children in coal mining communities in wv 1923 - Mackey's Antiques & Clock Repair

 Children In Coal Mining Communities In West Virginia in 1923

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welfare of children in coal mining communities in West Virginia 1923

 

The child of the coal miner in the West Virginia mountains lives very often in what is practically a frontier settlement. It is remote and isolated, shut in by high, wooded hills, a straggling line of houses in the wilderness. The camps visited during the survey wereonly from 3 to 13 miles from Beckley the county seat and the nearest incorporated town of any size—but the distance in miles givesno idea of their inaccessibility. Railroad service was infrequent and uncertain. For example, the single daily train from Beckley to oneof the camps, only about 8 miles distant, took over two hours for the run under the most favorable conditions and was frequently delayed. Most of the camps were from one-half mile to several miles away from rough county roads, which were reached from two settlements by walking over a mountain, and from two others by mounting in a "hoist" drawn by cables to the top of a steep hill. Uncertainty as to the probable lifetime of the mine makes for cheaply and hastily constructed houses, primitive sanitation, and other hardships both sanitary and cultural of pioneer life.

 

Not only isolation and the temporary nature of the settlement but other factors, also, combine to prevent the development of the mountain mining town along the lines of the ordinary small town or village. Coal mining is the sole industry, and the coal company owns and controls the town. The coal-mining company and the coal-land company own the town site and the whole surrounding territory, controlling in some cases the roads leading into the town. Practically all the houses and, as a rule, the stores and other buildings, are company owned. Sometimes even the church, if there is one, and the schoolhouse are built by the company, which often supplements or pays in full the salaries of the pastor and the teacher. Whether conditions are good or bad depends upon the policy of the coal company and not upon the will of the inhabitants. If the policy of the company is to provide attractive houses and clean and wholesome surroundings, it is in an exceptionally good position to demand and secure immediate response to its program. If, on the other hand, company standards are below those of the community, the inhabitants may not take steps to secure clean streets, for example, or a safe water supply. They have no redress from conditions which may be intolerable, except to move into another camp.

 

The West Virginia coal miner does indeed move frequently Although the irregularity of mining operations accounts for much of the shifting, another element is no doubt the hope which the miner or his wife cherishes of bettering their living conditions. of 464 families in the present survey who reported the number of removals which they had undergone, one-third had moved at least once every two years. Some of the families found it impossible to remember the number of times they had moved. One mother declared that she moved "every time the moon changed.  In five of the settlements visited half the families interviewed had been in residence less than one year, the percentage of removals per month being much higher in the less attractive camps than in the others. One family had moved twice within eight months preceding the survey. "We moved from the last place," said the mother, "because dead hogs were left lying around in the street." The labor turnover in the most attractive town was said by the superintendent of the mining company to be negligible; there was usually a waiting list, and newcomers almost invariably had to wait for a house the father of the family coming in first, the family moving in when a house became vacant.

 

The ordinary small mining settlement is uninviting in appearance Apparently no consideration other than proximity to the mining operations had influenced the choice of site for the towns included in the survey. They lay usually in a narrow hollow between two high ridges, the houses being in some camps located on both sides of the railroad track or of a little stream running through the valley. In one town there was but little room at the side of the track for the pedestrian to use if a train went by, as the tracks were on an embankment, and between the embankment and the houses was a ditch, usually filled with water; foot bridges were built from the railroad embankment to the front doors of the houses. In other camps the houses were built on steep hillsides where it was difficult to get a foothold, especially in wet weather when the hillsides became slippery with mud. In some cases the hillside paths were littered with the remains of old buckets, tubs, and tin cans. The roads were usually rough and irregular, and in wet weather turned to black mud and puddles. There were no sidewalks, as a rule, and only such footpaths as had been worn by use. For the most part the houses were a uniform hue—usually a dark gray or dull brown, though in some camps the companies have literally " painted the town red.  In one place, also, four or five houses had been freshly painted in as many different colors. The houses occupied by company superintendents and other executives offered an acceptable relief from the monotonous sameness of the miners' houses. They were usually fair-sized dwellings with porches, lawns, trees, and shrubbery.

 

In some settlements waste matter entered the creeks flowing through the center of the town, privies were tumble-down, and incredible amounts of garbage and rubbish lay on the ground. Chickens, ducks, geese, and hogs wandered about, adding to the general disorder and unwholesomeness. That the mining settlement may be prepossessing, even picturesque, in appearance was proved by the aspect of one just outside the area included in the schedule study. In this settlement the roads were level and well kept, the streets lighted, the sidewalks of cement. Houses, outbuildings, and fences were in excellent repair. The power house in the center of the camp was covered with vines and surrounded with lawns and flower beds. The houses were painted in light colors with red roofs, and offered a pleasing variety in design as well as color. Well-kept lawns and flower gardens were in closed in painted picket fences. Vines grew along the fences and trailed over the porches. Lying at the base of the dark, wooded mountains, the town looked like a pretty toy.

 

HOUSING.

 

Usually the only houses to be had in the towns belong to the mining companies and the families must rent and live in them whether they like them or not. More than nine-tenths of the families interviewed lived in houses rented from the companies. Twenty-five others lived in company houses without paying rent: For example, in some cases. the wife of a miner who had been killed, or the woman who ran the camp boarding house, was given free housing by the company; more rarely others—in one instance a telegraph operator, in another a barber were allowed to live in company houses without paying rent, as an inducement, no doubt, to settle in the town. Only six families rented houses not owned by mining companies and only nine about 1 per cent owned their own houses. These were outside the boundaries of two camps, but virtually formed a part of the respective communities. In or near all the remaining camps there was not one family owning its own house.

 

It was customary on taking a house to sign a lease, though at least one company merely required the tenant to "sign up" for a house in order that the rent might be deducted from his pay. One form of lease included the following clauses: (1) Notice of five days necessary by either party; ( 2) eviction without notice if tenant quits employ of company ; (3) rent at $2 a day if tenant continues to occupy house after quitting work. One or two families said that these terms were not enforced. It was not uncommon for men to sign the lease without knowing what was in it. Several stated that they had not read it. One Austrian Polish miner said, Super told me to sign paper no read English. Don't know what it said. Another foreign-born miner observed, "They handed the lease out through a little pigeonhole at the office and didn't give you time to read it. You know they are not educated in this town like they are in cities. The usual rental, deducted by the company before the miner received his pay, was from $5 to $7.50 a month; $10 or more was seldom paid, except for houses containing at least five rooms. In one camp, according to the superintendent, old houses rented for $1.75, new ones for $2, a room.

 

When not absolutely alike in every detail, as whole lanes of them often were, the miners' houses were built on the same general plan detached or semidetached one or two-story structures, containing usually three or four rooms. They were invariably of wood, some being clapboarded, others of upright boards with or without weather stripping; erected without cellars, they stood usually on piles, in many cases with an open space beneath. Most of them were generally lacking in the essentials of a comfortable dwelling; rooms were small and few in number; they were inconvenient, insanitary, ill ventilated, and cold. As the houses were built of the cheapest material, usually not weather boarded, and in many cases not plastered or even ceiled, the fireplaces which as a rule were the only means of heating besides the cook stove could not keep them comfortably warm. Some were said to be "like paper" when the wind struck them. The occupants of a number of the houses had tacked newspapers or old magazine covers over the rough board walls one family had papered with samples of wall paper in order to keep out the cold. The flooring was often only a single layer of boards, sometimes with cracks an inch or more wide, placed over open foundations through which the cold air circulated freely. Knot holes and cracks in the wall were not uncommon. Not infrequently the houses were damp as well as cold, as they were built close to the ground and the space beneath the house was not always kept dry; water from a near-by spring ran under one house. The open foundation also offered a refuge for animals, from which vermin and unhealthful odors easily entered the house. Many families found it, also, a convenient place for rubbish of every description an old bedstead in which children and animals were seen playing at the time of the agent's visit was stored under one house, inviting disease and fire. Many of the houses were in a bad state of repair, with leaking roofs, loose windows, and sagging doors. The roof of one house leaked in every room, and water and snow came in under the doors; in another it was necessary to put pans around to catch the water. The weather-stripping was falling off some of the houses. Where they had been papered the paper, old and discolored, was frequently hanging in ribbons.

 

In such houses as these the housewife has few conveniences an inefficient heating system, no inside water supply or toilet, no bath. Electric light, found in all except one or two of the camps, was practically the only modern convenience in most of the miners' houses. The lack of household conveniences greatly increases the housewife's work and makes it harder for her to give her children the attention that they should have. Running water is a minimum essential for comfort. The camp described on page 12 had running water in each house, with white enameled sinks and pipes for drainage connected with sewers, proving that such conveniences are not impossible of achievement in the mountain mining town. The need of a bath in the miner's home is a very real one, especially if there is no "wash and change" house at the mouth of the mine. Without a bathroom, the miner's daily bath is likely to be taken under uncomfortable and inconvenient circumstances. Water a small amount at best must be heated on the kitchen stove, and in the small, crowded houses strict privacy is difficult to secure. In all the 11 camps only 52 of the families interviewed usually those of the mine executives had baths in their houses; so that only 136 of the 1,928 children enjoyed what in these days is considered a necessity.

 

There was little variety in the houses to meet the needs of individual families. When the families were large or even of average size insufficient space necessitated overcrowding. Almost half the families lived in 4-room houses and practically two-thirds in houses having 4 rooms or fewer. Of all the families visited 16 per cent were living in houses with an average of 2 persons or more per room a proportion larger by half than that found in the Shenandoah anthracite district previously surveyed by the Children's Bureau. Indeed, room congestion in the mining towns included in the present study seemed quite as serious as in crowded city districts. In 40 per cent of the homes there were 3 or more persons to each sleeping room, and in at least 1 family in every 7 there were from 4 to 9 persons to each bedroom. In 3 native white families 8 or 9 persons, usually parents and young children, slept in one room. There was less overcrowding, however, among native families, both white and negro, than among families in which the father was foreign born. This may perhaps be due to the custom, more prevalent among immigrant than among native families, of taking lodgers. One fourth of all the families keeping lodgers averaged 2 or more persons to a room, whereas only 13 per cent of those who kept no lodgers were thus crowded.

 

In one-fifth of the homes visited there were lodgers. Of these 132 families, 100 lived in houses containing 3 or fewer bedrooms and numbering in their households from 3 to 14 persons. Three families had only 3 bedrooms for 14 persons, including lodgers; 2 families, each of 5 members, including lodgers, had only 1 bedroom. Forty nine families keeping lodgers had only 2 bedrooms, with the number of persons in the household ranging from 3 to 10. Many of these families were ones in which the children were young, but others had boys and girls from 13 to 16 years of age. A 16-year-old girl in a Swiss family felt keenly the fact that the male lodgers in her family must pass through her room to reach their own. The practice of taking lodgers in small quarters exposes growing children, especially, not only to the discomfort and unhealthy fullness of overcrowding but also to the serious social evils which may result from a lack of privacy.

 

it should be pointed out that the rents paid for these houses may be perhaps to low to permit of supplying the miner with a decent to say nothing of a comfortable and attractive dwelling. on the other hand it should be remembered that the miner is obliged to occupy the house provided. even though he might be able and willing to pay more for a better one. they ( the Company officials ) determine within certain limits what portion of a mans wages shall be spent on house rent. this consideration should restrain fanciful and unnecessarily expensive building. the other extreme should like wise be avoided, true economy be distinguished from cheapness. ugly, insanitary, uncomfortable should not be built even if, because of there cheapness, there is a demand for them from tenants. the obligation of the industry to society as a whole as well to the tenant should forbid this. a cheerful, strong healthy virile race will not rise out of the filth and squalor of cheap hovels.

                                   

SANITATION

 

the water supply very few family's had running water in the house. the majority were supplied with water through central  source piped to hydrants more or less conveniently located. in the best camps one hydrant supplied only 3 or 4 families, but in some the number of families averaged 6, and in one a single hydrant was used by 11 families. Other camps had no central supply, water being obtained from wells by means of pumps, 15 or 20 families sometimes using the same pump. The source of the supply was various and not always such as to insure safe and abundant water. In one camp the water, obtained from a drilled well some 400 feet deep, was safeguarded against impurities by a system of filtration and chemical treatment. In others, water was piped direct to the hydrants from springs and creeks. In one camp in which the water had been obtained from a creek into which sewage from the houses having plumbing and the contents of many privies drained typhoid fever had been prevalent; recently the company had bored a 400-foot well and was planning to extend the hydrant system so that every house should have a hydrant within 50 yards. Regular analysis of the water was uncommon, but one camp reported that a sample was sent once every three months to the State hygienic laboratory, and two others reported annual analysis.

 

Sometimes the water supply was scant as well as of doubtful purity. For instance, most of the 12 drilled wells supplying the people of one settlement were said to be out of order at the time of the survey in July. In another camp one of the mothers reported that she was obliged to use spring water for all purposes as the hydrant supply had been cut off for a week. Many families preferred to use water from shallow wells or even from tainted springs and creeks because, they said, the hydrant water was "rusty" or "thick." As in most rural communities where they are common, springs furnished a favorite source of drinking water even when the hydrant water was used for other purposes. A much-prized spring in one camp was at least 200 yards up a mountain side from the nearest house, and probably a quarter of a mile from the farthest. Unless the spring is concreted to prevent local contamination and is periodically examined the water is likely to be unsafe, and much of the spring water used was not fit to drink. Many springs were contaminated by chickens and stock, or by dishwater, drainage, and garbage; many were situated in hollows on a lower level than surrounding privies. One standing above the house on a steep slope, at the foot of which was a spring used by some of the families, had not been emptied for almost a year, the contents draining down the slope; three of the children had had typhoid fever since their family had occupied the house.

 

TOILETS

 

Fifty-four families, chiefly those of men holding executive positions with the mining companies, had water-closets in the house and one family had a water-closet in the yard. Most of the families nine tenths had only privies, and seven households visited in four different camps had no toilet of any kind. Eight per cent of the families were obliged to share their privies with other families, sometimes as many as four or more. The privies in one camp were situated along the road and never locked, so that any passer-by could and did use them. One woman said that when she had first moved to the camp she had cleaned hers up, but that the next day it was as bad as ever. Many privies were ramshackle, with doors lacking and pits broken. One was tied to a tree to keep the high waters of the creek from washing it away; another, blown over by the wind, had merely been propped up against a tree by the men sent to repair it, no hole being dug nor box provided. The privies were commonly of the dry, open-back, surface type to which chickens, hogs, and flies had easy access, especially as they were not screened. They were seldom and insufficiently cleaned; cleaning once a year appeared to be the standard, though in one camp privies were said to be cleaned at the request of the families, and in at least one or two others they were never cleaned except by the occupants of the houses.

 

In one camp it was the custom to move the privy instead of cleaning it, digging a new hole and covering the old waste matter with dirt. One mother reported an entirely novel method of cleaning the family toilet being tied to a tree just over the creek it was upturned and cleaned when the water of the creek rose, and restored to its upright position when the waters subsided. Certain precautions were taken by the company in one or two camps once or twice a year, according to one superintendent, the pits beneath the privies were dug deeper and the waste buried, disinfectant being used; in another camp, the waste matter was shoveled out, piled outside the privy, and sprinkled with lime, which, however, was washed away, it was said, by the first heavy rain. Odors from privies and sewage were very offensive. In some places sewage filled the creeks winding through the center of the towns or drained into hollows and stood with surface water in stagnant pools. One family whose house faced a ditch carrying part of the town sewage reported that they were unable to sit on the front porch, and another said that "when the wind blows a certain way you have to shut the door." because of the unwholesome and disagreeable odors.

 

DISPOSAL OF REFUSE.

 

In none of the settlements visited was garbage or other refuse regularly removed by the company, though in one camp the company would take cans and other rubbish, if collected in barrels, to a dump some distance away. Garbage was commonly fed to the hogs, or dumped by the families into the creek or hollows near their homes, though some of the executives' families had theirs hauled away at their own expense and disposed of outside the village. Garbage, tin cans, broken crockery, and other rubbish littered almost every road in some of the camps; in some, the almost stagnant creeks contained cans, wooden crates, bottles, and even old furniture, shoes, and clothing. In one camp a dead cat had been left lying in the road for five days, though it was said that the nuisance had been reported to the authorities repeatedly. Chickens, hogs, and other domestic animals are kept almost as commonly as on the farms from which many of the miners come, though in the relatively crowded little mining settlement they are a constant source of danger unless careful regulations are in force. Apparently no attempt was made in the camps visited to restrain stock from spreading the contents of privies and contaminating the water supply, or to treat accumulations of manure in such a way as to prevent the breeding of flies. Under the primitive sanitary conditions prevailing, flies abounded.

 

Mosquitoes also were numerous; for tin cans and bits of crockery filled with water, uncut weeds, open ditches containing stagnant water, and undrained swamps, were to be found in practically all the settlements. Nevertheless, the necessity for screening was not generally recognized; less than one-fifth of the houses occupied by the families interviewed were screened. Supplying screens at cost at the company store might prove helpful in educating the mining town to the importance of this protection against fly and  mosquito borne diseases. In the camp screens were supplied with the houses.

 

SCHOOL ATTENDANCE

 

The West Virginia compulsory school attendance law, as amended in 1919 required children between the ages of 7 and 14 2 to be in school during the entire school term, making exceptions, however, in cases of extreme poverty, or when a child was physically or mentally unable to attend or lived 2 miles or more from the schoolhouse. 3 Included in the present study were 936 children between 7 and 18 years of age. Of these, 78 had not reached the compulsory school age at the beginning of the school year preceding the survey, and had not entered school. Thirteen others, though between 7 and 18 years of age, had never gone to school; of these, 6 were mentally or physically unable to attend, and 4 had no school to attend, or none within a reasonable distance. Seven hundred and thirty-four children were enrolled in school. These included practically all children between 7 and 14 years of age, as might be expected from the law, but what is more surprising in an industrial community, it included also more than four-fifths (84.7 per cent) of all the childrenbetween 14 and 16, and over three-fifths of those between 14 and 18. Most of the children had entered at 6 years of age, but a few—apparently for no very good reason—had reached their teens before beginning to go to school.

 

Although the law requires each school district to appoint at least one attendance officer, little attention seemed to be given to enforcing regular attendance. Twenty-four children of compulsory school age, i. e., under 14, had not attended a single day during the school year just completed at the time of the survey, though 14 of them were reported by the parents as still in school. Only 71 per cent of the pupils for whom attendance records were secured had attended so much as 90 days, or three-fourths of the legal minimum term. 4 This record is to be compared with that of a township in the bituminous coal mining regions cited by the U. S. Bureau of Education 5 as enforcing the compulsory attendance law unusually well, in which 83 per cent of the pupils enrolled had attended more than three

 

The minimum school term fixed by the West Virginia law was only 120 days," and all except two of the 11 camps visited reported the minimum term. Sometimes the mining companies supplement district funds in order to lengthen the school term, a practice which can not of course be recommended in lieu of adequate school support by public taxation, though it has the merit of securing for the children a much-needed extra month or two of schooling. Funds had been thus supplemented in one camp, the school of which was attended also by the children living in another settlement. One of the company superintendents stated that the company had agreed to keep the school open an additional month, paying all salaries, provided the teachers maintained an 80 per cent attendance; but that the plan had not been successful, as attendance beyond the minimum school term was not required by law.

 

a good deal of the absence reported by the children in these mining villages was such apparently, as to call for the provision of more adequate school facilities as well as more rigorous enforcement of the law. some of the schools was so crowded that many of the younger children through of compulsory school age could not be accommodated and were turned away. two of the smaller communities has no schools at all and two other had no schools for colored children. many of the children in these towns had to walk at least a mile and sometimes two miles to another camp over roads which in winter or muddy weather were practically impassable, so that they could attend, as one father expressed it, only on "picked days. Several parents complained that the road to the nearest schoolhouse was dangerous. One father who had not sent his children to school until they had reached the age of 16, remarked that he "wasn't going to have his children butchered up by the railroad even to get an education.

 

SCHOOL FACILITIES

 

The schoolhouse and its equipment In the school districts in which are located the camps included in the survey, 28 schools were visited. Schools in the mining towns as well as those in the distinctly rural communities were rural in type, many being one-room, one-teacher schools, offering only five or six elementary grades. The recently constructed buildings were fairly substantial and attractive, and though not always conforming to the best modern standards in certain details, such, for example, as side lighting, compared favorably with rural school buildings being erected in other States. In many of the mining camps the mining companies had contributed in some way to the school erecting buildings, furnishing equipment, or increasing teachers' salaries. Although some of the companies were generous in their contributions, others did little or nothing; in the latter instances all too often the public-school authorities likewise had provided inadequately in the expectation that the companies would supply what was needed. Thus some of the poorest schools were in buildings furnished by the mining companies; for example, in three camps the school for colored children was held in a company owned miners cottage or in an old church building furnished by the company.

 

Many of the schools located in mining camps were seriously lacking in equipment. On the other hand, some of the rural schools visited were modern and well equipped, proving that the school authorities could provide adequately if they felt the obligation to do so. Many schools, both in the open country and in the mining camps, were of the old-fashioned, inconvenient, uncomfortable type of building. Of the 28 school buildings visited, 12 had no hall or vestibule, and 21 no cloakrooms, coats and hats being commonly hung on nails either in the hall or the classroom or piled up on benches and chairs in the latter. Only one schoolhouse, a new company-built structure, was steam heated. The others, even the newer ones, were heated by unjacketed stoves in the classrooms. Only 6 had any janitor service, except such as teachers and pupils themselves provided. It was, however, in equipment rather than in the building that the majority of these schools were most inadequate. One substantially built school had neither desk nor chair for the teacher, only benches for the children, and a makeshift blackboard, which was at the back of the room. One-fourth of the schoolrooms had too few seats for the average number of pupils attending, and at least five had no seats at all, or from three to seven single seats for classes of from 18 to 55 pupils. Mothers complained that their children had to sit on the floor.

 

In one camp 25 wooden boxes for the children to use as seats had been supplied by a grocer. Aside from desks, chairs, and black boards, which in many schools were inadequate, practically nothing was furnished by school authorities. Books and supplies had to be furnished by the children themselves, and many a teacher was seriously handicapped by lack of materials. Maps, pictures, charts, library books, and even a dictionary were rarely found, and oneschool reported that its equipment consisted of " nothing but a bell Only one school had a playground equipped with play apparatus, and although many of the school yards were of good size, nowhere were there any organized play activities. In a few instances there was not even a suitable yard. One school, for example, was located near the mining tipple, between railroad tracks, exposed to coal dust and noise from both.

 

Half the schools had no water on the premises. Several teachers said that they instructed the children to drink at home and not ask for water when in school. The common cup or dipper was in use in some schools, but teachers seemed to be making an effort to enforce the law 7 regarding individual drinking cups, at least requiring a cup for the children of each family. Of the 28 schools, 3 had no toilet facilities, and only 1 had a toilet within the building. Three schools having privies made no separate provision for boys and girls, though required to do so by a regulation of the State department of health,8 and at four other schools a single structure partitioned in two was used by both sexes

 

TEACHERS

 

Except in rare instances the children of the mining camps were taught by poorly trained teachers. Teachers' salaries in the towns included in the study ranged from $360 to $690 for the school year of six months, although some of them had been supplemented by the mining companies. Of 71 white teachers reporting their education in three of the school districts in which were located the mining camps visited, 42 reported that they had never gone beyond the eighth grade; though of 17 colored teachers reporting, all had had at least part of a high-school course. Many of the teachers had little experience to offset their lack of training. The teacher whom, according to one mother's story, the children "fight, curse, and knock down" is no doubt an extreme example, but unquestionably many of the teachers were too young and inexperienced to maintain ordinary classroom discipline, much less to provide the skillful teaching necessary if children are to learn anything in a short term in schools seriously overcrowded. Some of these untrained teachers are obliged to handle classes of from 45 to 60 or more pupils—one teacher had 73 children enrolled, another 81, another 100—of half a dozen nationalities and in half a dozen grades. It is hardly surprising that, as some of the mothers said, the teachers did not "get around to" their children.

 

The lack of suitable rooming and boarding places in the camps makes it more difficult than it might otherwise be to obtain teachers of the right sort. A solution of the rooming and boarding problem lies in the provision of " teacher ages" or teachers' homes which are now found in many communities and in some mining towns. An act 9 of the West Virginia Legislature passed in 1920 now makes it possible for the school board of one independent school district to provide such homes. The Children's Bureau was told by school authorities that the act had been passed at the urgent instigation of some coal operators who had found it difficult to induce teachers to come into the mining camps.

 

THE CURRICULUM.

 

Many of the schools in the mining camps do not offer a full elementary course, and in others all eight grades are taught by one teacher. The fact that in many cases a child must go to the county seat to attend the seventh or eighth or even the sixth grade probably accounts in part for the large number who drop out before completing the elementary-school course. Only one camp included in the survey gave any high-school work and that did not extend beyond the first year. The nearest high school was at Beckley, from 3 to 13 miles distant from the various camps.10 One 17-year-old girl who wished very much to go to high school lived at a settlement only a few miles from Beckley, but the trains did not run at suitable times, and the girl's mother was afraid to have Jier walk back and forth along the road alone.

 

The school curriculum was confined chiefly to instruction in reading, writing, and arithmetic, and included no manual training, drawing, music, or physical training. In only two schools had even so much as a sewing class been introduced. No vocational courses were offered children under 16. The schools were in no way fitted to follow up the unusual opportunity which was theirs in the presence in school of so large a proportion of the boys and girls over 14 years of age. Because of their isolation the children of the mountain mining community especially need opportunities in school to try out various lines of work, and they should certainly be able to obtain practical training at least in the kinds of work carried on within and near the community, including home economics, home gardening, and agriculture. That it is possible to bring color and inspiration as well as practical worth-while training into the school life of the children in mining, as in other industrial towns, is illustrated by the following accounts of mining-town schools given by the United States Bureau of Education :

 

Ellsworth, Pa., is a purely mining town located about 24 miles south of Pittsburgh. The schools are organized [to include] a kindergarten, a high school, and a home economics and an industrial-vocational school. The physician employed by the company is the school physician. The company nurse is also at the service of the schools. The nurse gives a course in home economics, in sanitation, and in the care of children. There is an evening class on care of children for the adult women. About 30 are enrolled in the course. The home economics teacher has a class of women in cooking and sewing two evenings a week. There are evening classes for men in mathematics and English and in subjects pertaining to mining. Much attention is given to directed or supervised play for children below the seventh grade, two 35-minute periods a day being given to it. A special supervisor is employed. The program is arranged on a departmental plan, so that instruction in music, drawing, play, and construction may be given by special teachers. One of the most interesting educational experiments in the bituminous coal region of the Appalachian system is conducted by the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Co. in Jefferson County, Ala. There are 21 of these schools. The company furnishes buildings, employs a superintendent and special teachers, and supplements the funds of the county for running the schools. The work is done in complete cooperation with the county school board, which apportions funds to the mining-town school on the same basis as to other schools. The superintendent of the schools in the mining towns is an assistant county superintendent, but is paid entirely by the company.

 

Special emphasis is placed on the work in physical education carried on in the schools by the regular teachers supervised by a specialist in the subject. Cooking and sewing are also stressed and are taught in the welfare cottages located near the schoolhouses, with a special director in charge. These cottages are duplicates of those built by the company for its employees and are furnished simply but in good taste with such furnishings as the workmen can afford. They serve as demonstration cottages for the community, as well as classrooms for the children. Schoolhouses are built by the company and fitted into the scheme of landscape artistry adopted. Sites are carefully selected. The architecture harmonizes with the village scheme, to which the schoolhouse and grounds often add the finishing touch. Buildings are particularly attractive and conform to the best modern ideas of school architecture, both outside and inside. The grounds are laid out with trees, shrubbery, school gardens, enclosed tennis and basket-ball courts, and other equipment for recreation.The majority of the buildings visited have auditoriums, cloakrooms, supply closets, and other school conveniences. There are adjustable desks, supplementary reading material, and good working equipment in all schools.

 

The school housekeeping and general upkeep are worthy of special notice and may well serve as a model for other schools in and out of the county. Janitors are furnished in all cases, and the work is supervised by the teachers. Floors are clean and well kept. Blackboards and windows are washed with soap and water regularly. The walls are decorated in good colors, and t he interior of the rooms presents a pleasant appearance. The salaries furnished by the county for teachers are supplemented sufficiently by the company to enable the superintendent to secure professionally trained and experienced persons. Social work is required by the company, and special stress is placed on personality and fitness for this additional service. The classroom work is of splendid quality. The teaching staff shows good organization, enthusiasm, loyalty, and a high degree of professional spirit. As an example of this, the May Day program of the colored schools held at Westfield, May 3, may be cited. The program consisted of a pageant, introducing setting-up drills, folk dances, and the like. Children marched and drilled with soldier like perfection. They showed splendid training, all of which was given by the regular teachers none of whom had had previous experience or training in this kind of work under the direction of the supervisor of physical education. The interest of the community was shown by an attendance of probably 2,000. The program was carried out without a hitch, and order on the ground was perfect throughout the day.

 

This is one example of the organization and supervision which prevails throughout the system. As a whole it is an object lesson in efficiency which may well be studied by other mining communities. It shows conclusively what can be done by the expenditure of reasonable funds, business management, and professional service. Conditions are not different in any essentials from those of the surrounding territory. What can be accomplished here can be accomplished elsewhere with similar management and expenditure. If a private corporation can get value received from the money spent on schools as just described in the added efficiency and happiness of its employees, surely a community, a county, or a State will benefit at least in the same proportion from similar methods in school improvement. These schools demonstrate conclusively that what is advocated in this respect is possible of achievement if sufficient funds are provided; that education is a good business investment; that schools in mining towns can be as good as those in cities; that mining-town people appreciate good schools and good buildings; and that children under trained teachers do good work and are happy in doing it. Where the mining settlements are small, and sufficiently near each other, the consolidated school offers a solution of many school problems. The only camp included in the present survey which offered any part of a high-school course shared its school with two other settlements.

 

SCHOOL PROGRESS.

 

The least that can reasonably be expected of the schools is that they should teach normal children to read and write. In the families visited, however, 71 children 10 years of age and older, approximately 1 in 13, were illiterate. All except 13 of these children had been in school during the term preceding the survey; only 3, however, of the 13 children who had reached the age of 15 without being able to read and write had persisted in attending school. The children 's progress in school had been very slow. Half those who had reached their fourteenth birthday, 13 for example, had completed at most only the fifth grade, and it was not at all uncommon to see big boys and girls in their teens in the first and second grades. Of the. 181 school children between 14 and 18, usually considered the high-school age, only 8 had entered high school. In fact, two thirds of all the children in school were from one to eight grades below those considered normal for their years. 14 Obviously, a large proportion of these children could not reach more than the fourth or fifth grade, at best, before reaching the end of the compulsory school period, and it is well known that few children more than a year or two older than their classmates will remain in school unless legally obliged to do so. The percentage of children over age for their grades is very much larger in the mining camps included in the present study than that reported for children in other mining communities. For example, of 5,634 children between the ages of 5 and 17 attending schools in bituminous coal mining regions studied by the United States Bureau of Education 15 45 per cent as contrasted with the 67 per cent found in this study) were retarded, a proportion that has been characterized by the United States Bureau of Education as "excessive"; among children 13 to 16 years of age in an anthracite mining community surveyed by the Children's Bureau, 35 per cent had not reached grades considered normal for their ages.

 

The children of the bituminous coal miners in the communities studied are at a special disadvantage in their school work because of the frequent moving from camp to camp which characterizes the workers engaged in the industry in West Virginia a smaller amount of retardation was found among children who's parents had moved on a average of less then once in three years among children who's parents had moved once in three years or oftener. the smallest amount was found among children who's parents had not moved at all during the life of the children. the principal reason for the large proportion of children in these mining communities who had failed to reach standard grades are without doubt to be found in school conditions. the short term and poor attendance, over crowded rooms, inexperience teachers and inadequate equipment offering serious obstacles to normal progress.

 

SCHOOL LEAVING

 

in spite of tendency shown by children in West Virginia mining communities to remain in school well into their teens 111 children between the ages of 12 and 18 in the families visited had definitely left school. Of these, 30 had left before reaching their fourteenth birthday, 8 under 11 years of age; on the other hand, 43 had remained in school from one to three years longer than the law required. Proportionately more girls than boys had left school at 14 or earlier, probably because the girls could be useful at home helping with the housework and taking care of the babies, whereas boys could do little or nothing until they were old enough to work in the mines. A few children had left before the end of the compulsory school period because their earnings were needed by the family, a few because the school was too far from their homes, or because there was no school or no teacher. Others had left merely because they disliked school, and two 13-year-old girls had abandoned the schoolroom for the purpose of getting married. Children in the less prosperous families tended to leave school at earlier ages than those whose families were in more comfortable circumstances.

 

While it is possible that in the poorer families the standards of education desired for the children were lower and the ambitions of the children themselves more easily satisfied, financial reasons, no doubt, played an influential part in early school leaving in these families. Thus, in the group of families in which the heads of households, a few of whom were widowed mothers, had each earned during the schedule year less than $850, about one-fifth of the children had left school. In no other income group was the proportion of children who had left school so large. After the income of the chief breadwinner of the family reached $1,450, a perceptible drop occurred in the proportion of children leaving school at early ages; among the families in which the income was $1,850 or over, every child had remained in school until he was at least 14 years of age.

 

The part played by family need in causing children to leave school may perhaps be indicated by the frequency with which going to work was given as the chief reason for leaving school. In the families having no chief breadwinner or one who had earned less than $1,250 a year, 22 out of the 45 children who had left school had left to go to work; whereas only 9 of the 40 children leaving school in households whose heads had earned $1,250 or more had left in order that they might work. Going to work was the reason for leaving school given by most of the boys; to help at home was the reason most commonly given by the girls. Two-thirds of the boys leaving school had left to go to work, whereas only 6 per cent of the girls gave going to work as their chief reason for leaving. Relatively more colored children than children in white families with either native or foreign-born fathers had  left school for work. Dissatisfaction with school as the chief reason for leaving was, strangely enough, given by a much larger proportion of girls than of boys, but "going to work" was probably, only an excuse with many boys to escape from the irksomeness and boredom of the schoolroom. Possibly, on the other hand, the adolescent girls found the unattractiveness of the schools, the poor sanitary arrangements, and the meager equipment harder to bear than did their brothers.

 

In fact, several girls were very scornful in their comments on the schools, one 15-year-old girl saying that her friends would not attend because the school was in such a bad condition. Dissatisfaction with school as the chief reason for leaving was confined almost exclusively to white children of native fathers. More girls than boys left school because of the fact that the nearest schoolhouse was in another camp or too far from their homes. Possibly the dangers involved for girls in walking the lonely roads may account in part for this. Even children who are not obliged by poverty or other circumstances at home to leave school as soon as the law permits are more likely, of course, to leave at the earliest possible moment if they are older than the children in their grade, or if they have been obliged to repeat the same school work year after year. Doubtless many of the children who said that they had left school for the purpose of going to work or to help at home might have remained in school if they had not become discouraged by repeated failures and slow progress.

 

The discipline and work of the lower elementary grades is unfitted to the needs of a child of 14 or 15 years even if he has not demonstrated his ability to do school work of a higher grade. It requires a faith in the benefits of elementary education which the average parent does not possess, to say nothing of a strong parental hand, to keep children in school under these circumstances. The oft-repeated statement that the more retarded children tend to drop out of school at the earliest possible moment is supported by the facts in the case of the children leaving school in the West Virginia mining camps. Of the 111 children between 8 and 18 years of age who had left school, only 16 per cent had been in grades that were normal or advanced for their ages, as compared with 32 per cent of those who had stayed in school. (This difference may be partly explained by the higher proportions of older children in the former group. Of 42 children for whom records were available who had left school to go to work, 30 were retarded; of 19 who were "needed at home," 9 were retarded; of the 6 who mentioned ill health as the chief reason for leaving school, only 1 was in the standard grade for her age; of the 9 so dissatisfied with school that they had left, all were retarded; of the 6 who had left because the schoolhouse was too far from their homes, 3 were retarded, 2 in average grade, and 1 two years advanced. This child was the only one who had made more than normal progress in school who had not continued to attend. Naturally, children who are retarded 3 or 4 years or more leave school markedly ill-equipped, even though they may have remained in school until they are 14, 15, 16, or even 17 years of age.

 

Almost all left with less than the elementary education which a child of 14 is supposed to have acquired. Of the 92 children reporting the grade which they had completed before leaving school, only had completed the eighth grade; almost three-fourths had left school at or before the completion of the sixth grade, the largest number after completing the fourth grade. Five children had never gone beyond the first grade; and 13, or about 1 in every 9 of those leaving school, were unable to read and write. Only 1 of these 13 children said that he had left school to go to work, indicating that it was not economic necessity that was chiefly responsible for their starting out in the world illiterate. Only 1 child among those who had left school had ever attended high school

 

CHILDREN AT WORK.

 

In the average industrial town the child of 14 or 15 who seeks employment is usually limited in his choice of work to that which requires little or no skill, offers no future in itself, and provides no training for a more responsible position; nevertheless if he is willing to run errands, carry messages, or do simple mechanical tasks in store or factory he need seldom be without a job. The mountain coal camp of the bituminous field, on the other hand, has few opportunities for work of any kind to offer boys and girls under 16. Mining was practically the sole industry in all the camps covered in this survey, and at the time of the survey a boy could not legally work in the mines in West Virginia until he was 16 years of age. I No manufacturing plants had been located in or near any of the settlements to take advantage of the labor supply furnished by the wives and daughters of the miners, as is the case in the older and larger communities of the less isolated anthracite field. A small establishment just outside one of the camps, bottling soft drinks, was the nearest approach to a factory located in the vicinity of any of the settlements; it hired only a few men. In such mining camps the company store, with not more than two or three clerks at the most, gives practically the only opening for a mercantile occupation.

 

Domestic service is but little in demand. The superintendent's wife or the clubhouse manager may hire occasional help, or a housewife with illness in the family may engage a half-grown girl temporarily, but practically all the women do their own housework, even the washing and ironing, unassisted. After her meager school days are over there is little for the girl to do until she marries except to "help around the house"; while for the boy, even after he has reached the age of 16, the future holds practically nothing but the mine. For these reasons, the problem of child employment in the bituminous mining camps is not an important one numerically. Only 153 children under 18 years of age in all 11 camps had ever done any paid work; 84 of these had worked only after school and during vacations, so that only 69 children had had regular full-time employment. These children represent but 10.7 per cent of the children between 10 and 18 and only 3 per cent of those between 10 and 16 included in the survey; contrasted with the latter figure is the 8.5 per cent given in the census of 1920 2 as the proportion of children between 10 and 16 years of age gainfully employed in the country as a whole. In Connecticut and Massachusetts, States whose diversified industries probably favor early wage earning, 24.8 and 26.4 per cent, respectively, of all the 14- and 15-year-old children were gainfully employed in 1920.3 In 1915-16, in Boston, a city with large commercial and business, as well as industrial, interests, Dearly three-tenths of the child population were becoming regular workers before their sixteenth birthday.

 

4 Of the children of these ages in the bituminous mining camps, only 8 per cent had begun regular work. More nearly comparable to the West Virginia settlements in opportunity for employment, perhaps, are the mining towns of the anthracite coal fields, since in the latter as in the former communities life revolves around the coal mines. But in the anthracite mining region with its coal breakers and near-by factories, opportunities are not so restricted as in the isolated mountain camp. Thus, in the Shenandoah anthracite mining district of Pennsylvania, previously studied by the Children's Bureau, 46 per cent of the 14 and 15-year-old boys and girls had begun regular work,5 more than five times as many proportionately as had gone to work in the bituminous mining camps. Even when 16-year-old children, as well as those 14 and 15 years of age, are included, 70 per cent of the boys and 39 per cent of the girls in the Shenandoah district had begun regular work, as compared with only 29 per cent of the boys and only 8 per cent of the gilds of these ages included in the present study.

 

Although 69 children under the age of 18 years had definitely left school to engage, if only for a brief period, in some regular occupation, at the time of the survey only 55 boys and girls were actually employed at regular full-time work. Only one of these children was less than 14 years of age—a 12-year-old boy assisting his father in timber cutting, regarded as an agricultural pursuit and hence exempt from the provisions of the State child labor law; only 2 others both illegally employed in the mining industry were as young as 14. During the years in which the working children of the present study were beginning their industrial life (approximately 1913 to 1920), legislation, either State or Federal or both, regulating the employment of children under 16, was in effect. The West Virginia child labor law, as amended in 1915, 6 forbade the employment of children under 14 in factories, and of boys under 16 and girls of any age in coal mines,7 except during the period when school was not in session, when boys of 14 might work in coal mines.

 

Enforcement was especially defective in respect to work in mines, inasmuch as the law did not require the same employment certificate as for factory work, but only the parents' affidavit as to the age of a child seeking work. Federal legislation, however, beginning September 1, 1917, afforded boys in mining towns a somewhat greater measure of protection than that provided by the State law: The first Federal child labor law 8 in effect forbade the employment of any child under 16 at any time not only in but also around mines. But when this law was declared unconstitutional in June, 1918, West Virginia boys were again permitted to enter the mines at the age of 14, during summer vacations. By the time the Federal child labor tax law became effective (April 25, 1919), imposing a tax of 10 per cent on the net profits of any mine employing children under the age of 16, 9 a new State child labor law had been enacted (in effect May 11, 1919), prohibiting the employment of any child under 14 in any gainful occupation except agriculture and domestic service or ofany child under 16 in mines,10 and containing excellent provisions with respect to employment certificates. 11 The influence of legislation was no doubt the principal factor in reducing the number of boys under 16 working in mines in West Virginia by 75 per cent during the decade 1910-1920, although the number of persons of all ages engaged in mining in the State increased in this period by 75 per cent. 12

 

VACATION AND AFTER-SCHOOL WORKERS.

 

Some children in the mining communities, as everywhere, begin their industrial experience by doing odd jobs before and after school hours and on Saturdays, and by working during vacations, though such work is less common among children in the mining settlements than it is among those of the ordinary industrial town, owing to the fact that even temporary work is scarce. Not including any regular workers,- some of whom had worked out of school hours before taking a full-time position, 84 children—about one-eighth of all the children between 10 and 18 years of age—had held from one to five after-school or vacation jobs. Only 21 of these children had ever done any work during the months when school was in session. These after-school jobs consisted for boys in carrying wood or water for neighbors, selling or delivering papers, and blacking boots; girls did housework or eared for children, as a rule, but one girl had a paper route and another tended a soda fountain. All except 2 of the 84 children had done vacation work. The first vacation job reported by over two-fifths of the 52 boys had been in the mining industry. The proportion of vacation workers working in and around the mineswas much smaller than that of the regular workers.

 

More boys were occupied during vacations with a variety of odd jobs, such as doing chores about the town, carrying papers, delivering groceries, and carrying water for road builders; but 1 boy had worked steadily on a farm and another had been a railroad section hand. Of the 32 girls reporting vacation jobs, 24 had done housework or cared for babies; of the remaining 8, 3 had worked outside the mining community, 2 in a five-and-ten-cent store, the other in a laundry; 1 other had been a salesgirl; 1 had done errands for a lumber company, and 3 had had newspaper routes. Most of the temporary workers were at the time of the survey at least 14 years old, though 25 were between 10 and 14. At the time of the survey, in the summer of 1920, only 42 children were actually vacation workers, 14 of whom were under 14 years of age. Most of the children under 14 years of age did part-time work, such as serving papers, running errands, or doing chores or housework; but one 11-year-old boy was carrying water for a road gang, and another boy, aged 13 years, was loading coal within the mines. Of 1G children employed for vacation work in or around the mines at the time of the survey, 5 had not yet reached their sixteenth birthday, though in the summer of 1920 the State law forbade employment in mines below that age, and the Federal child labor tax law in effect prohibited work both in and around mines.

 

Three of the 5 boys under 16 years of age worked underground. Many children 35 of the 84 who had done vacation or afterschool work but had held no regular positions had taken jobs in order to earn spending money; but almost as many (27) had wanted something to keep them busy during vacation, or had wanted to "try their hand" at a job or had been urged to do so either by an outsider who was anxious to get some work done or by a parent who wished his child to "learn something," earn a little money, and "keep out of mischief  for which the six months' vacation customary in the mining districts offered abundant opportunity. Two high-school boys, 16 and 17 years of age, were working in the mines in order to earn money to continue their education. Twenty children about one-fourth—said that they worked during vacation in order to help out at home; more than half those who did vacation work because their earnings were needed by the family were children whose fathers had earned less than $1,050 during the schedule year or whose fathers were dead. Eight per cent of all the children years of age or over in families whose chief breadwinner had earned less than $1,050, reported that their chief reason for working during vacation was that their families needed their earnings ; whereas only 4 per cent of the children of the same ages in families in which the breadwinner's income had been between $1,050 and $1,450, and less than one-half of 1 per cent of the children in families in which the breadwinner had earned at least $1,450, said that they had done vacation work because of actual need.

 

only 8 children were able to give the amount of their after school and vacation earnings for a year and these varied widely a boot black and a water carrier had each made $10.00 a 15 year old girl doing laundry work throughout the year and serving a paper route for 9 months in addition to 3 or 4 weeks house work during vacation had earned $665 a 14 year old railroad section hand had received about $80.00 for his months work during the summer a boy of 16 who had worked for a building contractor for two months driven a wahan for the company store for 3 months and acted as school janitor during the 6 months school was in session had mad $338.00 other children who had run errands and served newspapers had made from $100.00 to $145.00 none of the boys working in the mines reported their total earnings from vacation work. most of them were paid daily rates which from trapper boys who constituted the majority of the boy mine workers was about $3.00 all but 3 of the temporary workers where still in school. 3 girls had left, one 17 year old because she said the school was not fit to go to. another girl 14 because there was so much work to do at home. of the children still in school 66 (81 percent ) had failed to reach standard grades for their ages.            

 

Of the 69 regular workers only 14 were girls. Nine of hem had entered some type of domestic service, and of the remaining 5 all had found their first work outside the mining community, usually in factories, either before moving to their present home or on leaving home for the purpose of finding work. Only one of these girls was at work at the time of the survey. Of the 9 girls who had begun as domestic workers, 4 had married before reaching the age of 17 and were no longer gainfully employed. Thus in the summer of 1920 only 5 girls in all 11 mining^ camps, excluding those who were working only during vacation, were actually employed at full-time work. Although this work is termed ''regular" in order to distinguish it from the work done by children only during vacation and outside school hours, it was by no means regular in the ordinary sense of the word, as the accounts of the working lives of individual children given on pages 44-46 indicate.

 

just as the girls find nothing to do aside from house work so their brothers when the time comes for them to work must turn to the mine. of the 55 boys who had begun regular work 44 had found their first work in the mining industry. the other ones had been variously employed. one for example had become a carpenter assistant, another helped a roofer, a third was a clerk in the company store. two other boys had first gone to work before the family had moved to the mining camp, one in a tobacco factory, the other in a printing office.       

 

As has been said, there are no breakers at the surface of the bituminous mines, such as absorb most of the boy labor in anthracite districts. Hence, the boys who go to work in the West Virginia mines are chiefly underground workers. The majority (24) of the 44 boys included in the present study whose first regular work had been in or about the mines were " trappers," sitting or standing all day in the darkness opening and closing the doors which regulate mine ventilation in order to allow the coal cars as they came along the tracks to pass through; others were trip riders, couplers, or other underground laborers. Only 6 of the 44 boys who had first gone to work in the mining industry were surface workers. A majority (28) were under 16 years of age when beginning regular work in the mines; 9 were 15, 13 were 14, 5 were 13, 1 was only 10 years of age. At the time of the survey five 14- and 15-year-old «boys were at work inside the mines. Although some of the boys who had entered the mines before the age of 16 had entered at a time when neither Federal nor State law forbade work in mines under the age of 16, at least 18 13 of the 28 had gone to work illegally. Some of the 18 had begun work when the State law required only the parents' affidavit that the boy was 16, or, during the period when school was not in session, that he was 14.

 

The present State child labor law, which since the Federal child labor tax law was declared unconstitutional is now the only protection offered children going to work in the mines, requires the same certificate for mine work as for other employment; but under the present law, as under the former one, inspection is in the hands of the State mine inspectors. The intention of the law is clearly to protect children under 16 from the hazards of underground work; the real problem in West Virginia, as in the 28 other States having this standard and in the 4 having a higher standard for work in mines, is one of enforcement. On the inadequacy of enforcement by mine inspectors the Children's Bureau has previously commented.14  The mine inspector is, in theory, at least, especially trained for the highly technical work of safety inspections.   Most of the time of a child labor inspector must be spent, not inside mines and factories, but in outside investigation of the ages of the children. It is quite wasteful of the skill of a safety engineer to plan that he shall spendtime in visits to certificating offices, homes, health departments, etc., in order to establish the age of a child. That most mine inspectors will not give the necessary time for this work is to be expected."

 

The hazards of underground work are well known. Every year hundreds of deaths, and thousands of accidents of a nonfatal but more or less serious nature, are caused by falling slate, rock, and coal; gas, powder, and shot explosions; charged wires, mine cars, and locomotives; and cave-ins and fallen supports. In the coal fields of West Virginia alone 1,895 men were killed in the mines in the five-year period 1916-1920, approximately 1 of every 225 workers.15 Of 52 boys who had at some time worked regularly in a mining occupation, 10 had sustained some injury while at work, and 1 boy had been twice injured. Four of the boys were under the age of 16 when the accident occurred, and at least 2 of them were working illegally. The accidents reported by the boys had incapacitated them for from one to seven weeks. The injuries included split fingers, bruised, lacerated, and burned legs, injured knees, injured backs, broken limbs, and hernia. Only 4 of the 10 injured children had received compensation, according to statements made by the boys' families, although all except one boy had been disabled for at least eight days, the minimum period specified in the West Virginia workmen's compensation act as entitling an injured employee to compensation.

 

One 14-year-old boy working illegally as a miner's loader had suffered an injury to his back due to a fall of slate. He had been incapacitated for six weeks but had received no compensation. Another boy, aged 16, a trip rider in the mines, had been thrown from his car, breaking his leg; although he had been incapacitated for seven weeks he had received no compensation. The amounts paid in the 4 cases receiving compensation ranged from $7.98 paid to a 15-year-old coupler, working illegally, who had been run over by a motor and disabled for four weeks, to $25 paid to another coupler, aged 16, whose leg had been burned, incapacitating him for three weeks. An attempt to safeguard children against illegal employment in dangerous occupations has been sought in one State Wisconsin through a provision of the workmen's compensation law, requiring treble compensation to be paid in the case of minors illegally employed, and making the employer primarily liable for the additional amount.

 

In general, during the early years of industrial life children are likely to change from one position to another until they have become adjusted to the discipline of work. Thus, it is quite common for children who have been at work only a few months to have held several positions and to have had longer or shorter periods of unemployment. In addition to the industrial restlessness which characterizes the average untrained young worker, the nature of the only work open to the boys and girls of the small isolated mining towns results in considerable enforced idleness.

 

 

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