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dc.date.accessioned2018-08-23T21:06:21Z
dc.date.available2018-08-23T21:06:21Z
dc.date.created1999
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dc.description[MD] ###Summary Florence Kelley, the child of Judge William Kelley, a Philadelphia Republican and supporter of abolition and women's suffrage, and Caroline Bonsall, a Quaker, had a sense of moral obligation instilled in her from childhood. Her Aunt Sarah, another supporter of abolition and woman's rights, was a profound influence on her. Kelley attended Cornell University, where she was involved in social and political activities. Believing higher education was necessary for women, Kelley was outraged when the University of Philadelphia graduate school rejected her because she was a woman. In 1882 she was accepted into the University of Zurich. While studying, Kelley became an active member of the Social Democratic Party, centered in Zurich. She married Lazare Wischnewetsky, and the couple returned to the U.S. in 1886. Five years in New York brought marital tensions, and in 1891, Florence left for Chicago, where she obtained a divorce. Kelley moved into Hull House, a settlement where educated, socially minded women worked to better the plight of the working class. In 1892, John Peter Altgeld, a labor reform advocate, was elected governor. Through his election and her work at Hull House, Kelley was appointed a special agent of the Illinois Bureau of Labor Statistics to investigate child labor in the state. That same year, the U.S. Commissioner on Commerce and Labor began a study of slums, and entrusted Kelley with the inquiry in the Chicago area. As a result of her work, the state legislature created a Joint Special Committee to investigate labor. Kelley showed investigators the squalid conditions in which women and children worked and urged legislative action. In 1893, Kelley proposed a bill that outlawed the employment of children under 14 in factories, limited the hours that women could work, regulated the conditions of clothing manufacturing and created a Factory Inspection Department. In 1893, the Factory Act was passed, and Kelley was appointed Chief Factory Inspector. In her post, she made the laws known to industrialists and employees, and factories began discharging their child employees. Her staff and funds were too limited, however, to investigate home work as well as factories. As a result, she continued to advocate stricter child labor laws and regulation of home work. The law was successful in regulating the number of hours women worked. Nevertheless, it left many problems unsolved, especially the failure to provide for inspection of machinery and to give inspectors the right to order that safeguards be put in place. A smallpox outbreak in 1893 spelled the beginning of mounting opposition to the Factory Act. Florence's requests to have tenement residents vaccinated and contaminated garments destroyed were ignored until Altgeld threatened an embargo on Chicago-made clothing. The Illinois Manufacturers Association (IMA) agitated against Florence and argued that the Act was unconstitutional. In 1897, Altgeld was defeated by Republican John Tanner, a prominent industrialist, who worked to overturn the Act and appointed another industrialist, Louis Arrington, as Florence's replacement. The IMA found its test case when W.C. Ritchie & Co., a paper box manufacturer, was brought to court for a violation of the women's maximum hours provision of the Act. In The People v. Ritchie (1895), the state Supreme Court struck down that section of the Act as a violation of the right to contract. The court found that the legislation was arbitrary and failed to provide any health or moral benefits in limiting the number of working hours for women. Defeated in the political and judicial arenas, Florence returned to New York in 1899, where she continued working for labor reforms as the General Secretary of the National Consumers League.en-US
dc.format1 pdfen-US
dc.language.isoen_USen-US
dc.titleFrom the Kingdom of Necessity to the Kingdom of Freedom: Florence Kelley and the Illinois Labor Reforms of the 1890sen-US
dc.typeArticleen-US


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