on Saturday
nights, though sometimes even the younger ones did it. A 10-yearold boy usually stayed out until 10 o ’clock on school days blacking
shoes around pool rooms. He earned $3 a week at bootblacking,
all of which he gave to his mother, though he received back a “ nickel
on Sunday.” He said, however, that his mother tried to prevent
W him from shining shoes, but he thought it was fun to do it. He
used to carry satchels, he said, but had not done so regularly since
he “ got run in ” for it. He smoked and had been a truant, and
both his scholarship and his behavior in school were poor.
The street-trades section of the State child labor law (see p. 228)
prohibited boys under 16 from engaging in any street occupation
before 6 a. m. or after 8 p. m.; but this provision, like the provision
as to the age at which children might engage in the various types
of street trading, was not enforced in Wilkes-Barre. A curfew
ordinance authorized the police to arrest children under 14 who
were on the streets alone after 9 p . m . Now and then the police
made an attempt to send home the newsboys and bootblacks whom
they found working after 9 o ’clock at night. Such a “ clean u p ”
was said to be in progress at the time of the study, but for the most
part the regulation seemed to be disregarded.
Not only did many boys work at undesirable hours when they
should have been at home in bed, but many also worked such long
hours that overfatigue and po6r school work were bound to result,
to say nothing of the fact that the longer the exposure to the influences
of the street (admittedly not of the best even if it can be conceded
that they were not all evil) the greater the chances of their leaving
a permanent impression.
A large proportion of the newsboys of Wilkes-Barre worked more
^
than two hours a day. Of the 108 who did no other street work
^
except selling papers and who worked on school days and reported
their hours of work, 69 worked two hours or more a day and 36

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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

worked at least three hours. Many of the boys working the longer
hours were under 12 and even under 10 years of age. (Table 57.)
Some of them, however, were high-school boys who, because school
was dismissed early in the afternoon could sell the early editions of
the evening papers several hours before supper. Among these highschool sellers was one 14-year-old boy who sold papers every schoolday afternoon from 2.30 to 8. For a number of boys the long hours
were the result of selling both morning and evening papers. Some
of these children, 10, 11, and 12 years old, beginning at 4 or 4.30 in
the morning were out until after 7 at night.
T a b l e 57.— Number of hours of street work on a typical school day, by age period;

newspaper sellers and bootblacks holding a single job, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Boys from 6 to 15 years of age
Number of hours of street work on a typical
school day

Total
10
Under years,
10
Per
cent
under
Num­
distri­ years1 12i
ber
bution

12
years,
under
14i

14
Age
years,
under not re­
ported!
16i

NEWSPAPER SELLERS

145

33

44

46

20

2

Street work on school days_________________

109

24

32

37

14

2

Total reported_____________ _____ _____

108

100.0

23

32

37

14

2

Less than 1 hour__________________
1 hour, less than 2__ _____ _________
2 hours, less than 3________________
3 hours, less than 5
_____________
5 hours and over___________________

4
35
33
27
9

3.7
32.4
30.6
25.0
8.3

9
5
8
1

2
6
16
7
1

2
13
11
6
5

Not reported..............................................

1

1

No street work on school days_____________

36

9

12

9

7
4

2

2

BOOTBLACKS

Total.......................................................

62

7

21

23

9

Street work on school d a y s............... .............

27

5

8

7

5

2

26

5

8

7

4

2

i
6
17
2

3
1
1

2

2

13

Total reported___________ ____________
1 hour, less than 2...............................
2 hours, less than 3_ ______________
3 hours, less than 5 _____ _________
5 hours and over__________________
Not reported.......................................... __

1

No street work on school days_____________

35

1
1

16

4

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

Only 27 bootblacks who did no other street work worked on school
days; 19 of these, of whom 8 were under 12 years, worked at least
three hours on a typical school day.
On Saturdays the boys were often out on the street selling or shining
all day long. One hundred and twenty-six newsboys doing no other
street work worked on Saturdays; 94 per cent worked at least two
hours, 86 per cent at least three hours, and 56 per cent at least five
hours. More than half the boys selling papers at least five hours on
Saturdays were under 12 years of age. (Table 58.) Sixty-one boot­
blacks whose only occupation was shoe shining worked on Saturday;
47 worked at least three hours and 34 at least five hours.

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WILKES-BARRE, PA.

Comparatively few of either the newsboys or the bootblacks
worked on Sundays— only 25 of the newsboys and only 3 of the
bootblacks who did no other street work. Fourteen of the Sunday
newspaper sellers and all the Sunday bootblacks worked at least five
hours on Sunday.
T a b l e 58.— Number of hours of street work on a typical Saturday, by age period;
newspaper sellers and bootblacks holding a single job, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Boys from 6 to 15 years of age

Number of hours of street work on a typical
Saturday

Total
10
Under years,
10
under
Per
cent
Num­ distri­ years1 12 i
ber
bution

12
years,
under
14 i

14
Age
years, not
re­
under ported
1
16 1

NEWSPAPER SELLERS

145

33

44

46

20

126

30

39

39

16

2
2

Total reported____________ _____ ______

123

100.0

30

37

38

16

.8
5.7
7.3
30.1
56.1

1
5
9
15

1
1
3
9
23

3
1
10
24

2

5 hours and over..... ................ ...........

1
7
9
37
69

2

1

3

9
5

19

3

5

7

4

2

2

BOOTBLACKS

Total_______________________________

62

7

21

23

9

2

Street work on Saturday................................

61

6

21

23

9

2

Total reported________________________

60

100.0

6

21

22

9

2

5 hours and o v e r..._____ ___________

1
1
11
13
34

1.7
1.7
18.3
21.7
56.7

2
4

1
1

6
5
10

1
2
4
15

1
1
3
4

1
1

1
1

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

The hours of work a week give a more accurate picture of the extent
of the street life among the Wilkes-Barre street workers than do the
daily hours, as many of the boys did not work every day. (See p. 235.)
The weekly hours in individual cases were such as to show that the
boy’s occupation was making heavy demands on his energies, as well
as eating into time that he probably needed to keep up with his
studies, even admitting, for the moment, that he had sufficient exer­
cise and recreation.
Of the 145 newsboys who did no other street work than selling papers
the groups that worked between 4 and 8 hours and between 8 and 12
hours were the largest, although almost as large a number worked
between 12 and 16 hours. However, 50 newsboys (36 per cent)
worked from 16 to 36 hours or more. Altogether, 22 boys (16 per
cent), of whom 8 were under 12 and only 4 were 14 or 15, worked at
least .24 hours a week in addition to about 25 hours of school.
Younger newsboys worked almost as long hours as older ones. About

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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

half the boys of each age group worked 12 hours or longer— 52 per
cent of those 12 years of age or over, 49 per cent of those under 12,
and 45 per cent of those under 10. The proportions of the different
age groups working at least 24 hours a week varied more widely— 20
per cent of those 12 years of age or over, 11 per cent of those under 12, 0
and 12 per cent of those under 10.88 Some of those who worked long
hours sold papers before and after school; more sold only in the after­
noons, but worked all day Saturdays and until 8 or 9 on school days.
A 15-year-old boy sold 5 or 6 hours every school day and more than
7 hours on Saturdays. An 11-year-old boy worked more than 10
hours on Saturdays and 3 or 4 hours every school day; another,
aged 12, sold 5% to 7 hours on school days and 13 hours on Satur­
days. Nine of the 22 newsboys working these long hours had been
before the juvenile court, and boys working 24 hours or more a week
were more retarded in school than those working fewer hours. (See
p. 252.)
Among the 22 newsboys who also did some other kind of work,
chiefly bootblacking, the distribution of hours was about the same;
5 worked between 28 and 36 hours a week, and of these, 3 had been
before the juvenile court or had been in the reform school for truancy.
(See also pp. 250-251.)
Bootblacks worked shorter hours than newsboys. The largest
numbers of the 62 not doing any other kind of street work worked
between 4 and 8 hours or between 8 and 12 hours a week, but almost
as many worked less than 4 hours. Only 18 (30 per cent) worked 12
hours or more, though a very few worked between 24 and 36 hours
a week. The bootblacks who did some other kind of street work,
usually selling papers, had somewhat longer hours. Four wqrked 0
between 28 and 36 hours a week, and of these, two had juvenile-court
records.
The boys doing other kinds of street work, such as peddling or
selling or delivering magazines, worked only a few hours a week.
More than half the 43 having only one street job spent less than 4
hours a week on their jobs, and only 7, chiefly peddlers, worked as
much as 8 hours a week. Even of the 5 boys who had some other
street work in addition to their principal job (most of these sold
papers) all except 1 worked less than 8 hours a week.
EARNINGS

Most of the workers were able to estimate the amount of their
earnings in an average week, including the tips that they had received,
though a few, either because they worked with another boy (or as
one of them said, had “ gone into a corporation” ) or for some other
reason, were not certain what their weekly earnings usually were.
Among those who did not do any street work except sell papers,
the majority (60 per cent) reporting what they made earned less than
$2 a week, and a large proportion (31 per cent) made less than $1.
But a number of the boys made $2 or more a week. (Table 59.)
Investigators of the problem of juvenile street trades quite generally
emphasize how little the newsboy earns, and many among those in­
terviewed in Wilkes-Barre were inclined to refer to “ the newsboys’ ^JL
pittance ” ; even needy parents sometimes exclaimed of their children’s w
88 The number of boys in the different age groups on which these percentages are based is small; 33 boys
were under 10 years of age, 73 under 12, and 65,12 years or over.


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W IL K E S-B A R R E , BA.

earnings, “ What is that for all that work?” The earnings were
indeed small when the time and energy expended and the ill effects
of the work are considered. But aside from this consideration $2 or
S3 a week must have seemed a large amount in many of the house­
holds, especially under the industrial conditions in Wilkes-Barre at
the time this study was made (see pp. 243,244). Very few boys made
S5 or more a week from paper selling— the amount frequently given
by committees granting scholarships to enable children to continue
in school. An 11-year-old Syrian boy made $8 selling chiefly in
lunch rooms and pool rooms, from 2% to 4 hours on school days, 9
hours on Saturdays, and all Sunday morning. A 14-year-old boy
with six years’ experience in paper selling made $11.30 a week,
though he never worked after 7 in the evening. “ Other guys call me
the profiteer,” he said. “ I make most money of anybody and never
bother to stay out nights.” For most boys, however, the hours
counted. Except for a few evidently not very successful sellers, who
spent 16 or even 20 hours or more on the streets and earned less than
$1, earnings increased with the number of hours spent at work; 80
per cent of those reporting earnings who spent less than 12 hours at
their jobs made less than $2 a week, and only 2 of the 16 working at
least 24 hours made less than $2. A few of the newsboys having
another street job made $5 or $6 at all their street work, and one
made $8, but about the same proportion made less than $2 a week
as among those who confined their activities to selling papers.
T a b l e 59.— Earnings during a typical week, by number of hours engaged; news-

paper sellers and bootblacks holding a single job, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Boys from 6 to IS years of age
Working specified number of
hours per week

Total
Earnings during a typical week

Less than 12
hours

12
hours,
cent
Num­ Per
less
distri­
ber
bution Num­ Per cent than
24i
distri­
ber
bution

Hours
not re­
24
ported *
hours,
and
over i

NEWSPAPER SELLERS

Total______________________________
Total reported.................................................

$1, less than $2__.......................................
$2, less than $3....................................
$3, less than $4.......... .............................
$4 and over____________ _____ ________

14S
124
5
13
21
35
25
11
14
21

100.0
4.0
10.5
16.9
28.2
20.2
8.9
11.3

62
57
7
17
21
7'
3
2
5

100.0
12.3
29.8
36.8
12.3
5.3
3.5

BOOTBLACKS

Total.....................................................
Total reported___________________________

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.


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68
59
5
11
14
17
7
3
2
9
42
40
7
15
16
2
2

100.0
8.5
18.6
23.7
28.8
11.9
5.1
3.4

50
44

22
16

5
5

2
7
14
15
3
3
6

2
2
4
8
6

2
1
1
1

14
11

4
4

2
2

1
4
5
1
3

1
1
2
1

1

242

Ch i l d r e n

in

street

w ork

The youngest sellers, contrary to popular opinion, earned the least,
though they worked almost as many hours a week as older boys.
Eighteen of the 33 newsboys under 10 years of age made less than
$1, compared with 9 of the 44 between 10 and 12, 7 of the 46 between
12 and 14, and 4 of the 20 who were 14 or 15 years of age; only 4 of
the newsboys under 12 years of age made $3 or more, compared with
13 of the boys between 12 and 14, and 8 of those 14 or 15. The
numbers are too small, however, to be conclusive.
Bootblacks earned less than newsboys, though several of the
former said they had given up selling because there was more money
in “ shines.” Fifty-seven boys who did no other street work except
bootblacking reported the amount of their earnings; 45 of these
made less than $2 a week, and only 1 (a 14-year-old boy) made as
much as $5. As with the newsboys, the bootblack’s earnings
increased with the amount of time he spent on the street. Some of
the bootblacks complained that selling was “ too hard” or “ too
much trouble.” Only a few of the boys doing other street work
than selling papers or bootblacking made as much as $1 a week,
even when they had several jobs. M ost of those who made $1 or
more were peddlers, though a 12-year-old boy made 75 cents a week
carrying traveling bags and about $2 selling papers and bootblacking.
Both newsboys and bootblacks said that part of their earnings
were in tips. A 12-year-old newsboy said that SI.50 of his week’s
earnings of S3.53 (for which he spent more than 40 hours on the
streets and was out until 12 o ’clock Saturday night) came from this
source. On the other hand, 43 newsboys and 26 bootblacks did not
receive tips. Older boys were more likely to receive tips than the
younger ones— thus 26 of the 75 newsboys under 12 years of age
reporting on tips said that they did not receive them, whereas only
17 of the 74 who were 12 or over had not received tips; and among
the bootblacks, 14 of the 30 under 12 reporting, but only 12 of the
34 who were 12 years or over, had not received tips. One-third of
the 30 newsboys under 10 reporting and 3 of the 6 bootblacks under
10 received no tips. The boys themselves, however, maintained
that the little boys were the ones who generally received tips—
perhaps because of a few striking instances which stuck in their
memories. A 14-year-old newsboy said that he got tips perhaps
three times a week, but “ they give them to little children more than
m e,” and a small, attractive 8-year-old boy told the investigator,
“ I get lots of tips. M y brother’s too big— he don’t get much.”
Tips were more likely to be given late at night, especially on
Saturday night, than at other times, thus proving a temptation-’ to
the boys to sell or shine at undesirable hours. A 15-year-old bootblack said that he made more money on Saturday because of tips
and that few tips were given during the week. A 10-year-old news­
boy doubled his earnings on Saturday because of tips. A 12-year-old
newsboy who reported staying out until 3 a. m. Sunday mornings
said that he generally got tips Saturday night and early Sunday
morning. The bootblacks usually charged 10 cents a shine, but
some of them said that some customers gave them as much as 15
cents or even 25 cents a shine. A very small 8-year-old boy in the
second grade who had been a newsboy and bootblack from the age


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W IL K E S -B A R R E ,

BA.

243

of 6 said, “ I make more money shining. Late at night men going
home with dirty shoes want a shine and give big tips— I charge a
dime but they give me a quarter. ”
N E E D F O R E A R N IN G S

An attempt was made to discover the actual economic status of
the street workers’ families. (See p. 28.) But this task, always a
difficult one, was found virtually impossible in the present study
owing to the industrial situation in Wilkes-Barre in 1922. The
nation-wide seven-craft strike of the railway shopmen (the most
extensive and complete tie-up of that branch of the railroad industry
that the United States had ever experienced) began in July, 1922,
and was only partly settled when the study started in October;
and the anthracite miners’ strike of that year— beginning April 1—
had lasted into September.
As in other surveys of street workers, it was found that the great
majority (81 per cent) of the boys were in families in which both
father and mother were present and the father supported the family.
The proportion of boys from families in which this was not the case
was 17 per cent for newsboys, 25 per cent for bootblacks, and 19
per cent for other street traders. Forty-five boys had lost their own
fathers by death or otherwise; as only 13 of these had stepfathers, 32
boys (11 per cent) might fairly be regarded as coming from widowed
or fatherless families.
The mother was the chief breadwinner in the families of 6 boys;
brothers, sisters, or other relatives took care of the other fatherless
families, and 3 boys, though they had fathers at home, were in
families supported by older brothers.
The street-trading boys were predominantly from the families of
miners; the chief breadwinners in the families of 48 per cent of the
newsboys and 76 per cent of the bootblacks were working in the
mines, though only 23 per cent of the male workers of Wilkes-Barre
were in the mining industry.89 In fact, only 3 or 4 of the bootblacks
had fathers in any other one kind of work. Not only had many of
the wage earners in the street traders’ families been directly affected
by both strikes but many of those in other than mining or railroad
occupations also (an unusually large proportion were storekeepers or
otherwise engaged in trade) had been indirectly affected by the
strikes.
Visits were made to 103 families, in which were 139, or almost
half the street workers (other than newspaper carriers) included in
the study, and for these families additional information was obtained.
During the year preceding the visit only 22 (22 per cent) of the
96 chief breadwinners in the families visited reporting on unemploy­
ment, had had regular employment. Forty-seven had been unem­
ployed at least five months and 34 had been unemployed six months
or longer. The majority (53) of the 88 families from which a
report was obtained on the chief breadwinner’s earnings had made
less than $850 during the year. In these poorer families, so far as
the small numbers involved may be trusted as an indication, boys
were twice as likely to go into street work under the age of 10 as
boys whose fathers earned at least $1,250 a year.
« Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. IV, Population, Occupations, p. 331.


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

In many of the families the chief breadwinners’ earnings had been
supplemented by earnings of wives and of children old enough to go
to work. Excluding mothers who were the chief breadwinners in
their families, the mothers of 28 (10 per cent) of the street traders
worked (not including mothers who kept boarders or lodgers), usually
cleaning or doing laundry work. The proportion is about the same as
that (9 per cent) of white families in which-the wife worked included
in the study of family incomes of more than 12,000 white wage
earners and small-salaried men made by the United States Bureau of
Labor Statistics in 1919.90 All except 5 of the street workers whose
mothers worked had fathers in the home. In spite of the assistance
of wives and children, however, the family income from earnings,
including the earnings of the street workers themselves, was less than
$1,250 in 49 of the 85 families reporting on this point, considerably
less than the average family earnings ($1,455) in the white families
included in the study made by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.91
(See footnote 10, p. 83. The earnings of the chief breadwinners of
the street workers were of approximately the year 1922.) Moreover,
the average number of persons per family in the street workers’
families was 7.2, whereas in the Bureau of Labor Statistics study the
average was only 4.9 persons per family. The street traders were in
unusually large families. The average number of children under 14
years of age in a family was approximately 4, but 41 of the 103
families visited had at least five children under 14.
The long-continued unemployment probably accounts to some
extent for the comparatively large proportion of families, as compared
with that found in some surveys of street workers (see pp. 30-31)
applying for relief. Nineteen families (in which were 24 boys, 8 per
cent of the total number) had received some form of public aid,
including free nursing care, in 1921 or 1922. Four of these had
received aid from the needy-families fund, organized during the strike
to assist miners’ families (owing to the fact that the strike was tech­
nically a “ suspension,” strike benefits were not given), and three
families in which the father was out of work had been assisted by the
local poor board or by the United Charities. Ten of the remaining
12 families also had received aid from the poor board or from the
United Charities or from both; these families included two widows,
one deserted wife, and four families in which the father was ill or in
jail.
Probably a more accurate indication of the family status in normal
times than the father’s earnings, the fact of the mother’s employ­
ment, or the extent of charitable assistance may be found in the
facts as to the ownership and size of dwellings. Among the 103
families visited 27 (26 per cent) owned the house in which they lived
and 20 other families were,buying their houses. The 1920 census
shows that 20 per cent of the homes in Wilkes-Barre were owned with­
out encumbrance,92 so that in' this respect the street traders’ families
seem to have been rather above the average.
It would appear that even in a period of economic stress the great
majority of the families could manage without the street workers’
earnings.
80 M onthly’Labor Keview (U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics), V ol.IX , No. 6 (December, 1919, p. 40).
MIdem.
82 Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. II, Population, p. 1299. Washington, 1922.


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W IL K E S-B A R R E , PA.

245

R E A S O N S FO R U N D E R T A K IN G S T R E E T W O R K

When questioned as to their reasons for engaging in street work
the largest number of the boys— 120 of the 290— gave replies of which
the sum and substance was that they “ just wanted to ” ; 63 said that
an agent of the newspaper had first put the idea into their heads;
37 gave family need as the compelling motive; 23 others said that
they had gone into street work because their parents had urged
them to do so; 22 were unable or unwilling to tell why they had gone
to work on the streets; and the other boys gave a variety of reasons.
The small proportion (13 per cent) claiming economic necessity
as the principal motive in undertaking street work accords with the
facts as to the extent of widowhood in their families (see p. 243) and
with the other evidence in regard to the economic status of the fami­
lies. It is interesting to note that only 15 (10 per cent) of the 146
boys under 12 years of age said that their reason for first working
on the street had been that the family needed their earnings. It is
interesting also to find that among the street traders who had gone
to work within eight months, or approximately since the beginning
of the coal strike (somewhat less than one-fourth of the total number),
a somewhat larger proportion (18 per cent) than among all the street
traders said that their reason for working was to help with family
expenses.
But although this group is interesting, it is small. Many more
boys had taken to street work because “ all the other boys did it ”
or because “ it was more fun than playing around” or because “ it’s
fun to make some money.” It is unnecessary to dwell upon the
fascination of the streets or to point out that street work with its
excitements, its sociability, and its freedom scarcely needs the
added charm of money jingling in the pockets to seem to the boy
himself a well-nigh perfect activity. “ The guys says, ‘ Come on ’ ,”
narrated a bootblack dramatically in explaining the reason for his
vocation; “ and I saw a little box at home and bust it open and made
me a blacking box.” So strong was the call of the streets that some
of the parents could not keep their boys at home. The mother of an
8-year-old newsboy, who confessed that he did not give “ much”
of his 40 cents a week at home, said that she could not prevent his
going down town except by calling for him when school was out;
and a 13-year-old bootblack, who had run away from home and had
been before the juvenile court for stealing, was described as “ sneaking
o ff” from his mother, who objected to his going down town to shine.
Various persons in contact with the street traders or their families
were convinced that the foreign-born parents exploited their children
for the money that they brought in even when there was no actual
need. The number of parents that did this appeared to be compara­
tively small— only 23 of the 268 boys said that they had first done
street work at their parents’ suggestion or request. However, the
idea that every member of the family must help in the family upkeep
was a strong motive in sending boys from the immigrant families
to the streets. A 7-year-old child of Slovac parents, who made
$1.50 a week selling on the square, said that he had first sold papers
because his “ mother chased him down— she wanted m oney.” A
Russian mother reported that her boys had to work as bootblacks,
as the father made her run the house on the children’s earnings.
Others said that “ all must help,” “ too big family,” or “ when he is

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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

little that’s all he can do to help. ” Most of the parents, in fact, were
willing and even desired to have their children work on the street—
only 18 of the 86 newsboys’ and bootblacks’ parents interviewed said
that they did not want the boys to do the work, some of them be­
cause their sons had been in trouble as a result of street influences.
It is doubtful whether many parents forced the boys out, but most
of them “ saw no harm in it .” Some even regarded a street occu­
pation as a substitute for less desirable activities— “ better than
running outside” for an 11-year-old boy, “ didn’t want h i m laying
around the house” in the case of a 14-year-old, “ did not want h i m
to bum around the streets” in the case of a 13-year-old. “ He’d be
on the streets anyway, so he better have somethin’ to do, ” “ they get
into less mischief selling papers on down-town streets than if they had
nothing to d o ,” “ better for boy to work than to hang around cor­
ners, smoke, and play cards, ” “ they have got to learn what the street
teaches them anyhow, so they might as well sell papers and make
m oney” — these were typical remarks.
It is clear that a large proportion of the street workers in WilkesBarre would not have been on the streets if they and their parents
had been aware of more desirable activities. More and better
recreation was what those boys needed who said that selling papers
was “ more fun than playing around” or that they went bootblacking
because there was “ nothing else to d o .”
Wilkes-Barre offered little in the way of directed or supervised
recreation. Newsboys and bootblacks did not belong to the Boy
Scouts. It was reported that the local troops had no newsboys nor
bootblacks among their members and that the typical street boy
“ had no use for that sort of thing.” Possibly boys whose spirit of
adventure has been nourished by smoking, playing cards, and
hanging around comers, to say nothing of the continual excitements
of street life, would not be satisfied with anything less stimulating.
It is more likely, however, that if there had been troops of boys from
homes and neighborhoods similar to their own and with the right
leadership newsboys and bootblacks would have responded to the
universal appeal of Boy Scout activities, although it is true that
many of them could not have afforded the fees and expenses.
Wilkes-Barre had no social settlements to provide through boys’
clubs and classes a safe and happy outlet for the gang spirit. The
Young M en’s Christian Association maintained a newsboys’ club
of about 80 members, which made a special effort to reach boys whose
parents could not afford to pay for recreation. A fee of 25 cents was
charged for initiation and of 10 cents a week until $1 had been paid.
The club met once a week and had an athletic program. It was
reported that some of its members were boys who sold on the down­
town streets, but though the club made no racial or religious dis­
tinctions it failed to reach the Catholic boys of foreign stock who
made up the mass of the newsboys.
Though the public schools were the logical agency to supply the
recreational needs of school children and the only agency capable
of doing so on a large scale, they were not equipped to undertake the
task. At the time of the study the schools had no physical-education
program; only 10 schools had playgrounds, and these were small,
ill equipped,.and entirely inadequate. The city had only one real
playground. In the spring of 1922, however, a playground and

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W IL K E S -B A R R E , PA.

recreation association with a paid director had been organized, and
efforts were being made to obtain more play spaces with better
equipment, to coordinate the recreational activities of different
agencies, and, above all, to extend the recreational program to chil­
dren of foreign parentage.
D IS P O S IT IO N OF E A R N IN G S

The industrial situation in Wilkes-Barre during 1922 could hardly
have failed to affect the uses to which the street workers’ earnings
were put; although the miners had gone back to work by the time
the survey was begun, it is to be presumed that their families were
still feeling the effects of the long months during which the chief bread­
winners were bringing in no earnings. For this reason the number
of boys contributing to the support of the family may have been
larger than would have been the case in more normal times.
T a b l e 60. — D is p o s itio n o f ea rn in g s; b o y s engaged in certain ty p e s o f street w o rk t
W ilk e s-B a r re, P a .

B o y s from 6 to 15 years o f age

D is p ositio n o f e a rn in g s 1

N ew sp ap er sellers
and b o o tb la ck s
O thers *
N um ber

P er cent
distrib u tto n

Total..........................................................

242

100.0

48

All for s e lf....______________________________

77

31.8

31

6
5
8
16
10
11
19
2

2.5
2.1
3.3
6.6
4.1
4.5
7.9
.8

3
1
12
2
11
2
14

Spent for necessities_________________
Spent for luxuries.................... .......................
Spent for necessities and luxuries.... .............
Saved.... .......................................................
Saved and spent for necessities.....................
Saved and spent for luxuries.........................
Saved and spent for necessities and luxuries.
Saved and spent for expenses only________
Part to family and part for self 3......................

139

57.4

Spent for necessities____ ______ ___________
Spent for luxuries______ ____ ____________
Spent for necessities and luxuries............ .
Spent for expenses only__________ __ _____
Saved_________ _____ ______ _____________
Saved and spent for necessities.___________
Saved and spent for luxuries______________
Saved and spent for necessities and luxuries.
Saved and spent for expenses only________
Not specified..._____ ____ _______________

8
63
10
8
17
1
23
5
3
1

3.3
26.0
4.1
3.3
7.0
.4
9.5
2.1
1.2
.4

All to family___________ _____________________

26

10.7

■

6
1
4
3

3

1 E arnings spen t for necessities, luxuries, or b o th , m a y in clu d e expenses o f jo b .
a P er cent d istrib u tion n ot sh ow n w here base is less th an 50.
8 S u b sid iary item s sh ow disp osition o f part spen t for self.

The great majority of the newsboys and bootblacks (165 boys, or
68 per cent) gave at least part of their earnings from street work to
their families; this number included 26 boys who contributed all that
they earned toward family support, 8 who gave to their families all
that they earned except the expenses incident to their jobs, such as
lunches and car fares, and 8 who used all that they earned for their
families and their own necessities, such as clothing. (Table 60.)
75034°— 28—

17


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Six other boys used all their earnings on necessities for themselves.
Thus 48 boys (20 per cent of the newsboys and bootblacks) used all
their money outside the expenses of their jobs for necessities either
for themselves or for their families. This proportion is somewhat
larger than the proportion of fatherless street traders m Wilkes-Barre
and of those who claimed family need as their reason for first going
to work (see p. 245); this fact and also the fact that the proportion is
the same for boys with fathers as for fatherless boys may indicate
the extent to which unemployment may have caused families not
normally in actual want to draw upon the street workers money, or
it may be interpreted to indicate that once a boy goes to work bis
family finds that it can make good use of his earnmgs even if it has
hitherto not felt them to be absolutely necessary.
A majority of the boys (60 per cent) kept something for spendmg
money, including 5 who acknowledged that they spent everything
on their own pleasures. One of these 5 was a 14-year-old high-school
boy whose earnings only kept him in spending money. Another
was an 11-year-old boy who reported weekly earnmgs of $1.40 and
whose statement that he never gave a cent at home was corroborated
by his mother. In some of the foreign families it was evident that
the boys were expected to turn over to the parents all that they
earned and equally evident that they kept back as much as they
dared. A few parents complained that “ Nick never brings a penny
home,” or, “ We never see a cent of his money” or, like the mother
of a 10-year-old newsboy who said, “ He go to show and shoot de
penny,” they accused the boys of .misspending what they earned.
On the other hand, many of the boys who used some of their earnmgs
on their own pleasures gave almost all that they earned to then
parents to be used either for family expenses or their own clothes,
the boy receiving a small sum, usually about 10 cents a week, for
sDendins: money. “ M y mother gives me a dime on bund ays, or
“ I get a nickel for the show once a week,” or “ I have 10 cents for
candy” were very common remarks.
,
Forty-four per cent of the newsboys and bootblacks saved some
of their money, including 16 boys (7 per cent) who saved all that
thev made. A few said that they had been saving, but when thenfather bought the house” or “ when the strike came or when they
needed a new suit” they had been obliged to draw the money out of
1 Only 17 of the 48 street traders other than newsboys and boot­
blacks gave any of their earnings to the family, including 3 peddlers
who contributed all that they earned. These 3 boys were the only
ones in this group spending all their money on necessities either tor
themselves or for their families. A much larger proportion ol these
other street traders than of newsboys and bootblacks saved all that
they made, and the great majority saved some of their earnmgs.
A majority kept something for spending money, including 3 boys who
spent all except the expenses of their jobs on their own pleasures.
These 3 boys earned only 10 cents to about 25 cents a w eek.' ^
Among the entire group of street traders the proportion giving at
least some of their earnings to their families increased with the amount
the boy earned. Boys making the larger^ amounts (at least $2 a
week) were much more likely to give all their money to their iamilies
than those making less than $2 a week, but boys making an unusually

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large amount ($4 or more a week) were about as likely as those
earning less than $2 to keep something.
It would be expected that the poorer the family the greater would
be the tendency for the boy to turn in all or part of his money toward
its support. Such was the case so far as conclusions based on small
numbers can be trusted. Of the 72 street traders visited in their
homes whose fathers earned less than $1,250, 6 gave all their earn­
ings for family expenses and 47 gave part; whereas of the 17 whose
fathers earned at least $1,250 none gave all to the family and only 6
gave any. The proportion keeping at least some of their earnings
for spending money was the same for both these groups, but boys in
the more prosperous families were more likely to save money— 5 of
the 72 in the lower-earnings group saved all their earnings and 28
saved part, whereas of the 17 whose fathers had incomes of $1,250 or
more 3 saved all and 11 saved part. The extent to which unemploy­
ment influenced the disposition of the boys’ earnings is indicated by
the fact that of the 30 boys in families whose chief breadwinners had
been unemployed less than two months or not at all 2 used all their
earnings for the family and 11 used at least part in that way; but of
the 66 boys in families whose chief breadwinners had been unem­
ployed two months or more 6 gave all their earnings to help with the
family expenses and 45 contributed to the family budget at least part
of what they earned.
S T R E E T W O R K E R S IN S C H O O L

Attendance.

The street traders were in all grades from the first grade to the
second year in high school. Only 13 (4 per cent) were in high school,
including 10 newsboys and 3 of those in the miscellaneous group
but no bootblacks.
A record of school attendance was sought for all those who had
been in street work at least part of the school year 1921-22, and
records were obtained for 182 street workers. The average per­
centage of attendance for these boys for the school year ended June,
1922, was 94, the same as that for all children in the Wilkes-Barre
public schools for the same year. Of the 26 boys (14 per cent)who
had been absent 10 per cent or more of the term (that is, at least
18 days) 11 had truancy records.
Truancy.

An examination of the files of the attendance department showed
that 41 o'f the street traders had been reported to the attendance
officers for absence in 1921 or 1922 but that 17 of these were appar­
ently not truants; therefore 24 street traders had truancy records—
11 newsboys, 10 bootblacks, and 3 boys in other street trades. That
is, 7 per cent of the newsboys, 13 per cent of the bootblacks, and 6
per cent of the other street traders had been truant; a fairly large
proportion of these* boys had been before the juvenile court for
truancy or were reported as chronic truants.
No comparative figures for the total enrollment of the WilkesBarre schools are available, but among the newspaper carriers in
Wilkes-Barre the proportion who had been truant was only 2 per
cent. (See p. 269.) This fact and the fact that almost twice as large
a proportion of bootblacks as newsboys had been truants (though
the temptations to truancy presented by their work must have been

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much the same) suggests that the reason for the excessive amount
of truancy found among street traders can not be laid entirely to
their occupation; that it is to be accounted for by the home environ­
ment as well as by the street environment. The newsboys more
than the carriers and the bootblacks more than the newsboys came
from immigrant homes and from the homes of the newer nnmigrants. Their truancy may be considered one of the problems
common to the unadjusted second generation, reared by parents
whose contacts with American life are few and in homes entirely
foreign in language and customs. That street work is a factor,
however, which tends to increase the child’s maladjustment to school
life can not be doubted in view of the influences of street life and
its tendency to weaken home ties and parental control. (See
pp. 234, 236, 237.)
The following stories typical of the more serious cases of truancy
among the Wilkes-Barre street traders, are illustrative of both home
and street conditions that may have contributed to the boy’s stay­
ing away from school.
A 14-year-old boy, son of a Polish, loader in the mines and next to the oldest
in a family of six children, had been selling newspapers for five years, shining
shoes for two vears, and carrying bags at the railroad station for one year or
more. The boy’s school-deportment mark was 80 and he had pleasant manners.
The assistant principal of his school reported, however, that he slept at the
railroad station, out of doors, or anywhere (he was reported to the attendance
officer in January, 1922, as absent and sleeping out under porches), and the
school boys spoke of him as being “ on the bum .” In April, 1922, h e was brought
before the juvenile court for not being home in two weeks, being out ot school,
and stealing. The father was ill with miner’s asthma and had been unemployed
for 11 months, the mother took in washing, and a 15-year-old sister worked in a
candy factory. The parents thought it a good thing for the boy to do street
work as it was a help to them. He reported that in his three ]obs he averaged
$9.25 a week, but his mother said that he never brought home more than 20 or
25 cents a day.
A 12-year-old Italian boy whose father was dead and whose family was sup­
ported bv an older brother had had absences of several days each in April and
October, 1922. He had previously been in a reform school for nine months.
He said in excusing his absences that his mother made him go to the square to sell
papers. He sold from 4 to 8 a. m. on school days and from 5 to 10 p. m on
Saturdays, earning $4.25 a week in both his jobs. H e also blacked boots and had
been doing both kinds of work for several months. He had sold papers until
12 o’clock Saturday nights, but reported that for several weeks prior to the inter­
view “ the cop had chased them home at 9 o’clock.”

A 13-vear-old Italian newsboy had been absent from school sometimes as much
as a week at a time a number of times during 1921 and 1922. H e had been twice
before the juvenile court for truancy. When he came to the court m November,
1922, he had been selling papers while playing truant from school. He told the
court that his mother told him to go out and earn and not bother about going to
school. N o action was taken, and a month later he was*a truant for a week. He
was in the fifth grade and had fair standing. H e had been selling for four years
and had previously been a bootblack. H e earned $3.25 a week. The mother
when interviewed at home said that she wanted the boy to earn money but did
not mean to have him stay out of school. He was proud of earning his own
clothes, was a well-mannered, clean boy, and though his mother said that he was
“ fresh” and she could not keep track of what he did she reported that he had
given his money to her for the family during the strike and clothed himseli.
in e
boy was the oldest of seven children in a clean, well-kept home.


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An 11-year-old Italian boy had a history of truancy in both 1921 and 1922, some
of which was blamed upon parental neglect and the fact that the “ boy was
allowed to sell papers at 5 o’clock in the morning.” He had been selling papers
from the age of 8, both morning and afternoon. He had had a juvenile-court
record at the age of 9 and was brought before the court again when 10 and 11.
His school deportment was fair, and his work passing. His father had regular
work and an income during 1921-22 of more than the average of the chief bread­
winners in this study. The family lived in a rented house of five rooms; this boy
was next to the oldest of five children. The parent’s only comment on the boy’s
work was that he “ goes with his own will.” Although the boy said he had begun
his street work four years before because of family need, he gave no money to his
family, but saved some and spent the rest for his clothes and luxuries for himself.
He could not estimate how much he earned in an average week, but said he sold
about 45 papers. The 13-year-old son of a Lithuanian miner was in the eighth grade and was
reported “ very bright” in school and of good school deportment and standing.
He had been absent 6 ^ days in March, 1922, and 173^ days previously during
the term, and was reported as spending his time selling papers. Absent in Sep­
tember again every afternoon for a week and several mornings, he was again
reported by the boys to be shining shoes and selling papers. He worked about
QH hours a day on school days (morning and afternoon). reporting that he arrived
at the newspaper office by 3.30 a. m. in order to “ get his papers first.”
He worked
with his two brothers, aged 10 and 12, respectively, and estimated that the three
of them averaged $11.50 a week. The mother said that the children must work
to help support the family, as there were seven children, only one of whom was
over 14. The father was reported by social agencies as a reliable man, but he had
had a great deal of unemployment during the year owing to the strike, and in
1922 the family had received help from the United Charities and the poor board.

Deportment.

A mark in deportment for the school year completed June, 1922,
was obtained for 178 of the Wilkes-Barre newsboys, bootblacks, and
miscellaneous street traders. Ninety boys had not worked in the
fKchool year 1921-22, so that their work could not conceivably have
Affected their behavior in school, or they had attended high school
where no mark in deportment was given, and a record could not be
found for 22 boys. Fifty-two boys (29 per cent) had a deportment
mark of at least 90 and 115 (65 per cent) had been marked at least 80.
But 14 boys (8 per cent) had a mark less than 70, or less than passing.
No comparative information on boys who do not do street work
exists. A comparison of the deportment marks of the street traders
with those of the Wilkes-Barre route carriers, however (see p. 270),
shows that although almost as many of the newsboys, bootblacks, and
other traders as route carriers, in proportion to their numbers, had
received a deportment mark of at least 80, a very much larger pro­
portion of the carriers (42 per cent) than of the others (29 per cent)
had received at least 90. This may indicate that though the street
worker may as a rule behave well enough to “ get by ’ ’ he is more likely
than the average boy to give some trouble in school.
Among the 14 Wilkes-Barre street traders whose behavior in
school was below passing were a number of boys whose conditions
of work were such as to suggest a connection between the street
occupation and unsatisfactory school conduct. Some had worked
several years and some stayed out selling papers or shining shoes
until 9 or 10 o ’clock at least several nights a week. One 14-year-old
newsboy in this group sold papers until 2 o ’clock Sunday morning
^every week, and a 13-year-old newsboy who had been selling papers
llin ce the age of 7 worked five hours or more a day, selling both before
and after school. He was above the average in intelligence, but his
school-deportment mark was only 53.

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Progress and scholarship.

The Wilkes-Barre newsboys were of about average intelligence,
if the results of intelligence tests, which were available for one-fifth
of the group, may be trusted as an indication.93 The intelligence
quotients of 49 of the 56 street traders who had been tested rated
them as of average or better than average intelligence, compared'
with 80 per cent as the norm for these groups. (See footnote 22,
p. 103.) However, only 5 of the street workers had an intelligence
quotient that would rate them as superior, though 20 per cent is the
norm for the superior groups. The fact that the “ sample” was
confined to boys who were in the sixth or seventh grade at the time
of the test (the only grades that had been completely tested) may
mean that the intelligence quotients were rather more favorable
than they would have been if they could have been obtained for all
the street traders, as children who have reached at least the sixth
grade represent a somewhat selected group. This being so, the
percentage of boys of superior mentality should have been greater
than in an unselected group of children, and that it was not greater,
but much smaller, is especially interesting in view of the popular
conception of the juvenile street trader as an unusually bright boy.
The school progress of the newsboys was found to be as good as
the average among all boys of their ages enrolled in the WilkesBarre public schools.94 Thirty per cent of the newsboys 8 to 15
years of age were retarded in school (see footnote 38, p. 22), compared
with 31 per cent of the male enrollment of the Wilkes-Barre ele­
mentary schools.95 Even if the 10 newsboys who were in high school
are excluded in order to make the figures more strictly comparable
only 32 per cent of the newsboys are found to be retarded. More­
over, 10 per cent of the newsboys compared with 5 per cent of a l^
the boys in the elementary grades of the public schools were above
normal grades for their ages. Newsboys working very long hours
were more retarded than those whose work kept them on the streets
a shorter time; 38 per cent of those spending 24 hours a week or longer
selling papers and 28 per cent of those spending less than 24 hours
were retarded.
The school progress of the bootblacks compared very unfavorably
with the average, 49 per cent of the bootblacks 8 to 15 years of age
being retarded and only 3 per cent being advanced.96 Judging from
these findings street work does not appear to have affected adversely
the boys’ school progress, for the street life to which the newsboys and
bootblacks were exposed was the same, and the newsboys were out on
the street even longer and were more likely to work early and late,
especially on school days, than the bootblacks. (See pp. 235-240.)
It would appear that the type of home exerts more influence on school
progress than street work, for the bootblacks came from homes which
were far less Americanized and less prosperous on the whole than
those of the newsboys. (See pp. 229, 243.) Taking the nativity and
the literacy of the father as typical of home factors likely to influence
»3 These were group tests given to sixth and seventh grades throughout the city by a school principal
who used the Illinois general intelligence scale.
91 Forty-four of the street traders were in parochial schools.
95 The retardation for the male enrollment of the Wilkes-Barre elementary schools is based on age-grade
statistics obtained from the offlee of the superintendent of the Wilkes-Barre public schools, excluding«*
14 boys between 15}^ and 16 years whose exact ages were not obtainable. Like statistics for pupils abov^pthe eighth grade were not available.
.
99 The number of bootblacks was too small to compare the retardation of the groups working less, or more,
than 24_hours a week.


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WILKES-BARRE, PA.

the educational progress of the children, it is seen that only 19 per
cent of the street workers whose fathers were of native birth, in
contrast to 38 per cent of those with immigrant fathers, were retarded
and that only 29 per cent of those with literate fathers, but 47 per
„ent of those with illiterate fathers, were retarded.
However, it takes time for the influences of a street occupation to
make themselves felt in the street trader’s school work. He is not
likely to have fallen behind his normal grade a year or more as a
result of his street work unless he has been engaged in the work for
several years. It is more accurate, therefore, in trying to reach a
conclusion in regard to the effect of street work on school progress
to confine the discussion to boys who have worked at least two years.
It was found that 34 per cent of the newsboys working two years or
more but only 28 per cent of those working less than 2 years were
retarded, a difference that is probably accounted for by the greater
age of those working the longer time. The number of bootblacks
was too small to supply reliable information in regard to the relation
between the duration of work and school progress.
The more immediate effects of street work are reflected in the
street trader’s school standing or school marks. Information on
scholarship was sought from the school records for the school year
ended June, 1922, for only the 204 boys who had worked at least part
of the last completed school year. The following averages 97 were
obtained for 183 boys:
Average grade

Total______________________
Less than 70__ ___________________
70, less than 8 0 __________________
80, less than 9 0 __________________
90 or more________________________

Number
of boys

_ 183
.
.

20
92
63
8

Per cent
distribution

100
11
50
34
4

A comparison of the marks of the Wilkes-Barre newsboys, boot­
blacks, and miscellaneous street workers with those of the WilkesBarre newspaper carriers, whose scholarship appeared to be rather
above the average, shows that 49 per cent of the carriers had a rank
of 80 or more compared with 38 per cent of the other street workers
and that almost three times as many in proportion averaged 90 or
higher in their studies. (See p. 253.)
D E LIN Q U E N C Y A M O N G S T R E E T W O R K E R S

An examination of the records of the Luzerne County juvenile
court showed that 41 (14 per cent) of the Wilkes-Barre street
workers had court records, 31 of whom had been before the court in
1921 or 1922.
The only statistics with which this figure could be compared
properly would be those showing the proportion of nonworking boys
or of boys in other occupations and of the same economic and social
background who had ever been delinquent. No such statistics
exist. Even a delinquency rate for the general child population of
Wilkes-Barre is not available.
On the school permanent record card from which the records were obtained the pupil’s standing in
ch study was indicated by a letter, as A, A —, B, B + , etc. In order to obtain an average for all the studies
a numbei was assigned to each letter, as 95 for A, 93 for A —. In making up the average the marks in such
subjects as manual training, music, drawing, were disregarded.
)>

•


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A comparison of the percentage of delinquents among boys in
different kinds of street work shows that 14 per cent of the newsboys,
23 per cent of the bootblacks, and 2 per cent (one boy) of the boys
engaged in other street trades had court records. Although the
numbers involved are too small to be conclusive, the variations^
suggest the influence of home environment in the boy’s delinquency^
as well as the influence of his occupation. To a much greater extent
than either the newsboys or the boys in the miscellaneous group of
street occupations, as has been shown, the bootblacks were the
children of immigrants who had not had time to become thoroughly
adjusted to the life of the community, and to a greater extent they
came from “ broken” homes and from homes of poverty.
The offenses for which the boys had been brought before the
juvenile court were truancy (16, including 12 whose only offense was
truancy), stealing (17), mischief (5), trespassing on railroad property
(4), “ incorrigibility” (1), begging (1), and gambling (1). In pro­
portion to their numbers almost twice as many bootblacks as news­
boys were charged with truancy and three times as many with theft.
In the absence of reliable and comparable statistics a study of cases
throws some light on the possible relation between street work and
delinquency.
Among the 12 boys whose only offense had been truancy 2 had sold
papers for four years, since they were 9 years of age, another for
two years or since he was 10; 1 boy had shined shoes for three years
and 3 for two years; thus 7 of the 12 had worked on the street at least
two years. The following stories are characteristic of this group of
truants:
A 12-year-old newsboy and bootblack, who had been shining shoes for t w ^
years and selling papers for one year, reported that he stayed out very l a t *
Saturday night “ getting shines from drunks” and that his mother threatened to
lock him out all night if he did not come home sooner. The boy’s behavior in
school was very poor and his standing barely passing, though he was in the sixth
grade at 12 years of age; the school principal reported that the boy, unlike his
brothers and sisters, was “ hard to reach.”

A 10-year-old boy, who both sold papers and blacked boots on “ Saturdays and
pay days,” had very good marks in deportment and in his studies and was in the
fifth grade. About the time of the study he had come before the juvenile court
asking to be sent to the reform school because his mother hit him if he did not
bring in money. His mother, a neat, intelligent woman, said that the boy
stayed away from school and home and was restless, and denied striking him. A
month later she herself brought him to the court on a charge of truancy saying
that he had stayed away from home, eating stale cream puffs thrown out by a
bakery, and sleeping in one of the newspaper offices, where he had been found and
brought home by older boys.

Although the court records often gave few or no details, a relation
between the boy’s delinquency and his work or the conditions of his
work, such as excessive hours or he fact that he had been at work on
the street for a number of years,- could be discerned in a number of the
28 cases involving charges other than truancy, as the following
accounts show:
A 12-year-old Italian boy had begun his court record at the age of 10 (his work
as newsboy antedated this event by one year) when he was charged with breaking^,
in and robbing a freight car with other boys, his parents paying $7.50 d a m a g e s»
Two years later he was brought in by a railroad employee for hanging around the
railroad station selling papers, and a few weeks after that was referred to the


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juvenile court charged by a newspaper company with stealing newspapers.
The boy spent his spare time hanging around newspaper offices with other boys
who played craps; he said that he himself did not play because he was afraid of
the police. The boy worked 38 hours a week selling papers both morning and
,afternoon, beginning in the morning at 4 or 4.30, his object being to earnhis clothes
and save money. The family was comparatively prosperous, and the mother
said that she did not want the boy on the street as he learned stealing and
other “ bad tricks.”
A 12-year-old Italian boy had been selling papers since he was 8 years old; he
sold papers three and one-half hours a day before and after school. When only 9
he had stolen a gold watch valued at $40 and had sold it for 10 cents and a bag of
peanuts. During the same summer he was arrested for begging money to buy
papers and for stealing papers. When he was 10 he had been arrested for
begging at the theater, pretending that he was crippled; after a sojourn in the
reform school he was arrested again for stealing papers. He also had a history
of truancy. The father was employed steadily, and the family seemed fairly
prosperous.
A Polish boy of 14, who had been selling papers for five years and bootblack­
ing for two years, and who “ hung around the railroad station” to carry bags,
had begun to work “ just for fun.” H e had been charged with stealing from
a 10-cent store when he was 12 years of age. Less than a month later, while
on probation, he was brought before the court for sleeping out, and on a second
charge of staying away from home he was committed to a reformatory where
he remained eight months. About a year later (six months before the begin­
ning of the Children’s Bureau study) he was again brought to court for being
out of school and away from home for two weeks, earning his food by carrying
bags at the station and sleeping in barns. The family were buying the house
in which they lived and had made a cash payment of $1,100 the year before
the interview.
# A 10-year-old bootblack of Lithuanian parentage had been shining shoes on
»Saturdays and selling papers irregularly since he was 7 years old. H e had
been brought into court at the age of 6 for stealing money from neighbors, and
when 10 had helped other boys steal three bicycles within a period of three
months.
An 11-year-old bootblack and newsboy had been working for five years.
H e had been arrested for stealing and truancy and had been committed to the
reform school. Shortly after his release he was arrested again for truancy.
He sold papers on the square every evening until 9 o’clock. His home conditions
were very bad.
An 11-year-old boy, who had sold papers regularly since he was 6 and had
shined shoes for two years, had meddled with a railroad switch in company
with his brother, causing damage of between $1,400 and $1,500. This boy
said that he used to stay out Saturday nights until 12 or 1 o’clock but that
within a few weeks previous to the interview the police had been making boys
go home at 9 o’clock.
A 10-year-old Polish newsboy who had been selling papers for three years
had been arrested in 1921 for truancy and running about the railroad station.
The truant officer reported to the court that the boy sold papers late at night.
H e had been put on probation on his promise to go to school, to keep away
from the railroad station, and not to sell papers. When interviewed in Decem­
ber, 1922, he was selling papers every school day from 3.30 p. m . to 8 p. m . and
on Saturdays until 11 o’clock at night.

§ An 11-year-old Italian newsboy had sold papers since he was 8. H e sold
Doth morning and afternoon 293^ hours a week, and wrapped and packed bread
in a bakery three-quarters of an hour a week. H e was in the sixth grade, and


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his school behavior and standing in school were fairly good. He had been
arrested in the summer of 1922 for playing craps, and earlier had been in court
for throwing stones and breaking windows in a mill.

Three bootblacks and one newsboy, ranging in age from 10 to 13 years, wef
implicated together in stealing automobile tires. The leader of this group, a
13-year-old Lithuanian boy, attended a different school from the others, and
may have met them during the course of their work down town. H e had been
shining shoes for two years. He had a court record for stealing, truancy, and
staying away from home and sleeping in a box, where the police had found him.
In the summer of 1922 he was arrested with the three other boys charged with
stealing an automobile tire, and while the case was under way he was charged
with two other boys with stealing bicycles, admitting the theft. H e smoked
and had a poor school record in behavior, but he was in the eighth grade and
did very good school work. H e had an intelligence quotient of 120. The other
two bootblacks in this affair stayed out shining shoes until 8.15 or 9 o’clock
every evening except Sunday. One, who had been bootblacking only a few
months because he “ wanted to ,” had no other court record except this and
stealing bicycles with the same leader. The other, who had been shining shoes
for two years and had also sold papers, was arrested about the same time for
stealing in one of the 10-cent stores. This boy also had a good school record.
The newsboy implicated in the same theft had been selling papers since he was
8 years old. His behavior in school was excellent, but his standing was very
poor. H e was later charged with stealing in one of the 10-cent stores.

A 14-year-old Italian boy had been a newsboy and bootblack for eight years,
selling papers and shining shoes after school hours; he also carried a theater
advertising sign every evening from 7 to 8.30 and three hours Saturday after­
noon and evenings, earning altogether $8 a week. His school standing in the
fifth grade (which he was repeating) was poor and his deportment barely pass­
ing. His court record began when he was only 9 (when he had been working
on the streets for three years) on a charge of truancy; a year later he was b ro u gh t
to court by the police charged with truancy and being out on the streets l a w
at night. A t that time he was told that he must not sell papers at night.
Several months later he was again brought to court for truancy. In June, 1921,
his parish priest complained to the court that he was incorrigible, staying out
late to shine shoes. His mother said, “ Tony is a bum. Can’t do anything
with him .” His teacher said the same, adding that he smoked to excess, and
that his mother had once come to school crying and saying in her broken English
that the boy had beaten her. The boy said that of his $8 a week he gave his
mother $1. H e bought his own clothes, which he showed with pride, and ap­
peared well mannered.
The early age at which the delinquent career of many of these boys began
calls to mind an 8-year-old delinquent in the making. H e was a rosy-cheeked,
well-dressed, and attractive child from an intelligent family and apparently
a good home who had been selling papers three months, several times a week.
H e said that his mother would not let him sell unless he came home by 7 o’clock;
his mother reported that she could not keep the boy at home, that the week
before the interview he had been out two nights until half past 1, and the second
time had been brought home by a policeman. His teacher reported that he
was truant, had stayed out several nights earlier in the year selling papers, and
one night had been found sleeping under a porch.

The court records did not show whether or not boys used their
wares as an excuse or as a cover for their delinquencies. One of the
Wilkes-Barre street traders had been arrested for begging, a bootblack who stood at the door of a 5-cent motion-picture house begging
for the price of a show. One of the school principals also told the
story of two brothers in his school, the older about 12 years of age^
who had sold papers on the down-town streets. They used to stop tW
motion-picture theaters on their way home, not arriving home until

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WILKES-BARRE, PA.

10 o ’clock or so. They began to beg and were put on probation by
the juvenile court. Somewhat later they had been arrested for
stealing about $30 worth of boys’ books from one of the stores. They
had been in the habit, of entering the store to sell their papers and
had used paper selling to cloak the stealing.
N E W S P A P E R C ARRIERS

The three daily newspapers of Wilkes-Barre were distributed to
subscribers at their houses and places of business as well as sold on
the streets. The morning daily depended mainly upon subscribers,
hiring about 90 route boys or carriers. Approximately 10,000 copies
of the two evening papers were delivered by carriers in Wilkes-Barre
proper, exclusive of the boroughs. New York, Philadelphia, Scran­
ton, and other out-of-town Sunday papers, as well as the two local
Sunday papers, were also distributed by carriers in large numbers.
The foreign-language papers were distributed by a few carriers
though for the most part they were sent in the mads. The study in
Wdkes-Barre included 315 carriers.
R A C E A N D N A T IO N A L IT Y OF F A T H E R S

Unhke the newsboys of Wdkes-Barre, the great majority of whom
were of foreign parentage, half the carriers were the chddren of
native fathers, and among those of foreign parentage the number of
English, Irish, or Welsh stock was larger than any other racial group.
The newer immigrants, the Poles, Lithuanians, and Italians, who
largely supplied the ranks of the newsboys and bootblacks, had few
children in the more responsible work of delivering on a newspaper
route. (Table 61.) Only 5 carriers were of foreign birth.
A G E OF C A R R IE R S

The carriers were older than the newsboys. (Table 62.) Twentyseven per cent were 14 or 15 years of age and 67 per cent were at
least 12. The distribution managers of the Wilkes-Barre papers
reported that they preferred older boys and that they made every
attempt to get a responsible type of boy.
T able

6 1 . — R a ce and n a tio n a lity o f f a th e r ; n e w sp a p er carriers, W ilk e s -B a r r e , P a .

Newspaper carriers
from 6 to 15 years
of age

Newspaper carriers
from 6 to 15 years
of age
Race and nationality of father

Race and nationality of father
Number

Per cent
distri­
bution

Total..............................

315

100.0

White.......................................

314

99.7

Native_________________
Foreign horn................ .

156
139

49.5
44.1

British______ ____ _
Polish__________ ___
Russian Jewish_____
Lithuanian-------------Italian..........■-............

30
21
18
16
16

9.5
6.7
5.7
5.1
5.1


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Number

White—Continued
Foreign bom —Continued
German____________
Other Jewish-----------Other f o r e i g n born
and f o r e i g n born
not otherwise speci­
fied.......... .............. -

Per cent
distri­
bution

12
6

3.8
1.9

20

6.3

Nativity not reported-----

19

6.0

Negro.......................................

1

.3

258

CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

Of the 105 carriers under 12 years of age 59 were only helpers or
substitutes sharing the route of another boy, often an older brother.
(Table 63.) Almost half the helpers were little boys, under 10 years
of age. Some of them did the work for nothing or at most for a few
cents a week or a paper to “ carry home to the family,” working “ just
for the fun of it,” though a few were learning the business in order to
take over the route when it was abandoned by the boy for whom the
helper worked. It was unusual for a substitute to have full responsi­
bility for another boy’s route like an 8-year-old boy who carried all
the papers for his older brother, though the brother kept his name on
the books at the newspaper office and called for the money when due,
giving the younger boy 25 cents a month for his work.
Of the boys under 12, however, 21, most of whom were 11 but a few
of whom were 8, 9, or 10 years old, were employed by the newspapers
on a regular route, though the street trades law of Pennsylvania
prohibits the distribution as well as the sale of newspapers by boys
under 12. (See p. 228.) Many of these boys had originally worked
as helpers and had fallen heir to the route when the older boy whom
they helped had given it up. Two of the boys listed as helpers were
hired also by the newspapers— one, 9 years of age, as an assistant at
35 cents a route to a regular route boy when the papers were unusually
heavy, and another, 11 years of age, as “ extra b o y ” when a regular
carrier was absent.
W O R K E X PE R IE N C E

The typical carrier had never done any street work except carry
papers. At the time of the interview 70 carriers were engaging in
some form of street work, usually newspaper selling and often a con-*#
siderable amount of it, in addition to their routes. Many of these
were boys who had begun by selling papers and had worked up a
route of their own in connection with their selling. Although these
boys carried papers they were on the whole untypical, in almost
every way, of the great majority of carriers. Only 30 of the 245
more typical carriers who had no other street job at the time of the
study, had ever had any other street job; 2 had been magazine
carriers, 19 newspaper sellers, bootblacks, or both, 7 peddlers, 1 a
helper on an ice wagon, and 1 a handbill distributor, at some time in
their lives. Of the 70 who sold papers or did some other street work
in addition to handling a route 16 had done other street work in the
past; 11 had been newspaper sellers or bootblacks, 2 peddlers, 2 had
delivered magazines, and 1 had operated a sausage-roasting stand.
A few carriers (37) had work of another kind, such as delivering
groceries, selling in stores, or working in newspaper offices. The
carrier of 14 or 15 more often than the younger boy had an extra job.
However, 16 of the 37 were under 14 years of age, and a few of them
worked 5, 6, or 7 days a week from one-half to five hours a day.
About one-fifth of all the carriers had had some work experience
other than street work, most of them in only one other job.
The majority of the carriers had had but one route. Half (50 per
cent) had held their routes for at least one year, and more than onefourth (27 per cent) for at least two years. Some of the boys had
had their routes for three years or longer and a few for at least five
years. (Table 62.) Almost all these boys had good or excellent
school records, and 1 was saving to go to college.

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W IL K E S-B A R R E , PA.

T a b l e 62. — P r ev io u s d u ra tion o f jo b held at date o f in terview , b y age p erio d ; n ew s­
p a p er carriers, W ilk e s -B a r r e , P a .

Newspaper carriers from 6 to 15 years of age
14 years,
12 years,
10 years,
under 16
under 14
under 12
Un­
der
10
Per
Per
Per
Per years1
Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent
Num­ cent
distri­
ber
distri­
ber
distri­
ber
ber distri­
bution
bution
bution
bution
Total

Previous duration of job held at date
of interview

86

124

42

63

Total reported............... . .............. ........

308

100.0

38

62

100.0

122

100.0

86

100.0

Less than 1 year......... - ------ ---------

154

50.0

20

37

59.7

59

48.4

38

44.2

113

36.7

17

31

50.0

41

33.6

24

27.9

Less than 2 months______
2 months, less than 4 ___
4 months, less than 6_ ___

41
43
29

13.3
14.0
9.4

7
4
6

15
10
6

24.2
16.1
9.7

14
17
10

11.5
13.9
8.2

5
12
7

5.8
14.0
8.1

6 months, less than 1 year____

41

13.3

3

6

9.7

18

14.8

14

16.3

1 year, less than 2________________
2 years, less than 3....... ...................
3 years and over................. .............

70
48
36

22.7
15.6
11.7

9
7
2

15
6
4

24.2
9.7
6.5

27
21
15

22.1
17.2
12.3

19
14
15

22.1
16.3
17.4

4

1

315

Less than 6 months..... .........

7

2

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.
C O N D IT IO N S OF E M P L O Y M E N T

The majority of the carriers were regularly employed by the
newspaper corporation whose papers they distributed, but about
one-fifth, in addition to those boys who worked only as helpers,
worked on their own account, purchasing their papers, like other
newsboys, at the main office of the paper or through an agent.
(Table 63.) Such independent carrying was usually done in con­
nection with Sunday papers.
T a b l e 63. — T y p e o f em p lo ye r, b y age p eriod o f ca rrier; n e w sp a p er ca rriers, W i l k e s B a rre, P a .

Newspaper carriers from 6 to 15 years of age
14 years,
12 years,
10 years,
under 16
under 14
under 12
Un­
der
10
Per
Per
Per
Per
Num­ cent years1Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent
ber distri­ ber distri­ ber distri­
ber distri­
bution.
bution
bution
bution
Total

Type of employer

Total......... ....................................

315

100.0

42

63

100.0

124

100.0

86

100.0

Newspaper company or agent- --------Self
........................... ................... .
Other carrier. ------------- ------------------Self and newspaper company or agent.
Newspaper company or agent and
other carrier---------- --------- -------------

160
67
70
9

50.8
21.3
22.2
2.9

2
6
31

19
11
28
2

30.2
17.5
44.4
3.2

74
33
11
5

59.7
26.6
8.9
4.0

65
17

75.6
19.8

2

2.3

8
1

2.5
.3

3

3

4.8

1

.8

1
1

1.2
1.2

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

Carriers were recruited through other carriers, though teachers
sometimes recommended boys in need of a job. It was said that
the jobs had always more applicants than were needed. In a num­
ber ol families the route was an “ hereditary office, ” though no doubt
very few families were able to supply such a succession of claimants
as that of one boy who said with pride, “ M y brother who is 26
years old used to have this very same route, and now we still
have it.
t iVxrM1
re^ui 1ar emPloy ee the carrier has certain definite responsibilities.
In Wilkes-Barre he was required to keep a “ route book” with an
up-to-date list of his customers and their addresses. The newspaper
o ^ e s «ad definite regulations in regard to the character of service
the boy was expected to' give, such as notifying the office in case of
inability to work, and penalties for “ slapping” customers and other
complaints of neglect of duty. The building up of routes was left
largely to the boy’s own initiative. Several of the papers gave 25
° r ur S“ * * ® each new subscriber, and one of them once a month
published the names of the boys who had obtained new customers
uring the month. Sometimes the papers gave prizes, amounting to
as much as $50 (one boy had received a gold watch) to carriers getting
new subscribers When a route reached a specified size the wage
paid the carrier by the newspaper was usually increased.
Some of the carriers called for their papers at the down-town
newspaper offices or at the office of the agent handling Sunday and
out-of-town papers. In these offices they encountered the same con­
ditions and the same distribution men as the street sellers. (See
pp. 231-233.) Many, however, did not have to get their papers across
the counter m the mam offices but received them at a street corner
m the neighborhood of their routes, where the papers were thrown
from a trolley. Only 49 of the carriers had routes in the business
districts, serving stores, hotels, banks, and offices mostly around the
square and on streets leading off from the square. These were
generally older boys. The others delivered entirely in residential
sections of the city.
The majority of the boys delivered at least 50 papers; the largest
number (85) of the 288 boys reporting the number of papers that they
earned on their daily route delivered between 50 and 75, but 64 boys
0-2 per cent) delivered from 75 to 200 or more papers. Many of the
boys earned the papers about in children’s express wagons, but some
bundled them up in straps and slung them over their shoulders.
who had just bought a 7-foot strap for his 123 newspapers
said that it was hardly long enough to hold them all. When the
papers were unusually heavy the company furnished a boy helper
at 35 cents a route to accompany the regular carrier.
R EG U L A R IT Y OF W O R K

The carrier must deliver his papers, rain or shine, unlike the
street newsboy, who may sell or not as he chooses. The great majonty of the typical carriers (173, or 71 per cent) worked on all five
school days and on Saturdays, and 16 others worked seven days a
week, -rorty-one of the carriers worked only on Saturdays or Sun­
days or both; almost all these boys delivered Sunday papers, usually
only on Sunday morning, though some worked both Saturday
afternoon and Sunday morning on Sunday-paper routes. Except for

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W IL K E S-B A R R E , BA.

261

one boy whose brother carried his route on Saturday so that he could
work in a store, the carriers working only on school days were helpers
or carried one of several foreign-language papers, which were not
issued every day.
H O U R S OF W O R K

Of 169 boys delivering morning papers, 72 delivered on school
days and 97 only on Saturdays or Sundays, generally Sundays.
Eight of the typical carriers had both a morning and an afternoon
route on school days, and 6 other morning carriers either carried or
did some other street work in the afternoons. Excluding the boys
who did some other street work in addition to their routes and whose
hours therefore were not always typical of the hours for carrying,
it was found that on school days 46 of the carriers delivered papers
before 6 o’clock. Although it was in general the older boys who went
out on morning routes (the daily morning carriers included 23 highschool boys and the Sunday morning carriers 11), 6 of the boys
were under 12 years of age and 24 were under 14. Nine carriers
of daily papers, of whom 3 were under 12, began their work before
5 a. m. Most of these went out every morning, some of them be­
ginning their work as early as 4 or 4.30, but several carried papers
only a few times a week. On Sundays the carriers did not have to
begin their work so early as on week days; 5 boys began their work
before 6 a. m., only 1 of whom was under 12 years of age. A 10-yearold boy, a Hungarian Jew, who was an independent carrier, set his
alarm for 3 o ’clock and started on his route at 3.30.
The early hours of the morning carrier constitute one of the few
objectionable features of .carrying newspapers on a route. Almost
all the carriers of the morning daily had to rise by 5 at the latest,
which would have meant, if the 12-year-old or 13-year-old boy
were to receive sufficient sleep, going to bed about 7. Other investiga­
tions have quoted teachers to the effect that children who do earlymorning work come to school so sleepy and tired that they can not
keep awake. In the present study teachers were not interviewed in
regard to the effects of street work on their pupils, but one school
principal, who was inclined to see nothing but good in the work of
the carrier, volunteered the story of a boy in his school who rising at
4 each morning to deliver papers habitually went to sleep in class
about 11 o’clock. Parents also sometimes said that morning work
made the boys “ cranky.”
The hours of the carriers of afternoon papers are unobjectionable.
The great majority (83 per cent) of the afternoon carriers who had
no other street work finished on school days before 6 o ’clock, and all
finished their work before 8 p. m. Of the few carriers who as a rule
did not finish their routes until after 6.30 almost all sold papers,
blacked boots, peddled, or did some other street work before beginning
to carry their papers or carried papers in the intervals of the other
jobs. One of the very few cases of hardship in hours among the
carriers who did not work on morning routes was that of a 13-yearold Greek boy who had worked every night except Sunday for three
months from 9.30 to 12.30 delivering a Greek newspaper that came
in on an evening train which was often late.
As almost all the morning carriers ended their work before 8
o ’clock and the great majority of the afternoon carriers completed


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

theirs before 6, as a rule the boys were able to have meals at home at
reasonable hours, though not always with the family.
A newspaper route seldom means more than an hour’s work a day.
(la b le 64.) The great majority of the 204 typical carriers working on
school days worked less than an hour, and almost all the carriers who
reported working two hours or more on street work had some other
work in addition to their routes. The 5 typical carriers who worked
two hours or more owed their unusually long hours to some unusual
cncumstance. One independent carrier, for example, who collected
each day had to wait for his customers, who might be away from
their places of business where he delivered the paper; another got
Philadelphia papers at the railroad station and had to open the
bundles and count out his own before starting out on his route.
A few of the carriers with extra jobs worked very long hours. Among
these the case of a 14-year-old boy is interesting though not typical.
Ihe boy worked five hours a day six days a week as a threader in a
lace mill, spent an hour and a half on school days and an hour on
Saturdays on his paper route, and attended high school 4 ^ hours a
ran 11-hour day (exclusive of lessons to be prepared at home)
on school days and 6 hours on Saturdays, or 61 hours a week. His
father, a machinist’s helper in a railroad shop, was out on strike, and
the family, in which there were four other children, reported that
they were in need of the boy’s earnings.
T a b l e 6 4 — Number of hours of street work on a typical school day, by age period;
newspaper carriers holding a single job, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
I

j

—

Newspaper carriers from 6 to 15 years of age

Number of hours of street work on
a typical school day

Total.................................
Street work on school days.
Less than 1 horn-....... ................
1 hour, less than 2........ ......
2 hours and over........................
No street work on school days ____

12 years, under 14 years, under
14
16

Total
10
Under
years,
10
Per
under
years
1
Num­
cent
121
ber
distri­
bution
245

Num­
ber

Per
cent
distri­
bution

Num­
ber

Per
cent
distri­
bution

31

45

97

204

100.0

27

36~

78

100.0

63

100.0

138
61
5

67.6
29.9
2.5

19

27

2

1

57
21

73.1
26.9

35
26

55.6
41.3
3.2

4

9

41

72

19

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

Carriers had longer hours on Saturdays and Sundays than on
school days. Although 60 per cent of the 210 typical carriers work­
ing on Saturday worked less than an hour, 18 boys (9 per cent)
worked at least two hours, usually those with a heavy Sunday-paper
route which they delivered Saturday afternoon. Sunday hours were
longest. All except 10 of the 52 typical carriers working on Sundays
worked at least 2 hours. A few boys worked 7, 8, or 9 hours deliver­
ing Sunday papers. A 15-year-old boy worked from 6 a. m. to
1 p. m. distributing with his brother’s help 401 Philadelphia, New
York, Scranton, and local Sunday papers; a 13-year-old boy dis
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W IL K E S -B A B B E , PA.

tributed Sunday papers from 7 a. m. until 1 p. m; and another, also
13 years of age, worked from 4 a. m. until 1 p. m. on a route of
about 200 papers.
Sunday work increased the number of hours per week, though even
with Sunday work only 7 (3 per cent) of the 245 boys whose street
work was confined to carrying worked 12 hours or more a week, and
only 1 worked as much as 16 hours. Almost half (46 per cent)
worked less than 4 hours a week delivering papers. (Table 65.)
EARNINGS

The majority of the carriers were employed at a flat sum, receiving
from $3.50 to $6.50 a month for delivering the evening papers and
about $8 a month for the morning papers. Payments were made
biweekly.
When boys worked in groups as some of them did (usually two or
three brothers) they did not always know how much their individual
earnings were, and a few carriers worked without pay; but 231 boys
who did no other street work except carrying were able to report the
amount of their earnings, if any, from their routes. The majority
(•54 per cent) received between $1 and $3 per week. (Table 65.)
Only 15 carriers made as much as $3 a week from their routes, includ­
ing boys who had both a morning and an afternoon route or who
delivered Sunday papers in addition to a daily, and none made as
much as $6. Thus, 88 per cent of the carriers reporting their earn­
ings made less than $3 a week. Carriers made considerably less
than the more enterprising newspaper sellers, for though about the
same proportion of carriers as of sellers made less than $1, many
♦ m o r e sellers than carriers earned $3 or more.
T a b l e 65.

-Earnings during a typical week, by number of hours engaged; news­
paper carriers holding a single job, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Newspaper carriers from 6 to 15 years of age
Working specified number of, hours per
week

Total
Earnings during a typical week

Less than 4
hours
Per
Num­
cent
ber
distri­
bution

Total_____ _____

245

Num­
ber

100.0

Less than $0.25........
$0.25, less than $0.50.
$0.50, less than $1__
$1, less than $2.........
$2, less than $3.........
$3 and over......... .
No earnings.............

11.3
3.5
19.5
32.5
21.6
6.5
5.2

109

Not reported.................
1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

75034°— 28------- 18


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Per
cent
distri­
bution

Num­
ber

100.0

90

113

Total reported............... .

4 hours, less
than 8
Per
cent
distri­
bution

99

17.4
5.5
21.1

35.8
11.0
1.8
7.3

Hours
not re­
8 hours ported i
and
over 1

32

100.0
5.6
2.2
20.0
33.3
27.8
8.9
2.2

31

264

CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

A few of the carriers who did other street work also reported that
they had made considerable amounts, some of them $10 or more a
week, but these boys usually did a good deal of selling. A 13-yearold schoolboy making $8 a week and working 3234 hours sold and
carried both morning and afternoon (except Saturday afternoon).
He had worked up his own routes and had about 40 customers.
Another boy, 13 years old, making $8.50, earned the greater part of
it selling newspapers but had worked up a route, chiefly in office
buildings, while selling. A 15-year-old Polish boy made $9.30 selling
and carrying newspapers. He worked both morning and afternoon,
37)4 hours a week.
Few carriers ever received tips except in connection with the sale
of calendars at New Year’s, which they bought at a small cost from
the newspaper and sold to their customers for whatever they were
willing to pay. One boy reported that he netted as high as $15 on
a day’s sale of these calendars.
N E E D F O R E A R N IN G S

The carriers were recruited from the families of all classes of wage
earners and small-salaried men. Occupationally their families were
representative of the entire city, except that the professional group
was only slightly represented (only 3 of the 315 carriers, 2 of whom
were only helpers, had fathers in a professional occupation, whereas
4 per cent of the male workers of the city 20 years of age or older
were in the professional class) and the fathers of carriers in business
or trade were usually owners of small neighborhood stores. But the
parallel among all other occupational groups was striking. The pro­
portion of chief breadwinners in carriers’ families who were in the
mining industry, in manufacturing, and in trade was almost exactly
the same as among all employed males in the city. For the other
principal groups of industries, the greatest difference was between
men engaged in transportation. Even in this group, however, the
proportion of chief breadwinners in carrier’ s families was only 4 per
cent larger than that among the total number of employed males in
the city. More than twice as many carriers as other newsboys had
fathers in clerical occupations, and three times as many had fathers
who were skilled mechanics in the building trades.
In the main the carriers, like the other street workers, car$e from
normal homes in which the father and mother were present and the
father earned the living for the family. Four-fifths of the boys
came from such homes. The remaining one-fifth (64 boys) were in
families in which some abnormal condition existed; the mother or
the father, or both, were dead or had deserted, or the father, though
at home, was ill or incapacitated and the mother or an older brother
was the principal support of the family. The mother was the chief
breadwinner in the families of 14 boys.
Most of the mothers acting as chief breadwinners in carriers’
families were widows, though in a few instances the father had been
ill for a long time and unable to work. Most of them worked at
home, principally as laundresses or as proprietors of small grocery
stores. The majority of the carriers in these families were typical
paper-route boys, doing no other street work. One of these families
was typical of a carrier’s family in which his earnings were felt to be
needed. A mother was struggling to support her six children on the

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$18 a week which she earned as a weaver in a silk factory, assisted
by the grandmother, who owned the house in which they lived, and
whatever the children could earn. Two older children, who were in
high school, assisted by working in stores after school and during
vacations, and the 12-year-old boy earned $5 a month on his paper
route. This family hoped to send all the children through high
school. Less typical of the carrier’s family was that of a 13-year-old
Italian boy who in addition to his route both sold newspapers and
did bootblacking, earning about $4 a week for about 20 hours’ work.
His father, a laborer in the breakers, was ill and had been unable to
work for many months. The family of six was supported by the
mother and a sister of 15 by means of a small grocery store which
the mother had just opened and for which she was heavily in debt.
Although not the main support of their families, the mothers of 30
other carriers were employed (not including those who kept boarders
or lodgers), about half of them away from home. These women
worked principally as laundresses, charwomen, and saleswomen,
though several owned small businesses. In most of these families
the boy’s own father was the principal breadwinner, and they were
chiefly the families of the less typical carriers who did some other
street work, generally selling papers, in addition to having a paper
route.
As in the case of the other street workers, an effort was made
through interviews with parents to obtain information showing the
extent of the need of the boy’s earnings. Visits were made to 93
carriers’ families in which were 122 (almost two-fifths) of the carriers
included in the study.
The widespread unemployment in Wilkes-Barre in 1922 (see p.243)
had affected carriers’ families far less than those of other street
workers, as a comparatively small proportion of chief breadwinners
in carrier’s families were in mining, the industry in which unemploy­
ment had been most serious. Only about half as many of the carriers’
chief breadwinners as of the other street workers, in proportion, had
been unemployed and had had a period or periods of unemployment
extending over six months or more. Nevertheless 56 per cent of the
carriers’ chief breadwinners in families visited and reporting on un­
employment had been unemployed during the year, 35 per cent had
had at least three months’ unemployment, and 20 per cent at least
six months’ . This fact no doubt accounts for the abnormally low
earnings reported. Forty-one of the chief breadwinners reporting
had earned less than $1,050 during the year preceding the inquiry.
Earnings of other members of the family brought the median family
income up to between $1,250 and $1,450, 47 per cent of the families
reporting having earnings of at least $1,450. Carriers’ families aver­
aged 6.6 members with an average of three children under 14 years
of age.
.
. .
. ,
Certain conditions indicated, however, that m normal times carriers
families were about as prosperous as the average. Thus, 28 (30 per
cent) of the 93 families visited owned without encumbrance the houses
in which they lived, compared with the fact that only 20 per cent of
the total number of homes in Wilkes-Barre were owned without
encumbrance.98 Overcrowding amounting to an average of more than
»8 Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. II, Population, p. 1299.


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

1.5 persons (that is, for example, households of 6 with fewer than 4
rooms) was present in only 11 per cent of the carriers’ families, only
one-third as large a proportion as was found among other street
traders’ families.
In spite of higher incomes and the large number of native families
among them the proportion of carriers’ families receiving assistance
from some public agency was almost as large as that of the other
street workers. The extent of the aid is accounted for, however, by
widowhood and illness rather than by unemployment. Among the
group of more typical carriers, 11 families with 16 boys (7 per cent of
the total number), and among the group of carriers with some other
street job, 5 families with 7 boys (3 per cent of the total number) had
received charitable aid, including nursing care, in 1921 or 1922. In
7 of the 16 families the mother was a widow and in 1 the father had
been ill for more than a year; 2 of the widows received pensions from
the mothers’ assistance fund, and the 6 other mothers were assisted
by the poor board or the United Charities, either by a regular pension
or by contributions of money, food, or clothing.^ Only 4 other fami­
lies received any assistance other than nursing care; 2 had had aid
from the United Charities or the poor board and 2 from the needyfamilies fund. (See p. 244.)
R E A S O N S F O R U N D E R T A K IN G S T R E E T W O R K

The reasons given by carriers for undertaking their first street jobs
paralleled closely those given by newspaper sellers and other street
workers, except that more carriers had begun by helping some other
boy. The majority of the boys (165 of the 315) said that their prin­
cipal motive in undertaking a newspaper route had been the desire t o ^
work (some of them simply to “ be doing something,” others, to earn
spending money or money for some specific object, such as a bicycle
or music lessons), or the desire to do what their friends were doing, or
to help their friends or brothers.
Thirty boys (10 per cent) said that they had first done the work
because their parents desired it. Some of these parents may have
urged the work because they wished the boy to help buy his clothes or
otherwise share in the family expenses, but none of these boys said
that they had gone to work because the family needed the money.
It was clear from talks with the parents of carriers that many of them
valued highly the training and experience that they believed the
responsibility of handling a route gave. They desired the work for
their boys because “ It gives him ambition to get somewhere” ; “ It
is good for a boy to be responsible for some real work” ; “ Boys who
do no work get lazy” ; “ It is nice for a boy to have a job of his own,
though his money is barely worth considering” ; “ It gives him some­
thing to do and keeps him out of mischief” ; “ It makes the boy
thrifty.” One or two parents even felt that the work would “ wake
the boy u p ” and make him do better school work.
A small proportion of the carriers, however (35, or 11 per cent—
almost as many as among the other street workers), gave family need
as their reason for undertaking their first street job. Like the other
street workers the younger boys were not at work because their M
families needed their help; only 8 of the 105 carriers under 12 years'Wof age, a smaller proportion than among the older carriers, said that
their reason for taking their first street job had been to help with

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W IL K E S-B A R R E , PA.

family expenses. In five of these families the father was dead or had
deserted, in one he was ill, and two of the families had five or six
children under 16 and very small incomes.
D IS P O S IT IO N O F. E A R N IN G S

The majority of the carriers, like the newsboys and bootblacks,
and perhaps like them influenced to some extent by need resulting
from the coal and railroad strikes, gave at least part of their earnings
to help with family expenses. (Table 66.) Among the 171 boys who
contributed toward the family support were 28 who turned in all that
they earned, and 4 who used all their earnings for their own necessi­
ties, usually clothing, and for family expenses. Eight other carriers
used all that they made for their own necessities. Thus 40 boys
(13 per cent of all the carriers) used all the money earned from their
routes for the necessities of life, either for themselves or for their
families, a proportion not very much smaller than among the news­
boys and bootblacks (see p. 248), and, as among the latter, similar
to the proportion of fatherless families and to the proportion claiming
economic necessity as their reason for working. Assistance for the
family was demanded on the score of widowhood to a much greater
extent among carriers than among other street workers; only 7 per
cent of the 259 carriers whose own fathers were the chief breadwinners
in their families gave all their earnings for family expenses, whereas of
the 56 boys who were supported by others than their own fathers, 18
per cent contributed all that they made toward the family budget.
Boys making at least $2 a week were somewhat more likely than
those making less than $2 to contribute to the family income; 51
per cent of the boys who earned less than $2 contributed as com­
pared with 61 per cent of those who earned $2 or more.
T a b l e 6 6 .— Disposition of earnings; newspaper carriers, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

Disposition of earnings1

Newspaper
carriers from
6 to 15 years
of age

Disposition of earnings 1

Num­ Percent
distri­
ber bution

cent
Num­ Per
distri­
ber bution
Total reported—Continued.
Part to family and part for self2.

Total______________________

315

Total reported___________________

313

100.0

129

41.2

8
12

2.6
3.8

15
2
28

48
.6
8.9

13
29

4.2
9.3

19
3

6.1
1.0

Spent for necessities----------Spent for luxuries................
Spent for necessities and
luxuries. _ ................. —.
Spent for expenses only____
Saved------ --------------- -------Saved and spent for necessi­
ties ------------- ---------------Saved and spent for luxuries.
Saved and spent for necessi­
ties and luxuries................
Saved and not specified------

Spent for necessities---------Spent for luxuries-------------Spent for necessities and lux­
uries____________ _______
Spent for expenses only-----Saved____________________
Saved and spent for necessi­
ties__________ ____ ____ Saved and spent for luxuries.
Saved and spent for necessi­
ties and luxuries...............
Saved and spent for ex­
penses only.......... ............
All to family— ..........................
No earnings...... ..........................
Not reported------ ------- ------------------

1 Earnings spent for necessities, luxuries, or both, may include expenses of job.
2 Subsidiary items show disposition of part spent for self.


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Newspaper
carriers from
6 to 15 years
of age

143

45.7

4
54

1.3
17.3

14

45
.3
3.8

1

12

1

36

.3
11.5

20

6.4

1

.3
8.9
42

28
13
2

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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

None of the boys whose chief breadwinners had earned $1,250 or
more gave all their own earnings for the family support. Boys whose
fathers were in the higher-income groups were more likely than the
others both to save and to have part of their earnings for spending
money. That unemployment also affected the disposition of the
boys’ earnings is shown by the fact that 2 of the 50 carriers, among
those whose homes were visited, whose chief breadwinners had been
unemployed less than two months or who had had no unemployment,
used all their earnings, and 26 used at least part of their earnings for
family expenses, whereas of the 31 carriers whose chief breadwinners
had been out of work two months or more, 3 used all their earnings for
the family and 17 used at least part.
More than half (52 per cent) of the boys saved some of then- money,
including 28 boys (9 per cent) who saved all that they made— higher
proportions than those found among newsboys and bootblacks.
The carriers more often than the newsboys and bootblacks, however,
were saving their money for some specific object dear to a boy’s
heart— a bicycle, a motion-picture machine, summer camp, or a
musical instrument— though others were saving for Christmas savings
clubs, the school bank, or a college education. A large majority
(64 per cent), larger than the proportion among newsboys and boot­
blacks, kept something for spending money, including 12 boys who
spent all that they made on their own pleasures. Almost all the latter
were little boys, under 10, making only a few cents a week.
The great majority of the carriers were likely to use their money
in a variety of ways. Very often among these boys the bulk went
for family and clothing, and the boy had a small sum for spending
money. The following are typical cases:
A 14-year-old boy of native parentage, whose father was a bookbinder, made
98 cents a week on a regular route which he had had for two years. He gave some .
money to his family, helped to buy his own clothing, had saved about 830, and
had bought a tire for his bicycle and a pocket knife.

Another 14-year-old boy, of Welsh parentage, whose father was a spragger in
the mines, earned $2 a week on a regular route which he had had for eight months.
He was saving $2 a month to buy a bicycle and he bought his own clothes. He
gave none to his family. The earned family income was $1,328 despite six
months’ unemployment of the father. The mother worked as cleaner in a bank,
and a boy of 16 and a girl of 20 were also at work. Only two children m the
family were under 16.
A school boy making $2 a week on a regular route, which he had had for a year,
clothed himself almost entirely and had about 75 cents spending money every
biweekly pay day. He contributed nothing to his family. In addition to his
morning-paper route he worked three hours every afternoon in a newspaper
office.
_________
A substitute carrier, 10 years old, earning 23 cents a week, helped to buy his
shoes and had some money to go to a show each week.

The 13-year-old son of a miner earned $2 a week on an afternoon paper route
which he had held for two years. He bought his own shoes, put some money m
the school bank, went to two or three movies a week, and gave the rest of tne
money to his mother for family expenses.


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269

A 13-year-old carrier, the son of a truck driver, earned $2 a week. He saved
some of his money, had paid a dentist’s bill of $36.50, and helped to buy his clothes.
He said he got very little spending money.
A 15-year-old high-school boy living with an uncle and aunt had had his route
for six years, earning at the time of the interview $2.92 a week. He clothed
himself entirely, had $5 in the bank, and used some of his earnings for spending
money.
A high-school boy making $1.03 a week on an afternoon route, which he had
had for several months and at which he worked about four hours a week, bought
his clothes, spent about $1 a month “ for fun,” had $2.37 in the school bank, and
contributed some money to his family.

A carrier, 13 years of age, making a little more than $5 a week on a morning
and an afternoon route, at both of which he worked only about an hour a day,
calculated that he could save two-thirds of what would be necessary to carry him
through college. Besides his savings he was paying for music lessons, saving for
a bicycle, and helping his family to buy a house. He compared his earnings with
those of a friend who worked for a dentist at $20 a month and got no time for
schooling.
CARRIERS IN SCHOOL

Eighteen per cent of the carriers, as compared with 4 per cent of
other street workers, were high-school boys. The carriers in ele­
mentary school were in every grade.
Attendance.

^
W

School-attendance records, which were obtained for 215 of the
235 boys who had been delivering papers at least part of the schobl
year 1921-22, showed that only 20 boys (9 per cent) had been absent
as much as 10 per cent of the term and that the average percentage
of attendance was 94, exactly the same as the average percentage for
all children in the Wilkes-Barre public schools for the same year
(see p. 249). A number of the boys who had lost as much time as
10 per cent of the term were boys whose occupational life, exclusive
of their work as carriers, may have influenced their school attendance
for the worse. Two had other street work, one of whom, a 10-year-old
Italian fruit peddler, was reported as a habitual truant; one, a Russian
Jew who was saving money for a college education, sold candy several
hours each evening in a theater; a fourth worked 33^ hours a day
as a delivery boy. The school attendance of boys with foreign-born
fathers was slightly better than that of the boys of native parentage.
Truancy.

w
“

The amount of truancy among the 245 carriers who did no other
street work except delivering papers was very small. Nine of these
boys had been reported to the school-attendance department as
absentees, but only 5 of these may be said actually to have been
truant, the absences of the others having been proved due to illness
or some other legitimate cause. The truancy of these 5 boys (2 per
cent of the group of typical carriers) appeared to be in no way con­
nected with their work. Four of the 70 carriers who had other street
work had been truant (one of these was the habitual truant referred to
on p. 272), another had stayed out of school to shine shoes. The
proportion (6 per cent) of truancy among this less typical group of
carriers resembles that found among the street sellers.


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R E

Whether or not the carriers were more often truant than the
general school population is not known, as no truancy figures for
boys in all the public and parochial schools of Wilkes-Barre are
available.
Deportment.

A mark in deportment for the school year ended June, 1922, was
obtained for 204 of the carriers. Ninety-three had not worked in the
school year 1921-22, or they had attended high school where no mark
in deportment was given; 2 had not attended school in 1921-22; and
no report could be found for 16 boys. Eighty-five carriers (42 per cent)
had a deportment mark of at least 90, and 146 (72 per cent) had at
least 80. The proportion of carriers marked at least 80 in deportment
was not much larger than that of the other street traders, but the pro­
portion with deportment marks from 90 to 100 was one and one-half
times as great. Although 15 boys (7 per cent) among the carriers
had received less than 70, the passing mark, in deportment, only 1 per
cent less than the proportion of other street workers who had failed
to meet the minimum requirements of good behavior in school,
an analysis of the 15 cases shows that 7 boys had other street work in
addition to their paper routes. Among the 8 typical carriers with
poor marks in deportment, 1, a 14-year-old boy, worked three hours
a day in a cigar store in addition to his work as paper carrier, and the
remaining 7 had morning-paper routes. The fact that these seven
constituted 11 per cent of the boys with morning routes on school
days and no other street work, whereas less than 1 per cent of the
carriers with afternoon routes and no other street work were marked
below 70 in deportment suggests the relation that might be suspected
between lack of sleep and restlessness and mischievous behavior in
school. Incidentally, it is interesting to note that the results of
mental tests, which were available for 6 of the 15 boys marked below
passing in deportment, showed that 2 were below average in intelli­
gence and 1 barely average, with an intelligence quotient of 86. The
last boy also had a history of selling papers and bootblacking.
Progress and scholarship.

Carriers had made better than average progress in school. Among
all boys 8 to 15 years of age below high-school grades in the WilkesBarre public schools, the proportion of those who were retarded or
overage for their grades was 31 per cent, and of those who were
advanced or underage for their grades was 5 per cent (see footnote 38,
p. 22). Among the carriers only 19 per cent of those 8 to 15 years
of age were retarded and 20 per cent were advanced; or if the highschool boys among the carriers are excluded in order to make the
figures more strictly comparable only 22 per cent were retarded and
14 per cent were advanced. The proportion of those who were
advanced in school as compared with all the public-school boys of
Wilkes-Barre 99 is particularly noticeable, being more than twice as
great. Carriers with foreign-born fathers were only slightly more
retarded than the boys of native parentage, the proportions being
20 per cent and 16 per cent, respectively.
So far as could be determined from the results of intelligence tests
which had been given to 99 of the carriers, or about one-third of their
99 Fifty-one of the carriers attended parochial schools.


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W IL K E S -B A R R E , P A .

total number, carriers were not markedly superior to the norm in
native intelligence (see footnote 22, p. 103). Although the intelligence
quotients of 85 per cent of the carriers showed them to be of average
or superior intelligence, compared with 80 per cent as the norm, the
percentage of carriers with superior intelligence was only 12 per cent
compared with the normal 20 per cent.
The unusually good progress that the carriers had made in school
should be attributed, it would appear, to other qualities than superior
intelligence. This bears out the statement made by representatives of
the newspapers, teachers, and others that the carriers as a class were
boys with the qualities of character that make for success, such as
persistence, industry, and ambition.
The fact that the longer the carriers had held their routes the less
retarded they were (exactly the reverse of the findings in the case of
the street sellers) tends to confirm this conclusion. Thus the pro­
portion of retarded pupils among carriers who had been working at
their jobs less than one year was 26 per cent, whereas among those
who had been working between one year and three years it was only 14
per cent. Of the 26 boys who had worked at least three years, only
3 were retarded. Moreover, 24 per cent of the boys who had
delivered papers for at least one year were advanced in school,
whereas only 16 per cent of those who had held their routes for less
than one year were advanced. The smaller percentage of retardation
among carriers who had had their routes for a year or more is the
more remarkable in view of the fact that this group included many
of the older boys, and the percentage of retardation, as a rule, is
higher the greater the age of the pupils.
The school standing of the carriers, excluding those who did other
street work in addition to their routes, was superior to the school
standing of the other street workers, as is seen by comparing the
school records of the latter (see p. 253) with the following distributiou of marks for 167 carriers who had no other street work, who
had worked during the school year ended June, 1922, and for whom
records of scholarship were found:
Average grade

Total_______ - ________

Number
of boys

J ________________________

Percent
distribution

167

Less than 70----------------------------------------70, less than 8 0 _________________________________
80, less than 9 0 -------------------------------------------------------------- 64
90 or m ore. ____________ ,---------------------------------------------18

100
1710
68

41
38
H

Among the group of 53 less typical carriers, those who had other
street work, the proportion having marks in scholarship of less than
80 (54 per cent) and the proportion with marks below passing (13
per cent) were only slightly higher than among the more typical
carriers; but among these boys only 2 (4 per cent) had marks of 90
or more (scarcely one-third as many in proportion as among the
boys whose street work was confined to newspaper carrying), and
1 of these 2 was a magazine carrier.
DELINQUENCY AMONG CARRIERS

Only 7 (3 per cent) of the 245 carriers with no other street work
(that is, the group of typical carriers) had juvenile-court records.
One boy had been arrested two years before he had begun to carry

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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

papers, and of the remaining 6 only 3 had more than trivial charges
against them. In 2 of these cases insufficient spending money seemed
to offer a more plausible explanation of the delinquency than any
conditions associated with the boy’s route work.
Five other carriers who sold papers or peddled in addition to deliv­
ering papers (7 per cent of this group) had court records. As the
following stories show, the delinquency was generally related to the
boy’s secondary occupation or might easily be ascribed to the con­
ditions of his street work other than carrying:
A 15-year-old boy, who for six years had sold newspapers, had had an inde­
pendent paper route for two years. He had also blacked boots at 8 years of age.
In 1919 he had been arrested charged with being a nuisance around the railroad
station and in 1922 was again before the juvenile court for trespassing on the
railroad. He sold papers morning and afternoon, going out to sell at 4 in the
morning, and selling as late as 7 p. m. on week days and 9 on Saturdays. He
was in only the fifth grade.
A 13-year-old boy who had sold papers since he was 11 and carried them
(independently) since he was 10, was brought before the court in the summer of
1922 charged with being a nuisance around the railroad station. He sold papers
until 9 Saturday nights. This boy had an intelligence quotient of 116 and came
from a prosperous home. He was saving all his money to go to college.

A 14-year-old boy who had sold papers for two years and had a small inde­
pendent route stayed out selling papers until midnight Saturdays. His deport­
ment and standing in school were poor. In March, 1921, he was charged with
entering a store at night with other boys, though he denied stealing anything.
While he was oh probation his teacher complained that he smoked and played
craps.
A 10-year-old boy, in a very poor Italian family with six children, peddled
fruit in addition to his route. In the summer of 1922 he was taken before the
juvenile court on the charge, made by the police, of stealing newspapers. The
boy said that he had run away from home and was sleeping in a field, and had
stolen the papers to sell to buy food. He was put on probation; but at the time
of the study, during which he was on probation, his teacher complained that he
had been tardy, truant, and a runaway from home. In December, 1922, he stole
a bicycle and traded it for a watch. The boy wished to be sent to a reformatory
but was put on probation as he was said to have “ been filled with stories of the
reform school and wished to see it.”

A 13-year-old boy, whose conduct in school was poor, was the son of an Italian
bootblack. The boy both sold and carried papers and blacked boots on the street.
He had sold papers since he was 11. In October, 1922, he was brought before
the court for stealing chickens. He said he had been out late selling papers and
as he left the square at 1.30 in the morning to go home an older boy handed him
a bag saying, “ Take this.”


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PART III.— STREET WORK IN NEWARK AND
PATERSON, N. J.
INTRODUCTION
The study of children engaged in street work in Newark and Pater­
son was part of a series of studies of child welfare in New Jersey,
including several others relating to children at work, made in the
spring and summer of 1925.1 The scope was somewhat different from
that of the earlier Children’s Bureau studies of street workers. It
included not only children who were engaged in the work at the time
of the interview with the Children’s Bureau agent but all children
under 16 years of age attending public but not parochial schools 2
who reported to their teachers that they had engaged in any street
occupation between the close of school in June, 1924, and the date of
the inquiry (between March and the close of school in June, 1925)
and who when interviewed by a Children’s Bureau agent said that
they had worked at least 26 days during that period. The inclusion
of children who had stopped street work prior to the date of inquiry
gave a larger statistical base and an opportunity to compare condi­
tions of work during summer vacation with those under which the
children worked while attending school.
Somewhat less detailed information than in the earlier studies was
sought. Fewer inquiries were made of the children, no visits were
paid to their homes, and a much less complete study was made of the
business arrangements between the newspaper companies or the
dealers and the boys selling or carrying newspapers, and of condi­
tions in and around newspaper-distributing rooms.
In January, 1927, a representative of the Children’s Bureau re­
turned to Newark and Paterson and by observations on the street
and through interviews with circulation managers, newspaper deal­
ers, and social workers, as well as with newsboys on the street, at­
tempted to ascertain whether or not conditions with respect to selling
and carrying papers, numerically the most important street work in
which the children engaged, were the same as in the spring of 1925.
No change was reported by any of the persons consulted. The
statistics presented are those gathered in 1925.
.
Table 67 shows the number of boys engaged in each of the princi­
pal kinds of street work in Newark, and the race and nationality of
their fathers, and Table 88 (p. 313) shows the number in Paterson who
sold or who carried papers, and the race and nationality of their
fathers.
1

See Thirteenth Annual Report of the Chief of the Children’s Bureau, Fiscal Year Ended June 30,

192 Ofthe^total number of school children in Newark, a little less than 25 per cent were enrolled in parochial
chools, and of those in Paterson 17 per cent.

?.73


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NEWARK, N. J.
LEG AL R EG U LATIO N OF STR E E T W O R K

Street work in Newark at the time of this study was regulated
by a local ordinance. A section of the New Jersey law 3 provided
for the issuance of “ age and working certificates” to children be­
tween 10 and 16 years of age permitting them to engage in certain
light employment outside school hours, including running errands,
selling newspapers, and bootblacking, and penalized any person,
the members of any firm, or the officers or agents of any corpora­
tion employing, permitting, or allowing a child to work contrary
to its provisions, but this provision was not applied to street workers,
apparently because such children are not customarily employed
but work on their own account.
The Newark ordinance relating to newsboys, passed in 1904, some
years before the State child labor law, prohibited boys under 10 years
of age and girls under 16 from selling newspapers on the streets.
It required boys between 10 and 14 to obtain permits and badges
from the board of education specifying that application must be made
by the parent and “ satisfactory proof” of age must be presented.
The permit had to be renewed annually and worn conspicuously
while the newsboy was at work. Children were prohibited from sell­
ing after 10 p. m. or between 9 a. m. and 3 p. m., but were allowed
to sell at any hour before 9 in the morning. The ordinance provided
that a child selling papers otherwise than in accordance with the regu­
lations should be arrested and put on probation or confined in an
institution, the cost of maintenance in case of commitment to an
institution being borne by the child’s parent or guardian.4 No other
penalties were provided.
At the time of the Children’s Bureau survey no age and working
certificates were issued in Newark to newsboys or other street workers.
Newsboy permits and badges were issued under the local ordinance
by the city school-attendance department on application of the child
and his parent in person. These had to be renewed on June 30 of
each year. No evidence of age was required other than the school
record if the child appeared to be 10 years of age. An effort was
made by the department to enforce the law by occasional surveys
of the streets in search of newsboys under 10 years old and boys
selling papers after 10 p. m. At such times the entire staff of the
department (26 attendance officers at the time of the study) was
assigned to patrol the streets and bring into the office for warning
any child found selling papers contrary to the provisions of the
ordinance. The parent also was visited and warned.
2 New Jersey, Laws of 1914, ch. 223, see. 13.
* Newark Ordinances, secs. 670-676a, ordinance approved Apr. 2, 1904. See Laws and Ordinances
Regulating Street Work (U. S. Children’s Bureau Chart No. 15).

274

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275

Of the 336 boys under 14 years of age who were selling papers
when interviewed between March and June, 1925, only 50 said that
they had permits, and 7 of these were under 10, the minimum age
for newspaper selling according to tlie local ordinance. Agents of tne
Children’s Bureau examined the records of newsboy permits, kept m
the office of the school-attendance department, for the year of the
study and found that only two boys in the study were recorded as
having permits.
N E W S P A P E R SELLERS

Four hundred and sixty-seven Newark school boys had sold papers
during the school year 1924-25, including 397 who were selling before
or after school at the time of the interview.5 Four hundred and fifty
had sold papers during the summer vacation of 1924. Only 71 of
the newsboys had worked only during vacation. The great majority
are included therefore in both groups of workers.
R A C E A N D N A T IO N A L IT Y OF F A T H E R S

The newsboys were largely from the homes of immigrants, chiefly
Italians. The proportion of negro newsboys, also, was large compared
with the proportion of negroes in the population of Newark, which
in 1920 was only 4 per cent.6 As has been said, the groups selling
during the school period and during the summer vacation were
largely the same boys. (Table 67.)
E C O N O M IC C O N D IT IO N OF FA M ILIES

No attempt was made to obtain information on wages or incomes
^ o f either the fathers or the families of the newsboys, but the father’s
(or other chief breadwinner’s) occupation, the extent of widowhood,
and the gainful employment of mothers, items regarding which
inquiry was made, give an idea of the economic status of the families,
and indicate, though in a very general way, whether or not economic
necessity had compelled the boys to undertake newspaper sellmg.
Among the boys selling papers during vacation, 74 (16 per cent)
and among those selling during the school term, 71 (15 per cent) had
no father, not even a stepfather nor a foster father, providing for
their families. These boys may be regarded from the point of view
of the economic condition of the family as coming from fatherless
homes. Among the vacation workers 40 (9 per cent) and among
the other newsboys 38 (8 per cent) were in families supported by
mothers. Apparently a very small number of the boys could have
been working to support a widowed family.
» One girl reported selling papers m vacation, a child of 7, of Jewish parentage, who had sold papers four
weeks in the summer of 1924, every weekday from 3 to 6 p. m. During the school year 1924-25 ^ other girls
aged 11,12, and 13, all of foreign parentage, had sold papers 15, 32, and 10 weeks. respectively, and aU three
were selling at the time of the interview. The oldest girl substituted for a brother severalAimes a week,
half an hour on week-day afternoons and from 7 to 10 a. m. on Sundays, selhngm a residential neighbo
hood. The 11-year-old girl sold in a business section from 4 to 5 p. m. daily. The other girl sold at her
father’s news stand from 10 to 11 Saturday mornings. None of the girls is ih clu d ^ m the tablM.
6 Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. II, Population, p. 56. Washington, 1922.

*


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276
T

CHILDREN1 IN STREET W O R K

able

67.

Race and nationality of father and period in which work occurred/
boys engaged in certain types of street trades, Newark, N . J.
Boys under 16 years of age

Race and nationality of father

Newspaper
sellers

Num­
ber

Per
cent
distri­
bution

Newspaper
carriers

Bootblacks

Num­
ber

Per
cent
distri­
bution

Num­
ber

Per
cent
distri­
bution

Peddlers

Num­
ber

Per
cent
distri­
bution

SCHOOL TEEM
Total...........................................

467

100.0

679

100.0

387

100.0

243

100.0

393

84.2

653

96.2

293

75.7

226

93.0

80
310

17.1
66.1

259
384

38.1
56.6

19
273

4.9
70.5

58
164

23 9
67.5

Italian.....................................
Russian Jewish.......................
Other Jewish____ ____
Polish_____________
German_______________
Other foreign born and foreign born not otherwise
specified_________________

169
19
6
41
4

36.2
4.1
1.3
8.8
.9

109
69
25
26
55

16.1
10.2
37
3.8
8.1

251

64.9

76

31 3

5

1.3

12
9

4.9
3.7

71

15.2

100

14.7

17

4.4

26

10.7

Nativity not reported...................

3

.6

10

1.5

1

.3

4

1.6

74

15.8

26

3.8

94

24.3

17

7.0

450

100.0

407

100.0

340

100.0

343

100.0

393

87.3

395

97.1

261

76.8

309

901

66
323

14.7
71.8

148
244

36.4
60.0

13
246

3.8
72.4

68
235

19 8
68.5

156
21
14
45
5

34.7
4. 7
3.1
10.0
1.1

75
42
22
9
33

18.4
10.3
fi. 4
2.2
8.1

229

67.4

110

32 1

3
1

.9
.3

21
16

61

82

18.2

63

15.5

13

3.8

39

11.4

4

.9

3

.7

2

.6

6

1.7

57

12.7

12

2.9

79

23.2

34

9.9

White_________________
N ative................................
Foreign bom...............................

Negro.......................................
VACATION

T o ta l.......................................
White_____ ____

i

Native............... ..................
Foreign born....... ......................
Italian.... .................
Russian Jewish_________
Other Jewish________
Polish_____ ____ ____
German____________
Other foreign bern and foreign born not otherwise
specified........... ..................
Nativity not reported.................
Negro......................................

j About one-third (32 per cent of both groups of the newsboys) were
m families in which the mother helped supplement the income,
excluding those who were the chief support of their families.
The chief breadwinners in the families of about one-fourth of the
boys in each group were laborers in the building trades, in factories,
or in transportation; or were engaged in domestic and personal service;
or were peddlers. Such workers were presumably in receipt of a
comparatively small or uncertain income. The proportion in domes­
tic and personal service was more than twice that for all employed
males of 20 years of^ age and over in Newark, whereas the proportion
in professional and in clerical pursuits was only one-third of that for
the male workers in the city.7 The great majority, however, were
in families in which the chief breadwinner’s occupation indicated that
they probably enjoyed as much prosperity as the average wage
W a S S o n * ! ^ 611808 ° f th ® U nited States’ 1920’ Vo1, IV * P oP O & tion . O ccupations, pp. 1179-1181.


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277

NEWARK, N. J.

earner’s family. One-fourth had chief breadwinners who were
factory operatives, and almost one-third came from families where
the heads of the household were machinists and mechanics, contractors
and foremen or skilled workers in the building trades, skilled workers
in factories, commercial travelers, clerks and professional workers,
workers in public service, owners, of businesses, and, in a few cases,
factory or shop owners.
A G E OF N E W S B O Y S

The Newark newsboys were younger than those in the other cities
surveyed by the Children’s Bureau— about one-fifth were under 10
years of age and about half were under 12. Very young children
were selling papers on the streets. The vacation newsboys included
two 6-year-old boys and 15 who were 7 years of age; even among the
group working during the school period 15 were under 8 years old.
Table 68 shows the children’s ages when they were interviewed.
As the groups were composed largely of the same children little differ­
ence in age would be expected.
D U R A T IO N O F S T R E E T W O R K

The great majority (86 per cent) of the vacation workers had sold
papers between 9 and 10 weeks, approximately the entire summer
vacation. The boys who had sold while school was in session could
have worked a maximum period of about six months to about nine
months; that is, from early in September, when school began, to a
date between the latter part of March, when the first boys were inter­
viewed, to the close of school in June. Seventy per cent of the boys
had worked at least 24 weeks while also attending school, and many
i^had sold during the summer vacation.
No inquiry was made as to the length of time the boys had been
selling newspapers or doing othen street work prior to the beginning
of the summer vacation in 1924.
T

able

6 8 . — Age at date of interview and period in which work occurred; newspaper

sellers and carriers, Newark, N . J.
Boys under 16 years of age

Boys under 16 years of age

Age at date of
interview

Newspaper
sellers

Newspaper
carriers

Age at date of
interview

Newspaper
sellers

Newspaper
carriers

Per
Per
Num­ cent Num­ cent
distri­
ber
distri­
ber
bution
bution

Per
Per
Num­ cent Num­ cent
distri­
ber distri­ ber
bution
bution
VACATION

SCHOOL TERM

679

Total________

467

Total reported—.......

467

100.0

677

100.0

2
13
24
58
52
88
83
75
44
28

.4
2.8
5.1
12.4
11.1
18.8
17.8
16.1
9.4
6.0

6
18
13
30
67
95
127
151
123
47

.9
2.7
1.9
4.4
9.9
14.0
18.8
22.3
18.2
6.9

2


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407

Total________

450

Total reported_____

450

100.0

405

100.0

2
15
20
50
57
75
84
80
40
27

.4
3.3
4.4
11.1
12.7
16.7
18.7
17.8
8.9
6.0

1
10
5
21
41
50
65
98
85
29

.2
2.5
1.2
5.2
10.1
12.3
16.0
24.2
21.0
7.2

6 years............—
7 years..... ......... .
8 years_________
9 years.......... .
10 years________
11 years________
12 years________
13 years________
14 years________
•15 years________
Not reported_______

2

278

CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K
C O N D IT IO N S OF W O R K

Most of the Newark newsboys sold one of three daily papers.
Two of these papers had four or five editions, beginning at about
11 a. m. and issued every hour or so. The other was a morning
paper with a Sunday edition. One other Sunday paper coming from
the press not later than 3.30 a. m. and many New York papers, both
daily and Sunday, were sold on the streets. The New York papers
and one of the local Sunday papers were distributed through two
wholesale news dealers, but the other local papers were distributed
by the newspapers themselves from their down-town offices, though
some newsboys were supplied at convenient corners. All paid cash
for their papers, and no returns were allowed. The boys usually
bought a few papers at a time and if they sold these came back for
more. They were not assigned to their locations nor supervised
in any way. The busy down-town comers were well supplied with
news stands and the boys occupied the less important points or sold
up and down the streets. The business arrangements between the
newsboys and the dealers handling out-of-town and Sunday papers
were similar. The boys called at the down-town offices for their
papers, paid cash for them, and took them out to sell wherever
they could.
Of the 397 newsboys included in the study who were working at
the time of the interview, 275 always sold in business sections of
the city, chiefly along Market Street and Broad Street and at the
railroad terminals, the Tubes, and the Parkway. At these points,
especially between 5 and 6 in the afternoon, when the newsboys’
trade is at its peak, the traffic is at its worst, and the boys darting
in and out of the traffic, as many of them did, appeared to run an
unusual risk of street accidents. Twenty-seven boys sold in both
business and residential districts.
Three hundred and fifty boys (88 per cent of the 397 who were
working at the time of the interview) sold entirely on their own
account, but 32 boys were employed by news-stand keepers or other
adults, and 13 helped other boys; 1 other sold some papers for him­
self besides being hired by a news-stand keeper, and 1 sold for himself
and helped another boy. It was not unusual to see young schoolboys
busy at their down-town stands, arranging the papers and waiting
on customers or even taking a few papers in hand and going out to
solicit trade. This work was usually done in the late afternoon,
but now and then a small boy would be seen during school hours
and would explain that the “ teacher was sick” and he was “ helping a
guy.”
No special study of conditions in and around the newspaperdistributing rooms was attempted. The superintendent of a down­
town boys’ club and an agent of the children’s aid society, both in
close touch with boys of the street-working type, were unaware of
any special problems arising out of conditions in the distributing
rooms of the local papers, nor did they know of any cases of boys
sleeping on the premises of the newspaper offices. One, of the dealers
reported that a good deal of penny pitching and crap shooting went


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N E W A R K , N . J.

279

on in and around the alley upon which one of the distribution rooms
opened, the boys pausing for a game or two whenever they returned
for a fresh supply of papers. The explanation proffered by this
dealer was that the boys had more money in their pockets than they
would have if they did not sell papers, so that it was easier to indulge
their taste for games of chance; and also that some boys, especially
Italians, were expected to bring home a fixed amount, and if they
had made less, they took a chance on making it up by gambling.
R E G U LA R ITY O F W O R K

Selling papers a few days a week or now and then was not cus­
tomary among the groups of newsboys included in the study. Only
19 among both the vacation newsboys and the others sold irregularly,
and only 93 others in the vacation group and 101 in the other group
sold on fewer than six days a week. Eleven boys in the vacation
group and 18 in the other confined their selling to week-ends (that
is, Saturdays or Sundays, or both). Thus three-fourths of the boys
in each group of workers sold papers six or seven days a week.
H O U R S OF W O R K

Only 8 schoolboys sold the morning paper when school was in
session, of whom 5 were on the streets selling before 7 a. m. Six of the
morning newsboys also sold papers in the afternoons of school days.
On Sundays papers were sold by 87 boys, of whom 51 were out selling
before 8 a. m., including 7 boys who began before 6. During the
summer vacation papers were sold on week-day mornings by 109
(24 per cent) of the boys, most of whom sold the mid-morning editions.
Eleven reported that they began to sell before 7 o ’clock; of these 5
were under 12 years of age and 2 under 10. Some of these boys
went out again in the late afternoon after selling an hour or so in
the morning. Sunday sellers in vacation numbered 69; 41 began
their work before 8 a. m., of whom 6 began before 6 o ’clock.
Almost, all the boys sold in the afternoons of week days. (Table
69.) Although both during the summer and in seasons when school
was in session the great majority of these boys were through selling
their papers before 8 p.m ., a few boys sold until a later hour. Thirtytwo (7 per cent) of the vacation workers, and 36 (8 per cent) of the
others sold papers on the evenings of week days until at least 8 p. m.,
several later than 10 p. m., the hour after which children were for­
bidden by city ordinance to sell papers on the streets. The vacation
newsboys included a Polish child of 7 who sold until 10.30 every
week night and another 7-year-old boy, a fruit peddler’s son, who
sold papers up to midnight. On the evenings of school days, while
attending school, three boys were out until 10 p. m., and one until 11.
The latter, a 12-year-old Jewish boy, had sold New York papers
from 9 to 11 for a month when he was stopped by the police. Two
of the four boys selling until 10 or later sold for dealers.
75034°—28-----19


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280

CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

TAjBLE^ 9 — Hour of ending afternoon work on a typical week day other than Satur­
day during school term and during vacation, by age period; newspaper sellers
Newark, N. J.

Newspaper sellers under 16 years of age

Hour of ending afternoon work
on a typical week day other
than Saturday

Total

Under 10
years

10 years,
under 12

12 years,
under 14 i

14 years,
under 16

Per
Per
Per
Per
Per
Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent
ber distri­ ber distri­ ber distri­ ber distri­ ber distri­
bution
bution
bution
bution
bution
SCHOOL TERM

Total___ _____________

467

97

140

158

72

Afternoon work........................

438

87

133

150

68

Hour reported___________

435

100.0

85

100.0

133

100.0

149

100.0

68

100.0

Before 6 p. m ________
6 p. m., before 8 p. m__
8 p. m., before 10 p. m__
10 p. m., before 12 p. m .

168
231
32
4

38.6
53.1
7.4
.9

37
40
6
2

43.5
47.1
7.1
2.4

52
67
14

39.1
50.4
10.5

56
83
9
1

37.6
55.7
6.0
.7

23
41
3

33 8
fiO 3
4 4*

Hour not reported_______

3

Morning work only__________
No work on a week day other
than Saturday____________
Time of day not reported____

18
8

5
5

Total ________________

450

87

132

164

Afternoon work_____________

422

71

125

161

Hour reported........ ...........

421

100.0

71

100.0

125

100.0

160

100.0

65

100.0

Before 6 p. m ............
6 p. m., before 8 p. m „
8 p. m., before 10 p. m .
10 p. m., before 12 p. m.
12 p. m., and after

192
197
30
1
1

45.6
46.8
7.1
.2
.2

30
34
5
1
1

42.3
47.9
7.0
1.4
1.4

65
50
10

52.0
40.0
8.0

67
81
12

41.9
50.6
7.5

30
32
3

46. 2
49.2
4.6

2

1.5

1

3

3
3
2

6
1

v a c a t io n

Hour not reported
Morning work only_______
No work on a week day other
than Saturday. . ________
Time of day not re p o rte d .__

1

67
65

1

11

7

2

11
6

4
5

5

2
1

On Saturdays both in summer time and during the school year the
newsboys worked later than on other nights. (Table 70.) Half
the boys in each group who sold on Saturday afternoons stopped
before 6; but a large proportion both of the vacation newsboys and of
the others sold papers on Saturdays until between 6 and 8 p. m., and
a few (10 per cent of one group and 12 per cent of the other) worked
until 8 or later. These included some who worked until at least
10 p. m., among whom were several boys who stayed out until
midnight or later. Some had sold all day, like an 11-year-old boy
who sold from 8 in the morning until 10 at night, stopping at a lunch
counter a few minutes for his meals, though even then he had his
papers under his arm and an eye out for customers. Others had
begun late in the afternoon or in the early evening, like a 10-year-old
boy and his brother who took up their stand with their Sunday papers
near the Hudson Tubes at 7 p. m., selling until midnight, summer
and winter,

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281

NEWARK, N. J.

T a b l e 7 0 — Hour of ending work on a typical Saturday afternoon during school
term and during vacation, by age period; newspaper sellers, Newark, N . J.
Newspaper sellers under 16 years of age
Under 10
years

Total
Hour of ending work on a
typical Saturday afternoon

10 years,
under 12

12 years,
under 14

14 years,
under 16

Per
Per
Per
Per
Per
Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent
ber distri­ ber distri­ ber distri­ ber distri­ ber distri­
bution
bution
bution
bution
bution
SCHOOL TEEM

Total

_______________

467

Afternoon work_____________ 1 345
Hour reported___________
6 p. m., before 8 p. m „
8 p. m., before 10 p. m._

344
172
133
36
3

100.0
50.0
38.7
10.5
.9

97

140

158

67

107

118

66
31
27
8

1

1

30
83
9

9
15
6

72
53

100.0

107

100.0

118

100.0

53

100.0

47.0
40.9
12.1

56
40
10
1

52.3
37.4
9.3
.9

60
46
11
1

50.8
39.0
9.3
.8

25
20
7
1

47.2
37.7
13.2
1.9

2
17

12
26
2

7
25
1

VACATION

Total .........................
Afternoon work......... ............

8 p. m., before 10 p. m-----10 p. m., before 12 p. m -----

67

164

132

87

450
339

100.0

59

100.0

98

100.0

128

100.0

54

100.0

170
136
29
2
2

50.1
40.1
8.6
.6
.6

26
27
4
1
1

44.1
45.8
6.8
1.7
1.7

52
33
11
1
1

53.1
33.7
11.2
1.0
1.0

64
53
11

50.0
41.4
8.6

28
23
3

51.9
42.6
5.6

No work on Saturday..............
Time of day not reported------

25
81
5

10
13
5

5
29

9
27

1
12

Late selling, especially on Saturday nights, was usually due to the
New York newspapers, the Sunday editions of which were sold on
the streets of Newark on Saturday evenings. That more boys were
not selling late at night was explained by one newsdealer as the
result of the establishment of the news stands, which, he said, could
take care of the night trade. He expressed the opinion that news­
boys out late at night were only begging, saying that the parkway
leading to the Hudson Tubes was full of small boys at night using
the old story of “ my last paper” to solicit money. He also said
that in order to drive a rival from the field by competition he was
planning to hire 20 or 25 small boys to sell for him at mght, though
he had to “ defy the law.” He was well aware of the provisions
of the street-trades ordinance but asserted that they were not
enforced, as the police would not cooperate in sending boys oil the
streets
In vacation the boys could and did spend much more time on the
streets selling papers than during the school year 51 per cent
sold at least 3 hours a day and 27 per cent at least 5 hours, including
45 boys who sold papers 8 hours a day or longer. The proportion
of young children, both those under 10 and those under 12, working

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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

5 or more hours a day, or even 8 or more hours, was as large as
among the boys who worked only a few hours a day. (Table 71.)
Although the boys working before or after school did not work
so many hours a day as newsboys selling papers when school was not
m session, nevertheless the great majority sold at least 2 hours and
many sold at least 3. (Table 71.) Relatively, almost as many of the
boys under 12 and of the boys under 10 years as of the plder boys
worked 2 hours or longer on school days. A little group of boys,
chiefly from Italian and Polish homes, sold from 5 to 6 3^2 hours on
school days, beginning immediately after school and continuing
until 8.30 or 9 or later, some of them with no supper until after
their return home. Two brothers, one 11, the other 15 years of age,
owed their long hours to the fact that they sold both before and
after school, from 6 to 8.30 in the morning and from 4 to 7 in the
evening. This they had done throughout vacation and during the
school year up to May, when they were interviewed.
T a b l e 71. Number of hours of street work on a typical week day other than Saturday during school term and during vacation, by age period: newspaper sellers
Newark, N . J.
1

Newspaper sellers under 16 years of age

Number of hours of street work
on a typical week day other
than Saturday

Total

Under 10
years

10 years,
under 12

12 years,
under 14

14 years,
under 16

Per
Per
Per
Per
Per
Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent
ber distri­ ber distri­ ber distri­ ber distri­ ber distri­
bution
bution
bution
bution
bution
SCHOOL TEEM

Total...............................

467

97

140

158

Street work on week days____

449

92

134

155

Total reported...... .........
Less than 1 hour.........
1 hour, less than 2____
2 hours, less than 3___
3 hours, less than 5___
5 hours, less than 8___
Not reported.................
No street work on week days...

72
68

438

100.0

85

100.0

133

100.0

152

100.0

68

100.0

28
140
162
95
13

6.4
32.0
37.0
21.7
3.0

4
31
31
16
3

4.7
36.5
36.5
18.8
3.5

'5
47
45
29
7

3.8
35.3
33.8
21.8
5.3

15
42
58
35
2

9.9
27.6
38.2
23.0
1.3

4
20
28
15
1

29.4
41.1
22 1
1.5

11

7

1

3

18

5

6

3

4

67

5 9

VACATION

Total........... ..............

450

87

132

164

Street work on week days I .

439

83

127

164

Total reported____ ____

433

100.0

79

100.0

127

100.0

162

100.0

65

100.0

23
92
99
104
70
33
10
2

5.3
21.2
22.9
24.0
16.2
7.6
2.3
.5

5
17
21
15
13
5
3

6.3
21.5
26.6
19.0
16.5
6.3
3.8

3
27
30
29
24
11
2
1

2.4
21.3
23.6
22.8
18.9
8.7
1.6
.8

9
32
36
43
24
12
5
1

5.6
19.8
22. 2
26.5
14 8
7.4
3.1
.6

6
16
12
17
9
5

24.6
18. 5
26.2
18.8
7 ,7

Less than 1 hour____
1 hour, less than 2
2 hours, less than 3__
3 hours, less than 5___
5 hours, less than 8___
8 hours, less than 10...
10 hours, less than 12..
12 hours and over____
Not reported____________

6

4

No street work on week days .
i .

11

4


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65

2
6

2

9. 2

283

NE WABK, N. J.

Saturdays offered an opportunity even when school was in se^sion
for many newsboys to be on the streets long hours Half the boys
selling on Saturdays during the school year
hours, and one-third worked at least five hours. (Table 72.) Many
worked eight hours or longer, from among whom the following ex­
amples were selected at random: The 10-year-old son of a Ukraman
tailor’s presser sold papers from 11 a. m. to 8.30 p. m. on Saturdays,
reporting that he “ ate on the jo b ” at noon and on his return home at
night A 9-year-old boy of Italian parentage began at 10 on Saturday
mornings and was out until 7, taking half an hour at noon for lunch.
An 11-year-old boy started at 6 and sold until noon, beginning again
at 12.30 and selling until 7. Another 11-year-old boy had an 11-hour
day on Saturdays during the school year, from 8 a. im to 9 p. •,
though he stopped an hour at noon and again at 5. On Saturdays
during vacation even more boys worked all day. (table (
T

72.—

Number of hours of street work on a typical Saturday during school
term and during vacation, by age period; newspaper sellers, Newark, N .
.

able

N e w sp ap er sellers u n d er 16 years o f age

Under 10
years

Total
Number of hours of street work
on a typical Saturday

10 years,
u n d er 12

14 years,
under 16

12 years,
under 14

Per
Per
Per
Per
Per
u m ­ cent Num­ cent
Num­ cent Num­ cent Num­ cent Nber
distri­
distri­ ber
ber distri­ ber distri­ ber distri­
bution
bution
bution
bution
bution

SCHOOL TERM

158

Total.
115

82

Street work on Saturday.

384

Total reported---------

374

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

100.0

32

8.6

5.3

5.3
21.1

13.8
23.8
13.1
12.3
19.2
14.6
1.5
1.5

7.3
29.1
18.2
12.7
16.4
9.1
5.5

Less than 1 hour----1 hour, less than 2 ...
2 hours, less than 3..
3 hours, less than 5.5 hours, less than 8_.
8 hours, less than 10.
10 hours, less than 12
12 hours and over. . .

86
72
60
62
47
9

20.0

23.0
19.3
16.0
16.6
12.6
2.4

1.6

Not reported_________ -

6
10

No street work on Saturday.

83

15

450

87

Total.
Street work on Saturday-

Less than 1 hour____
1 hour, less than 2—
2 hours, less than 3 ...
3 hours, less than 5 ...
5 hours, less than 8 ...
8 hours, less than 10..
10 hours, less than 12.
12 hours and over-----

20.2
14.0
14.0

1.8

6.9
17.0
14.6

4.3
11.6
20.3
24.6
24.6
10.1
4.3

21.7
13.7
3.6
1.9

103

Not reported---------------No street work on Saturday.


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81

137

103
100.0

29

67

164

132

100.0

20.6

1.8

26

369

Total reported---------

22.8

25.3
18.7
16.0
9.3
2.7
2.7

100.0

100.0

100.0

4.9
14.6
16.5
22.3
19.4
15.5
2.9
3.9

8.0

10.9

19.7
10.9
18.2
23.4
15.3
2.9
1.5

21.8

12.7
18.2
18.2
10.9
5.5

1.8

284

CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

Many of the boys sold papers on Sundays— 69 during the vacation
and 87 during the school year. Sunday hours also were very long.
Many of them began early and sold throughout the morning or until
the early afternoon; a few sold all day. The great majority both of
vacation workers and of other newsboys selling on Sundays sold at
least 2 hours, and 42 per cent of the vacation group and 31 per cent
of the others worked at least 3 hours, 28 per cent of the vacation group
and 14 per cent of the other working at least 5 hours. Five of the
vacation newsboys sold papers at least 8 hours on Sundays. The
Sunday newsboys were of about the same ages as the boys who sold
during the week.
As by far the larger number of the boys sold papers every day or
every day except Sunday, these long daily hours resulted in a working
week that was as long in some cases as that of full-time workers.
(Table 73.) Among the vacation newsboys 295 (70 per cent) worked
at least 12 hours a week, 141 (33 per cent) at least 24 hours, and 48
(11 per cent) at least 44 hours, almost all of the last working 48 hours
or longer. A working week of 54 hours was not uncommon. The
longest hours of paper selling in vacation (77 a week) were reported
by the 12-year-old son of a proprietor of a shoe-shining parlor, an
Italian; the boy sold papers every week day from 8 to 12 a. m. and
from 12.30 to 8.30 p. m., and on Sundays from 8 to 1 at a news stand;
in addition he worked on Sunday afternoon more than 6 hours shining
shoes at his father’s establishment. He said that he was allowed to
keep his tips from both jobs but was required to hand over the rest of
his earnings to his father. Several other boys reported 71 or 72 hours
of work a week. A 9-year-old child and a boy of 13 sold papers for
their brother, who kept a news stand near a railroad terminal; they
worked from 6 a. m. until 6 p. m. every week day in vacation, having
10 minutes off for lunch. The younger boy said that his brother gave
him 25 cents a week for his work. Another newsboy, a child of 11,
sold papers from 8 a. m. to 8 p. m. every day except Sunday when
school was not in session, taking no regular periods for meals. He
said he was obliged to sell papers as the family was one of 11 and his
father, a janitor, made little money; a brother,‘ the only one of
working age, never had steady work; and a sister who had gone to
work had become ill and had had to stop. This boy had been in the
last half of the fourth grade (only slightly below the normal grade for
his age) for three semesters and ventured the opinion that he could
do better in school if he had more time to study. Even during the
school year he worked 28 hours a week selling papers. These are
accounts of boys working the longest hours, but their number oould
be multiplied many times over among those representing only slightly
less extreme conditions.


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285

NEWARK, N. J.

T a b l e 73.— Number of hours of street work during a typical week of school term
and of vacation, by age period; newspaper sellers, Newark, N . J.
N ew sp ap er sellers u n d e r 16 years o f age

U n d er 10
years

T ota l

10 years,
u n d e r 12

12 years,
u n d er 14

14 years,
u n d er 16

N u m b e r o f hours o f street
w o r k du rin g a ty p ica l w eek
P er
P er
P er
P er
P er
N u m ­ cen t N u m ­ cent
N u m ­ cen t
Slum­ cent N u m ­ cent
distri­
ber
distri­
ber
distri­
ber
distri­
ber
distri­
ber
b u tio n
b u tio n
b u tio n
b u tio n
b u tio n

SCHOOL TERM

72

Ì58

140

97

T o t a l ........... ............. ...........

467

T o ta l r e p orted ...............................

437

100.0

83

100.0

131

100.0

151

100.0

72

100.0

Less than 4 h ou rs.................

22
168
158
63
20
6

5.0
38.4
36.2
14.4
4.6
1.4

5
28
33
10
5

6.0
33.7
39.8
12.0
6.0
2.4

7
50
48
16
7
3

5.3
38.2
36.6
12.2
5.3
2.3

7
60
50
28
5
1

4.6
39.7
33.1
18.5
3.3
.7

3
30
27
9
3

4.2
41.7
37.5
12.5
4.2

4 hours, less th an 12—.........

12 hours,
20 hours,
28 h ours,
36 hours,

less than
less than
less than
less than

20--------28--------36--------44---------

2

7

30

14

9

450

87

132

79~

100.0

124

100.0

155

100.0

67

100.0

5.1
21.5
38.0
10.1
10.1
3.8
1.3
10.1

4
34
39
17
7
9
1
13

3.2
27.4
31.5
13.7
5.6
7.3
.8
10.5

5
41
40
28
14
9
1
17

3.2
26.5
25.8
18.1
9.0
5.8
.6
11.0

3
22
15
13
3
4
1
6

4.5
32.8
22.4
19.4
4.5
6.0
1.5
9.0

VACATION

T o t a l . . - ...........- .................
T o ta l r e p orted . .............................
L ess than 4 h ou rs-------------4 hours, less than 1 2 ............
12 hours, less than 2 0 -.........
20 hours, less than 28--------28 hours, less than 36..........
36 hours, less than 44..........
44 hours, less than 48.........
48 hou rs and over - - ...........

100.0

425

3.8
26.8
29.2
15.5
7.5
5.9
.9
10.4

16
114
124
66
32
25
4
44
25

1

4
17
30
8
8
3
1
8
8

8

67

164

9

Those who spent 24 hours or more a week selling papers, and even
those who worked 44 hours or longer, were almost as young as those
who worked fewer hours.
,
,
Boys who had to confine their selling to such time as they had before
and after school could not put in so many hours a week at the work,
but it may be assumed that they worked under a greater strain than
during vacation. Moreover, even moderately long hours of news­
paper selling combined with the 25 hours or more of school work made
an excessively long week. Two hundred and forty-seven (57 per
cent) of those selling papers during the school year worked at least
12 hours, and 52 (12 per cent) at least 24 hours, several reporting 40
to 42^4 hours of work a week. A somewhat larger proportion ol the
newsboys working at least 12 hours a week than of those working less
than 12 hours were under 10, though about the same proportion were
under 12.
EARNINGS

The profit in the local papers was 1 cent for dailies and 1/^ or 2^
cents for Sunday editions. New York papers netted a little more.
The median earnings of the newsboys were between $2 and $3 a week.
The newsboys working during vacatioii made only a little more than
those who sold papers during the school year— in the vacation group


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286

CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

13 per cent, and in the other 14 per cent, made less than $1; in the
one group 53 per cent and in the other 62 per cent made less than $3:
and 19 per cent and 13 per cent made $5 or more. (Table 74.)
T able

74.

Earnings during a typical week of school term and of vacation, by age
period; newspaper sellers, Newark, N . J.

Newspaper sellers under 16 years of age
Total

Earnings during a typical
week

Num
ber

Under 10
years

10 years,
under 12

12 years,
under 14

14 years,
under 16

Per
Per
Per
Per
Per
cent Num
cent Num cent Num
cent
cent
distri­ ber distri­ ber distri­ ber distri­ Num
ber distri­
bution
bution
bution
bution
bution

SCHOOL TEEM

Total______
Total reported____
Less than $0.25
$0.25, less than $0.50
$0.50, less than $1
$1, less than $2. _
$2, less than $3.
$3, less than $4...
$4, less than $ 5 ...
$5, less than $6.
$6, less than $8
$8 and over.. .
No earnings and no cash
earnings____ _
Not reported_____

467

97

140

158

72

446

100.0

86

100.0

138

100.0

150

100.0

72

100.0

4
10
50
130
81
70
40
. 27
14
15

.9
2.2
11.2
29.1
18.2
15.7
9.0
6.1
3.1
3.4

3
5
20
30
8
9
2
3
2

3.5
5.8
23.3
34.9
9.3
10.5
2.3
3.5
2.3

1
4
16
54
24
19
4
10
3
2

.7
2.9
11.6
39.1
17.4
13.8
2.9
7.2
2.2
1.4

12
37
30
31
22
10
2
6

8.0
24.7
20.0
20.7
14.7
6.7
1.3
4.0

1
2
9
19
11
12
4
7
7

1.4
2.8
12.5
26.4
15.3
16.7
5.6
9.7
9.7

5

1.1

4

4.7

1

.7

21

11

2

8

VACATION

T otal.........
Total reported.. .
Less than $0.25 .
$0.25, less than $0.50
$0.50, less than $1
$1, less than $2. .
$2, less than $3
$3, less than $4
$4, less than $5 ...
$5, less than $ 6 ...
$6, less than $8.
$8 and over..
No earnings and no cash
earnings............
Not reported ..

450

—

87

—

132

164

67

427

100.0

75

100.0

128

100.0

157

100.0

67

100.0

4
11
41
95
77
71
38
39
22
22

.9
2.6
9.6
22.2
18.0
16.6
8.9
9.1
5.2
5.2

3
4
16
21
10
5
3
5
3
1

4.0
5.3
21.3
28.0
13.3
6.7
4.0
6.7
4.0
1.3

1
3
15
37
24
18
10
10
4
5

.8
2.3
11.7
28.9
18.8
14.1
7.8
7.8
3.1
3.9

3
9
28
27
39
19
15
9
6

1.9
5.7
17.8
17.2
24.8
12.1
9.6
5.7
3.8

1
1
9
16
9
6
9
6
10

1.5
1.5
13.4
23.9
13.4
9.0
13.4
9.0
14.9

7

1.6

4

5.3

1

.8

2

1.3

23

12

4

7

J

In view of the much longer hours of the newsboys working during
vacation the similarity between their earnings and those of the boys
working only before and after school and on Saturdays during the
school year is surprising The demand for the mid-morning and
mm-alternoon editions of the newspapers, which were sold by the
boys during vacation possibly was not so great as the demand for
tne late-alternoon and early-evening editions that schoolboys gen­
erally sold, so that the schoolboy’s business was brisker during his
relatively few hours than that of the boy who was on the streets
selling a large part of the long vacation days.
Nevertheless, within each group the longer the hours per week the
larger tne earmngs. Thus, among vacation newsboys the proportion

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N E W A R K , N . J.

287

making less than $1 was 18 per cent for those who worked under 12
hours, 12 per cent for those who worked between 12 and 24 hours,
and 5 per cent for those working at least 24 hours; the proportion
making less than $3 was 64 per cent, 54 per cent, and 40 per cent,
respectively; and the proportion making $5 or more was only 9 per
cent for the group working the smallest number of hours but 21 and
30 per cent for the other groups. Among the boys selling papers
during the school period, 21 per cent of those working less than 12
hours, but only 6 per cent of those working 12 hours or more, made
less than $1 a week; 76 and 49 per cent, respectively, made less than
$3; and 5 and 20 per cent, respectively, made $5 or more.
The older boys were apparently much more successful in selling
papers than the younger. Of the children under 10 years, 31 per cent
made less than $1, but only 23 per cent made $3 or more and only 12
per cent made as much as $5; and of those between 10 and 12 years
of age, 15 per cent made less than $1, but only 37 per cent made as
much as $3 and only 15 per cent as much as $5; whereas among 12
and 13 year old boys only 8 per cent made less than $1, but 56 per
cent made at least $3 and 19 per cent at least $5, and among boys of
14 or 15 only 3 per cent made less than $1 but 60 per cent made at
least $3 and 37 per cent at least $5.
A few newsboys were not paid for their work. Several of these
worked for older brothers, apparently as a family enterprise; two
boys of 6 and 7 worked half an hour a day in return for a paper,
one of them for “ the funny papers.”
The amount of the earnings reported included tips if the boy
ordinarily received them, but specific information in regard to tips
was not obtained.
N E W S B O Y S IN SC H O O L

School records were not obtained for the Newark newsboys. The
only information obtained bearing on the success or lack of success
of these boys in school is on their ages in relation to their grades.
Few were high-school students— 5 of those working during the
school term and 6 of those working during vacation. About twothirds (65 per cent) of the boys working during vacation and about
the same proportion (67 per cent) of those working during the school
period had reached at most only the fifth grade.
Their progress in school, as indicated by age for grade, had been no
slower than the average. Among the boys between 8 and 16 years
of age who had sold papers during vacation, 32 per cent of those of
native white parentage, 39 per cent of those of foreign parentage,
and 60 per cent of the negro boys were overage or retarded. (See
footnote 38, p. 22.) Among boys working during the school year
these percentages were 26, 41, and 58. As the vacation newsboys
and those who had sold during the school period were largely the
same group, a comparison of their retardation rates has no significance.
As only 71 had worked only in vacation the number was too small to
permit a comparison between the rate of retardation of the boys of
different race and nationality among them and that of boys whose
time, energy, and attention were diverted from school work to outside interests. However, even the newsboys who worked during the
school period were apparently no more retarded than other Newark
school children of their ages. Of the public-school enrollment in the

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288

CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

fall of 1926, 8 to 15 years of age, inclusive, 35 per ce n t8 were below
normal grades compared with 41 per cent of the newspaper sellers,
the difference in favor of the school enrollment being more than
accounted for, probably, by the larger proportion among the news­
paper sellers of negro boys whose retardation was very high.
When an excessive number of hours a week were spent in selling
papers the boys’ school progress was less satisfactory than when
fewer hours had been given to such work; 40 per cent of the boys
selling less than 12 hours, 38 per cent of those selling between 12
and 24 hours, and 62 per cent of those selling 24 hours or longer were
retarded in school. Fourteen per cent of the newsboys working less
than 12 hours, 20 per cent of those working between 12 and 24
hours, and 36 per cent of those selling at least 24 hours were two
years or more retarded. The group working at least 24 hours con­
tained a somewhat larger proportion of boys with foreign-born
fathers (who were more retarded than boys with native white fathers)
than the groups working fewer hours, but it contained a smaller
proportion of negro boys (who were even more retarded than those
of foreign parentage). Negroes and boys with foreign-born fathers
together comprised a slightly smaller proportion of the number
who had worked at least 24 hours than of the number who had
worked between 12 and 24 hours, and the percentage of retardation
was least for the latter group. These facts seem to point to the
conclusion that the conspicuously larger amount of retardation
among the newsboys who spent most time on the streets can not be
accounted for by the greater amount of retardation among children
of foreign-born and negro fathers. Neither can it be accounted
for by the age of the boys, for the group working 24 hours or longer
contained proportionately almost as many younger boys as the
groups working shorter hours. The number of hours spent in
street work during the year in which the study was made could not
have affected the newsboys’ progress in school, of course, unless
they represented a similar situation in the past. How long the
Newark newsboys had worked and what their hours of work had
been in previous years are not known. In all the other cities in
which the Children’s Bureau made studies of newsboys the majority
had sold papers long enough to have influenced at least one of thenschool promotions, and no reason exists for supposing that the
hours of work that were typical for an individual at the time of the
inquiry were not typical of his newspaper-selling career in general.
N E W S P A P E R CARRIERS

Six hundred and seventeen boys had carried papers during the
school year, of whom 517 had routes when they were interviewed.9
During the summer vacation of 1924, 407 boys had carried papers.
Forty-three of the carriers included in the study had worked only
in vacation.
8 Compiled from figures furnished by the superintendent of the Newark public schools. Figures by
sex, or by race or nativity of father, were not available.
•Ten girls reported that they had had newspaper routes during the school year, of whom 8 had had routes
during vacation also, and 1 girl had had a route only during vacation. Of these 11 girls, 1 was 7,1 was 8, ,
2 were 10, 2 were 11, 3 were 12,1 was 13, and 1 was 15 years of age. All except 2, who were of native white
parentage, had foreign-born fathers. All except 1 carried the newspapers every day, spending in all except
one instance less than 12 hours a week on the work. An 8-year-old girl helping her mother who had a
newspaper route reported 13Ji hours of work a week. The girls are not included in the tabulations of
carriers.


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N E W A R K , N . J.

289

R A C E A N D N A TIO N A LITY O F FA T H E R S

In race and nationality the carriers were fairly representative of
the general population. The great majority in each group (that is.
vacation carriers and carriers working during the school term) had
foreign-born fathers, proportions very similar to that ot all tne
inhabitants of Newark who had at least one foreign-born parent or
were themselves of foreign birth.10 The proportion who were negroes
was nearly the same as for the entire city. Although the greater
number of the carriers from immigrant families were Italian, like
the newspaper sellers of Newark, almost as many were Jewish,
chiefly Russian.10 (Table 67, p. 276.)
E C O N O M IC C O N D IT IO N OF FA M ILIES

Newspaper carriers’ families were on a higher social and economic
plane than those of the newsboys, judging by the information avail­
able. (See p. 275.)
.
Forty-three (11 per cent) of the vacation workers and 64 (9 per
cent) of the other carriers were in fatherless or widowed homes.
Nineteen (5 per cent) of the vacation group and 30 (4 per cent) of
the other were in families supported by mothers, relatively only
about half as many as the newsboys whose families were dependent
on the mother for their livelihood. Not counting those whose
mothers were the chief breadwinners in their families, however,
almost as large a proportion of the carriers as of sellers (one-fourth
in each group of carriers) had mothers who added to the family
income by gainful employment.
.»
‘ A.
The chief breadwinners’ occupations also indicate that the carriers
came from homes which were more stable financially than those of
the newsboys. The proportion whose fathers or other chief bread­
winners were laborers in the building trades, in transportation, or m
factories or who were peddlers or servants or others m domestic
and personal service was only 10 per cent for one group and 12 per
cent for the other, compared with about one-fourth of the street
sellers. Those in domestic and personal service, despite the inclu­
sion of mothers who earned the family living by domestic work, was
about the same as for all male workers of 20 years or over m the
city, and about half that for the newspaper sellers. Although the
number whose chief breadwinners were in the professions or had
clerical occupations was only about half that for all male workers 20
and over 11 it was relatively much larger than the number of street
sellers from such homes. The proportion with chief breadwinners
who were factory operatives was smaller than that among news­
paper sellers, whereas the proportion who were machinists and
mechanics, contractors, foremen or skilled workers in the building
trades, skilled workers in factories, owners of businesses, commercial
travelers, clerks, or professional men was more than two-fifths
compared with nearly three-tenths of the newspaper sellers. Com­
pared with the city as a whole the preponderance in trade was notice­
able, many of the carriers coming from the families of men, largely
Jewish, who kept small neighborhood stores or operated modest
business concerns of one kind or another.
w Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, V ol. II, Population, p. 56.
u Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, V ol. IV , Population, Occupations, pp. 1179-1181.


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290

CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K
AGE OF CARRIERS

/^he city ordinance relating to newsboys did not affect carriers.
1 he provisions of the State child labor law relating to vacation work
and work outside school hours were not applied, though strictly
speaking, applicable to newspaper carriers if they were employed by
others, as by far the greater number of Newark carriers were. Thus
no minimum-age provision was in force. The carriers, however
were older than the newsboys. The largest number were 12 or 13
years of age, but one-fourth were 14 or 15. A small number were
under 10, some only 6 or 7. (Table 68, p. 277.)
DURATION OF STREET WORK

The great majority (77 per cent) of the vacation carriers had worked
between 9 and 10 weeks; that is, approximately throughout the
summer vacation. ^ Fifty-four per cent of the others had worked at
least 24 weeks during the school term; all were interviewed at a time
when they could have worked at least as long as that.
CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT

In Newark the newspaper routes of all the principal papers were
managed by news dealers, so that boy carriers had no direct connec­
tion with the newspaper offices. The dealers made their own business
arrangements with the carriers, generally hiring them at a regular
7 agu' n V- e carriers dld not make collections, nor were they responsible
for building up routes, though at least one newspaper offered prizes
and premiums for new customers. The carrier obtained the papers
from the dealer for whom he worked, or, especially in outlying routes
the papers were delivered to him.
O fth e 517 carriers with routes at the time of the interview with
the Children’s Bureau agent 467 (90 per cent) were hired by dealers,
46 (9 per cent) helped other boys, and 1 was not only hired by a dealer’
but also helped another boy. Only 3 had so-called independent
routes; that is, they had acquired their own customers, bought their
papers at the down-town offices, like the newsboys, and made their
own collections.
As in most cities, the great majority (92 per cent) of the carriers
had residential routes, but a few (6 per cent) delivered papers at
offices and stores in business sections of the city, and a few in both
residential and business districts.
REGULARITY OF WORK

Almost all the carriers, whether they worked during vacation
or durmg the school year, delivered their papers six or seven days a
W ei j Imrteen ° f the 407 vacation carriers and 30 of the 649 others
worked fewer than six days or irregularly, substituting for other
boys or acting as helpers.
HOURS OF WORK

Many carriers, while school was in session as well as during the
summer, had morning work; 79 of the 407 vacation carriers and 115
°|,the 679 others delivered a daily morning paper. These were
older boys than the carriers of afternoon papers, though 25 per cent
of the vacation group and 19 per cent of the group carrying papers

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291

N E W A R K , N . J.

before school were under 12 years of age, 9 per cent and 3 per cent,
respectively, being under 10. During vacation 48 of the 79 witn
morning-paper routes began work before 7 o ’clock (generally aroun
6 or 6.30), but a few began at 5 or 5.30 or, in the case of a JJ-year-old.
boy, at 4.30; of these 48 boys 8 were under 12 and 3 under 10. Of the
115 boys who delivered morning papers before going to school, 77
began their work before 7 a. m.
, ,
A surprisingly large number of boys— 67 (16 per cent) of those
carrying in vacation and 99 (15 per cent) of those with routes during
the school year— delivered papers both morning and afternoon.
These unusually large proportions are easily understood when it is
remembered that most of the Newark carriers were hired by news
dealers h a n d l i n g several papers, so that the opportunity, it not the
obligation, to carry both a morning and an afternoon route was more
common than where a boy worked directly for one newspaper.
Two hundred and eighty-eight of the vacation group and 460 of the
other carried papers on Sunday mornings. The great majority began
work before 8 a. m., some before 6.
T a b l e 75.— Number of hours of street work on a typical week day other than Satur­

day during school term and during vacation, by age period; neswpaper earners,
Newark, N . J ■
____________ ____________
Newspaper carriers under 16 years of age

Total
Number of hours of street work
on a typical week day other
than Saturday

Under 10
years

10 years,
under 12

Per
Per
cent
cent
Num­ dis- Num­ dis- Num­
ber
triber
triber
bubution1
tion

12 years,
under 14

14 years,
under 16

Age
not
Per
Per
Per
re­
cent
cent
cent
port­
dis- Num­ dis- Num­ dis- e d 1
triber
triber
tribububution
tion
tion

SCHOOL TEEM

TotalStreet work on week days.

668

Total reported.......... .
Less than 1 hour—
1 hour, less than 2 ..
2 hours, less than 3.
3 hours, less than 5_
5 hours, less than 8.

162

679

202

346
93
23

2

100.0

65 100.0

100.0

30.3
62.0
14.0
3.5
.3

27.7
52.3
12.3

29.3
51.6
15.3
3.8

6.2

278

170

273

169

273 100.0

169 100.0

33.0
49.1
15.4

27.8
56.8

90
134
42
7

11.2

2.6

3.6
.6

1.5

Not reported----------------No street work on week days.

T otal---------- ---------

Less than 1 hour__
1 hour, less than 2_.
2 hours, less than 3.
3 hours, less than 5.
5 hours, less than 8.
Not reported.....................
No street work on week days.

100.0
121

190
67

36

30.0
47:1
16.6

2Ò 5.0
1.2
5
1
3

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

163

37

Street work on week days.
Total reported.

114

163

407

88 100.0

163 100.0

100.0

31.8
43.2
18.2
5.7

32.5
42.9
19.0
4.9

26.3
57.0
13.2

1.1

2.6
.9

292

CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

Almost all the boys in each group carried afternoon papers. The
great majority (80 per cent of each group) were through carrying
their papers before 6 p. m. Saturday hours were no later than those
ot other days. The few boys who worked on their routes until 8
worked under special circumstances, as, for example, not beginning
to deliver the papers to their customers until after the ordinary
dinner hour m the evening.
^ r o u t e uBualiy required only an hour or a little more each day.
(1 able 75.) About one-fourth of the vacation carriers spent as much
as two hours a day on their routes, and a somewhat smaller number
ol those working during the school year reported two hours or more
on week days. On Sundays the routes took much longer; 42 per cent
of the 288 vacation carriers and 37 per cent of the 460 boys working
during the school term who carried Sunday papers worked at least
two hours, and 17 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively, worked three
hours or longer A number of carriers had to spend five hours or
longer on their Sunday routes, beginning usually about 6 a. m. For
each group the median number of hours of work a week was between
4 and 8. However, 27 per cent of the vacation carriers and 21 per
cent ol the others worked at least 12 hours a week, and a few worked
24 hours or longer. They were chiefly carriers who had both
morning and afternoon routes.
EARNINGS

As a rule the carriers earned much less than the newsboys The
dealers generally paid $1 or $1.25 forroutes of 40 or 50 papers. Fourhfths of the carriers m each group earned less than $3 a week, and
the median earnings were between $1 and $2. Many of the children
under 10 and also those under 12 made less than $1 a week helping
an older boy; and 31 of the vacation carriers and 52 of the boys with
routes during the school term received no cash payment for their
W ul bui h ,,pei bothers or friends for treats, an extra newspaper,
or for fun.
Excludmg boys under 12, the median earnings for
carriers were between $3 and $4 a week. A few carriers made as
much as $5 a week. (Table 76.)
CARRIERS IN SCHOOL

A number of the boys carrying papers— 33 of those working before
or after school and 29 of those working during vacation— were
high-school boys. The great majority were in the grades, however
the median grade for each group being the sixth.
Tbe amount of retardation for carriers was small compared with
that for the street sellers or even with the average for all Newark
schoolboys. Among vacation carriers between 8 and 16 years of
age (see footnote 38, p. 22) 22 per cent of the boys of native white
parentage and 17 per cent of those of foreign parentage, and among
the other carriers, 18 per cent and 20 per cent, respectively, were
overage lor their grades, that is, were retarded. So few negro boys
carried papers that a reliable percentage of retardation can not be
found for negro carriers, but 5 of the 10 working during vacations
and lb ol the 23 working during the school term were retarded.


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293

N E W A R K , N . J.
T able

76.—Earnings

during a typical week of school term and of vacation, by age
period; newspaper carriers, Newark, N . J.
Newspaper carriers under 16 years of age
Under 10
years

Total
Earnings during a typical week

10 years,
under 12

Per
Per
cent
cent
Num­ dis- Num­ dis- Num­
ber
triber
triber
bubution1
tion

12 years,
under 14

14 years,
under 16

Age
Per not
Per
Per
re­
cent port­
cent
cent
dis- Num­ dis- Num­ dised1
triber
triber
tribububution
tion
tion

SCHOOL TEEM

64 100.0

100.0

1.0
3.4
11.0

3.1
7.8
10.9
34.4
10.9

1.9

12 1.8
2 .3

3.1

672 100.0

Total reported.
Less than $0.25____________
$0.25, less than $0.50-----------$0.50, less than $1---------------$1, less than $2........................
$2, less than $3..... .............. .
$3, less than $4........... ...........
$4, less than $5.------ -----------$5, less than $6_____________
$6, less than $8-------------------No earnings and no cash earn­
ings................ .....................

7
23
74
304
151
42

45.2
22.5
6.3

5

.7

52

7.7

1.6
1.6

170

278

162

679

Total.

100.0

2

18.6
44.1
16.1
1.9

7
32
137
64
15
4

.7
2.5
11.6
49.8
23.3
5.5
1.5

9.9

14

5.1

6.2
.6
.6

170 100.0
.6
2.9
42.9
31.2
13.5
2.9
.6
2.4
2.9

3

Not reported.

403 100.0

Total reported.
Less than $0.25-------------------$0.25, less than $0.50------------$0.50, less than $1------ ---------$1, less than $2............... .........
$2, less than $3-------------------$3, less than $4_____________
$4, less than $5-------------------$5, less than $6------- ------ ----$6, less than $8.......................
$8 and over.............................
No earnings and no cash earn­
ings......................................

114

163

407

Total.

.7
11 2.7
46 11.4
174 43.2
94 23.3
7.2
29
10 2.5
1 .2
.7
3
3

1

.2

31

7.7

100.0
7.8
28.9
36.7
14.4
4.4

7.8

100.0

114 100.0

6.2

3.5
43.0
28.1
12.3

51.6
27.3
5.0
1.9

-6.8

6.1
.9
2.6
3.5

Not reported.
» Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

BOOTBLACKS

Almost, as many itinerant bootblacks as newsboys worked on the
streets of Newark. Included in the study were 340 bootblacks who
had worked during vacation and 387 who worked during the school
year. Four hundred boys were working as bootblacks at the time
of the inquiry, though 13 of them had had another more important
street job at some time during the school year, so that they were
not classified as bootblacks working during the school period. Twenty
of the bootblacks included in the study had worked only during the
summer vacation.
RACE AND NATIONALITY OF FATHERS

Few of the bootblacks were of native white parentage— 13 (4 per
cent) of the vacation workers and 19 (5 per cent) of the others.

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294

CHILDREN IN STREET WORK

The great majority (almost three-fourths) were the children of
immigrants, almost all of whom were Italians, and many (about
one-fourth) were negro boys. None of the bootblacks were Jews
(Table 67, p. 276.)
ECONOMIC CONDITION OF FAMILIES

So far as the information obtained (see p. 275) would indicate the
bootblacks generally came from homes in which the fathers endeavored
^ su p p o rt their families but were employed in low-paid occupations.
The proportion that might have been blacking boots to help
support widowed families was even smaller than among newsboys,
for only 13 per cent of each group came from homes in which there
was no father, not even a stepfather or a foster father acting as the
chief breadwinner, and only 6 per cent of the vacation workers and
5 per cent of the others were in families in which the mother was the
main support. The fact that many of the mothers, even in families
having fathers, were employed, however, probably indicates that the
chief breadwinner's wages were too small for family needs. Onethird of the bootblacks in each group, exclusive of those in families
supported by mothers, had mothers who were gainfully employed.
Many of these were in domestic and personal service, but many
worked at home on factory goods.
One-third of the bootblacks had fathers who were laborers in the
building trades, in factories, or in transportation services, or who
were servants or others in domestic and personal service or were
peddlers. The proportion with fathers or other chief breadwinners
in domestic and personal service was more than twice as large as that
of all male workers aged 20 ¿r more in the city.12 About one-fourth
of the fathers were factory operatives. Few of the bootblacks,
unlike the newsboys, had fathers with small businesses of their own;
the proportion with fathers in trade was only half that for the whole
city.13 The proportion with chief breadwinners who were con­
tractors, foremen, or skilled workmen in the building trades, machin­
ists or mechanics, factory owners or skilled workers in factories,
dealers, commercial travelers, clerks, or professional men (including
an Italian lawyer and a negro minister) was only about one-fifth
compared with two-fifths of the carriers and one-third of the newpaper sellers.
AGE OF BOOTBLACKS

Bootblacks were a little younger than newsboys, but the difference
was not great. Almost as many were under 10 years of age as were
14 or 15. A few were only 7. The majority were at least 12, but
42 per cent of the vacation workers and 43 per cent of the others
were less than 12 years old. (Table 77.)
DURATION OF STREET WORK

Almost all the boys bootblacking during vacation had worked
throughout the summer; 308 of the 340 reported working between
9 and 10 weeks. Seventy-six and one-tenth per cent of the bootFourteenth Census of the United States, 1920, Vol. IV, Population, Occupations, pp. 1179-1181.


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m

N EW ARK, N . 3.

295

blacks had worked at least 24 weeks while also attending school,
all of them having been interviewed sufficiently late in the school
year to have worked at least as long as that.
CONDITIONS OF W ORK]

Bootblacks as a rule were in business for themselves, but a few
(37 of the 400 at work at the time of the inquiry) were hired, more
often than not by fathers, brothers, or other relatives, but in some
cases, even among children under 10 or 12, by others than relatives;
several helped other boys. Almost all worked in the business dis­
tricts of the city, but 36 reported that they carried on their business
in residential sections of the city, in front of their homes, outside
clubs, etc., and 6 that they sometimes did so.
REGULARITY OF WORK

During vacation the majority (61 per cent) of the boys worked
every day, or every day except Sunday, and even when attending
school many boys (40 per cent) worked six or seven days. In the
summer time 26 per cent and during the school year 46 per cent of
the boys did bootblacking only on Saturdays and Sundays, or m
most cases both Saturdays and Sundays. One-half of the boys
working as bootblacks when they were interviewed, said they worked
only week-ends. Only a few boys (31 of the vacation workers and
34 of the others) did bootblacking so irregularly that they were
unable to say how many days a week they worked.
During the school year 51 per cent of the boys said that they went
out to shine shoes fewer than six days a week. Those who worked
every day, or every day except Sunday, during the school year,
were a little younger than those working fewer days a week.
HOURS OF WORK

In the summer many of the bootblacks (146 of the 340 vacation
workers) worked during the forenoon, and most of these continued to
work a large part of the day. When they were obliged to go to school,
however, their work was confined to the late afternoon. Only two
boys, one 10 years old, the other 15, reported any morning work
during the school year; both began at 7 a. m. They also blacked
boots after school. Several boys working in vacation or on Sundays
said that they were on the streets shining shoes before 7 a. m., but
early-morning work was not a problem.
.
On both Saturdays and other days half the vacation workers quit
work before 6 p. m., and a large proportion stopped between 6 and
8. (Tables 77 and 78.) But 52 (18 per cent) on Saturday nights
and 31 (14 per cent) on other nights were bootblacking until between
8 and 10. On summer evenings during the week several boys and
on Saturdays a few more stayed out seeking patrons imtil 10 at least.
Often the little boys were out late on Saturday nights.
The 197 boys who blacked boots after school worked later than
bootblacks in the summer, except those of the summer workers who
worked Saturday nights. (Table 77.) Thirty-two per cent stopped
before 6 p. m., 49 per cent worked until between 6 and 8, and 19 per
cent until between 8 and 10. A 14-year-old negro boy was out until
75034°— 28------ 20


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CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

10 every week day and 9 on Sundays. Saturday hours for stopping
were nearly the same as on Saturdays in vacation. Sixty-seven boys
worked until 8 p. m. or later on Saturdays during the school year.
Unlike the Saturday night bootblacks during vacation, these boys
were not primarily the younger ones but were of about the same ages
as the entire group.
T ™
77,— Hour of ending afternoon work on a typical week day other than Satur­
day during school term and during vacation, by age period; bootblacks, Newark,

Bootblacks under 16 years of age

Hour of ending afternoon work on a
typical week day other than Saturday

10 years,
under 12

Total

12 years,
under 14

Age
14
Undei
years not
10
re­
Per
Per
Per
under
Num­ cent years Num cent Num­ cent
161 port­
ed 1
ber distri­
ber distri­ ber distri­
bution
bution
bution

SCHOOL TERM

Total........................ ..........
Afternoon work________

197

Hour reported....... ..........
Before 6 p. m _______
6 p. m., before 8 p. m
8 p. m., before 10 p. m ___
10 p. m., before 13p. m___
Hour not reported___ _
No work on a week day other than Satur­
day..... .........................
Time of day not reported.......
VACATION

387
....

'I;

46

119

168

50

4

33

62

82

17

3

17

3

11
5
1

3

30
3

1

4

195

100.0

31

62

100.0

82

100.0

62
96
36
1

31.8
49.2
18.5
.5

14
11
6

22
27
13

35.5
43.5
21.0

26
44
12

31.7
53.7
14.6

2

2

178
12

12
1

51
6

84
2

340

41

102

137

56

222

29

64

87

39

3

.

Total......................
Afternoon work______
Hour reported_____
Before 6 p. m............
6 p. m., before 8 p. m ____
8 p. m., before 10 p. m_._
10 p. m., before i2 p. m . .
Hour not reported____
Morning work only
No work on a week day other than Satur­
day..... ....................... ...
Time of day not reported___

220

100.0

29

63

100.0

86

100.0

39

3

111
75
31
3

50.5
34.1
14.1
1.4

15
10
3
1

37
14
11
1

58.7
22.2
17.5
1.6

39
37
10

45.3
43.0
11.6

18
13
7
1

2
1

1

1

11

2

6

3

90
17

5
5

25
7

44
3

15
2

1

2

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.


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297

NEWARK, N. J.

T a b l e 78 — Hour of ending work oh a typical Saturday afternoon during school
term and during vacation, hy age period; bootblacks, Newark, N . J.
Bootblacks under 16 years of age
10 years,
under 12

Total
Hour of ending work on a typical
Saturday afternoon

Un­
Per der
10
cent
Num­ dis- years1Num­
ber
triber
bution

Afternoon work--------- ------------Hour reported-------------------

50

387

119

168

328

102

148

326 100.0

102 100.0

148 100.0

51.8
27.6
17.5
3.1

54.9
23.5
17.6
3.9

54.1
29.1
13.5
3.4

Before 6 p. m ..................
6 p. m., before 8 p. m ....
8 p. m., before 10 p. m „
10 p. m., before 12 p. m .

14 years,
under 16

Age
not
Per
Per
Per
re­
cent port­
cent
cent
dis- Num­ dis- Num­ dis- ed 1
triber
tritri- ber
bububution1
tion
tion

SCHOOL TERM

Total.

12 years,
under 14

Hour not reported------------Morning work only...................
No work on Saturday..---------Time of day not reported..........
VACATION

T ota l...............................................
Afternoon work........................ - ........
Hour reported------------------------Before 6 p. m ................ .
6 p. m., before 8 p. m ....
8 p. m., before 10 p. m ..
10 p. m., before 12 p. m .

340

102

137

56

285

83

120

51

284 100.0

27

83 100.0

119 100.0

100.0

13

55.4
21.7
20.6
2.4

52.9
31.9
11.8
3.4

49.0
19.6
27.5
3.9

52.5
26.4
18.3

2.8

Hour not reported-----------Morning work only------ --------No work on Saturday------------Time of day not reported.........
i

Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

Almost all the boys (91 per cent) shining shoes in yacation worked
at least two hours a day during the week, the
j f 7q5 Der
at least five hours. (Table 79.) On Saturdays alm<sst i ^ (95 Per
cent) worked at least three hours, and almost half (47 per cent)
worked at least eight hours. (Table 80.) Of i l 5 boys who were
out bootblacking on Saturdays more than eight h o i ^ ™
were under 10 years of age and 40 per cent under
y
g y
fewer boys under 12 than in the entire group. Supday homs^for the
269 who reported Sunday work, though not so long as Saturday hours,
were very long; 89 per cent worked three hours or longer, 51 pe
cent five hours or longer, and 16 per cent at least eight hours.
The boys who worked after school could not spend so much time
on the streets. Nerertheless, 67 per cent worked two' hours at least,
and a few (5 per cent) five hours or longer. On Saturdays during
the school yea? 95 per cent worked at least three ho" ^ ’
^
cent at least eight hours— similar proportions to those found

10


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298

CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

Saturday workers during vacation. Boys bootblacking more than
eight hours on Saturdays during the school year were of about the
same ages as all the Saturday bootblacks. A great many boys did
shoe shining on Sundays during the school year as well as during the
summer, and their hours were also long. Of the 308 who worked
on Sunday, 291 reported the number of hours worked; of these, 95
per cent worked at least two hours and 51 per cent at least five hours,
including 45 boys (15 per cent) who spent eight hours or more on
Sundays wandering about the streets with their bootblacking boxes.
T a b l e 79.

Number of hours of street work on a typical week day other than Satur­
day during school term and during vacation, by age period; bootblacks, Newark,

Bootblacks under 16 years of age
10 years,
12 years,
under 12
under 14
Age
Un14
der
years not
Per
10
Per
Per under re­
Num
cent years Num
cent Num
cent
161 port­
ed!
ber distri­
ber distri­ ber distri­
bution
bution
bution
Total

Number of hours of street work on a
typical week day other than Saturday

SCHOOL TEEM

T otal.._____ ______
Street work on week days__

.

209

Total reported_________

.

195
1
63
58
63
9
1

‘

Less than 1 hour__
1 hour, less than 2__
2 hours, less than 3. .
3 hours, less than 6. .
5 hours, less than 8. .
12 hours and over___
Not reported__________

No street work on week days.

.

46

119

168

50

34

68

84

20

100.0

31

62

100.0

82

100.0

17

3

.5
32.3
29.7
32.3
4.6
.5

1
13
8
8
1

23
19
16
4

37.1
30.6
25.8
6.5

25
25
28
3
1

30.5
30.5
34.1
3.7
1.2

2
4
10
1

2
1

14

3

6

2

178

12

51

84

4

3
............

VACATION

T o ta l....._____ ______

340

41

102

137

56

Street work on week days___

250

36

77

93

Total reported__________

232

100.0

31

69

100.0

90

- ...........:
100.0

41
39

3

Less than 1 hour____
1 hour, less than 2. _..
2 hours, less than 3__
3 hours, less than 5__
5 hours, less than 8 . . .
8 hours, less than 10. .
10 hours, less than 12.
12 hours and over.......

2
19
25
47
70
40
20
9

.9
8.2
10.8
20.3
30.2
17.2
8.6
3.9

1
4
5
6
9
3
2
1

1
7
8
10
22
10
8
3

1.4
10.1
11.6
14.5
31.9
14.5
11.6
4.3

7
8
22
25
17
8
3

7.8
8.9
24.4
27.8
18.9
8.9
3.3

1
4
9
11
10
2
2

3

Not reported......... .........
No street work on week days.

18

5

8

3

2

90

5

25

44

15

!

1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50,


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

4

299

NEWARK, N . J.

T a b l e 80.— Number of hours of street work on a typical Saturday during school
term and during vacation, by age period; bootblacks, Newark, N . J.
Bootblacks under 16 years of age
10 years,
under 12

Total
Number of hours of street work on a
typical Saturday

Un­
Per der
cent
10
Num­ dis- years1Num­
ber
triber

bu-

tion

12 years,
under 14

Age
not
Per
Per
Per
re­
cent port­
cent
cent
dis- Num­ dis- Num­ dis- ed 1
triber
tritri- ber
bububution1
tion
tion

SCHOOL TEEM

Total Street work on Saturday--------------------Total reported------------------------------

46

387

14 years,
under 1 6

119

50

168

46

362
100.0

107 100.0

345 100.0

43

Less than 1 hour------1 hour, less than 2----2 hours, less than 3 ...
3 hours, less than 5 ...
5 hours, less than 8 ...
8 hours, less than 10-.
10 hours, less than 1212 hours and over----Not reported.....................
No street work on Saturday—
41

Total------ ------------------Street work on Saturday------Total reported................. .

102

56

137

54

35

319
100.0

30

90 100.0

100.0

100.0

1 hour, less than 2— .
2 hours, less than 3—
3 hours, less than 5—
5 hours, less than 8-~
8 hours, less than 10-.
10 hours, less than 12.
12 hours and over----Not reported----------------No street work on Saturday—
1 Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

In the summer the great majority (80 per cent) hf the boys spent
at least 12 hours a week bootblacking, more than half (56 per cent)
spent at least 24 hours, and a large proportion (26 per cent) worked
a full week of 48 hours or longer. When school was m session 64
per cent worked at least 12 hours. Only 22 per cent worked 24 hours
or longer; but for these boys their actual working week, if the hours
in school are included, was at least 49 hours. The proportion o
children under 10 was about the same for those working 12 hours or
longer a week as for those working a shorter time, and the proportion
under 12 was a little larger.
EARNINGS

The bootblacks made more money than the newsboys. The median
earnings for vacation workers were between $3 and $4 a week; only
40 per cent of the boys made less than $3. (Table 81.) A few

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300

CHILDREN IN STREET W O R K

earned small amounts (75 or 50 cents or less) working several hours
a week, often only on Sundays, though a boy of 7 who worked for
his brother 36 hours a week in vacation received only 35 cents A
large proportion of the boys (34 per cent) earned at least $5 a week.
I he older the child the more he earned; 47 per cent of the boys
under 12 years of age, but only 36 per cent of those who were 12 or
older made less than $3, whereas 26 per cent of the younger group
and 39 per cent of the older made $5 or more. For boys 14 and 15
years of age the median weekly earnings were between $5 and $6,
instead of between $3 and $4 as for the younger boys. The number
of hours spent at work made a great difference in earnings. For
example, 65 per cent of the bootblacks spending less than 24 hours
a week at the work made less than $3, compared with only 19 per
cent of those spending 24 hours or longer; and 13 per cent of those
working less than 24 hours, but 55 per cent of those working at least
24 hours made $5 or more.
T a b l e 81.— Earnings during a typical week of school term and of vacation, by aqe

period; bootblacks, Newark, N . J.

Bootblacks under 16 years of age
10 years,
under 12

Total
Earnings during a typical week
Num
ber

Un­
Per der
cent
10
dis- years Num
triber
bution

12 years,
under 14

Per
cent
dis- Num
triber
bution

14 years,
under 16

Age
Per
Per not
re­
cent
cent
dis- Num dis- port­
ed
1
triber
tribubution
tion1

SCHOOL TERM

Total _

387

46

119

168

50

4

367 100.0

42

111 100.0

161 100.0

49

4

1
.3
3
.8
31
8.4
$1, less than $2___________IIIIIIIIII
83 22.6
$2, less than $ 3 .._________ III” ” ”
88 24.0
$3, less than $4____________...111*11
59 16.1
$4, less than $5__________ I I I ” ” ” " • 26
7.1
$5, less than $6............
I I ..I I I I
35
9.5
$6, less than $8 .......... -I-IIIIIII
29
7.9
$8 and o v e r ........... ........... I .I I I I I I ”
10 2.7
No earnings and no cash earnings”
2
.5

1
1
8
9
8
5
2
2
1
3
2

1
10
30
25
19
4
17
4
1

1
.6
10
6.2
, 32 19.9
47 29.2
26 16.1
13
8.1
13
8.1
15
9.3
4
2.5

3
11
7
9
7
1
9
2

4

8

340

41

102

319 100.0

38

Total reported.
Less than $0.25__________________
$0.25, less than $0.50_______ - I I I ”
$0.50, less than $1_____ _______

Not reported.
Total.
Total reported.
$0.25, less than $0.50.................... .
$0.50, less than $1______________
$1, less than $2........ .......- . . I . . I I I I
$2, less than $3_________ I .I I I I I I ”
$3, less than $4.„________IIIIIII”
$4, less than $5______ I .I .I I I I I I II I
$5, less than $6____ ______.IIIIIII
$6, less than $8.............. -IIIIIIIIIIIII
$8 and o v e r .____ __________ I I IIIII”
No earnings and no casif earnings__
Not reported.

20

3
16
53
56
50
30
40
33
36
2

.9
5.0
16.6
17.6
15.7
9.4
12. 5
10.3
11.3
.6

21

1
1


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

7

92 100.0

2
4
6
6
7
5
2
2
3
1

5
21
17
13
9
13
7
7

3

10

Per cent distribution not shown where base is less than 50.

.9
9.0
27.0
22.5
17.1
3.6
15.3
3.6
.9

5.4
22.8
18.5
14.1
9.8
14.1
7.6
7.6

1
1
2

1

137

56

4

132 100.0

53 100.0

4

1
.8
6
4.5
17 12.9
29 22.0
22 16.7
12
9.1
15 11.4
15 11.4
15 11.4
5

1
1.9
8 15.1
4
7.5
8 15.1
4
7.5
7 13.2
9 17.0
11 20.8
1
1.9
3

1

3

301

N E W A R K , N . J.

The boys who blacked boots after school and Saturdays made less
than the vacation workers. More than half (56 per cent) earned less
than $3 a week, the median being between $2 and $3. However, onefifth (20 per cent) made $5 or more. The median earnings for 14
and 15 year old bootblacks were between $3 and $4, $1 more than
for the others; otherwise the difference in earnings for boys of ditterent ages was not great, though boys at least 12 years of age had
somewhat larger earitngs than the younger bootblacks. The same
differences in earnings according to the number of hours spent at the
work were found among boys working during the school year as
among those at work during vacation; 83 per cent working less than
12 hours made less than $3 and only 3 per cent made $5 or more,
whereas only 42 per cent of those working 12 hours or longer made
less than $3 and 29 per cent made at least $5.
The earnings reported included tips if they formed a regular part of
the weekly intake, but no specific information on tips was obtained.
BOOTBLACKS IN SCHOOL

Only one bootblack in each group was in high school. The median
school grade was the fourth. The bootblacks were the most retarded
of the Newark street workers. Among the group working during
vacation 46 per cent of the boys 8 to 15 years of age with foreignborn fathers and 68 per cent of the negro boys were overage for their
grades; among the group attending school these percentages were 42
and 74, respectively. Only 12 boys of native white parentage were
included in the first group and 17 m the other; 6 of the 12 and 10 of
the 17 were retarded.
.
,
Little relation appeared between long hours of street work and
retardation in school. Of the bootblacks spending less than 12 hours
a week at work, 47 per cent, of those spending between 12 and 24
hours, 52 per cent, and of those spending 24 hours or more, 49 per
cent were retarded; 22 per cent of the first group, 29 per cent of the
second, and 32 per cent of the third were retarded two years or more.
P E D D LE R S

Two hundred and three of the peddlers working during the school
year held their jobs at the time of the interview; 59 had worked only
during vacation. The great majority of the boys “ were at least 12
years old, and about one-fifth were 14 or 15. (Table 82.)
RACE AND NATIONALITY OF FATHERS

A fairly large number of the peddlers, amounting to 20 per cent of
the vacation workers and 24 per cent of those peddling during the
school term, were of native white parentage. The great majority
were the children of immigrant fathers, and a few were negroes.

¿ a s s e i M

ing week of 12 hours or longer.


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Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

e

S

r

l S

H

S

302

CHILDREN IN STREET W Ô R E

Those of foreign stock were largely Italian, but they included many
Jews (especially Russian) and some whose fathers were of other
nationalities. (Table 67, p. 276.)
ECONOMIC CONDITION OF FAMILIES

™ on.g ***** kinds of street workers in Newark, few of the ped^, eIf were m fatherless families— 12 per cent in each group. Among
VaC- ° i 21 (® Per,cent)
amonS those working
f, " g S'® sch°oi year 17 (7 per cent) were in families supported by
^ zrother. hake the otller street workers a large proportion of the
peddlers, even when some one other than the mother provided the
iamily living, had mothers who were gainfully employed— 27 ner cent
of the vacation workers and 32 per cent of the o th e S M ost o X
mothers were m domestic and personal service, but many did factorv
uni
Hornes and a number worked in stores.
7
breadwinners to a considerable extent were in occupations
Î b commonly provide a small income. About one-fifth of the boys
J},^Qfafit^ ? rfAor othe^ ch*ef breadwinners who were themselves ped­
dlers, and 16 per cent of those working during the school year and 13
per cent of the others had chief breadwinners who were in domestic
and personal service or were laborers in the building trades, in facfabout°thrppt

:

b
! ? \ - f u ° utith-e same ProP°rtion as newsboys
-tllS^ had chief breadwinners in occupations requiring
education, training, or business enterprise, such as machinists and
sk fffp d ^ 8Vcon^ra^to5s»/ oremen, and artisans in the building trades;
killed workers m factories; owners of factories, owners of stores and
hops; commercial travelers; clerks and professional workers.
d u r a t io n o f s t r e e t w o r k

As a ru