View original document

The full text on this page is automatically extracted from the file linked above and may contain errors and inconsistencies.

JAMES J. DAVIS, Secretary



JULY 5-6, 1922

Bureau Publication No. 116


< 3 7

*59 C
Digitized for
* il L
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

I )i L



Letter o f transm ittal-__________________________________________________________


F ibst Session — J u l y 5.
Introductory statement : Grace Abbott______________________________________
Part I. The local issuing office— its problems and functions______________

3 -22

The procedure and organization of an employment-certificate office:
Anne S. D avis_________________________________________ 1_________________
The relation o f certificate issuance to the enforcement of school at­
tendance la w s : Arthur P. Lederle_____________________________________
The value o f certificate-office records to the student of ehild-labor
problems: M. Edith Campbell_______________________
D iscussion_________________________1_______________________________________
Part II. The relation of State ageneies to the loeal issuing office_____ _ 23-38
State supervision o f the issuance of employment certificates:
Taylor Frye_________________________
Discussion_______________________________________________ 1 ________________
' S econd S ession — Ju l y 6.
Part III. Methods of enforcing standards o f employment-certificate
issuance_____ ._____________________________________ _________________________ _ 39-67
The enforcement of an age standard: Esther Lee Rider___________
40Discussion __________________________________ ___________________________:___
The enforcement of an educational standard: Jeanie V. M inor-___
Discussion___________ _________________________ _______________ J__________
The enforcement of a physical standard: Dr. W ade W right_________
Discussion_______________________________________ ._________________________
The enforcement of a “ best interests ” or “ necessity ” standard:
Dr. E. J. Lickley___________________________ ____________________________
Discussion______________________ .__________________________________________
i ii
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



U. S. D epartm ent or L abor,
C hildren ’ s B u r eau ,

Washington, January 25,1923,
S ir : There is transmitted herewith a report, Standards and Prob­
lems Connected with the Issuance o f Employment Certificates, Pro­
ceedings o f Conference, Boston, July 5-6, 1922. This conference,
which was attended by State and local officials actually engaged
either in issuing or in supervising the issuance of employment cer­
tificates, was held under the auspices of the Children’s Bureau and
thé National Education Association.
A committee, appointed by the president of the National Education
Association, and composed o f the following educators—Mrs. Mary
I). Bradford, Susan M. Dorsey, Thomas E. Johnson, Peter Mdrtension, Sam Slawson, and S. E. Weber—cooperated with the Chil­
dren’s Bureau in making the arrangements for the conference.
Respectfully submitted.
G race A bbott, Chief.
Hon. J am es J. D avis ,
Secretary o f Labor.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


Chairman: Miss G race A bbott, Chief of the United States Children’s


Miss A bbott. We have called this conference at the request o f a
good many people who are interested in the improvement of our
methods of certificating children for employment and in better coop­
eration between all agencies in the enforcement of our child labor
Experience everywhere has demonstrated that the age, edu­
cational, and physical standards o f a child labor law can
be evenly and uniformly enforced only if no child is em­
ployed without a certificate and if no certificate is issued ex­
cept upon reliable evidence that the child is legally qualified
to work. With a good certificating system, inspection serves as
little more than a reenforcement o f respect for the certificate
by both employer and child. If, however, certificates are issued
on inadequate evidence or a careless canvass o f the facts, o f­
ficial approval of the employment of children who are below the
legal age is sure to be given by the issuing officer. This places a
very heavy burden upon the inspection department, as under such
circumstances the inspector must determine the ages of all the
children employed, whether with or without certificates. Annual or
semiannual inspection of factories will discover children illegally
employed only after their school life has been interrupted and after
they have, in consequence, already suffered much o f the damage of
premature employment.
In a few States the issuance of employment certificates is under
State control, but in most States the authority to issue certificates
is given to the local superintendent of schools. The careful at1
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



tcntion which this work requires is usually not given it by busy
school or other local officers in the smaller centers, unless its value
is clearly and frequently indicated by State officers. Supervision
has been specifically provided for in the laws o f only a few States.
Authority to prepare forms or require reports is more frequent, but
in many States such provisions in the law have not been utilized.
While absolute uniformity in administration is not necessary and
perhaps not desirable, it is essential that, at least a certain minimum
administrative standard should be followed throughout a State.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

P A R T I.






A nne

S. D a v i s , Director, Vocational Guidance Department, Chicago Public

The department o f vocational guidance o f the Chicago Public
Schools includes the employment-certificate division, which issues
employment certificates to boys and girls between 14 and 16 when
they leave school to work; the vocational guidance and placement
division, which advises boys and girls in matters concerning further
education and assists them in finding suitable positions; and the
industrial studies division, which investigates industrial conditions
and opportunities and studies the economic problems which young
wage earners face.
The employment-certificate division, including the medical and
statistical work, is the one which I am going to discuss in this paper.
In 1917, when the present child labor law o f Illinois became
effective, the issuing o f employment certificates was transferred to
the department o f vocational guidance, where it logically belonged.
Through a well-organized employment-certificate bureau it is pos­
sible to collect much valuable information which is necessary in
giving vocational advice to children in the schools. It is through
the employment-certificate office that the school is able to follow up
children o f employment-certificate age into industry; to supervise
them to some extent after they have entered employment; to advise
them from time to time regarding their work, their health, and fur­
ther schooling; and to determine what effect industry has upon chil­
dren who enter it.
The child labor law o f Illinois requires that, in order to obtain
a certificate:
1. The minor must be 14 years o f age.
2. He must have completed at least the sixth grade in school and
be able to read and write legibly simple sentences in English.
3. He must have a promise o f employment.
4. He must be physically fit for the kind o f work he is going
to do.
The employment certificate is mailed to the employer, and re­
turned by him to the issuing office when the child leaves his employ;
this makes it necessary for the child to return for a new certificate
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



and have a physical examination each time lie changes his employ­
The process o f issuing certificates includes :
1. Interviewing the children and inspecting the credentials (proof
o f age, school record, employer’s statement).
2. The physical examination.
3. The clerical and statistical work in connection with both.
The intervening is done by vocational advisers. Besides the
central office, there are four district offices where children applying
for employment certificates are interviewed. The district adviser
has a distinct advantage over the adviser working at the central
office, in that each child desiring to leave school for work is referred
to her by the principal before the job has been secured and before
thé school bonds have been broken. The advisers have been able to
keep in school 30 per cent or more of the children who have con­
templated leaving. Proximity to home and school and knowledge
o f the industrial situation enable the adviser to study each individual
child ; to become familiar with his home conditions, his scholarship,
and his conduct in school; and to give vocational or educational
guidance. The adviser reports to the principal the results o f her
investigations and her interviews with the child and his parents
and, if it seems advisable for the child to leave school, the principal
issues a school record. The principals have been instructed not to
issue a school record until the child has secured a job and his proof
o f age. This prevents children from roaming the streets looking
for work for long periods when they should be in school. The
children are told by the district adviser the procedure necessary to
secure an employment certificate. The child’s information or record
card and all the papers are sent with him to the central office where
he has his physical examination. During the rush period at the
end o f each semester, when large numbers o f children are applying
for certificates, physicians and clerks are assigned to the district
offices and the entire procedure is carried on in the districts as well
as at the central office.
The first interview is most important. Full and specific instruc­
tions at the time o f the first interview often prevent long and unneces­
sary trips on the part o f the children and effect a saving of time on
the part o f the interviewers. The credentials— the proof of age, the
school record, and the employer’s statement— are carefully examined
to determine whether the child meets the legal requirements. I f the
child’s papers are incomplete, he is given written instructions as to
how he may proceed to secure the necessary papers.
I f the child does not bring a birth certificate, which is the evidence
he must first try to secure under the law, or a baptismal certificate,
or a passport, etc., he is sent away with instructions as to where and
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



how to apply for a birth certificate. I f his birth is not recorded, he
must bring back to the interviewer a statement to that effect from
the bureau o f vital statistics. The interviewer must be convinced
that the birth certificate can not be secured, before the next evidence
is accepted. I f it is necessary for the child to send away for his evi­
dence o f age, he is told to return to school until he receives a reply.
The child is questioned regarding his grade and school attendance,
in order to make sure that the school record has not been issued in
error. Occasionally it is found that the child is in the sixth grade
but has not completed it, or that he does not meet with the require­
ment for 130 days’ attendance between his thirteenth and fourteenth
birthdays or during the last year. In such cases a letter is sent to
the principal and the child is returned to school.
The promise o f employment is a written statement made by the
employer, giving the name o f the child, the nature of the employ­
ment, the number o f hours per day and days per week he is to be
employed, and the signature and address o f the employer. The child
may procure a “ promise of employment ” blank from the school or
the central office. I f the occupation to be assigned to the child is
-prohibited under the law or the hours he is to work are more than
eight a day, he is referred to the industrial studies division. A voca­
tional adviser in this department then calls the employer on the
telephone or visits him. I f an adjustment can not be made, the
child is referred to the placement department to be placed in legal
Frequently a child brings a statement from the employer in which
the name given the occupation is ambiguous. Employers use dif­
ferent terminology, and it is possible for a job to include illegal
features in one establishment, and not include illegal features in
another, though the same term has been used in both instances.
When there is any doubt, the interviewer sends a request to the in­
dustrial studies division to have the establishment and occupation
A child came into the office with an employer’s statement from a
candy company, giving the occupation as “ candy helper.” Any job
o f “ helper” may be looked upon with suspicion, as it usually in­
volves machine work. The investigation in this case showed that
the job consisted of—


Breaking up hard candy after it had been spun,
Sifting hard candy to get out the small pieces,
Knocking the^andy out of the molds,
Weighing out the ingredients into copper kettles,
Lighting the gas under the kettles,
Watching the thermometer to see that the correct temperature was reached
and maintained,

32758°—23----- 2
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Helping tile men pour the candy when done, and spinning the candy on a

Two o f these processes are hazardous to the child and should be
ruled out under section 10 o f the Illinois child labor law, namely,
the processes that have to do with watching the boiling candy and
helping the men to pour it, The employer was told that a certificate
would be issued if these duties could be given to a man. The work
was adjusted and the certificate was issued.
A record is kept o f the first interview, and the missing credentials
are indicated on a small card known as the “ control ” or “ index ”
card. I f the child does not return within a week with the necessary
papers, or if he is found to be ineligible for an employment certifi­
cate, he is reported to the compulsory attendance department. When
the applicant’s credentials are accepted, the paper showing proof of
age is stamped with a board of education impression stamp and,
after the nature o f the evidence has been noted on a form for that
purpose, returned to the child. This prevents another child from
using the same document. The “ proof o f age” form, the school
record, and the “ control ” card are signed by the interviewer and at­
tached to the “ information ” card containing information concern­
ing the child and the social history of the family. The continuationschool card is made out at this point and clipped to the other papers. '
The entire record is then sent to the doctor’s office and the child is
ready for his physical examination.
The medical examiners are employed by the board o f education.
They aim to make the physical examination as thorough as possible,
conforming in general to the standards set by the committee on
physical standards for working children appointed by the Children’s
Bureau o f the United States Department of Labor, as well as the
standards accepted by industrial physicians. The applicant is first
weighed and measured and his eyes are tested. The child is stripped
to the waist to allow adequate examination o f heart, lungs, and back.
From 20 to 30 per cent o f the children examined are found to be
physically unfit for work, and their certificates are withheld until
such time as an examination shows them to be in good physical con­
Results o f physical examinations of children making first appli­
cation for certificates between July 1, 1921, and June 30, 1922, were
as follows:
Total number o f children examined______________.__ ______ 14,800
Total number o f certificates issued__________________ ^ ____15, 553
Total number o f children held______________ (21.3 per cent) 4,201
Total number of defects, for 4,201 children_________________ 6,905
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Defects. corrected.

Kind of defect.
Nose and throat findings:
Nasal -obstruction................................
Hypertrophied and infected tonsils...
Hypertrophied and tofected adenoids,
Acute rhinitis............... ......................
Acute laryngitis_______
Acute, pharyngitis..........
Befectivespeeeh_______ ...._
Defective teeth..............
Disease o f the eye_________
Defective vision....................
Discharging ears...................
Defective hearing..................
.Hypertrophied (simple).
With tome symptoms...
Hypertrophied glands:
General adenopathy.....
Tubercular adenitis. . . . ,
Pulmonary diseases:
Acute bronchitis. . . ___
Chronic bronchitis.........
Pulmonary tuberculosis.
Undersize :and immaturity..
Anemia..... ............ .... . .......
Kidney disease________ ___
Urinalysis._______ _______
Wasserman____ .__________
Genitourinary disease.........
Laboratory examinations:
a. Electrocardiograph...
b. 'General blood count..
c. Blood pressure......... .
d. X-^ray______ _______
Neurological examination:
Subnormal................ .
Nervous conditions____
Mental tost_________ ,
Orthopedic defects:
a. Malformation..........
b. Deformities................
c. Spinal curvature____
d. Fatigue posture.........
Hernia.......... .............. ... .....
Hold for report_______. . . . . .
Unusual findings..................











22 !




•5 '













The child is examined for the particular occupation specified in the
promise o f employment. I f the physician does not consider him
physically fit for this occupation, he is referred to the placement
department for lighter work, or his employment certificate is refused
altogether. Whether the refusal is temporary or permanent depends
upon the child’s physical welfare.
The doctors frequently find that in order to make a decision as to
whether a child with certain physical defects should have a certificate
they must know exactly what the surroundings are in an establish­
ment and exactly what the .child will have to do. Such cases are
referred to the industrial studies division for investigation.
A small boy who had a heart condition which prevented him from
doing any except light work without injury was to be employed as
an errand boy for an electrical concern. A visit was made to aseer-
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



tain how large the packages were that the boy had to carry, how
frequently he had to carry them, whether he rode or walked, and what
he did between his errands. It was found that in this establishment
there was an older and larger boy who would carry the heavier
packages, so that only the smaller packages would be carried by the
boy who was to be certificated. It was found also that he would
have three hours a day to rest. The certificate was issued and a letter
written to the employer, asking his special cooperation in executing
the promised adjustments o f the work.
A small number of children are allowed to work under supervision,*
reporting to the examining physician or to a dispensary at regular
intervals in order that any tendency to lapse from health may be
found early. I f the child can not afford medical care he is referred
to the dispensary nearest his home. •
i ;,
An interesting development in the work o f the medical department
has been that o f cooperation with the clinics and dispensaries.
Twenty-five dispensaries and hospitals cooperate with the depart­
ment in the effort to secure for each child the correction o f his phys-J
ical defects and make him better fitted to endure the strain o f indus­
trial life. Evening industrial medical clinics, where suppers are
served so that children can go to them direct from work, are con­
ducted by four o f the best institutions. Nutrition classes are an
adjunct to these clinics, and most o f the medical supervision is
accomplished through them. These evening classes have been of the
greatest service to working children. They have been the means of
keeping many children fit for the job and at the same time o f making
others physically fit to enter industry. Due to the great interest
aroused in the care o f malnourished children, classes to which chil­
dren may be sent have been established in nearly every part of the
city during the past three years. Cardiac clinics are conducted at
four o f the largest and best hospitals, where free hospital care is
given when required.
Three years ago,.through the generosity of Arden Shore Associ­
ation, an open-air school at Arden Shore Camp was opened to which
boys physically unfit for work are referred. The board of education
provides two teachers, a cook, and an assistant; the Arden Shore
Association pays all other expenses and provides a staff consisting of
a resident director, a nurse, and house servants. The employmentcertificate department provides a medical examiner who visits the
camp once a week and supervises the health o f the children. The
boys remain at camp from six weeks to three months or until they
aie in a sufficiently fit condition to take jobs and hold them. During
the summer months a group o f girls is sent to Arden Shore to follow
a similar program.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

st an d ar d s a n d p r o b le m s .


Many o f these children need continued care and health supervision
after they start to work. The department has gained the coopera­
tion o f a number o f employers, who have become interested in see­
ing these children develop physically and are carrying on the weigh­
ing and measuring, providing the mid-morning milk, and giving
periods for relaxation.
I f the child is found to be physically fit for employment, he signs
his certificate in the doctor’s office. The certificate form is attached
to the record and sent to the clerical division, where the papers are
carefully inspected before the certificate is finally made out by the
stenographer and mailed to the employer. The “ control” card* on
which is stamped the date the certificate is issued and the date it is
returned, is filed alphabetically in the “ control ” desk. All other
papers concerning the child are inserted in a folder which is stamped
with a number and filed numerically.
The law requires the employer to return the certificate to the issu­
ing office when the child leaves his employ. When the child applies
for a subsequent certificate he goes to the control desk, where he
presents a “ promise o f employment.” I f the control card shows that
the certificate has not been returned, a new certificate is not issued.
The office communicates with the employer immediately to secure the
return of the certificate without further delay. Only a very small
percentage of employers now fail to return certificates.
I f the certificate has been received, the interviewer records on the
child’s “ information ” card the wages he received in his last position,
his reason for leaving, the name and address o f the firm for which he
expects to work, and the kind o f work he intends to do. The child
then goes to the doctor for his physical examination. The physician
is then able to determine what effect industry has had upon the child
and to take measures for the correction of any defects which may
have developed while he has been working. Through this method of
certificating there is developed a form o f statistical study which is
valuable to advisers and teachers in showing the types o f employ­
ment open to children o f certificate age, the seasonal character of
this work, the trend o f wages, and the relation of school achievement
to industrial demand. Upon the clerical staff devolve most o f the in­
terdepartmental reports.
It is important that the certificating office work in close cooperation
with the school principals, the compulsory education department, the
continuation schools, and the factory-inspection department, if the
child labor and compulsory attendance laws are to be properly en­
The compulsory attendance law in Illinois requires that children
remain in school until 16 unless “ necessarily and lawfully employed.”
The return o f the certificate to the employment-certificate office indi
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



cates the unemployment
the child. I f the child fails to apply for
a renewal of his certificate within a week, he is reported to the com­
pulsory attendance department for return to school. A ll children
who fail to meet the «age, educational, or physical requirements are
likewise reported.
The continuation school law provides that all children between the
ages o f 14 and 16 must attend continuation school eight hours a week.
Employment certificates are not mailed to employers until the con­
tinuation-school office reports that the children have been assigned
to continuation school. As all certificates are mailed the day the
application is approved, this procedure causes no delay and insures
the child’s .assignment to continuation school. The notice requiring
the child’s attendance at continuation school two half days a week
is mailed with the certificate to the employer.
The continuation schools are notified of those children whose cer­
tificates ¿are returned, signifying that they are out of employment,
in order that the schools may secure the daily attendance o f such
children until they find other jobs. I f other employment is not
found within a limited period, the child is required to return to full­
time day school. A notice is also sent to the continuation school,
should the child again secure a ¿certificate.
A weekly report is sent to each regular day school,, giving the names
o f the children to whom, during the week, certificates have been
issued for the first time. The principals can then secure the return
to school of the children who have failed to get certificates after re­
ceiving their school records.
It has been customary to refer to the factorydsnspecti on de­
partment all child-labor violations which come to our attention.
This year a mew development in the work has been the assign­
ment o f a deputy factory inspector to the vocational guidance and
employinent-certificate bureau. Complaints o f child-labor violations
come to us from every source—from the principals and teachers,
from the attendance officers, from the continuation schools, from
interested neighbors, and from ¡the children themselves. The com­
plaints have to do with the hours worked in excess o f the legal eight
hours, work after 7 p. a , and children working without certificates
and at illegal jobs such as work in connection with power-driven
machinery. The ease is looked tup in the files to get the latest data
on the children and then turned over to the deputy inspector. Be­
sides protecting the children and solving their individual problems
through the enforcement of the child labor law, this arrangement
with the deputy inspector has made it possible to keep in close
touch with conditions in the establishments in which minors are
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



It is the task o f the employment-certificate office to inform the
employer, the teachers and principals, the children and parents, and
the community, of the requirements o f the child labor law, in order
to secure enforcement and reduce the child-labor violations to a
minimum.. The vocational guidance and employment-certificate
department has sent posters into the schools, calling the attention of
the children to the fact that if. they work after school hours they
must secure employment certificates. Full instructions regarding
the necessary procedure for securing employment certificates have
been sent to the principals. An illustrated pamphlet on the child
labor and continuation school laws has been prepared in simple
form to distribute to the children going to work. The principals
have been invited in groups to visit the employment-certificate office,»
the procedure the child must follow to secure an employment certifi­
cate and how the principals may assist in securing better enforcement
o f the law have been carefully explained to them. Literature setting
forth the conditions which children face when they leave school for
work at 14 has been seat to the teachers, to be used in presenting
arguments to children for staying in school. An illustrated pam­
phlet has been prepared, showing the opportunities for training
available in the high schools, the vocational courses offered, and the
occupations to which they lead. Such efforts have helped greatly
toward inducing the children to remain in school until they are
better equipped to enter industry, and so have aided in decreasing
child labor.
It is the aim o f the vocational guidance and employment-certificate
department of the Chicago public schools to reduce child labor to a
minimum; to keep children in school by the aid of scholarships if
they can not remain under other conditions; and to see that every
child going to work has the benefit o f advice, guidance, and employ­
ment supervision during the first years o f his working life.
A b t h u b P . L edeble , Supervisor of Attendance, Board of Education,
Detroit, Midh.

The relation between certificate issuance and the enforcement
o f school attendance laws seems so obvious., and the work has been
so closely correlated in most communities, that it is impossible to
discuss one without discussing the other.
Investigations conducted by the Federal Bureau of Education
seem to indicate that that community prospers most which educates
its citizens best. W e like to believe that this State o f Massachusetts
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



is prosperous and its per capita wealth large because o f its splendid
educational facilities; and there is a growing belief in this country
that money invested in education is the best investment that the
taxpayers o f any community can make.
Miss Blake, o f New York, stated last night in a paper given before
the National Education Association1 that in her city 50 per cent of
the children left school before entering high school. I will attempt
to show how it has been possible in Detroit to increase the period
o f the child’s school life through the administration of the employ­
ment certificate law. In considering this subject we must always
remember that all child labor legislation is statute law, and as such
lias been enacted by the 48 different legislatures. It is thus possible
to have 48 different types o f employment permit acts. As my ex­
perience has been entirely with Michigan laws, I must confine my
discussion to the city o f Detroit. I am assuming, however, that the
child labor and school attendance laws in the other States are suffi­
ciently similar to ours that what I say about Detroit may apply to
a greater or less extent to other communities.
At first, child labor legislation and school attendance laws developed
in Michigan independently o f each other. In recent years, however,
there has been a tendency to combine and coordinate these two types
o f laws. The Michigan child labor law prohibits the employment of
children under 16 years of age during school hours without permits.
Farm labor and domestic service are exceptions. Children may be
granted permits to work if they satisfy the following conditions:
(1) They must be 15 years o f age ; (2) they must have completed the
sixth grade; (3) they must have attended school 100 days during the
school year previous to their arriving at the age o f 15 or during the
year previous to applying for a school record; (4) it must be necessai\ for them to work to support themselves or their parents. The
permit is issued by the superintendent o f schools.
The compulsory education law requires that children attend school
until 16 years o f age with the following exceptions: A child who is
14, who has completed the sixth grade, may be excused if his services
are essential to the support o f himself or his parents, and a child
who has completed the eighth grade may be excused if he has an
employment permit, or wishes to remain at home or work at some
occupation that does not require a permit. You will note, therefore,
that it is possible to have a child out o f school and employed at 14
years o f age.
There are about 25,000 children in Detroit 14 and 15 years o f age,
and they would nearly all be eligible to leave school except for the
economic necessity clause. However, on June 20, 1922, only 263 o f
1 Proceedings o f the N ational Education A ssociation, Sixteenth Annual Meeting
ton, July, 1922, p. 215. W ashington, 1922.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




these children were actually out.of school and employed, and I feel
confident that on June 20, 1923, Detroit will be able to make the
proud boast that not a child under 16 is permitted to leave school to
go to work. We have concluded that the standard set by the Chil­
dren’s Bureau that no child shall leave school until he has reached
the full age of 16 years should be the minimum for the city o f
Detroit. We believe with Miss Blake that there is plenty of money
for the children in Detroit if the adults do not burn it up, and we
have gone on record as saying that we do not want the children o f
Detroit to go to work to maintain the city. After all, there is
only one reason why a 15-year-old child should go to work, and that
is to reduce taxation, and so far as I am concerned as a taxpayer, I
do not wish to have any child stop school before he is 16 years old
for the purpose o f reducing taxes. In the end Detroit is going to
profit by the increased length o f the school period, as our citizens
will be able to earn more money because of their 10 years’ schooling
than if they were permitted to leave school at the end of 4 or 5 years,
The principal means by which this reduction in child labor has
been brought about in Detroit has been a constructive interpretation
o f the poverty exemption clause. In conclusion to this part of the
discussion, I will say that whereas poverty exemptions o f all kinds
are wrong in theory, and all o f us rebel at the thought that a child
should be compelled to give up his right to education merely because
the parents happen to be poor, in actual practice such exemptions
can be rendered unimportant. I f the attendance department is alert
enough, it will find means for solving economic problems in the home
of the school child without taking the child out of school. The value
o f a provision whereby children of poor parents may be excused
from school at an earlier age than other children lies only in the fact
that it makes it easier to get legislatures to raise the compulsory
school age to what may be in effect a 16-year standard.
The second way in which the permit is important in relation to
school attendance is in connection with the system o f child account­
ing. It is my opinion that the most important phase of the whole
school-attendance problem is child accounting. For a number of
years in Detroit we have maintained a continuous school census, and
we have developed it now so that it is functioning in a highly efficient
manner. We maintain a card for every child in the city from 5 to 19
years of age, inclusive, with a cross-index, and once each year we
make a house-to-house canvass o f the entire city. The results of
this field canvass are checked against the census cards to complete the
school census, and also to see that all o f the children o f school age
are enrolled in some school. During the school year we receive
reports from every public, private, and parochial school in the city
32758°— 23----- 3
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



for each child who enters or leaves school. We also get reports from
the juvenile detention home, the police department, the marriage
license office, and many other agencies. At least once each year, we
ask each school to submit a complete enrollment. In this way we
have an accurate check on every school child.
Our system would be incomplete, however, if children were not
required to h ave. permits before entering employment. This is
especially true in regard to the part-time school which is now
operated in Detroit for those children under 17 years of age who
are not in regular day school. The law requires that no child under
17 years of age enter employment without a permit, and in ease
this requirement is disregarded penalizes the employer. We are
authorized to revoke permits o f children who are not attending
continuation school regularly, and this is usually all that is neces­
sary to keep the child in the part-time school. We try to cooperate
with the employers in every way possible. We ask them to see that
their lists o f minor employees check with our census records. If,
however, they fail or refuse to cooperate with us, we do every­
thing possible to make them pay the penalty for their negligence.
By means o f the employment permit, we also impress upon the
child and his parents the fact that we are interested in the child’s
welfare up to the time he has reached his seventeenth birthday. We
are in this way able to convince many children and their parents
that the children should remain in school longer. It brings the
children into contact with the school authorities before they per­
manently sever their connection with the school. This makes it
possible for adjustments to be made in some cases so that the child’s
parents are satisfied, and the child’s school life lengthened. This
has operated to increase the number o f children in the. high schools.
During the past year, the number o f children in the ninth grade
has equaled and sometimes exceeded the number o f children in the
eighth grade in Detroit.

S T U D E N T O F C H IL D -L A B O R P R O B L E M S .



M . E d it h C a m p b e l l , Director, Vocation Bureau, Cincinnati Public Schools.

In attempting to substitute for Mrs. Helen Thompson Woolley
to-day I have not only a sense o f my inadequacy, but one o f great
regret that you can not have her clear and forceful presentation and
her own analysis o f her wide experience covering a period o f 10
years as administrator o f an employment-certificate office.
For an incredibly long time public schools either entirely over­
looked or neglected their most important laboratory—the office
where employment certificates were issued to children who were
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



leaving school to go to work. Twelve or fifteen years ago students
o f child labor began to insist that these certificates provided a fund
of information the value o f which could not be overestimated.
In 1915, several years after the Board o f Education o f Cincinnati
had placed the issuance o f employment certificates under the direc­
tion of Doctor Woolley, she wrote a paper on this function from
which I quote:
- Working permits may have a very direct hearing on school problems or none
at all, depending on how they are issued and what use is made of the in­
formation obtainable through issuing them. Statistics of working permits are
vital statistics of the school. They correspond to the death rate of the
community. The usefulness of statistics of the death rate depends on how
accurately the records are taken and how carefully they are analyzed. Most
communities plan their campaigns of health and sanitation on the basis of
their vital statistics. The statistics regarding working permits should have
just as direct a bearing on school problems.1

Mrs. Woolley then gave a number o f facts based upon certificate
1. Retardation.
The amount of retardation among children who leave school to go to work
is more than twice as great as it is in the school system at large. Types of
classes in the schools should be formed to meet this situation, and probably
the most efficient type of law will prove to be one which provides a part-time
system o f education up to 18 years, such that the first steps in industrial life
will be taken in close cooperation with the school.

2. Shifters in industry.
Every employer complains of the instability of labor and the expense of
hiring and firing each year an endless succession of beginners. * * *
Measured in school standards, then, the worst shifters were the inferior
children. The first step the employer should take in guarding against this
evil is to give a preference to children who have done well for their age in

3. The comparison o f children who go to work early with those
who remain in school.
According to the tests, then, the group o f children which drops out of
school at 14 is mentally inferior to the group which remains in school. The
judgment of the school, expressed in the great retardation of the working
group, is confirmed by the tests, and tests form a method of measurement
sufficiently different from school work to make their results an important
piece of additional evidence.

4. Wage-earning capacity o f children who leave school at 14.
There is no correlation either negative or positive between earning capacity
and school grade.

These statements o f Mrs. W oolley’s have been more than con­
firmed. There is almost no phase o f the child-labor problem which
: s “ The issuing o f w orking perm its and its bearing on other school problems,”
School and Society, M ay 22, 1915.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




is not connected with the employment certificate, and every phase
o f the educational process could be amazingly illuminated by care­
ful analysis o f these working permits.
During the period 1911-1922, there have been two changes in
Ohio’s child labor law—changes which have greatly increased the
power of the State in supervising the working child, and the re­
sponsibility of the school in providing this child with adequate
guardianship. The law in 1913-14 raised the age requirement for
boys from 14 to 15 years with a sixth-grade school requirement, that
for girls from 14 to 16 years with a seventh-grade school require­
ment. Boys were required to have certificates until the age of 16,
girls until the age o f 18. The present law, which went into effect
in August, 1921, was based upon the facts presented by the cer­
tificate offices. The age o f 16 years was made the minimum for
both boys and girls, with a seventh-grade school requirement. The
futility o f a different age and school requirement for boys and
girls had been demonstrated by the steady demand for certificates on
the part o f girls, by the amount of retardation for girls which shows
an increase with the 16-year age limit, and by the difficulties in ad­
ministration and enforcement o f the law. We were also completely
convinced that the girl did not need protection more than the boy
for the sake of either health, morality, or education. I f more
facts had been available from the issuance o f certificates, the law in
1914 would not have made this difference between boys and girls.
Under the new law the requirement for age proof was made more
stringent than ever before, and hence the necessity for birth registra­
tion brought more urgently to the attention o f the public. No more
serious problem than this confronts the student of child labor and
o f education. The Cincinnati Board o f Health has been lament­
ably cut in funds, to the great detriment o f its department o f vital
statistics; so much so that the chief health officer recently found
himself unable to continue to give children copies o f their birth rec­
ords. Through the pressure of the strict issuance of employment cer­
tificates the work o f this department has been made a more effective
function o f the board o f health. We are also attempting through the
cumulative record card to have the child’s age established when he
enters school. I f this could be validly done an enormous amount of
time and expense would be saved the public-school system, which
now simply postpones this age certification from the fifth to the
sixteenth year.
The procedure o f the employment-certificate office has had a con­
stant influence upon standards o f health for the child. When we
first began the issuance of certificates, almost no child was refused
a certificate because o f inability to come up to the health standard
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



o f the law, and then only when great pressure was brought to bear
upon the district physician. Last year the employment-certificate
office required physical examinations o f 2,681 children, none of whom
was accepted until health recommendations were carried out. Acting
upon these results, the writers of the present law greatly raised
health requirements—so much so that many felt the impossibility
o f administering this part o f the law because o f lack o f physicians
and adequate funds. But the law was passed, and an effort has been
made to give each child an examination more thorough than those
given in former years. This procedure has brought the physicians
o f the board o f health— our examiners—more directly into contact
with industrial medicine, has more sharply confronted them with
a specific public-health problem, and has brought to our assistance the
cooperation o f the Cincinnati Public Health Federation— a most
effective organization.
The present law provides for the issuance of full-time vacation
certificates, thus sanctioning work for children o f 14 years when
school is not in session and recognizing the distinction between
employment during the school term and employment during vaca­
tion. During the period June 20-August 25, 1922, 756 of these
certificates were issued, more than 400 of which were returned by
September 1 without follow-up work. These children create addi­
tional attendance problems, and probably a few more children
go into cooperative and part-time work as a result o f the issuance of
vacation certificates. W e realized that many children were working
illegally without certificates. We were able, however, to compel the
initial physical examination of these 756 children and to make some
effort for supervision. Thus the certificate method slowly, step by
step, impresses upon industry, the school, and the parent that every
entrance of a child into industry must be sanctioned and guarded by
the State.
The amazing ignorance and indifference of the public schools as
to what happens to the children who go to work has been consider­
ably lessened through the effort o f those who realized the value o f
work-certificate records. These records have shown a significant
amount of retardation, never decreasing and in many years increas­
ing, as continuously shown in Mrs. Woolley’s annual reports. The
effect o f these statistics has been to increase the scope o f continua­
tion, cooperative, and part-time classes, under the provisions of the
new law, and to provide for the issuance of the certificate to retarded
Again the opponents o f the law and o f vocational education
claimed these extensive provisions could never be met. In many
communities in Ohio they have not been met. But they have forced
the schools and industry to face the fact that the child must be more
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis




carefully guarded and supervised on his entrance into working life.
The present law requires the school at least to know where the child
is until he is 18 years o f age, and the working permit has indeed
begun the “ vital statistics o f the school.” It has also begun to
impress upon the tax-paying public that the child who goes to work
at 15 or 16 has just as much right to the advantage o f school funds,
used for guidance and guardianship, as has the high-school child
who often avails himself o f these funds until he is 18 years o f age.
In the high-school group are only 10 per cent o f our children; the
great majority go out from the sixth and seventh grades with their
most crying needs unheeded.
The mere knowledge o f where the working child is going (far too
often his ignorance o f f where” is an indictment of the school), the
grade he has completed, the relation (and again the sorry nonrela­
tion) o f his grade to his job, the condition o f his health, and much
else, show the need for complete reorganization o f our present grade
system. Superintendent Condon, o f Cincinnati, has asked a com­
mittee to work out this problem for the school system. The com­
mittee report was based not only upon facts about the working child,
but also upon extremely interesting figures compiled by some of the
principals upon retardation and the overwhelming number o f
failures and withdrawals in high schools.
The Children’s Bureau is also bringing to light interesting data
by investigating the correlation between grade and job in cases in
which working permits have been issued by the Cincinnati office.
The evident lack o f correlation between wages, type o f position,
and school grade, as shown in certificate records, emphasizes increas­
ingly and constantly the need for intensive study o f the industry and
the occupation into which the child is certificated. The expense
and burden o f this analysis should be assumed by industry, which is
still reluctant to initiate and plan such studies. In consequence,
we have on the one hand the schools attempting to train the child
for some unknown occupation and on the other hand industry bit­
terly complaining that the child is untrained for industrial tasks.
Until the school and industry frankly, intelligently, and with un­
doubting confidence in each other discuss processes, wages, hours,
educative motives, the deadly effect o f monotony, and all else that
concerns the real life o f the child, no actual progress will be made,
as Mrs. Woolley writes, “ in bringing about those modifications o f
educational systems and procedures which will make o f education
a more effective instrument in helping each child to reach ultimately
a wise adjustment to the occupational world.”
I have not attempted to emphasize the question o f mental differ­
ences shown by the employment-certificate records. In the Cincin­
nati vocation bureau we are depending more and more upon the
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis


psychological test for assistance in handling individual children. I
again refer to Mrs. W oolley’s paper and to her annual report, the con­
vincing statements and statistics of which prove the undoubted wis­
dom of a classification and reorganization in the school system based
upon the fact that, as Doctor Whipple says, “ the existence o f funda­
mental and relatively permanent individual differences in intellectual
capacity lias been incontrovertibly demonstrated; that the real mean­
ing of democracy is properly safeguarded in the notion of ‘ equity of
opportunity,’ and if any nation is destined to perish it is that one
which fails to provide the best possible educational training for those
o f its rising generation that show promise of intellectual leadership.”
Provision for this group should include not only facilities for
educational training but extensive scholarship funds. The Cincin­
nati bureau is now administering $6,000 a year in scholarships for a
group o f superior children who are 16 years o f age and would other­
wise be compelled to go to work. The fund is a part o f the budget
contributed by the community chest to the vocation bureau, which is
a joint enterprise o f the public schools and the council o f social
i Experience in issuing employment certificates has constantly justi­
fied the method o f placing this responsibility on boards o f education.
The question whether one group can more ably perform this task
than another one, such as boards of health or industrial commissions,
depends, o f course, upon the personnel—which is always the secret
of effective work, The training and ability o f the issuing officer is
o f paramount importance, and every effort should be made to raise
the standard for the officers ; but the great hope of breaking into the
present rigidity o f school grades and classes is the teacher’s constant
and vital contact with the success or failure o f the working child
after he leaves the schoolroom. This knowledge can be given, and
the teacher stimulated to secure this information, only when the
school system is held entirely responsible for permitting the child
to go to work. Presenting to the child a legitimate choice between
work and school is a serious responsibility. Such a responsibility
must inevitably compel the schools to exercise this right only when
they have exhausted every possible resource for the wise guidance
and supervision of the working child.
A t the end o f a long day this summer when more than 400 children
had passed through the office, a small colored boy presented himself
to a weary clerk. She had exhausted every apparent clue to a birth
record and finally in desperation asked, “ John, do you know the
name of the doctor who was with your mother when you were born? ”—
to which the bewildered little boy solemnly replied, “ hTo’m—I
don’ ’zactly remembah— I wuz right small then.” In the years to
come many a man and woman who as a child came to the employ
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



ment-certificate office, with the right to expect o f us knowledge of
industry and all that was necessary for wise advice, may say to us
somewhat bitterly, “ You should have told me what to do; ‘ I wuz
right small then ’ ! ”
G eorge C h a t f i e l d , Assistant Director, Bureau of Attendance,
Department o f Education, New York City. The most important and
most striking o f all the points brought out here this afternoon is that
make what laws you will about these children as to the age when they
may leave school, in some way or other those laws will be evaded
unless the schools do something for these children’s individual needs.
Now, our schools are organized in a certain system. I do not
think that any particular individual is responsible for that system
in the schools as they are now. We are all responsible for it. But
the fact remains that we will not do for these children the things
that they want, and a very large percentage leave school because
they are mighty glad to.get out. That means only one thing—that
they have failed. People do not usually quit doing things that they
like to do and in which they have been successful, and they have not
been successful in this. I hesitate to speak after the scientific reserve
that Miss Campbell has exhibited on the matter; but I do not know
but what the fact is that the reason there is no correlation between
the things that children do and the grade at which they leave school
is that the grade in which they are in school and the work they are
doing in school does not necessarily measure their ability or capacity.
We have had our standards raised in New York one year after
another. At the present time we are compelling all children under
IT who have not completed the elementary grades to attend school.
We have a very difficult job to make them stay in school. We have
not yet found how to adjust the continuation-school program to the
needs o f the children. I do not think we have accomplished much
for the children except to keep them in school and out of some
dangerous employment. We have not given them any better educa­
tion, and we have certainly increased the school congestion tremen­
dously. X think a different kind o f solution from the one suggested
is needed, and then we shall not have to have these laws to keep
children in school.
To pass from this question to that of children obliged to go to
work because o f family need, I think that this is not a matter for
private charity, but that it is the State’s business to step in there
just as much as it is in the cases of the widows’ pension fund.
I f we ever get our school system into such shape that it can handle
our children in a rational way, a good many o f these other prob­
lems will be solved.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Miss C am pbell . In Ohio we have State relief for children who
are obliged to go to work because o f family need. The board o f
education spends several thousand dollars every year in the relief,
but the public are opposed to it.
The C h a ir m a n . They like the idea o f the scholarship, but they
do not like the word “ relief ” ?
Miss C am pbell . Yes; that is the reason.
Mr. L e d e r l e . We have State relief in Michigan, but we are not
using it in Detroit. It is limited to $3 a week.
The C a ir m a n . Suppose you tell us, Mr. Lederle, how you reduced
the number o f employed children from 1,700 to 200?
Mr. L ederle. Our attendance officers are trained social workers
with an educational background. They all occupy substantially the
same position in the community as high-school teachers. They are
selected from people in the schools who are specially fitted for this
kind o f work. When the child wants to leave school the entire
family problem is gone into. We find that by making the family
budget and studying the family’s problem, getting the older people
to work and getting the father into a position that pays him better,
we can help the family so that we do not have to give them any
money. A large proportion o f the children who leave school and go
to work come from the lower class mentally. The parents are pos­
sibly able to earn enough to. support the family, but have not been
able to manage the home properly. We have assisted them in man­
aging the home. The time we made our greatest progress was in the
time o f unemployment, when there were 50,000 or 60,000 men out of
work in Detroit. We took the matter up with the mayor and the
department of public welfare and they agreed to grant temporary
relief to the families where necessary, but we found as a practical
matter that it was not necessary.
The C h a ir m a n . That was not true of the families of the 50,000
who were without income.
Mr. L ederle. In case an older member of the family was not work­
ing, we would not grant a permit to a child, but would get employ­
ment for the adult. The public welfare department assisted in this
32758°— 23----- 4
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis






T aylo r F rye , Assistant to the Industrial Commission of Wisconsin.


During the first 32 years o f its existence—from 1867 to 1899—the
child labor law o f Wisconsin contained no provision for employment
certificates (or child-labor permits, as we call them). In 1899 the
statutes were amended to provide for the permit, and the require­
ment has been in force continuously since that time. Previous to
September 1, 1917, power to issue permits for child labor was placed
by statute in the hands o f the labor department and o f county,
municipal, and juvenile court judges. During the latter part o f this
period judges were required to file copies o f permits issued by them
with the labor department. The head of the labor department was
authorized to revoke a permit which appeared to have been unlawfully or irregularly issued, but he had no effective means o f pre­
venting repetition o f the irregularity. On one occasion a judge
maintained that if the department revoked a certain permit he
would issue another, and that he would continue to issue as long as
the department continued to revoke. In the presence o f such de­
termination the department was practically helpless.
On September 1, 1917, the permit age was raised to 17. O n the
same date an amendment to the compensation law became effective
which provides that if a minor o f permit age is injured while em­
ployed without a permit, or if a minor of permit age or over is
injured while employed at prohibited work, such minor shall be
entitled to treble compensation for the injury, and that the em­
ployer Shall be primarily liable for the payment o f the additional
Fallowing this legislation, demand for changes in the statutes to
render possible a more efficient administration o f the provisions of
the child labor law became increasingly insistent. The response later
in the same legislative session was a statutory provision placing upon
the State industrial commission full responsibility for the issuance
o f child-labor permits, and giving the commission authority to desig23
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



nate persons to assist with the work. A t the same time a statute was
enacted giving the commission authority to refuse to issue a labor
permit if, in its judgment, the best interests o f the child concerned
would be served by such refusal. The vital importance o f this lastnamed statute can not be overestimated.
In the appointment of permit officers the commission is not limited
to any class or condition. It endeavors, however, to secure the serv­
ices o f people already connected in some capacity with public service.
In practice, all appointments terminate on June 30 each year, unless
for special reasons it is ordered otherwise. Under no conditions
does an appointment hold for more than one year without renewal.
During the five years of operation of this system we have designated
484 persons as permit officers. O f these, 209 are acting at the present
time. The changes in the personnel have been far fewer than we
feared they would be when the system was inaugurated. The 209
active permit officers are classified as follows: School officials, 108;
judges, 44; justices of the peace, 16; bank officials, 14; village clerks*
8; miscellaneous (including attorneys, merchants, physicians, clergy­
men, and others), 19.
Before a new permit officer is designated, the character o f the work
is explained to him— either by letter or in person— and he is given
an opportunity to say frankly and without embarrassment whether
he can and will give the time and sympathetic attention to the work
which its proper performance requires. Our advances are sometimes,
but not often, repelled. Every class to which we have appealed for
help has furnished its quota, small though it may have been, of
individuals who have refused. When this occurs, our hearts go out
in silent thankfulness that our statutes do not confer upon that indi­
vidual the power and impose upon him the duty to issue permits for
the employment of our young.
We try to make every permit officer realize that he is a member
o f our organization; that we will try to help him in every possible
way, and that he will not be subjected to unkind criticism and fault­
finding. He is encouraged to submit doubtful cases to the commis­
sion for advice before acting.
Close cooperation with the schools is maintained. It is the statu­
tory prerogative of the schools to certify to the educational attain­
ments o f the child seeking a work permit. This prerogative is always
respected. The commission goes further than the statute. School
officials are requested to recommend for or against the issuance of
the permit, regardless o f the fact that the child qualifies education­
ally. Sometimes, but not frequently, this request for a recommenda­
tion is declined. In no instance has a permit been issued against the
recommendation o f the school official. On the contrary, in many in­
stances we have been able to prevail upon the parents to keep the
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

standards a n d p r o b l e m s .


child in school even after a favorable recommendation. School offi­
cials are encouraged to use every legitimate means at their command
to induce children to remain in school and their parents to keep them
Approximately one-half o f our permits are issued in the city of
Milwaukee under the direct supervision of regular employees o f
the commission. About 70 per cent of the remainder are issued in
cities maintaining day vocational [continuation] schools. We have
38 such cities, exclusive of Milwaukee, including all our important
industrial centers. In 16 of these cities the director of the vocational
school is the permit officer, but in each such case the appointment is
made on the recommendation of the regular superintendent o f schools,
who is first given an opportunity to do the work. This concentra­
tion o f the work in the hands o f a comparatively small number o f
permit officers favors close supervision by the commission o f the
issuing o f working papers to the great majority of our working
There is but one standard for employment certificates in -W is­
consin—that fixed by statute and by the lawful orders o f the indus­
trial commission. It is our constant endeavor to maintain that
standard throughout the State.
Copies o f permits, containing a statement o f the evidence on
which they are issued, must be sent to the industrial commission.
Our aim is to have these copies sent in at least semimonthly. Rec­
ords are kept o f these returns and communications are sent or visits
made to permit-issuing officers who do not send in these copies. A ll
copies o f permits are checked promptly upon receipt, and if any
irregularities appear they are called to the attention o f the permit
officer for correction. Contrary to preconceived notions, we have
comparatively little trouble in getting corrections made— far less, we
believe, than would be the case were the permit officer holding under
statutory appointment.
Employment o f the child is limited to the employer named in the
permit. When the employment terminates, the employer must re­
turn the permit to the office where it was issued. Before the child can
again be lawfully employed, a new permit must be issued or the old
one must be reissued. A record of each reissued permit must be sent
to the industrial commission. A ll blanks used in the issuance of
permits are supplied by the commission.
Familiarity with the provisions of the child labor law is an es­
sential part o f the equipment o f all deputies of the commission
charged with inspection work. Special measures are taken, however,
to educate and train the woman inspectors who are especially in­
trusted with the enforcement of the laws relating to woman and
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



child labor, with, respect to every detail o f the law and its adminis­
tration. Stress is laid upon the spirit and purpose of the law and
regulations and the administrative policy of the commission. No
woman inspector is deemed adequately equipped until she is thor­
oughly acquainted and in full sympathy with all the essentials o f the
legislative and administrative scheme for the protection o f the
working child and is a tactful and accomplished advocate o f that
An essential part of the woman inspector’s duties is to confer with
the permit officer. She checks over his records, advises him o f
what she has found o f interest to him in the local situation, en­
courages, exhorts, educates, corrects, and inspires him as conditions
demand and warrant. This education o f the permit officer is a
tremendously important part o f the work. We have found it to be
a painfully common disposition o f permit officers to break down
standards, particularly in so-called special cases.
After all, it should be remembered that the issuance o f the work
certificate is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. Proper
protection fo r the child is the end. Frequently it is essential to
his protection that the permit shall not be issued, regardless o f the
fact that he can qualify for it under the law. For example, he should
be protected from hazardous employments and from careless, reckless,
indifferent, or exploiting employers. The commission is on con­
stant guard in these respects. Under its statutory power, it with­
holds permits when in its judgment such action is for any reason
in the best interests o f the child. Does an employer adopt the policy
o f discharging permit children as soon as their age and experience
entitle them to pass to a higher wage classification and o f taking
on new recruits at the low wage? His attention is called by the
commission’s representative to the objections to this policy, and
unless the policy is promptly changed he is not permitted to em­
ploy permit children. Does an employer fail so to organize his
shop that children will be given the necessary supervision to keep
their employment within lawful and proper limitations at all times?
He is offered opportunity and help to correct the situation. Upon his
failure to do so, he is not permitted to employ children.
Do investigations and experience demonstrate that unusual moral
hazards exist for the young in any occupation? The commission
resolves that permits shall not be issued to children for that occu­
pation, advises the permit officers, and permits are stopped. Are
there occupations in which it is impossible for the commission to
supervise the employment o f children o f permit age as the law
contemplates it shall do? Permits are not issued for the employ­
ment o f children in those occupations. Does an employer o f children
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



in street-messenger service, knowing that a child whose place of
employment is the street has only a remote chance o f recovering
damages from his employer in a common-law action for injuries re­
ceived in the course o f his employment, adopt the policy o f operating
outside the provisions o f the compensation law in order to save
compensation-insurance premiums, thereby throwing practically all
the hazards o f the employment upon the child? The reprehensible
features o f this policy from the viewpoint o f the interests of the
child and the State are pointed out to him, and he is given an oppor­
tunity to eome under the act and assume his reasonable responsibili­
ties. Failing, the issuance o f permits to children to work for him
is stopped.
These are not fanciful illustrations, as will appear from the follow­
ing typical resolutions1 adopted and put into effect by the commis­
1. Resolved,, That permits shall not be granted to minors under 17 years of
age to work in bowling alleys.
2. Resolved, That permits shall not be granted to girls under I f years of age
to work in any hotel, clubhouse, restaurant, boarding or rooming house, includ­
ing boarding and rooming places conducted by industrial plants for their own
3. Resolved, That permits shall not be issued to children under 16 years of
age to work in lumbering and logging operations.
4. Resolved, That no permit shall be granted to any child to work in any
place of employment in which an active strike or lockout of the employees is
in progress.
5. 1Resolved, That no permit shall be granted for the employment pf any
child in messenger service on the streets by employers who are operating out­
side of the provisions of the compensation act.
6 . Resolved, That no labor permit shall be granted for the employment of
any child in any capacity in road construction.

By circular and personal letters and personal conferences permit
officers are kept informed on the actions and policies o f the commis­
We are sometimes asked what we do i f a permit officer refuses to
conform to the standards. Well, we try to educate him. We try
to have him get the vision. I f we finally fail, we apply a gentle but
effective soporific, and when the patient awakes we have his voluntary
resignation— or an equivalent—in our hands. We have been com­
pelled in a few instances to dispense with the services o f permit
officers on our own motion, hut I do not recall an instance in which
our action aroused resentment. The commission would not tolerate
a defiant attitude on the part o f a permit officer any more than it
would on the part o f any other member o f its organization,
1 The industrial comm ission has the right to make rulings which have the force o f law
relative to the exercise o f its powers to enforce laws relating to child labor.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



I am frank to say that I do not know how we could handle such
cases if the permit officer held under statutory appointment. And
in this connection it should be remembered that common sense,
wisdom, tact, judgment, moral backbone, and vision can not be
conferred upon individuals by statute.
One o f the most powerful influences operating to secure
compliance with the child labor law in Wisconsin is the treble
compensation statute before referred to. Under this statute, the
compensation-insurance carrier is secondarily liable and must pay
the extra compensation only if the employer is unable to meet the
obligation. The extra compensation in a maximum case is a little
more than $26,000. A ll accidents to minors are investigated with
reference to the legality o f the employment, and with the help of
our— in the main— sympathetic corps of permit officers we are able,
with almost deadly certainty, to determine that question. Under
this statute, compensation-insurance companies—as well as em­
ployers— are financially interested in preventing violations of the
law. Educational campaigns are continually being carried on by
these companies to educate their policyholders in the necessity of a
strict compliance with the permit law. During the last five years
hundreds of thousands o f pieces o f literature prepared by the
commission, explanatory of the permit and other provisions o f the
child labor law and the dangers incident to their violation, have
been distributed by the insurance companies.
Child labor statutes, at least those of Wisconsin, are not simple
and easily understood. The commission is constantly receiving
requests for construction and explanation of the terms o f the statutes.
Not a few o f these requests come from judges and attorneys. There
have been recent instances in which our supreme court has reversed
our circuit courts on interpretations of the law. Multiplicity o f in­
terpretations could not fail to be disastrous. The statute must not
mean one thing in Milwaukee, another in Superior, and still another
in Madison. Its application is uniform throughout the State when
it comes before our supreme court. It is vital that it be so before it
reaches that tribunal. In these circumstances it has been most help­
ful to have a central State body clothed with power to interpret and
apply the law, and whose decisions are o f State-wide force and effect
unless and until overruled by the courts.
Under our statutes a permit, even though issued in contravention
o f the provisions o f the law and of the regulations o f the commis­
sion, if issued by a duly appointed permit officer, protects the em­
ployer so long as he keeps the employment o f the child within the
terms o f the permit. In these circumstances it will readily be seen
how a careless or incompetent permit officer may sacrifice the vital
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



interests o f the child. For example, on some flimsy and unreliable
proof of age a permit is issued to a child as over 16 years of age
when, in fact, he is under 16. This permit opens up to this child the
whole field o f employment prohibited by statute to children under 16.
The child is put at one of these hazardous employments and severely
injured. The permit deprives the child of his right to sue for dam­
ages at common law, and it protects the employer from the payment
o f treble compensation. The injured child gets only regular com­
pensation and is compelled alone to bear the terrible burden placed
upon his young shoulders by the defaulting permit officer.
Permit officers who are made to realize their great responsibilities
and the disastrous consequences which may follow any lapse on
their part, are slow to wander from the path of safety marked out
for their feet by the statutes and regulations o f the commission.
And all the time it is a matter o f solicitude—yea, o f increasingsolicitude— on the part o f the commission, that the supervision of
his work shall be so close that no irregularity in the permit, whether
due to intent, inadvertence, oversight, or incompetency on the part
of the permit officer, shall go undetected and uncorrected. The suc­
cess o f our efforts may, in a measure, be indicated by the fact that
during the five years o f operation o f the present system the legality
o f the permit has not once been injected as a vital issue into the
disposition o f the claim o f an injured child.
In closing, I desire to submit that not all our energies in W is­
consin are being used to uphold existing standards. With one hand
we are holding tenaciously to what has been gained; with the other
we are reaching out for better things for the childhood o f our State.
Figuratively speaking, our extended hand is being grasped by great
and increasing numbers of sympathetic people. As among the peo­
ple who are joining us in this work, we have perhaps a peculiar
feeling o f gratitude and admiration for our permit officers. They
have responded to the call to unselfish service, oftentimes at the
expense o f time and energy which they can ill afford. On the whole,
their work is good and steadily growing better. The commission
appreciates their help and is not backward about letting them
know it.
And now, do we claim 100 per cent efficiency? By no means.
None can be more conscious o f our shortcomings than we ourselves.
But we are on guard. A thousand eyes are watching for defects
and a thousand minds are ready to offer suggestions and help for
their correction. Whatever elements of weakness the centralized
system in Wisconsin has developed, we know that its elements of
strength so far overshadow them that they can not be considered as
o f vital consequence and that in this work we can safely say, in the
32758°— 23------ 5
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



somewhat paraphrased language o f Dickens, that prince among the
friends of childhood, “ It is a far, far better thing that we now do
than we have ever done. It is a far, far better rest that the chil­
dren of Wisconsin now have from premature and blighting toil than
they have ever known.”
J a m e s N. P r i n g l e , D eputy Gommissioner, State Board o f Educa­
tion, New Hampshire. In contrast to the plan in effect in Wisconsin,
the administration o f all child labor laws in New Hampshire is in the
hands o f the school authorities. While there is cordial cooperation
between the labor and education departments, the inspectors of the
department o f labor have no direct responsibility for the enforce­
ment o f laws relative to the employment o f children under 16.
All superintendents o f schools, city as well as rural, are employed
by the State board o f education on the nomination o f the local boards.
There are 64 “ supervisory unions” employing 68 superintendents
and assistant superintendents. Child-labor certificates are issued by
the local superintendents o f schools, in practically all cases. The law
permits the school board to appoint a special officer for this purpose.
This is done in one city. The local attendance officer or, as he is still
called in our State, truant officer, enforces the attendance laws. He
is also responsible under the local school board for inspection and the
enforcement of child labor laws. The State board o f education has
authority to remove any tuant officer who fails to enforce the child
labor laws. A ll immigrant children coming to New Hampshire are
reported to the State board of education and their attendance and
employment accounted for.
The inspectors o f the State board o f education inspect all estab­
lishments included under the provisions o f the child labor law, once,
twice, or three times a year, the number of inspections varying with
the size o f the town and the number o f children employed. One o f
these inspections is made during the summer vacation.
These inspectors also examine and certify to the correctness of the
records o f the certificating officers in the districts. I f it is found that
certificates have been issued upon inadequate evidence, or otherwise
improperly, they are revoked. In general the records o f the certifi­
cating officers are satisfactory.
A careful study of complaints of hardship caused by the child
labor law was made during the first years that it was on the statute
books. In very few cases was it found that the employment o f the
children was actually necessary. New Hampshire has a mothers’ aid
law under which mothers with families dependent upon them for
support may receive aid in amounts not exceeding $10 a month for
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

standards a n d pr o b le m s .


the first child and $5 for each additional child. A majority o f the
“ hardship ” cases showed headstrong children or selfish parents.
The weakest point in our child labor law enforcement is our physi­
cal examination. No provision is made by the law for meeting the
expense o f this examination, and in many districts a fee is charged.
In a majority o f districts, however, the examination is made by the
local health officer or a physician appointed by the school board.
The scope of the examination is less than that recommended by the
Children’s Bureau. Our law requires a certificate from a medical
officer o f the board o f health or from a physician designated by the
school board certifying that “ the child has reached the normal de­
velopment o f a child o f his age, and that he is in sufficiently sound
health and physically able to perform the work which he intends to
do.” I believe the adoption o f a uniform standard for physical ex­
aminations to be o f great advantage.
G eorge R. S turges, D irector o f Attendance and Em ployment,
State Board o f Education, Connecticut. The officers administering
the Connecticut child labor law (except for the provisions relating to
dangerous occupations and to hours of labor) are officers of the State
board o f education, and the State director of attendance and em­
ployment is also counsel for the State board. The board appoints
several deputies or district agents, who do the work o f certificate issu­
ing and inspecting. They have offices in different cities located so as
to be accessible to the districts under their charge.
A child who wishes to go to work must bring to the agent of the
board proof that he has fulfilled the requirements o f the law, his ap­
plication for an employment certificate must be approved by the prin­
cipal or school superintendent or some person designated by such
officer, and he must then pass a physical examination. The exam­
ining physicians in the several towns in the State are appointed
by the State board o f education and are responsible to that board for
the examinations they make. The certificates are issued in tripli­
cate ; one copy is delivered to the parent and may be accepted by the
employer as a temporary permit good for one week, another is made
out to the particular employer and sent to him, and the third must
be filed immediately in the office o f the State board o f education at
As soon as the child commences work, the employer must file a
certificate with the State board of education stating that the child
has commenced his term of employment. When the child leaves or
is discharged, the employer must immediately notify the board that
the child has terminated his services. I f those notices do not come
in, our follow-up system begins to operate and investigations are
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



immediately started to find out whether the child is at work, for he
must be either at work or in school. In order to do this follow-up
work these same officers are charged with factory inspection, as well
as the State factory inspectors, and continuous factory inspection is
something that the local officer must make in connection with his
work, so that he may know where his children are.
The law permits the State director o f attendance and employment
to prosecute in person or by attorney for any violation o f the school
or employment laws, and for that purpose he has the same power as
every prosecuting officer in the State—grand jurors in the smaller
towns and the prosecuting attorneys of the several cities—so that for
any violation o f the statute in connection with children he may go
directly into the town and prosecute in his own name.
The State supervisors and other school officials report violations
of the attendance laws to the local truant or school-attendance officers.
Under our statute each town may appoint its own attendance officers.
Where they are appointed, it is the policy o f our department to work
in hearty cooperation with them and to hold up their hands in every
possible way. In any event the matter is taken up through the fol­
low-up system, so if the local officers have not functioned the State
officers will. Where the local machinery fails, the State board of
education steps in and carries the work on just as though the local
officers had not been appointed, bringing the prosecutions over their
It might be interesting to note that a State survey which we have
had in progress for the past three years and which has covered 157
towns indicates that the percentage o f school attendance for the
entire State is 97 for children between the ages o f 4 and 16, eliminat­
ing those between 4 and 7 who are not obliged by statute to go to
school and those between 14 and 16 who have completed the sixth
grade and are legally employed.
R o b e r t O . S m a l l , D irector, Division o f Vocational Education,
State Department o f Education, Massachusetts. As the preceding
speakers have told o f their State systems I have been impressed with
the fact that in some ways we in Massachusetts have probably more
system and in others less than all o f them combined. We have no
centralized system, such as has been described, which brings the
State into the intimate relation of inspecting the issuing of certifi­
cates. For issuing certificates we have in the State 354 systems, all
local. On the inspection side, however, the visiting o f the factories,
we have a centralized system in the department o f labor and indus­
I do not know that I have any decided opinion on the value of
leaving to local communities entirely the system of issuing. I pre­
sume I am rather typical o f school men in this State in feeling that
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



the State can function best and most by helping to enforce school
attendance rather than by taking over as a function the absolute
control o f and inspection of the issuance of certificates. I do not
see how in this Commonwealth, with 45,000 youths employed between
the ages o f 14 and 16, representing something like 160,000 different
certificates, we could profitably engage in that enterprise. I do not
see how we can advantageously undertake the control and direction
o f and have knowledge about all o f those certificates at the statehouse. Personally, I prefer to get a picture of the procedure which
should prevail in these different municipalities and then try to get
results through cooperation with the 354 different units rather than
to try to get results through one State unit. But I am just thinking
out loud; I am not taking issue in any way whatsoever with the
previous speakers. A ll in all, my acute interest in the matter is of
such relatively recent origin and comes from such a different angle
that I confess I know very little about the machinery for accom­
plishing the ends discussed.
My interest in the matter has come about through responsibility
for enforcing the continuation school law, and the machinery which
has been devised for this purpose without concern, so far as we are
conscious o f it at the outset, with the certificating side o f childemployment legislation. The machinery which has been devised
to apprise the continuation school that John Jones or Mary Smith
has left the regular school to go to work is automatic. The continua­
tion school thereby gets immediately in touch with the employed
minor. Because o f follow-up and informational matter which it
thus gets automatically in the conduct o f the school my acute interest
started. I f I have anything that I would like to submit as a possible
contribution here to-day, it is my conviction that through the agency
o f the 47 continuation schools which we have in 47 municipalities
in this Commonwealth, and through the cooperation of the princi­
pals of these schools with the attendance officers, we can do a tre­
mendously more important piece o f work in the certificating of
minors than by centralizing all this work in any State office.
I do not disparage in the least the benefits which may come from
some larger authority in this work. One benefit is in regard to the
problem o f differing interpretations of the statute. As I see the
problem in this State, the great value o f the suggestions already
given is found in the State affording a common interpretation of
the law rather than in the physical handling and inspection of cer­
tification. I have had the pleasure of meeting in the last year
practically all the attendance officers in the larger places o f this
Commonwealth, and I know that there is a feeling among them that
i f we at the State office can get the authority to help hold up their
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



hands and give a common interpretation to the law it will be of
great benefit.
One other point which should be emphasized is the dignity and
the worth and the importance of the permit officer. I was much
pleased to hear in Mr. Frye’s paper the Statement that they felt
the success of the law was due to the caliber o f the men and women
who were in the permit-isSuing offices. I feel that in this Common­
wealth we must dignify the position of attendance officer. We need
a very great amount o f interpretation o f the functions of the
attendance officer’s position.
I believe that I, myself, have come only within the last few years
to realize that in last analysis all labor legislation enacted for the
benefit of children in this Commonwealth seems to have been enacted
to assure them of a minimum amount of school-privilege and then
to see to it that they get it. O f course, there are some other reasons,
such as protection of health, but the fundamental reason is the
educational one. It has dawned upon me only recently, but as I
see it the most important function o f all child labor legislation is to
assure to the child his proper amount o f educational opportunity.
The other things come with the proper enforcement o f this provision,
and I believe that through the part-time schools we are going to
secure in every community where they are'established the agency
which, through cooperation with all others, will be most potent to
bring this about.
E t h e l M. J o h n s o n , Assistant Commissioner, Department o f Labor
and Industries, Boston, Mass. I should like to add this one word
to what Mr. Small has said regarding the problem o f employment
certificates in Massachusetts. I think the big problem is to secure
more cooperation among the various agencies responsible for the
work and better understanding o f the work and the procedure in
issuing certificates. We have, I think, encouraging cooperation here
as it is—the school-attendance officers are very friendly in reporting
violations that come to their attention—but there is need for more.
As you know, in Massachusetts the department of labor is respon­
sible for enforcing the child labor law and seeing that children are
not employed without working certificates, and that employment
certificates are correctly made out. When errors are found they are
taken up with the school officials responsible and the correct pro­
cedure explained. A good deal of educational work of this nature
is performed by the department through its inspectors. The depart­
ment has in preparation a handbook for issuing officers on the
procedure in issuing employment and educational certificates and
badges for street trades. Some time ago the department published
a bulletin on “ Conserving Children in the Industries o f Massa­
chusetts.” Through the cooperation of the department o f education
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

standards a n d . p r o b le m s .


this has been introduced into the continuation-school courses
throughout the State.
One of the most promising plans for further cooperation and for
better undertanding o f this subject of certification o f children for
employment is that proposed by Mr. Small for an advisory com­
mittee made up o f school superintendents and attendance officers.
This committee, working with representatives from the department
o f education and the department o f labor and industries, will try
to devise a better system o f procedure for the issuance o f employ­
ment certificates, and a more general understanding o f the law.
The C h a ir m a n . There is authority in many o f the State laws for
more State supervision than is exercised. Either the State commis­
sioner or superintendent of education, or the factory inspection de­
partment might do a great deal in encouraging the development of
good standards.
The important thing to remember is that almost anyone issuing
certificates would like to make a good job o f it. It is a detailed
administrative job, and some one has to show some interest in it or
it will be neglected. There should be in the office of the State super­
intendent and the State factory inspector a concerted effort to help
the local officials to do their job. Wherever the blame rests for
present neglect, the penalty falls on the children. It is therefore of
great importance that we develop, not any one particular system but
a good working system, in every town in the State, so that no child
will go to work without a proper working permit or before he has
had the educational benefits which the law is supposed to insure him.
You can not accomplish this end without some centralization of
interest and leadership. At present we are drifting along with
communities which are backward and do not know that they are
backward. They can be brought to see that they are doing a very
slovenly job, and in such a way that it will be possible to secure their
cooperation in improving their own standards.
Mr. A. L. U r ic k , Commissioner, State Bureau o f Labor Statistics,
Iowa. I would like to ask the representative of Connecticut a
question with reference to his statement that the factory inspectors
made inspection of their plants, as well as the school officials. Does
he mean by this that the inspections made by school officials are rela­
tive simply to child labor ?
Mr. S t u r g e s . The Connecticut State Board o f Education is not
concerned with the ordinary duties of the factory inspector except
as the inspection may affect the children. For instance, if our local
labor-department inspector in inspecting a factory ascertains that
said factory is not provided with suitable sanitary equipment, etc.,
our office will no longer issue certificates to that particular factory.
I f we ascertain that the factory does not have proper fire escapes
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



the same would hold true, and the factory inspectors would be noti­
fied of that fact; but we would have no right to enforce that law.
We might call it to the attention o f the proprietor, but that is not
a function of our agency.
Mr. U r ic k . I f you found a child employed at a dangerous machine
could you take him out?
Mr. S turges. Y es; and as a further result o f that violation, unless
we were satisfied that it was purely an oversight, that particular fac­
tory would receive no further children from our office. The granting
o f a certificate is entirely discretionary on the part o f the issuing
officer. I f he doesn’t want to issue a certificate he doesn’t need to
do it.
Mr. U r ic k . I would like to ask Mr. Frye whether his experience
with the judiciary has been satisfactory?
Mr. F rye . I would say it has been just as satisfactory as with
any other class. We have found the judges just about as willing to
do the work and just about as satisfactory as the school people. I
wouldn’t want to say they are any better; they are just as good.
Not long ago, in a city o f considerable size, we had to dispense with
the services o f a superintendent o f schools. We put a judge in his
place. This superintendent lacked vision and he did not learn. On
one occasion he insisted on putting a 13-year-old girl to work in
a restaurant in violation of both the statutes and the regulations of
the commission. We have, perhaps, among the judges, secured the
services o f the most competent, and as I said in my paper, if they
will not learn we dispense with their services. We tell them we
understood that they are very busy—too busy to do the permit
work— and soon we have others in their places.
I can not see how it is possible for a permit officer to do his
work well without information regarding the character, conduct,
business, and policies o f the people who purpose to employ chil­
dren. A child 15 years old, for example, completes the eighth
grade and applies for a work certificate. He is in perfect health.
All right, he goes to work. I f you stop there, however, he may be
put out or exploited. I f his work takes him onto the streets, he
may be crushed in the traffic and his employer may not find it neces­
sary—under the law—to gather up his broken body. I f you stop with
the issuing o f the certificate, he may be put to work day and night.
The child labor law means much more than that the child shall
have his opportunity to work. It means that he shall have an
opportunity to grow to adult life with an unstunted body and a
trained mind.
We put into the hands o f the employers o f the State the plainest
kind o f statement as to the hours and conditions o f employment of
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

standards a n d p r o b l e m s .


It is one o f the duties o f the factory inspectors especially
charged with the enforcement o f laws relating to women and children
to visit the permit officers and to discuss with them the local situa­
tion with reference to child labor. They check over the records of
the permit officer and assist him with the work. Permit officers, like
the rest of us, tend to follow the line of least resistance. It is easier
to comply with a request for a permit than it is to refuse it. Since
March 1 1 , 1918, no girl under 17 years o f age has been permitted
to work in a hotel in the State o f Wisconsin on a labor permit, under
a ruling of the industrial board. Does a proprietor of a hotel ask
for a permit for a girl to work in his establishment? His request
is quite likely to be granted, but as soon as the copy of the permit
reaches Madison the permit is recalled. We do not try to distinguish
between good and bad hotels. We recognize that the proprietors o f
hotels are just as good as the rest of us; but all hotels are bad in one
respect, namely, that they can not control the actions o f their patrons,
and we find it necessary continually to brace up our permit officers
in the refusal of such permits. Sometimes the permit officer advises
that “ this is a first-class bowling alley ” or that “ that is a fine res­
taurant for the employment o f this child.” We find it necessary to
work continually with the permit officers to uphold standards.
Shall we issue permits to children to work for violators o f the law?
How is a permit officer to know whether he is doing that thing or Rot
if the results o f the factory inspection department are not available ?
For myself, I can not get away from the idea— after more than 10
years of experience in this work—that one of the most important
factors in it is to see to it that the child gets a square deal after he
gets that permit. Surely it is as important that he get a square deal
after as before he gets a permit. We depend upon the schools to
help us make sure that he gets a square deal before he gets a permit,
so far as his education is concerned. We are working in close cooper­
ation with the schools. We are not sidetracking them. In the
performance of our permit work, we reach out with one hand to the
schools for all the help and information that they can give us, and
with the other to the factory inspection department for all the help
and information that it can give us.
Mr. U r i c k . I wish to ask Mr. Lederle a question. In issuing
permits because o f financial necessity, what evidence is required that
there is financial necessity at home ?
Mr. L e d e r l e . We work it out in this w ay: We record the income
as received by the family, and in a parallel column the cost o f main­
taining that family, based on the same budget requirements as the
mothers’ pension and the public relief fund. This budget is worked
out in Detroit by the visiting, housekeepers’ association. I f the
income fails to balance the minimum requirements for living in the
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



city at that particular time, one o f two things is done—either some
adjustment is made by the attendance officer to increase the family
income, or the family is assisted in making plans that will permit
them to live within the income received.
Mr. U rtck. May I ask who makes the investigation with reference
to this budget to see whether it is necessary for the child to go to
work ?
Mr. L ederle. That is done by the attendance officers. We keep
a record o f the work done by our department with every child in the
city. We find that in most of the cases children who apply for per­
mits have had constant contact with the attendance officer for some
time previous. He knows the family before the child ever asks for
a permit. Our present program contemplates that a child should
never come to the central office until the officer decides definitely that
the child should have a permit. The Detroit schools are organized
on the 6-3-3 plan. We have a full-time attendance officer in every
high school and intermediate school. I f we keep our children in
school until 16, most o f them will be through the ninth grade. This
means that the children applying for permits will come from high
schools or intermediate schools. The attendance officer will have
ample opportunity to consider their eases.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

Chairman: Mrs. M art D. B radford, Chairman, Advisory Committee
o f School Superintendents appointed by the National Education
Mrs. B radford. The program for this afternoon promises practical
helpfulness to all those who deal in any way with the problem o f the
child in industry. Superintendents o f public schools should find it
o f especial interest. It presents, as you see, four aspects of the gen­
eral question o f methods of enforcing standards of employment-cer­
tificate issuance.
Standards, here as elsewhere, are o f prime importance. . Mathe­
maticians point out to us that advancing civilization has at each stage
o f its progress been characterized by increasing accuracy in the units
o f quantitative measurement used, and that therefore we may judge
the general level o f advancement o f a people by the accuracy of these
standards. So in its social relations and obligations we may deter­
mine the plane o f advancement reached by any community by the
standards it has set up and by the efforts made to bring these social
interests up to the standards adopted.
The greatest o f all the social problems is how to conserve child life.
Definite progress in the solution o f this problem is shown in raising
the minimum standard of educational attainment for children, by
fixing a standard for determining physical fitness o f those entering
upon industrial life, and by other defensive measures for the benefit
o f child-citizens.
The degree o f success in enforcing these accepted standards varies
widely in different communities. Those who have worked out
successful ways o f enforcing right standards are called upon to do
others the valuable service o f telling how it was done. We are here
for the interchange of experience.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



E sth er L ee R ider , Chief Inspector, Child Labor Division, Alabama Child
W elfare Department.

Alabama is not in the birth-registration area, and the enforce­
ment of an age standard in a State which is not in the birthregistration area has many difficulties. The Alabama child labor
law, which is enforced by the State child welfare department,
prohibits the employment of any child under 14 years of age in any
occupation except agriculture or domestic service when the public
schools are in session, restricts the working hours of children under
16 to 8 hours a day and to the hours between 6 a. m. and 7 p. m., and
limits their employment to occupations not considered dangerous
to the life, limb, or morals o f the child. It also requires every
child under 16 years of age who goes to work to have an employ­
ment certificate issued according to certain requirements.
One of these requirements is, o f course, evidence of age. The law
definitely outlines the kinds o f evidence o f age that may be
accepted. These are, in the order o f their acceptability: (1) A duly
attested birth record. ( 2 ) A duly attested transcript of certificate
o f baptism showing date of birth and place of baptism of child. (3)
A life-insurance policy in force at least one year. (4) A bona fide
contemporary Bible record of birth. (5) A passport or certificate of
arrival in the United States showing the age of the child. ( 6) An
affidavit of age sworn to by the parent and accompanied by a certifi­
cate of physical age signed by a public-school or public-health
Employment certificates are issued by the superintendents o f
schools or their authorized agents. In all cities where there are
regular school-attendance officers, the superintendents of schools have
been requested to authorize these officers to issue certificates. These
officials do not always take the time to require the proper evidence,
and often accept whatever evidence a child may bring on his first
visit; for instance, if the child brings a life-insurance policy the is­
suing officer may accept it rather than take the time and trouble to
have him sent away for his birth certificate. Also, there has been
much difficulty in preventing the issuing officers from accepting
Bible records o f birth which are not contemporary and which show
erasures or changes.
We find sometimes that even the parent’s affidavit is accepted by
the issuing officer in lieu o f other evidence which the parent may pos­
sess but which he failed to bring when the first application was made
for a certificate. To defeat this practice we made the requirement,
when we last revised our instructions for issuing certificates, that
in case a parent failed to produce documentary evidence of age a
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

standards a n d p r o b l e m s .


certificate must not be issued on a parent’s affidavit until 10 days
after the first application. This often brings to light evidence which
otherwise would not be produced. I f the child is actually under
14 years o f age at the time o f the application, parents who have
brought no documentary evidence in many cases become suspicious
when told by the issuing officer that it will take 10 days to investigate
the age o f the child, and never return to make affidavit. I f there is
really no acceptable evidence o f age in existence, a certificate o f
physical age signed by a public-health or school physician must
accompany the parent’s affidavit. The standards of height and
weight used are those established by the Children’s Bureau for use
in connection with the issuance o f Federal age certificates under the
Federal child labor law. Although we know that these standards
o f measurements are correct for the majority of normal children',
yet we come in contact with many exceptions of children large for
their age who are able to meet the requirements for 14 when they
are a year or so younger. As a consequence, the State child-labor
inspectors accept certificates issued on parents’ affidavits and physic-*
ians’ statements o f age with a degree o f uncertainty.
Birth registration has been in force in Alabama for 25 years,
but was not under State supervision until 1908. Few birth records
are available for children now applying for certificates, except in
the city of Mobile, where there are very good birth records dating
back several years even before State supervision. Very few chil­
dren in Alabama are baptized in infancy, so that few are able to
present evidence o f age based on baptismal records. There are pracr
tically no children of foreign birth in the State o f Alabama, so that
few can furnish passports or certificates o f arrival.
Last year, o f the 1,600 children under 16 years of age to whom
certificates were issued, only 6 per cent were able to furnish birth
certificates, 1 per cent offered baptismal certificates, 27 per cent
furnished Bible records, and 32 per cent brought insurance policies
as evidence o f age. The remaining 34 per cent o f the certificates
were issued on parents’ affidavits and school records accompanied
by certificates o f physical age. I f it were not for the fact that
the State child-labor inspectors make careful and thorough inves­
tigations of the ages o f all children whom they find employed, this
would mean that the legality o f the ages of a little more than onethird o f all the children who enter employment yearly in Alabama
depends to a large extent upon the veracity of the parents. But by
this work o f the inspectors, the correct ages o f many of those
children who have not presented acceptable evidence o f age on
which to issue certificates are established; and if a child is found
to be under the legal age, his certificate is revoked regardless o f
whether or not the evidence found by the inspector would be accept
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



able as evidence on which to issue a certificate. Consequently it
seldom happens that a child under the legal working age is able to
escape detection for longer than a few weeks after he enters em­
This same method is used in checking up the ages of those chil­
dren who enter employment claiming to be 16 years o f age or over.
Formerly children under 16 years o f age were frequently found
working more than the legal hours or at prohibited occupations.
The employers would state that they had employed the children
in good faith, only after the parents had assured them that the
children were 16 or over, and in many o f these cases the employers
were honest. To offset this difficulty the department prepared an
age certificate for children 16 years o f age or over, to be issued
according to the same procedure used in issuing a regular employ­
ment certificate. The employer must keep this certificate on file for
all children claiming to be 16 or over or else assume the responsi­
bility for the correct ages of such children, and be liable to prose­
cution in cases o f children found to be under that age and illegally
It has been the chief goal of the child-labor inspectors in Ala­
bama to supervise the work o f issuing certificates so closely as to
unify the system and bring the work up to the standards prescribed
by the State child labor law and amplified by the officials of the
State child welfare department. We have tried to keep this one
important fact before the issuing officers, that inaccurate and careless
certification not only may defeat the very intent and purpose of the
law but also may aid in covering and encouraging violations. The
work of the issuing officer is checked frequently by the State childlabor inspectors. A ll evidence and other papers required in the
issuance o f certificates are filed numerically in individual jacket
envelopes in the office o f the issuing officer. The State child-labor
inspector visits the issuing office periodically and examines the
papers filed for all certificates issued since the last visit was made.
I f any discrepancies are found in the filing of the necessary papers
or in the description o f the evidence on which the certificates were
issued, these certificates are canceled and the issuing officer requested
to reissue them correctly. A ll records are marked “ correct or
“ incorrect ” by the inspector. In this way many irregularities have
been discovered and remedied.
In making routine inspections, the inspectors check all certificates
found in the possession o f the employers. The inspector makes his
round o f inspection, questioning each child found employed concerning
his correct age and what documentary evidence o f age he may have at
home. Then a visit is made to the home of the child to examine this
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



evidence or any other paper which may establish his correct age.
I f no documentary evidence o f age is found at the home, any clue
to evidence such as the name o f the attending physician, the ages of
subsequent children, the place and date o f marriage, i f the child was
the first born, the schools attended, and many other such clues, are
followed up by the inspector. Often parents will confess that the
child is younger than has been stated on the affidavit when it is
found that the inspectors, through investigation, are likely to dis­
cover the correct age.
When a better type o f evidence is found than that on which the
certificate is issued, the certificate is canceled by the inspector and
withdrawn from the establishment, and a notice o f cancellation left
in its place. The canceled certificate is returned to the issuing offi­
cer, with instructions to reissue on the new evidence which the
inspector has found. I f the child is proved to be under age, the cer­
tificate is canceled and returned with a statement o f the evidence.
Even with the handicap o f few or no birth records, which makes
much additional work for the inspectors, we have been reasonably
successful in enforcing an age standard in Alabama. I f persistence
is used, it is astonishing how often something can be found which
will prove the correct age o f a child whose parents insist that there
is not one single bit o f evidence in existence. Personally, I have
found a very small number o f children whose ages I was entirely
unable to establish. To this end I have visited attending physicians
and searched their books for records o f obstetrical cases; I have
visited probate courts and found marriage licenses which would
prove that i f Johnnie was horn in the year given by his parents he
was certainly born out o f wedlock, which revelation has usually
brought a satisfactory confession o f the correct age fr o m the parents •
I have searched for photographs o f children taken in infancy which
had been presented to some friend or relative, with the children’s
names and ages written on the backs; I have examined baby cups
engraved with names and dates o f birth o f children; and Í recall
once having traveled 50 miles to visit a cemetery to read the date o f
death given on the tombstone o f a certain deceased husband whose
widow stated that he had died six months before the birth of her
child. Only a few weeks ago I found a very young-looking boy
working in a cotton mill, who held an age certificate issued on a
parent’s affidavit, and giving his age as 16 years. When I visited
the mother she said that She had no evidence o f his age. I visited
the attending physician, but found that he had no record o f the case.
When I visited the mother again I asked her how she was able to
remember the date o f her son’s birth, as she had kept no record o f it.
She said that he was born on Sunday, and that that morning a
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



cyclone had blown away a barn which belonged to a neighbor, who
was at church at that time, and that the church service had been dis­
missed on account o f the storm. I called on the owner o f the barn
which had been blown away, but he could not remember the exact
year o f the storm. Next, I visited the clerk o f the church and asked
to examine the minutes to see if any record had been made concerning
the dismissing o f services on a certain occasion on account of a storm.
1 found that such a record had been made in August, 1906. This
proved the boy to be under 16, and therefore not entitled to work
more than eight hours a day.'
Bearing in mind such experiences I have the following as a m otto:
That ‘ where plenty of diligence is used there is usually a way to find
out a child’s correct age, despite the fact that there are few birth
records for the children who are now entering employment in

Mr; E d w a r d B. S p e r r y , Chief Attendance Officer, Board o f Edu­
cation, Jersey C ity, N. J. In New Jersey the applicant for an age and
schooling certificate must produce one of the following proofs of
age, in the order named: A birth certificate issued by a registrar
o f vital statistics; a baptismal certificate; a passport (if o f foreign
birth) ; or such other documentary evidence o f age as may meet
the approval o f the supervisor o f exemption certificates.
In many places it is difficult to obtain a birth certificate. The
records of vital statistics have been kept fairly thoroughly in Jersey
City in later years, but previously errors and omissions sometimes
A child applying to the registrar o f vital statistics for a birth
certificate, if his birth has not been recorded, is given a letter to that
effect, also a blank form to be filled in by the physician or midwife
who attended the mother at his birth. When this certificate giving
the required data is presented to the registrar, it is recorded and a
birth certificate issued to the child.
One o f the parents must make an affidavit as-to the truth of the
statements contained in the birth certificate or other proof o f age.
I f none o f the documentary proofs o f age previously mentioned
can be obtained, the supervisor of exemption certificates may take
the affidavit o f the parent as to the date and place of birth o f the
child. This affidavit, supplemented by a certificate of a medical in­
spector employed by the board o f education that the child has the
physical development o f a normal child 14 years o f age, may be
accepted as evidence o f age.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



The New Jersey law requires that a copy of the age and schooling
certificate, together with the documentary evidence, o f age, be mailed
to the commissioner o f labor for his approval.
The office o f the commissioner o f labor is in the statehouse at
Trenton, where are also the State records of vital statistics and the
records o f the immigration department, both easily accessible for
comparison should he question any evidence o f age submitted for
his approval.
I do not believe that any scheme has been devised that the human
mind can not circumvent. This belief seems to be held by many
parents and children, judging from the amount o f falsifying and
subterfuge indulged in by those attempting to gain that to which
they are not legally entitled. The altering of the year on a birth
certificate to make the age appear greater is a common practice, with
which you are all familiar. There is a practice among the Italians
o f giving the Christian name o f a deceased child to his successor if
o f the same sex. The attempt is made, frequently successfully, o f
submitting the birth certificate o f the deceased child as evidence of
age for his successor. Our knowledge o f the family history, or in­
formation furnished by neighbors, acquaintances, and sometimes
relatives of the family, has in certain cases enabled us to avert such
attempts at imposture. When documentary evidence o f age can not
be obtained and the affidavit o f the parent is taken as to a child’s age,
many times we are morally certain that perjury is being committed,
but it is very difficult o f proof.
■While many excellent plans for the welfare of children have been
put into operation, none will prove satisfactory unless a sufficient
number o f well-qualified officers are employed to execute them. An
ideal attendance officer will be the friend, aid, and counselor of his
constituents. When he reaches that standing he will be the recipient
of warnings and o f information that may prove of great assistance
in the performance o f his duties.
Miss E t h e l M. J o h n s o n . We have several problems here in
Massachusetts in connection with establishing proof of the age o f
working children. One o f these is that although the Massachusetts
law, in common with the laws of most of the other States, requires
as the evidence o f age upon which an employment certificate may be
issued a birth certificate, a baptismal certificate, a passport or
other official or religious record, it permits the acceptance, where
these are not available, o f the record o f the school which the child
first attended in the Commonwealth, without corroborative evi­
dence. In other States, when the school record is accepted additional
evidence is usually required, such as a physician’s certificate. It has
been found to be very unsatisfactory to accept the school record
alone as evidence of age, as this record is not always correct. In
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



some cases the date of birth has teen set back so that the child
appears older than he really is, and in others it has been set forward.
An effort to strengthen this provision o f the law has teen made
by trying to secure an amendment providing that where the school
record is the only available evidence it must be accompanied by a
signed statement from the school physician who has examined the
child to the effect that in his opinion the child is at least 14 years
o f age. The present law authorizes accepting the certificate from
the school physician when all other forms of evidence, including
the school record, are not available. The proposal referred to
would therefore combine these two existing forms o f evidence. This
provision was included as part o f a measure intended to establish
a more satisfactory system of health certification o f children enter­
ing industry.
Another problem which we have and one that is found, I think,
in other States, is establishing proof of age o f working children over
16. We require employment certificates and consequently proof of
age for all children 14 to 16 years o f age who are gainfully employed.
We require educational certificates for children 16 to 21 years of age
in certain specified occupations. For the children in these occupa­
tions, therefore, definite evidence o f age is available. Certificates are
not required, however, for all the occupations in which minors of this
age are employed. They,are not required for farm labor or for
domestic service. They are not required for all the occupations in
which the employment o f minors under 18 is restricted.
Under the Massachusetts law the employment o f minors under 18
is prohibited in occupations where there is a serious health or safety
or moral hazard. Where certificates are not required it is difficult
to ascertain the age o f minors employed in these occupations in order
to determine whether the law is being obeyed. Sometimes a boy who
is husky looking and large for his age will claim that he is 18 when
he applies for work, although in reality he is only 17. I f he is em­
ployed at a prohibited process, proof must be established that he is
under 18 before action can be taken by the labor department.
I f there were some provision for recording the ages o f all children
who are employed in restricted occupations, it would be of great
assistance. I should be interested in hearing from people in other
States who have had experience with these problems.
[A n inquiry was made by an unidentified speaker with regard to
whether effort was being made anywhere to have the child’s age estab­
lished when he first entered school.]
Miss C a m p b e l l . In Ohio, Akron is requiring a birth certificate on
the child’s entrance into school. The cumulative record card in Cin­
cinnati is a similar attempt.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Miss S u s a n G i n n , D irector, Boston Placement Bureau. In Boston
they are requiring it. In 1910, the school committee made a ruling
to the effect that a child must produce a birth certificate upon en­
trance to school. In 1911, the city registrar received the indorsement
of the school committee in his plan to publish, in book form, a list of
all children born in Boston during that year. A copy o f this book
was sent to each school, and to the certificating office and to the de­
partment o f vocational guidance. These books have been published
continuously to 1918, so that children now entering the kindergarten
or elementary schools are listed in these books, and the school authori­
ties accept this listing in place o f the birth certificate. This prevents
the delay due to the rush at the city registrar’s office at either the
beginning or the close of the school year. Children born outside of
Boston must still produce their birth certificates. A State law re­
quires every physician or hospital medical officer to report the birth
o f every child in cases o f which he has charge. This must be done
within 48. hours after such birth. Any physician or such officer vio­
lating any provision of the section above referred to shall forfeit not
more than $25.
Miss M i n o r . New York has been doing that for seven years now,
requiring the birth certificate if one is on file 5 if not, some other evi­
dence. We are finding it o f great value. I would like to emphasizealso the advantage o f penalizing with large fines the physicians who
fail to record births. It was found in New York City some years ago
that the percentage o f unrecorded births was very, very high, and a
campaign was made by the department o f health against all men in
the profession who failed to register births. The registration is now
very high.
S a r a S . G a r w i c k , Employment Certificate Issuing Officer, Spring field, III. The State o f Illinois has not been admitted to the birthregistration area.1 The doctors in Springfield now are more careful
about registering births than formerly. This year we took a school
census from birth to 2 1 years o f age and expect to check the births
of children under 5 years with the records o f the city registrar. In
this way we hope to eliminate some o f our birth-record problems.
The State o f Illinois is issuing certificates of registration of birth for
children born since January 1,1922. Our enumerators took a sample
certificate, and in homes where babies had been born since January 1
explained to the mother that if the baby’s birth had been registered
she should have one o f these certificates. W e have been issuing “ let­
ters o f age ” for children 16 years of age and over, and have been
trying to get the business firms and factories to cooperate with us.
A number o f them will not employ minors unless they have a birth

1 Illinois

has since been admitted to the United States birth-registration area.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



certificate or a “ letter of age” from this department. One factory
■which employs a large number o f persons last December sent us
about 40 proofs o f age for minors in its employ. We found about
10 of this number to be incorrect records, and since that time the
factory will not employ any minor without a letter from this de­
T H E E N F O R C E M E N T O F A N E D U C A T IO N A L S T A N D A R D .
J e a n ie Y . M in o b , Acting Secretary, New York Child Labor Committee.

Under the New York law there are three educational standards
with which the official charged with the issuing o f employment
certificates has to deal: ( 1 ) A child must have completed the work
o f a prescribed grade, as evidenced by his school-record certificate;
( 2 ) he must have attended school a definite number of days during a
limited period preceding his application for an employment certifi­
cate; and (3) he must satisfy the officer issuing the employment cer­
tificate of his ability to read and write correctly simple sentences in
the English language.
The minimum standards adopted by the Federal Children’s Bu­
reau make the completion o f the eighth grade or graduation from
grammar school a requirement for release from school and the
issuance o f an employment certificate. This standard does not seem
unreasonably high if one bears in mind that the usual legal minimum
working age is 14 and that the average child graduates at approxi­
mately 14 years of age. Yet only 11 States—Indiana, Kansas, Minne­
sota, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Wash­
ington, and Wisconsin—have as yet adopted this standard; and one
of these, New York, requires completion of the eighth grade only for
14-year-old children, permitting children of 15 to obtain certificates
at the completion o f the sixth grade.1 Two States— California and
Ohio—require the completion o f the seventh grade; 9—Connecticut,
Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island, and West Virginia—-the completion of the sixth; 5—Arizona,
Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey—the completion o f
the fifth; 2—Alabama and Arkansas—the completion o f the fourth;
while 16 States are still without any requirement as to the com­
pletion o f any grade whatever. The three remaining States, Idaho,
Mississippi, and Wyoming, have not yet adopted the use o f work per­
When discussions concerning the further limitation o f child labor
are under way, the question always arises as to the relative desira­
bility o f accomplishing the end sought by raising the age limit or
by increasing the educational qualifications. Both methods have
their advantages and tjieir difficulties, the most insuperable diffi­
culty at present being the inability o f the schools to house the chil« 1 Nebraska, Utah, Washington, and Vermont permit exemptions.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

standards a n d p r o b le m s .


dren who would by either method be held in school. But a physical
obstacle of this nature can and will be overcome if public opinion and
public purse combine, and the richest and most powerful country in
the world can not afford to deny its children the advantages which
make for citizenship.
The second educational standard, i. e., that the child must have
attended a certain number o f days at school during the year pre­
ceding his application for an employment certificate, is apparently
recognized by only a few States. South Carolina requires regular
attendance during the u current year ” ; Oklahoma, attendance for a
“ full term ” ; Arizona and Oregon, for 160 days; the District of
Columbia, Illinois, Massachusetts, and New York, attendance for
130 days; North Dakota, attendance for 120 days; Michigan and
Utah, 100 days; Georgia, 12 weeks; Florida, 60 days; New Hamp­
shire, 300 half days.
In the 10-month school year the 130-days requirement which has
been adopted by the greater number of States certainly can not be
considered excessive; and if we consider the purpose o f this par­
ticular requirement, namely, to insure regular attendance during a
period o f time when the child, being o f working age, would other­
wise probably be absent quite frequently in search of work, it can
readily be seen that to oblige him to present a record showing regu­
lar attendance during a period immediately preceding his applica­
tion for an employment certificate puts a premium on such attend­
ance and is a distinct deterrent to truancy. New York gives alter­
native periods during which this 130 days may be included; the
child must have attended 130 days either during the year preceding
his fourteenth birthday or during the year preceding his applica­
tion for an employment certificate, or 130 days preceding the date
o f his graduation. The third alternative period was added last
year. This triplicate provision is not recommended, as it affords
an opportunity for a child who has gone to school regularly for 130
days during the year preceding his fourteenth birthday to remain
away entirely for the following year, and then at 15 years o f age
to present this record o f attendance and obtain an employment cer­
tificate therewith. The most effective means of utilizing this re­
quirement as a real preventive measure is to make the 130 days’
attendance compulsory during the 12 months immediately preceding
the child’s application for an employment certificate.
We come now to the third and most controversial point o f the
educational requirements for employment certificates, namely, that
provision which authorizes or requires the issuing officer to give a
literacy test to the applicant and, as it is usually phrased, to certify
that the child has personally appeared before him and been exam
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



ined and is able to read and write correctly simple sentences in the
English language. Eight States and one district have intrusted this
power to the issuing officer: Delaware, District o f Columbia, Indi­
ana, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Da­
kota, and Utah.
This attempted check on illiteracy is generally regarded by school
principals as totally unnecessary, as they consider the school-record
certificate sufficient evidence of the fact that the child has- completed
the required school grade. This attitude on the part of the prin­
cipals is not unreasonable, and would be warranted if the schoolrecord certificate which evidences the attainment by John Smith
o f the sixth, seventh, or eighth grade, as the case may be, were
really a guaranty that John had actually completed the work o f the
preceding grades. But is it ? Consider the evil—apparently consid­
ered a necessary one—of forced promotions by means of which our
friend John, having failed to complete the work o f any grade, might
yet in his fourteenth or fifteenth year lawfully become possessor o f a
school-record certificate which would contain a statement that John
was at this time in the grade required for the issuance of an em­
ployment certificate. Or suppose that John, disorderly in school,
frequently an absentee, effective in his relation to the elass only by
his persistence in lowering its record, desires to leave school to go
to work—is the unfortunate teacher who has been burdened with
John for at least a term likely to impede his exit, or will she wish
him Godspeed and sign a school-record certificate crediting John
with the work which, as a member o f that class, he might reasonably
have been expected to do—but did not do ? No method of closing
truancy cases is better known to or more widely followed by many
attendance officers than the issuance o f employment certificates.
For these and for ‘many other reasons the special check known as
the literacy test seems advisable, and its results fully warrant its
In one year (1912), in the offices o f the New York City Board of
Health, 239 children were refused employment certificates because
unable to write correctly the simplest English sentences. The
following samples of sentences, actually dictated and misspelled as
quoted, will serve to illustrate what may easily happen in any
issuing office where this test is applied:
s . S.— There are lets o f girls here.
“ There are loind girl;”
This box is green.
“ This lox is bring.”
J. G.— I have a black and white, suit.
“ I have a block shout.”
“ I have a black and wite shout.”
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



L. 0 .— I have a pair of new shoes.
“ I have a pair of noo shore.”
H. G.— I have a gold ring.
“ I have a glold reng.”
J* S.— I would like to go to school.
“ I would like to go to shool-scoohl.”
Monday was a very warm day.
“ Monday was a veair Worm day.”
M. S.— I have a gold ring.
“ i ave a gold reng.”

The children whose misspelled sentences are given above include
both native and foreign born. Most o f the 239 children came from
our public schools—a large minority from the parochial schools.
The cases were piling up so rapidly that a conference between the
issuing authorities and the city superintendent o f schools resulted
in weekly reference to the latter official o f the names, ages, addresses,
schools attended, and grades in school o f all children refused during
the preceding week for “ insufficient education.” On his part the
city superintendent at once ordered a special examination given to all
children who thereafter applied for school-record certificates. On
receipt o f the data concerning a child who had failed to pass the
literacy test at the board o f health, the city superintendent sent
immediately to the principal o f the school attended by the child,
asking the nature o f the examination given by the principal before
issuing the school-record certificate, and the passing mark o f the
child. This was frequently accompanied by a request that the prin­
cipal send in the examination paper. The practice was not extended
to parochial schools. By degrees this procedure resulted in cutting
down these refusals to an irreducible minimum so far as publicschool children were concerned, and in 1914 only 16 children were
refused for this cause. The type o f examination outlined for this
purpose was, moreover, a decided check on the deplorable system
o f pushing children rapidly through grades by means o f special
classes, maintained solely for the purpose o f enabling groups o f
children, mostly the backward ones, to qualify more quickly for
employment certificates. In these classes attention was focused
solely on the absolute requirements for certification; and in some in­
stances class teachers have based the spelling lessons on sentences
known to be customarily used for the literacy test by the employment
certificating officer.
To conclude: With respect to the grade requirements, the writer
ventures to suggest that one method o f controlling the evil of
forced promotions is to have a record o f each child’s annual or
semiannual examination forwarded to the central office, together
with the passing mark o f the child and any further information
concerning the child s school work which the superintendent mav
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



desire. By keeping these in sequence the superintendent o f schools
will have a continuous record o f the child’s grade work and may
at his discretion require the child either to repeat grades or to be
transferred to a course offering a more diversified curriculum, better
suited to the real needs of the child than that in which he has shown
marked disability. This record presupposes, of course, that every
superintendent is looking forward to the time, or has already
reachedTt, when he may be afEorded the means to devise and install
a curriculum which shall be flexible in character.
As to the requirement of a specific number o f days’ attendance
immediately preceding the application for an employment certificate,
the advantage o f thus putting a premium on the regular attendance
o f a child is so obvious that no recommendation is necessary.
The requirement that the issuing officer be authorized to ad­
minister a literacy test which shall be broader in scope than a mere
test o f ability to read and write English correctly, is strongly rec­
ommended. Kesulting as it did in New York in the plan of having
every child, irrespective of the character of his school work, take
a uniform examination if he desired to leave school and go to work,
it has held hundreds o f these children in school, as the examination
brought out clearly the fact that the fundamental educational quali­
fications were in many cases distinctly lacking and that further
training along specific lines was essential. It is, of course, obvi­
ously unnecessary to apply this test to graduates of the elementary
school; but it should be applied to all others, and changed often
enough to prevent the children from becoming thoroughly familiar
with it and transmitting the information to other children about to
apply for employment certificates. This has been done so often in
New York that the warning is not a vain one, but founded on
actual experience. One child, for instance, recited fluently 18 o f
the 20 sentences which had been in use by the issuing officer for a
period o f two weeks. The test is advocated not as a check on school
officials, but as a measure further safeguarding the interests o f
the child and preventing him from entering industry so handicapped
that he will inevitably be swept into the industrial maelstrom and
eventually be drawn under.
When Thomas Jefferson said, “ I f a nation expects to be ignorant
and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and
never will be,” it was gospel truth; and James Buchanan rammed
this truth home when he wrote that “ Education lies at the very
root o f all our institutions; it is the foundation upon which alone
they can repose in safety. ‘ Shall the people be educated ’ ? is a
question not o f mere policy, but it is a question o f life and death,
upon which the existence o f our present form of government de­
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis





Mr. J o h n A. P a r k e r , Chief Attendance Officer, School Depart­
ment, Springfield, Mass. In Massachusetts there is a clause in the
law which allows a superintendent o f schools, in issuing an employ­
ment certificate, to waive the requirement of the school record when­
ever he thinks it will be for the best interest of the child to do so.
This, o f course, nullifies the educational requirement. There is an­
other clause in the law which permits the issuing of a certificate to
any child who has attended school for seven years, regardless of his
grade, if the superintendent o f schools is o f the opinion that the
child is unable to complete the sixth grade.
To keep children who will never be able to do the work of the
sixth grade in a regular day school seems to me to be training them in
the habit o f failure. A child who never gets in school the incentive
given by success is be a failure the rest o f his life. Voca­
tional schools established under the Smith-Hughes Act do not supply
the need for the instruction o f children who can not attain the com­
pletion o f the sixth grade, since they receive only pupils who have
completed the sixth grade. Special classes do not answer the need,
because they do not have the proper equipment, the t r a in in g is not
sufficiently thorough, and being in the same buildings with the regu­
lar day schools the classrooms are dubbed “ dunce rooms ” by the
other pupils, with a consequent feeling of failure and loss of selfrespect by the children attending these classes.
Continuation schools, I think, have resulted partly through the
work o f attendance officers in forcing back into the regular day
schools children who had been employed but who were out of work.
These children did not fit into the system and were a nuisance. I f
all children were obliged to continue school attendance until they
were 16 years of age, the schools in self-defense would have to adapt
the curriculum to care for motor-minded children. The continuation
schools have the equipment to help children already employed. Why
should their usefulness not be extended to prepare children for
employment ?
T H E E N F O R C E M E N T O F A P H Y S IC A L S T A N D A R D .
Dr. W ade W e ig h t , Director, Industrial Clinic, Massachusetts General H os­
pital, and Consultant in Industrial Hygiene, Massachusetts Department of
Labor and Industries.

Children seeking employment certificates are,,in most communities,
supposed to satisfy certain requirements regarding age, education,5
and physical fitness. The age and educational attainments of chil­
dren are usually matters of record. Evidence of physical fitness,
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



broadly speaking, must be sought at the time of certification if it
is to be obtained.
In the greater number of certificating offices, though not in all,
responsibility for the determination o f the physical condition o f
applicants is placed upon physicians. While this delegation o f
authority by governmental agencies to persons medically trained
commends itself as reasonable and wise, it is doubtful if evidence
could be found to indicate that the judgment o f laymen in matters
pertaining to the physical state o f children is in any important
degree inferior -to that of examining physicians as manifested in
their achievements in this field throughout the country, except in
a small number o f certificating offices.
Many o f the difficulties which beset the problem o f medical cer­
tification o f children for employment are traceable to a cause
which is accountable for a host of other woes o f society. It is the
incomprehensible faculty of the public for considering almost any
doctor an able doctor, for obscuring the frailties of the medical pro­
fession with a veil of mysticism, a garment so flattering that the
doctors seemingly gladly bear with it. Men quick to anger over the
shortcomings o f an automobile service station are meekly tolerant
of the in competencies o f their physicians. They forget that State \
registration confers upon a physician the right to practice medicine
but does not endow him with wisdom.
The enforcement of standards o f physical fitness is dependent
primarily upon medical personnel and secondly upon the standards
to be enforced. Unless it should be certain, in any State or munici­
pality, that all or a large majority o f the physicians in a community
could be trusted to make a thorough examination and to interpret
the findings intelligently and accurately, it is apparent that the
examinations should be made by selected individuals. It is not
practically possible to obtain universally trustworthy medical
opinions under conditions such as prevail in Massachusetts, where
a child applying for working papers may be examined by the
physician of his choice. Neither is it practically possible to obtain
even reasonably uniformly reliable opinions from all physicians who
may be appointed as examiners unless they are obliged to conduct
examinations according to established standards o f procedure and
under some central supervision.
The examination o f supposedly healthy individuals is not so simple
a task as may be imagined. Neither is it an undertaking which stirs
the imagination o f most physicians. Few doctors are interested in
incipient disease and probably many are incapable of recognizing it,
for it is not a matter o f much concern to medical schools, and doctors’
offices are visited by sick persons, rarely by those who consider them­
selves well.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



:If the purpose of various State laws through provisions relating
to the physical qualifications of children seeking employment is to
assess -truly the physical conditions of children, without doubt medi­
cal examinations must he made by suitably qualified physicians
appointed for the purpose. Quite as essential as the appointment
o f such examiners is provision for their proper compensation and,
should the appointees he already public officials, consideration o f
the time required for the discharge -of ¡this ¡additional duty. It is
futile to expect that professional services o f a high -order w ill be
reordered without suitable recompense, except under very unusual
circumstances. It is equally futile ?t© hope that husy school physi­
cians or public-health officers can assume large new responsibilities
without a portion or all ¡of their work suffering.
Whenever possible, there should be appointed to examine children
applying for employment certificates physicians who are interested
in such work and who have had ¡some definite training in this held.
I f specially trained men can not be obtained, there should be sought
physicians o f unquestionably high professional and ethical standards.
In certain States medical -examiners are required to determine the
physical fitness o f applicants in relation to specific occupations. It
is thus assumed that the examiner has some knowledge o f many
trade processes and of the demands they make on those engaged in
them. It is possible for a physician practicing in a small industrial
town to have some knowledge o f most o f the processes carried on in
the local industrial restaMishments. In large industrial centers,
and ¡especially in those having varied industries, it is beyond the
range off possibility that ¡any physician should be sufficiently well
acquainted with manufacturing processes to warrant invariable un­
considered acceptance o f his opinion regarding the fitness o f a
child for a specific form o f employment. JSTot only are there many
kinds o f jobs, but jobs o f ¡similar designation may differ greatly in
different establishments, and with the job, the attendant health
Even within a single large establishment the forms o f work are so
numerous that many industrial physicians in wel-beonducted plant
medical departments, men deeply concerned with selective placement
o f labor japplieamts, do not after physical examination recommend
the employment o f personnel fo r specified tasks. Upon the basis
o f physical examinations ¡applicants are graded ¡according to a code ;
A, fo r example, may be used to indicate persons o f excellent condi­
tion, fit for any employment within the establishment ; B, those with
minor -defects demanding some consideration in placement ; -C, those
who must be carefully placed with regard for physical condition;
and D, those rejected as unfit for employment at any work within
the establishment.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



Selective placement is urgently needed in industry, and it is to
the common interest of: the work and the worker. It should entail
consideration o f both physical and mental qualifications o f the labor
candidate in relation to the requirements o f the prospective work.
Selective placement, however, implies a study o f the job at least as
intensive as that o f the man who is to have the job. While much
has been accomplished in the field of work analysis, much remains
undone. Numerous summarized job analyses present as requisites
an imposing array o f the cardinal virtues coupled with a few loose
generalities regarding desirable physical characteristics. It may be
that an errand boy in a factory should be intelligent, industrious,
honest, and o f ordinary muscular strength, but it may also be that he
should be able to walk 15 miles a day, climb scores o f flights of stairs,
and carry certain weights, without collapse.
Though it is highly desirable that certifying physicians possess
as exact information regarding industrial processes as may be pos­
sible, it must be remembered that an examiner is essentially a physi­
cian who can not have encyclopedic knowledge of industry.
A few certifying centers have established close working relations
between the office o f the medical examiners and that o f a placement
bureau. It is an admirable arrangement, if not the only one so far
developed which can assure proper utilization in connection with the
placement o f children of the findings o f physical examinations.
The standards of physical fitness set forth in various laws relating
to certification for employment are for the most part the same in
substance, if not in wording. Adjectives are notorious legal stum­
bling blocks, and some nouns are as troublesome. The individuals
who drafted legislation requiring as prerequisite to certification a
physician’s statement that a child is o f normal development, in sound
health, and physically fit to engage in specified work probably meant
well. It is regrettable that they did not supplement the legislative
drafts with precise definitions o f normal development, sound health,
and physical fitness. It may have been their intent that the terms
should be loosely interpreted, in which event the spirit o f the law
may be said truly to have descended now upon most o f our certifi­
cating offices.
There is observable a tendency among many people to attach un­
due significance to a thorough physical examination. The making
o f a physical examination requires but a few minutes of a doctor’s
time, but the interpretation of his findings may call upon the sup­
port of centuries of medical experience. Seasonable uniformity o f
judgment is not possible unless the technique of examination and of
weighing the significance of the observed facts is to some degree
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



The world would be a healthier, happier place if more people would
periodically submit to a medical overhauling, but they should exer­
cise some discrimination in selecting their physicians. It is not wise
to act precipitately upon the advice of a physician whose standards
o f judgment are uncertain. Many a man has gone to his doctor,
been examined, and then rushed out and bought an abandoned farm,
or gone to Los Angeles, or committed suicide, or taken a trip to
Europe, only to learn later that the doctor’s dictum was but an opin­
ion and that the opinion happened to be wrong.
A physical examination should be in keeping with the purpose
which it is to serve. I f a labor boss wished to move a heavy timber
and o f his gang he had available a big Lithuanian and a little Ital­
ian, he would probably conduct a hasty physical examination of the
two without medical assistance and tell the Lithuanian to get under
the timber. Economy o f time and personnel require that the tech-,
nique o f the physical examination of children seeking working per­
mits be no more elaborate than is necessary in consideration o f the
purpose for which the examination is made. It may be assumed that
the immediate purpose o f the legal requirements concerning ^medical
certification is to exclude from the working world children incapable
o f engaging in the work o f their choice and thus to offer opportunity
for furthering the development and health o f the physically sub­
normal. In general, the laws do not provide for discriminating place­
ment or for benign coercion toward the correction o f defects.
When a child presents himself as an applicant for an employment
certificate any one o f several things may happen. He may be
granted: a certificate conditionally or unconditionally, in which
event he goes to work legally. He may be refused a certificate, in
which event he may go to work illegally or return to school or loaf.
He has only to wait out the brief period during which the question
o f his employment is a matter o f concern to the State and may then
enter industry with few administrative restrictions placed upon
his activities. The children who apply for working papers are all
o f them going to work eventually, excepting only those with serious
and rapidly progressive disease. The most that an examining
physician can do for a subnormal child is wisely or unwisely to
defer the day when the child may take his place, albeit a poor
place, in the working world. This issue is not immediately con­
cerned with that o f the determination o f a proper minimum age for
leaving school, which is another story.
The reports o f many certificating offices show that over half
the children examined are sufficiently defective to be recorded as
such and that about one-third o f the total number examined present
defects which are considered to warrant temporary or permanent
refusal o f certificates.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



The impelling desire to obtain prompt employment may lead a
defective child or his parents to seek such remedial or corrective treat­
ment as may be indicated. The correction o f physical defects observed
in the course o f examinations o f children wishing to obtain employ­
ment certificates is an important service, but not a prime function,
o f certificating offices. It is not authorized by law, and expenditures
incident to the rendering of the service are probably technically
without justification unless the work is in the hands o f a school
medical department.
Each year many thousands of physically subnormal children are
granted certificates without delay. They may be advised to secure
corrective treatment, but i t is a reasonable presumption that few
follow the advice. A smaller number obtain provisional certificates
or are informed that no certificate will be issued until after needed
medical treatment has been obtained. Motivated by the child’s desire
to work or his parents’ intent to have him work much is thus accom­
plished that previously, during school years, was impossible of
It is o f the utmost importance, however, that it be clearly recog­
nized that this accomplishment is a tardy effort to compensate for the
shortcomings o f school medical inspection service. It is a desirable
and creditable thing that a certificating office should guide a child
aged 14 years in securing dental care. It would have been better for
the child i f school physicians had secured for him similar treatment
when he was 9 years old. Tonsillectomy as a condition o f employ­
ment may be sound certifieating-office practice, but tonsillectomy as
a condition o f freedom from rheumatic heart disease is better school
medical practice.
A study o f the defects presented by the children examined as appli­
cants for working papers must lead to the conclusion that efforts to
restore the children identified as subnormal to reasonably good health
must be relatively ill rewarded. Defects of teeth and vision, cardiac
disease, certain orthopedic conditions, and many other abnormalities
observed seldom admit of other than palliative treatment. To secure
for these children even at an eleventh hour the best assurance of
maximum physical efficiency is a task well worth doing, but it is work
which should be done long before the children reach certificating
School medical inspection and follow-up work in few i f any com­
munities are so conducted as to reduce very materially the incidence
o f subnormal children among those who eventually pass from pri­
mary schools to work. Statistical data collected during a study re­
cently made for the Children’s Bureau indicate that the relative
frequency o f physical defectives is approximately the same from early
grammar-school grades, through grammar school, in certificating
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



offices, End in the findings o f the examinations of men drafted during
the W orld War.
Even in communities where school medical work is carried on thor­
oughly and conscientiously, it is difficult to secure requisite care for
substandard pupils. Neither the children nor their parents can be
forced to seek treatment for any but very exceptional defects. The
children are apprehensive o f medical attention; and parents may be
uncomprehending or resentful o f what they consider criticism and
interference, or may be eagerly cooperative but unable to do much
for their children because of economic limitations.
The advance of health standards o f children, and o f adults as well,
must be determined by the state o f enlightenment o f the public re­
garding health and disease, for it is now in murky obscurity. Mean­
while, the citizens o f this country, being a liberty-loving people, still
cherish their inalienable right to be as sick as they please.
I f school medical inspection were conducted with ideal thorough­
ness, when a child presented himself as an applicant for an employ­
ment certificate it would be necessary only to review the school
medical record, briefly determine the child’s freedom from any acute
disease, and then decide upon the basis o f die evidence in hand.
Such a course o f action is warranted in few if any certificating
offices. A t the present time the greatest value o f the medical exam­
ination made as prerequisite to the issuance o f an employment cer­
tificate lies in its revelation o f the inadequacies o f existing«m
for the care o f the health o f children o f school and presehool age in
both public schools and those conducted under private auspices. The
products o f educational machinery are seldom subjected to final
inspections and trials before they leave the shop. It is suggested that
this procedure be compared with that of any successful commercial
manufacturing organization.
The examination prior to certification for employment serves an­
other useful purpose in affording a basis for comparison with the
findings o f subsequent examinations which may or may not dis­
close evidences o f deterioration in health. Without such a basis of
judgment no sound conclusions can be drawn regarding the physical
effects o f early employment upon immature persons.
Whatever the purpose and benefits o f the examination may be,
in many States it must be made, and upon the basis o f direct ob­
servations an opinion must be delivered regarding each child’s
development, health, and fitness for a specified form o f employment.
The examining physician must either guess that his opinion is right
or know that it is right. Without standards o f judgment he is
obliged to guess. The guess o f a well-trained, conscientious man o f
experience is a very trustworthy opinion, but it is o f less value than
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



the opinion o f the same man based upon the application of sound
Provisional standards o f development exist and are widely used,
in the main as points o f departure. There is need o f intensive re­
search in the problem o f the normal development o f children from
birth to full maturity. New standards will be forthcoming, more
nearly absolute than those now available. They may rest upon con­
sideration o f age, height, and weight, or may ignore the age or be
patterned after Dreyer’s formula or Pirquet’s pelidisi or be alto­
gether different. Meanwhile such tables as those o f Doctor W ood
may serve a very useful purpose and should be employed. They do
at least dignify the doctor’s guess.
Soundness o f health can be estimated only by weighing the prob­
able importance o f observed deviations from normality. There aré
few universally accepted conventions regarding normal limitations.
A slight murmur which one physician interprets as significant of
organic heart ,disease may be considered negligible by trained cardiolists. The significance o f albuminuria, o f minor degrees o f scoliosis,
o f certain pulmonary findings, are all matters to be determined in
accordance with the best medical practice. a rapidly growing demand among examiners in cer­
tificating offices for standards of normal limits for physical findings.
Until such standards appear the best gauge is the opinion o f a
well-trained physician. Even when good standards o f normality
become available they can not supplant careful physical examina­
tions and sound medical judgments. . They will be useful tools—
they will not do the work.
No hospital or dispensary or private practitioner of medicine
can do good work without medical records. Neither can reasonably
thorough, systematic medical examination o f applicants for employ­
ment certificates be carried on without records. They are essential
for all comparative studies and to the conduct o f efficient supervision;
They should be as simple as may be consistent with their purpose.
A detailed form such as that published by the Children’s Bureau
may be too elaborate for use in some offices restricted as to personnel,
but much printing on a form may mean little writing. The central
filing o f copies o f all examination records may greatly facilitate
supervision, but it must be productive of needless labor and expense
unless the supervising authorities are prepared to analyze intelli­
gently the statistical data thus rendered available.
The effective enforcement of physical standards requires that
applicants for employment certificates be examined by carefully
selected physicians appointed for the purpose, working with proper
compensation and with sufficient allowances of time.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



The essential purpose of the examinations is to prevent the em­
ployment o f substandard children at work which would probably
prove detrimental to health. The incidental benefits of the exami­
nations are found in the presentation of a last opportunity for
the institution of educational and remedial measures, o f a check
upon the achievements o f school and preschool medical work, and
o f a basis for an estimation o f changes in the physical state o f
children during early working years.
Standards of procedure and limits o f normality are required to
assure reasonable uniformity o f judgment throughout a State or
the entire country.
Though an examining physician should be broadly informed re­
garding trade processes, it is suggested that final decisions concern­
ing the placement o f children in specific jobs should be the responsi­
bility o f persons more intimately acquainted with working conditions.
The study o f this important phase of the public health is a rela­
tively new thing. Physicians and laymen, working under adverse
conditions, have accomplished much. Many medical certificating
officers display a truly inspiring enthusiasm and interest in the
medical and social problems there presented in such great numbers.
The achievements o f these officers can be matched by those of many
more if State and municipal authorities will offer guidance and

Dr. E m m a M a c k a y A ppel , Chief Medical Examiner, Employment
Certificate Bureau, Chicago Board o f Education. Nearly everyone
has emphasized the necessity o f checking the legality of papers pre­
sented by children appearing for a working certificate. It has been
our experience that it is often well to check up on children. I re­
member one little boy who failed to pass the physical examination
and was very indignant. He substituted a friend who he thought
would pass, and was equally furious when he discovered that the
friend had been held for enlarged and infected tonsils.
In Doctor Wright’s paper he emphasized the qualifications of
examining physicians. This is most important. In the Chicago
office we have found that the successful medical examiners develop
the ability to check up their physical findings and observations
quickly. It is essential that the examiners be well trained medically,
be thoroughly competent diagnosticians, and have some knowledge
of industrial conditions, but above all they must be sensitive to the
social and economic environment of the child. They should have
ability to classify children intelligently as to the type of work
possible for each and they must be able to keep up their interest in
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



spite of the large number of children who present themselves for
medical examination.
It is practically impossible for physicians to do accurate work
unless they are in constant touch with the industrial situation and
with the different types o f jobs in which children are employed.
We have one factory in Chicago where the work is altogether piece­
work. For some time the industrial studies division of our bureau,
o f which Miss Davis spoke yesterday, has been trying to have this
establishment comply with the law and provide chairs for the work­
ers. After a good deal o f effort this was accomplished and children
were again allowed to work there. Later it was found that the
children were changing their jobs because the work was too hard.
Another investigation was made, and it was found that although
the children were provided with seats they could not use them and
make any money, as standing was required in order to speed up on
the piecework, and only a child of more than ordinary strength was
able to stand at this work all day. Because of this one child suffered
a severe occupational neurosis and was obliged to give up work
In addition to the correction of physical defects, it is essential
to follow up the child in industry with careful examination after
each job. Our procedure in follow-up work may best be illustrated
by the case of a boy who was originally refused a certificate be­
cause of malnutrition. He was sent by us to Arden Shore, our openair school for boys, where he improved very much. On account o f
the poverty o f his family he was allowed to go to work when he was
in fairly good physical condition, though not up to normal. Shortly
after this we had a spell o f very hot weather during which he over­
worked. For two weeks he was unable to sleep at night and worked
very hard all day, finally collapsing with a nervous condition that
was not diagnosed by the family physician who was called in. He
was ill at home under the care o f this physician for two weeks, when
he returned to our office. It was found that he had a well-marked
case o f chorea. He was in the hospital for six weeks, in the con­
valescent home for six weeks, and at Arden Shore for four months
before he was again able to go to work. This is only one o f the
many instances o f children who require more than just the prelimi­
nary examination to make them fit and keep them fit for their jobs.
T H E E N F O R C E M E N T O F A " B E ST IN T E R E S T S ” O R “ N E C E S S I T Y ”
D r . E . J. L ic k x e y , Assistant Superintendent of Schools and Director o f Com­
pulsory Attendance and Child W elfare Department, Los Angeles, Calif.

Since the subject of the enforcement of a “ necessity ” requirement
for going to work was brought out so well in Mr. Lederle’s paper
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



yesterday, I should like to devote part o f my time to touching upon
some o f the general phases o f the child-labor problem in California.
It differs from that of other States in several ways. First, we have
very few factories. The two serious problems we have in the held
o f child labor are: First, agriculture; and second, children working
in the production o f motion pictures. The latter is a special con­
dition that exists in southern California, and is a serious problem
to those interested in the enforcement o f the child labor laws.
In California children o f any age may work in the production of
motion pictures provided they secure permits. About 75 per cent
o f all the permits issued are issued for work in that one industry.
It is the largest industry in point o f investment in all the Southwest.
The figures are stupendous. It represents a different problem to the
child-welfare workers, for several reasons. In the first place, children
go to work in motion pictures for reasons that are quite different
for the most part from the reasons that are usually given for chil­
dren going into industry. A ll the parents are obsessed with the idea
that their children are all potential stars. That is the first and chief
reason they want these children to go to work. Usually the mother
or the father who wants the boy or girl to work in the production
o f motion pictures is governed by the tremendous idea that he has
in his family a little Mary Pickford or a little Charley Chaplin or a
little Douglas Fairbanks, and all that is necessary is that some kindhearted official issue a permit in order that this undiscovered genius
o f the silver screen may not be lost to the general public. The
juvenile stars o f the motion-picture screen have almost all been
given their first permits in the issuing office at Los Angeles. We
have had such stars as Jackie Coogan, Wesley Barry, Mildred Harris,
Mary Osborn (known as Little Mary Sunshine), and many others.
The second reason arises from the fact that so many o f the children
have fathers or mothers engaged in the industry and they are going
to live in this motion-picture world, the children are going to grow
up in it and that will be their occupation. So they say: wOur chil­
dren are going to follow this line of work, why shouldn’t they begin
early ? Why shouldn’t they start in when they are children ? ” There
is a tremendous demand, so the motion-picture people tell us, all over
the country for juvenile pictures.
The third and the smallest group o f parents is composed o f those
who want their children to work for the money it brings in to them;
those who are not willing to work themselves but hope that their
children may earn fabulous sums as motion-picture stars.
It is interesting to note that the very brightest children are the
ones who do work in the production o f motion pictures. There is
no place for the dull boy or girl in this work. You can readily see
that it requires brightness even on the part o f the very small chil
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



dren. Those who work regularly are very small in number; 95 per
cent of all the children who work in the production of motion pic-'
tures are intermittent workers.
The law of California provides for very little supervision of this
work, but by administrative means the board of education has under­
taken to give these children some educational advantages ; so we
require every child under the age o f 16 to be under the personal
supervision of a teacher or tutor who has. the qualifications o f a
public-school teacher. A ll these children must spend part of each
day with these teachers, and the teachers are paid by the movingpicture industry but work under the supervision of the department
of compulsory education, to which they report daily. The cost o f
the education o f these children is a justifiable charge on the industry.
• The question has come up many times as to the effect of this work
on the child’s education. What does it do and what is the result o f
working in motion pictures, particularly in the cases of the large
number who work 5 or 6, 8 or 10 , 50 or 60 days a year? All who
are familiar with school work know that two weeks’ nonattendance
is serious if it is consecutive; four weeks is almost fatal. We re­
quire every teacher to send to the department of compulsory educa-,
tion at the end of each term a duplicate report card of every child
who works in motion pictures for 5 days or more, and check them
carefully. When we started this system we thought it would pre­
vent those who were failing in their school work from going into
moving pictures, but to our great surprise the average child who
worked in motion pictures was doing better work in school than the
children who were not working. You can see how that is; the
brightest and the best children are taken out of school; they would
get along anyway. They are not the retarded or backward children ;
they are the brightest.
'<f But the work has some undesirable results. Probably the greatest
evil is the fact that these children live in an unreal world; not the
unreal world of fairyland, not the unreal world of the stories we tell
children, which is normal and natural, but they live in an unreal
world like little old people.
|f I f you have ever seen motion pictures made, you will realize what
I mean. On the screen you see the picture o f the Coliseum at Rome
or some old cathedral. That is taken from some small set repre­
sented by the size of an average room. A ll the rest is skeleton work.
It looks impressive on the screen, but the set and the surroundings
are often cheap and tawdry. These children are living in an unreal
world; they become sophisticated very early; they become blasé.
They are not really children; they are really little old men and
women who have grown old prematurely.
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

stan dar ds a n d pr o b le m s .


The California law, except as it applies to agriculture and motion
pictures, requires a child to meet the following conditions, approxi­
mately, before he can go to w ork: He must be 15 years of age and
have completed the seventh grade; but if he is 14 and through the
eighth grade, i f his services are needed for the family’s support he
may be granted an employment certificate.
We determine the matter o f economic need by cooperating with
the outdoor relief department of the county charities. We require
any person who applies for an employment certificate for a child
on the basis o f economic need to go to the outdoor relief department
o f the county charities and submit to the same investigation that is
required o f all persons seeking public relief. The investigator sub­
mits to the issuing office a detailed confidential report. We have
found that the economic need does not exist except in a very few
Our experience has demonstrated that the majority o f children
who are excused from school in the State o f California on the plea
o f economic need do not take their money to their families; they
spend it on themselves, the greater part o f it, and the small percent­
age that is given to the family does not help materially. Practically
it does not work out as a reason for children leaving school. Only
when the best interest of the child is the basis for issuing the permit
is the law satisfactory.
I f there is not an intelligent issuing officer, sympathetic, with
vision, who knows something o f social conditions and who has some
conception o f the value o f conservation o f child life, the statutes will
be o f no avail.
In Los Angeles no permit is issued, regardless o f family conditions,
unless the attendance officer o f the district in which the child resides
and the principal o f the school which the child attends agree that
the child should be allowed to work. We perhaps rely more upon the
judgment o f the attendance officers than we otherwise would because
o f the type o f attendance officers which we have. In California the
attendance officer or assistant supervisor o f attendance must possess
a high-school teacher’s certificate. As a result, out o f 20 attendance
officers 15 are university graduates, and all of them are looking
forward to promotion in the school work. One o f them has just been
appointed principal of a junior high school.
However, the one place where we do most unsatisfactory work in
-California is the follow-up work. We do so little for the boy or
girl who leaves school. We are willing to spend any amount o f
money on children so long as we can keep them in school, from the
kindergarten until they get a degree from the State university, if
they will only stay in school. But the ones who most need the care
o f society are the ones who are forced out into industry. The minute
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis



they go we let them shift for themselves. What an idiotic practice
it i s ! We are willing to spend so much money on them while they
are kept in school, and so little when they leave school.
We subscribe to the program and the ideals o f the Children’s Bu­
reau. We expect not only to approximate those ideals but ultimately
to reach them in the enforcement of the child labor laws in Cali­

Miss M inor . May I say with reference to the paper on physical
standards that that has been a question very much at issue in New
York City. There was a time when but 5 children out of 5,000 were
refused certificates for incapacity. Then Dr. Josephine Baker took
hold of the situation as head o f the bureau of child hygiene. Since
then refusals for physical incapacity have increased amazingly.
Two years ago about 2,000 were refused outright and 5,000 or 6,000
had their papers withheld for remediable defects. Over 85 per cent
o f those children subsequently had those defects corrected and re­
ceived employment certificates. The remainder o f this number were
turned over to the New York child labor committee for follow-up
work and we cleared up all except 87 cases, showing that the defects
are correctable and that these cases can be handled despite the pro­
tests o f the parents, who claimed that the clinical facilities were
insufficient and that the cost was too high. We found that the obsta­
cle was very largely a desire on the part o f the child to avoid the
dentist’s chair. The only safe thing to do is to certify a child as
physically sound and able to do any work in which he may lawfully
be employed.
Mr. W. M. D e n i s o n , Director, Bureau o f A ttendance, State Depart­
ment of PubUe Instruction, Pennsylvania. I was very much inter­
ested in the discussion this afternoon; especially was I struck by the
statement made by Miss Minor that it was necessary to have a literacy
test in order to determine the educational standards for employment
certificates. It seems to me that the teachers of public schools should
he honest enough and conscientious enough to be trusted in their pro­
motion o f children through the grades, and that a child who has
completed the work o f the grades specified and has the teacher’s
certificate to that effect ought to be able to read and write the English
language intelligently and correctly. 1
I f Miss Minor’s statement is true, and I shall accept it as abso­
lutely true, it seems to me it is an indictment o f the teachers o f New
York State. I f it is true in New York it is probably true in Penn­
sylvania. We are going to know, since you have raised the question.
Another point brought out was about the age standard. I believe
that one of the speakers this afternoon said that in the State in
which she lives the census enumeration was made to include all
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis

stan dar ds a n d p r o b l e m s .


children from 1 to 21. I believe that we should do this and that chil­
dren should be required to present an accurate and authentic evidence
o f age when they enter school. Philadelphia this year is requiring
every child that enters school to provide evidence o f age at entrance
to school.
The question o f certificating children in rural communities in
agricultural work has just been touched upon. Yet nothing has
been definitely said about this subject this afternoon.
Miss C am pbell . Madam Chairman, may I express to the Chil­
dren’s Bureau my personal appreciation for calling these conferences,
which have been o f great practical value and o f unusual interest.
I am asking this appreciation to be indorsed by those here assem­
bled as a group. May we not also present a request to the Children’s
Bureau that a similar conference be called each year at whatever
time and place seems feasible to the bureau? Personally I should
like to express my appreciation to the Children’s Bureau for calling
this meeting, and I should like to ask, if it is proper, that we present
a resolution that we should again be called together.
Mr. L e d e r l e . I feel that I have received much benefit from this
conference and that I owe a debt o f gratitude to the bureau for
v calling the meeting. I offer a motion at the present time that the
Children’s Bureau be extended a vote of thanks from the assembly
for calling this meeting and that we request that another meeting
be called at an early date.
[The motion was seconded, and upon a vote being taken it was
carried unanimously.]
Mr. D e n n is o n . I would like to make another motion, namely, that
the Children’s Bureau be asked to include in their next program a
paper as to the control o f street trades.
[The motion was seconded, and upon a vote being taken it was
carried unanimously.]
The meeting adjourned.

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis
Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis






W. V A