WILLIAM WRIGHT, 2022 (19th-Century Stories)
Medium: Anaglyph prints from archives and two screen projections.
Dimensions: Prints: 9" x 6" inches.
From the 1770s to 1850s, child labor was marked by three primary routes for Philadelphia children: apprenticeships (indentured or under contract), domestic labor, and slavery. The path children found themselves on was often determined by class, race, and gender. Work for Black Philadelphian children, freed or enslaved, looked somewhat different. Where today we expect to see children attending school, early Philadelphia would not have been surprised to see children laboring in workhouses or solely in the home.
By 1880, William Wright, age 11 of House # 115 Elfreth's Alley, worked in a broom factory and, with many other children, found himself tangled in a web of child labor and consumerism that sent him off to work in factories. Children like William were often denied the same liberties of childhood that a wealthier child may have had, such as playtime and access to education.
The seven images displayed in this family room are from 1932 to 1981. In these archives, there are 34 images with children on them. There are no images of kids from the Alley working in the mills or factories before that period.
For more information, listen to the Alley Cast.
Episode 2.04: Working Children.