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The National Child Labor Committee, an organization dedicated to the abolition of all child labor, was formed in 1904. By publishing information on the lives and working conditions of young workers, it helped to mobilize popular support for state-level child labor laws. These laws were often paired with compulsory education laws which were designed to keep children in school and out of the paid labor market until a specified age (usually 12, 14, or 16 years.)ti
In 1914 the Arkansas state Federation of Labor placed a child welfare initiative on the ballot prohibiting child labor, which the voters passed.
In 1916, the NCLC and the National Consumers League successfully pressured the US Congress to pass the Keating-Owen Act, the first federal child labor law. However, the US Supreme Courtstruck down the law two years later in Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918), declaring that the law violated a child’s right to contract his or her own labor. In 1924, Congress attempted to pass aconstitutional amendment that would authorize a national child labor law. This measure was blocked, and the bill was eventually dropped.
It took the Great Depression to end child labor nationwide; adults had become so desperate for jobs that they would work for the same wage as children. In 1938, President Franklin D. Rooseveltsigned the Fair Labor Standards Act, which, among other things, placed limits on many forms of child labor.