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Shorter Hours for Women.

New Law Affecting Mercantile Establishments--Women and Miners in Turners Falls are Working Beyond Legal Limit--Will not Have Much Effect in Greenfield-- How it Affects Orange.

An amendment to the law fixing the hours of labor for minors and women went into effect July 1st. It is doubtful if it has much effect in Greenfield, but there seems to be reason to think that women and minors are required to work overtime in Turners Falls. By this amendment minors and women in mercantile establishments, that is, stores, can work but 58 hours in each week, except in the month of December, which exception is made on account of the holiday trade. This applies to the stores the same provision that has applied to factories, where, for some years women and minors could work but 58 hours a week.

The dry goods men in Greenfield say that their schedule of hours comes within the the limits of this amendment. There are not many stores in town where minors and women are employed and the shops and factories have been pretty thoroughly regulated by the old law. But at Turners Falls the new law will affect quite a few in the different stores. Some of the women and minors are at present working about 63 or 64 hours per week. The stores now close three nights a week, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday at 6.30, Monday and Wednesday they close at 8 o'clock, but Saturday night they keep open until 10 o'clock and some later.

Most of the proprietors say they would gladly close earlier if the people would only buy in the daytime and not put everything off to Saturday night, as many do at present. No action has been taken as yet, but it is expected the storekeepers will get together and all agree on shorter hours.

The Jonh Russell Cutlery works have been compelled to go on 9 hours time owing to the large number of minors and women employed in their factory, by reason of the old factory law passed some time ago. Mr. Dustin, the treasurer, found it was almost impossible to run on 10 hours time with the help stopping at different hours in the day, so he decided to go on 9 hours time for all.

The new 58 hour law interests nearly every merchant in Orange. At present there are employed in town a score or more persons who come within the scope of this law. The business places close three nights a week at 6 or 6.30 o'clock. The other nights a 9, excepting Saturday, when the closing hour is a little later. Under the present system the number of working hours range about 64. The views of several tradesmen on the subject are that they will look up the law and then endeavor to arrange so they will not violate any part of it. It is the opinion of the merchants that the law would affect the country stores full as much as it would those of the cities.

(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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"Shorter Hours for Women"

publisher   Greenfield Gazette and Courier
date   Jul 14, 1900
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
height   7.5"
width   2.25"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L01.120

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See Also...

"Nine and Ten Years Old- They can earn 40c. in a ten-hour day, but they cannot read."

"Ten Years of Massachusetts"

"Women and Girls Over 18" employment ad in Greenfield's Gazette and Courier newspaper

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