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Child Labor Chronology

1904- The National Child Labor Committee, the first effective lobbying group for reforming child labor conditions, is established in the United States.

1906- Senator Albert Beveridge introduces the first bill in the U.S. Congress to regulate child labor.

1912- The first federal agency devoted expressly to the welfare of children, the U.S. Children's Bureau, is founded.

1916- The U.S. Congress passes and President Woodrow Wilson signs the Keating-Owens Act, the first federal legislation regulating child labor.

1917- In Hammer v. Dagenhart, the U.S. Supreme Court declares the Keating-Owens Act unconstitutional.

1919- The International Labour Organization adopts the Convention Fixing the Minimum Age for Admission of Children to Industrial Employment and the Convention Concerning the Night Work of Young Persons Employed in Industry, which establish minimum employment ages for children in specific industries and places of employment on an international level. Lower minimum ages for child workers in Japan and India are included in both conventions.

1919- The Child Welfare League of America is chartered. 1922 The Young Workers International and the International Union of Socialist Youth Organizations proclaim the Declaration of the Rights of the Adolescent, a set of guidelines for the employment of youth and adolescents, with specific restrictions proposed for the workday, prohibitions on work during preschool and compulsory school age, compulsory medical examinations for young persons prior to employment and reform of the apprenticeship system.

1922- International Council of Women issues its Children's Charter, a declaration based on initial resolutions by Women's Councils in Italy and the United States calling for the development of a charter embodying minimum rights of children in all countries. The Children's Charter includes seven sections: prenatal care, care of mothers and children up to school age, children of school age, children in employment, delinquent children, children's state departments, and international conferences.

1924- The U.S. Congress submits a child labor amendment to the individual states for ratification following signature by President Calvin Coolidge. This amendment would have given Congress the power to pass Federal child labor legislation.

1930- Delegates to the White House Conference on Child Health and Protection prepare the Children's Charter, a set of 19 principles that summarized the recommendations of the conference deliberations and reports. Under the guidance of President Herbert Hoover, the Children's Charter contained key principles in the areas of education, child labor, vocational training, recreation, family welfare, health, growth and development, disabled children, and related areas, including the Bill of Rights for the Handicapped Child.

1933- U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt actively campaigns for child labor laws.

1933- The National Recovery Act includes a prohibition on labor by children under the age of 16.

1936- The Walsh-Healy Act is signed into law, becoming the first legally binding federal legislation to prevent the use of child labor in companies with federal contracts.

1937- 28 states had ratified the proposed federal child labor amendment submitted by Congress to the states in 1924. This total remained 8 states short of ratification.

1938- The Fair Labor Standards Act is signed into law by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, prohibiting the interstate shipment of goods made in firms that employ children under the age of 16, or children under the age of 18 in hazardous occupations.

1941- The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act concerning child labor prohibitions in the case of United States v. Darby.

1943- Child labor laws are relaxed to allow teenagers to work in wartime factories; by 1944, 2.9 million teenagers are employed in such work.

1950- Participants in the Mid-Century Conference on Children and Youth prepare the Pledge to Children, a 19 paragraph set of commitments by adults to children. Continuing the tradition of earlier U.S. public declarations about child welfare, the Pledge to Children contains commitments by adults to children in the areas of promoting education, strengthening family life, safeguarding civil equality and nondiscrimination, improving workplace conditions, enhancing democratic citizenship and institutions, and advocating the development of the child's individual talents and potential.