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Florence Kelley and the Illinois Sweatshop Law

Part B: Essay

Directions:  Write a well-organized essay that includes an introduction, several paragraphs, and a conclusion.  Use evidence from at least five documents in the body of the essay.  Support your response with relevant facts, examples, and details.  Include additional outside information.

Historical Context:

Between 1890 and 1920, reformers sought to remedy the worst working conditions in the new industrial economy by passing and implementing new labor laws to regulate these conditions. Passed first at the state level, and very often initially for women only, eventually these laws were adopted at the federal level and extended to include men as well as women. In Chicago, Florence Kelley rose rapidly to a leadership position within the city's surging anti-sweatshop movement. As Chief Factory Inspector of Illinois, she was instrumental in the passage and enforcement of that state's 1893 labor law.  However, the provisions of the law regulating the working hours of women in manufacturing establishments remained in effect for only two years; in 1895, the Supreme Court of Illinois declared the law unconstitutional.

Task:

Using information from the documents and your knowledge of United States history, write an essay in which you:

  • Describe conditions in the sweatshops

  • Discuss the attempts to regulate the sweatshops

  • Discuss the results of the attempts to regulate sweatshops
 

Guidelines:

In your essay, be sure to:

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