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John Russell Cutlery Grinding Room Employees
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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John Russell started his cutlery manufacturing business in Greenfield, Massachusetts, about 1834 at the "Green River Works" along the Green River. He moved his business in 1870 to the newly-planned industrial city, Turners Falls, Massachusetts. In 1880, 51% of the people who worked there in factories were employed by the cutlery. In this photograph taken around 1890, there are both men and boys who worked in the Grinding Room. Russell employed a mix of native- and foreign-born workers. Men and boys from Ireland, Germany, and Eastern European countries worked in the cutlery making over 150 kinds of pocket knives among other types of cutlery. By 1899 twenty-eight states, including Massachusetts, had set a minimum age limit of twelve for manufacturing work, and a concerted reform campaign to ban all child labor under the age of sixteen. Around 1900, labor reforms would reduce the number of hours children could work to 58 hours a week.
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