Children and childhood were relied upon to serve a variety of crucial functions with the emergence of consumer culture in the nineteenth century. In addition to being customers, the young served as ‘goods’ to be used and consumed by adults. This also provides evidence that middle-class materialist endeavors were aiding. It was in the creation of a more ethical society.
Children also contributed labor and raw materials to industry. This varied collection examines the responsibilities that children were allocated in the setting of nineteenth-century consumer society. At the same time, it is unwavering in its recognition of the truth. The children did not just live inside adult-articulated cultural settings. They were active participants in their development.
If you want to know more about this topic, you are welcome here. Read on as we explore the truths regarding 19th-century children.
19th Century Child Labor
Working-class children in the nineteenth century were typically employed in factories and on farms. It was more important for a youngster to bring home a paycheck than to receive an education for many individuals. The combination of hazardous working conditions and long hours meant that children were subjected to the same abuse as adults but without the protection of the law. Children were less expensive to hire than adults and easier to discipline. The effective employment of children was critical to Britain’s economic success in the nineteenth century.
In 1821, over half of all employees were under the age of 20. In rural regions, children as young as five or six years old work alongside mothers in ‘agricultural gangs’ in fields that are often a great distance from their homes. Although they repealed a rule prohibiting the enrolment of children as chimney sweeps as early as 1788, young people were nonetheless regulated in this position for most of the nineteenth century due to their size and speed.
The Martha Appleton incident in 1859 exemplifies the appalling labor circumstances endured by hundreds of youngsters across the United Kingdom on a daily basis in the nineteenth century. Martha worked as a ‘scavenger’ in Wigan as a 13-year-old textile worker, picking up stray cotton from behind machines. Martha swooned and clutched her left hand in an unprotected machine one strange day. All of her fingers were severed in the accident. Martha missed her job since she could no longer work efficiently.
19th Century Child Health
Many Londoners perished as a result of diseases like cholera, measles, and scarlet fever. Babies living in overcrowded and wet conditions were the most vulnerable to diarrhea and TB. Even people from wealthy households perished as a result of inadequate medical care.
Three children in the same family died between 1897 and 1899, according to this sorrow card. They were all under the age of three. Parents might also die at an early age, resulting in a large number of orphans in London, both affluent and poor. Orphans who were unable to find a home at an orphanage were often forced to live on the streets or in workhouses.
Workhouses offered food and shelter in exchange for hard, disagreeable labor.
19th Century Child Poverty
Food insecurity has become a serious problem in the United Kingdom. During the coronavirus epidemic, it is believed that over 200,000 youngsters had to skip meals. According to the Trussell Trust, the usage of food banks has increased by 81% over the previous year.
Children’s health is suffering as a result of insufficient diet. In the first half of this year, over 2,500 children were brought to hospitals with malnutrition, more than double the number hospitalized in the same period last year. As a bioarchaeologist and a pediatrician, our work entails tackling the impacts of inadequate nutrition on children in the past as well as those experiencing food insecurity now.
Poor childhood nutrition can have long-term health implications. It leads to malnutrition as well as an increased risk of cardiovascular and other chronic illnesses. Children born into poverty have a shorter life expectancy than their more affluent peers. And they are more likely to spend the majority of their lives in poor health.
Poor children were frequently forced to labor instead of attending school. Many worked at home or in workshops with their parents, manufacturing matchboxes or sewing. Like the child in this photo, children might also get some money as chimney sweeps, messengers, or crossing sweepers.
In the nineteenth century, crossing the street might be filthy and dangerous. Horses were employed as a mode of transportation in London, and they left a lot of horse muck behind.
Sweepers made it possible for wealthy individuals to cross the street without getting their clothing filthy.
19th Century Child Education
Sending children to school may cost the family money that they could earn if they worked. As a result, many impoverished children did not attend school on a regular basis. Medals like this one were there for youngsters to encourage them to attend school. William J. Seaman received this award for being on time every day the school was open that year. He attended a School Board school. These were established in the 1870s to provide basic education and were funded by municipal taxes. Younger, wealthier children were frequently taught at home by a private tutor. They then sent the boys to residential institutions. Children from the middle class attended grammar schools or private academies.
The Naugatuck school system now comprises 11 public schools serving over 4,000 children with a comprehensive modern education. But this was not always the case. The pride that Connecticut citizens have in their educational system was not available simply. For decades, education has taken a second seat. Child labor and the necessity for families to supplement their earnings was the first always. The robust industrial base of Naugatuck gave several possibilities for youth to enter the work market.
19th Century Children’s Clothing and Toys
On a Monday morning, it was typical for destitute families to pawn their Sunday best clothing. They would then pick up the clothing on a Saturday, which was payday so that they could wear them on Sunday. Poorer children frequently wore patched and mended clothes purchased secondhand or passed down through the family.
Poor children frequently manufactured their own toys, such as rag balls, or, if they were lucky, purchased inexpensive penny toys. Richer youngsters played with wax or porcelain dolls, toy troops, and railway sets.
The Museum of London includes a collection of tinplate toys that might have been there worth a penny from street vendors.
To generate money, poor youngsters would sell them on the street. Toys frequently got into children’s Christmas stockings.
Toys were frequently available to youngsters in order to teach them something. This black shoe doll was most likely there to generate cash for the protection of poor children who worked as shoe blacks. Shoe blacks were youngsters who made a career by cleaning boots and shoes.
Dolls like these might have been available for wealthy families to teach their children about the lives of underprivileged children. On Sundays, children were frequently there to play with Bible-related toys, such as a model of Noah’s Ark, after church.
19th Century Children’s Literature
Many parents desire to read what they see as “Classic Children’s Books.” These nineteenth-century children’s novels are unquestionably classic. It’s tough to come up with a list of unheard-of nineteenth-century literature. After all, there are only so many novels that are more than a century old that is still worth reading to your children. Having said that, I have omitted the big competitors.
So There are some books from the 1800s that aren’t as well-known as Alice, Jo March, or Tom Sawyer and Huck. Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book (1894) Kipling’s work consists of unique stories inspired by the author’s youth in India. Each chapter is a thrilling experience in and of itself. The stories make excellent read-aloud. Kipling also authored The Second Jungle Book, which has more stories about Mowgli (the child raised by wolves) than the first. George MacDonald’s The Light Princess (1864) MacDonald was also a lesser-known Scottish novelist on this side of the Atlantic. There were many options for a MacDonald book. I chose this one since it is available with illustrations of the renowned Maurice Sendak. A Princess who was sick at birth with the inability to feel gravity spends her days floating.
Kenneth Grahame’s The Reluctant Dragon (1898). Most people are familiar with Grahame’s other work, The Wind in the Willows, but this little story is as enjoyable. In the caves near his town, a kid befriends a poetry-loving dragon. When the rest of the villagers discover about the dragon, they believe he is a menace and recruit St. George to help them get rid of him. Instead, the child, dragon, and St. George successfully combine to bring everyone together. They demonstrate to the townspeople that their prejudices are unavailable.
Books that kept the children company
- Johanna Spyri’s Heidi (1880) Heidi, a five-year-old girl, is here to live with her hermit grandfather in the Swiss Alps. Of course, she attracts everyone. When I was a youngster, I was a huge fan of this book.
- Lucretia P. Hale’s The Peterkin Papers. (1880) The hilarious exploits and follies of a very stupid yet endearing New England family. The majority of the chapters read like discrete stories and will offer you and your children a good giggle before sleep.
- Andrew Lang’s The Blue Fairy Book. (1889) This is a famous collection of old-fashioned fairy tales from the nineteenth century. Some will be quite recognizable to you, while others will be completely new to you.
- Margaret Sidney’s Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. (1881) The exploits of a destitute family with several children who travel to live with a wealthy family. There are numerous lessons to learn about hard work and honesty. When I was a youngster, I recall reading a tattered edition from the 1930s. Sidney authored a number more novels on the family if you love this one.
- Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. (1883) It’s safe to assume that the people in this novel aren’t all virtuous, hardworking, and selfless, but it’s a lot of fun. Jim, a young man, sets out to find riches and becomes involved with pirates such as the vicious Long John Silver.
- Johann D. Wyss’s The Swiss Family Robinson (1812) Wyss’ book has the distinction of being the first on this list. A family traps themselves on a lonely island (luckily with a whole ship’s worth of supplies to kit out their tree home in style). They must learn to adapt to their new surroundings. There’s a lot to keep nature enthusiasts engaged in this book.