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"Shorter Hours for Women"

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Massachusetts led the country in regulating the labor of children. In 1842, it restricted child labor in factories to 10 hours a day; by 1874 this was extended to minors under 18 and women. To further restrict the working hours of women and children, in 1900 the commonwealth limited the number of hours they worked per week. This in effect created the weekend, since factories had to either cut down the hours worked per day or give workers whole days off, which is what they eventually did. Despite popular belief, at that time many working class women worked long hours for pay outside the home. The inclusion of women in these laws was part of the general reform movement of the Progressive Era, which sought to protect what they saw as the more vulnerable members of society.


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