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331.4 
M76a 



A STUDY OF CHICAGO'S STOCKYAPT 
COMMUNITY 



II 

THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE 
STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 



BY 



AN INVESTIGATION CARRIED ON UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE 

BOARD OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO SETTLEMENT 

AND THE CHICAGO ALUMNAE CLUB OF 

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO 



THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS 
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS 






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THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS 
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS 



Agrttta 
THE CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS 

LONDON AND EDINBURGH 

THE MARUZEN-KABUSHIKI-KAISHA 

TOKYO, OSAKA, KYOTO 

KARL W. HIERSEMANN 

LEIPZIG 

THE BAKER & TAYLOR COMPANY 

NEW TOSS 



uct- 

A STUDY OF CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS 
COMMUNITY 



II 

THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE 
STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 



AN INVESTIGATION CARRIED ON UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE 

BOARD OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO SETTLEMENT 

AND THE CHICAGO ALUMNAE CLUB OF 

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO 




THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS 
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS 



COPYRIGHT 1913 BY 
LOUISE MONTGOMERY 



All Rights Reserved 



Published August 1913 



Composed and Printed By 

Tbe Unirersity of Chicago Press 

Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A. 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

V 

PAGE 

INTRODUCTION ................. i 



> 



SECTION I. THE EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS OF THE COMMUNITY . . 2 

1. The Attitude of the Majority ...... . . . . 2 

2. The Attitude of the Minority ........... 6 

3. The Prevailing Attitude in Regard to the Education of Girls . . 7 

SECTION II. THE LOCAL SCHOOLS ........... 8 

1. Public and Parochial Schools ....... .... 8 

2. The Adaptation of the Public School to the Needs of the Girl . 1 1 

a) The Attitude of the Girl to the School ....... n 

b) Continued Interest in Educational Opportunities . . . . 13 

c) The Extent of Retardation and Elimination ...... 15 

SECTION III. THE GIRL AS A WAGE-EARNING CHILD ..... 17 

1. The Attitude of the Parents ......... * . 17 

2. The Method of Finding Work ........... 18 

3. Where the Compulsory Education Law Fails ...... 20 

4. The Family Need .............. 21 

5. Occupations Open to Girls under Sixteen Years of Age ... 23 

6. The Relation of Wage and Occupation to Grade ..... 25 

7. Some Physical, Mental, and Moral Aspects of the Problem . . 28 

8. The Attitude of the Employer .......... 32 

SECTION IV. THE WORKING-GIRL ........... 35 

1. Records of One Hundred Girls Sixteen and Seventeen Years of 
Age Who Did not Complete the Seventh Grade . . . . . 35 

2. Records of Fifty Girls Sixteen and Seventeen Years of Age Who 
Completed Eight Grades ............ 38 

3. Records of One Hundred Girls from Eighteen to Twenty-four 
Years of Age Who Did not Complete the Seventh Grade . . 42 

4. Records of Fifty Girls from Eighteen to Twenty-four Years of 
Age Who Completed Eight Grades ......... 46 

5. Probable Opportunities of the Working-Girl ...... 50 

6. Health in Relation to Occupation .......... 55 

7. The Girl and the Family ............ 57 

v 



vi TABLE OF CONTENTS 

PAGE 

SECTION V. PROBLEMS OF ADJUSTMENT 61 

1. Summary 61 

2. Remedial Measures 62 

a) The Reorganization of the School 63 

b) A Revised Compulsory Education Law 64 

c) A New Attitude to the Problem of Family Poverty ... 65 

d) Preparation for a City-wide Vocational Guidance Program . 66 

e) Adequate Provision for, and Supervision of, Public Places of 
Amusement and Recreation .68 

APPENDIX . 68 



INTRODUCTION 

In the stockyards district, as in every other foreign industrial 
community, the American-born girl lives between two determining 
influences, the unseen traditions of the Old World and the visible 
customs of the New. The foreign parent and the American child 
are under one roof, struggling with the misunderstandings common 
to age and youth but intensified by the natural desire of the one 
to cling to inherited standards and by the strong young will of the 
other to be a vital part of the present generation. It is the purpose 
of this survey to consider some of the phases of this difficult environ- 
ment and in dealing with them to reveal as far as possible the 
mental attitudes of both parent and child as they affect the future 
of the potential woman. 

The 900 families who form the background of the study have 
been known to the University of Chicago Settlement for a period 
extending into the past from one to eight years. The recorded 
facts are recent, having been secured between November i, 1911, 
and September i, 1912. Their interpretation rests, not alone upon 
the statistical evidence of a single investigation, but upon the 
cumulative knowledge gained through eight years of daily contact 
with the life of the neighborhood. Within this group of 900 
families, 500 girls were selected from whom it was possible to 
obtain with a fair degree of accuracy the information needed to 
throw light upon the topics under consideration. No girl who at 
any time has been recorded as defective or delinquent was included 
in the number. Among the parents five foreign peoples pre- 
dominate: Poles, Germans, Bohemians, Irish, and Slovaks. A 
miscellaneous group includes English, Scotch, Dane, Swede, Dutch, 
Lithuanians, and Russian Jews. Of the 500 girls, 458 were born 
in Chicago in the stockyards district, 21 in neighboring states, and 
21 in foreign countries. The 42 girls born outside of Chicago were 
brought to their present homes at so early an age that the general 
conditions and opportunities of the stockyards community have 
been practically the same for them. No attempt was made to 



2 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

draw final conclusions in regard to racial differences under a common 
American environment. Without exception the group of 500 girls 
represents a prevailing type apart from the historical background 
of the parents the first generation in America, struggling to keep 
up with American standards and making every effort to avoid 
being classed as "foreigners." The parents come to America with 
a fixed sense of inherited class distinctions. In a district where 
within a radius of ten blocks one may hear a babel of tongues, a 
confusion arising from the mingled voices of people from twelve 
nations of Europe, there are necessarily different levels of popula- 
tion, distinct social groups which may be either of the same or of 
different racial composition. There are also other groups held 
together by a common feeling of attainment in the New World 
regardless of the place of birth, for in America unification cannot 
depend upon race. The bitter recollection of ancient wars may be 
present. The conquered and the conquering peoples are side by 
side, but the effort to sustain a continued sense of national separa- 
tion is weakened by the daily recognition of an economic status 
which, especially among the young, tends to obliterate the rigid 
old-country standards, prejudices, and traditions, and to substitute 
an unfixed determinant based on changing opportunities. These 
invisible forces so vital in the life of such a community are not 
easily given objective values in tables of statistics. 

The principal topics of inquiry are presented in the following 
order: (i) the educational standards of the community; (2) the 
local schools and their adaptation to needs of the girl; (3) the girl 
as a wage-earning child; (4) the working-girl, her present wage 
and probable opportunities; (5) problems of adjustment. 

SECTION I. THE EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS OF THE 
COMMUNITY 

I. THE ATTITUDE OF THE MAJORITY 

The dominant educational standard of the neighborhood is 
the minimum legal requirement of the state, accepted with little 
protest by the majority, for the people as a whole are essentially 
a law-abiding people. By habit and tradition they bow before 
the accepted order of things. In the absence of higher ideals 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 3 

585, or 65 per cent, 1 of the 900 families take advantage of the 
compulsory age law to fix the limit of the child's schooling. Within 
this group it is possible to make a loose classification of the control- 
ling influences among the parents who maintain this minimum 
standard: (a) the peasant belief that education is the privilege of 
"the upper classes"; (6) the need of money and the ambition to 
own property; (c) the failure of the school to meet the practical 
demands of the working people; (d) the ecclesiastical ideal of edu- 
cation which must permeate a community that is dominantly 
Catholic. This classification is not given to represent exclusive 
boundary lines. It is common to find families both consciously 
and unconsciously governed by two or more or all of these influ- 
ences united. 

a) Among many hard-headed peasants there is the traditional 
feeling that education is a luxury either for the well-to-do or for 
those whom some mysterious power has placed above the common 
people. "You are not a rich American. You need no education 
beyond the law," was the answer of the Slovak mother to the 
daughter who wished to remain hi school until the end of her 
course. "My children belong to the working class," said the 
German father. "Education will spoil them for earning a living 
with the hands." Polish parents who owned a three-story tene- 
ment from which they were collecting sixty dollars a month in 
rentals placed their fourteen-year-old little girl in a factory at 
three dollars a week, not because they were pressed for money, 
but because in the natural order of things she was destined to 
marry a Polish working-man and it would be very unwise to unfit 
her for that position by giving her "the education of a Yankee." 
In more than one-half of the 585 families this underlying sentiment 
rises and falls, sometimes carrying all the weight of an authority 
that has never been questioned, and again overpowered by a sudden 
comprehension of the equal opportunities open to all classes through 
the public schools. 

b) A number much larger than that in the above group find an 
actual need of the child's wages to supplement the earnings of the 

1 The percentage is higher for the neighborhood as a whole. To secure material 
for later comparisons in the wage-earning capacity of girls, a search was made for 
families who had kept their girls in school to complete the elementary course. 



4 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

father. Broadly speaking, when the father's wage falls below two 
dollars a day there is less hope for the extension of the girl's school- 
ing beyond the compulsory age limit, although the neighborhood 
furnishes heroic examples of parental sacrifices proving many excep- 
tions to the rule. In this group of 585 families there are 125 
women widowed, deserted, or with husbands incapacitated for work, 
who are dependent wholly or in part on the wages of their children, 
and the wage of 297 men is steadily below two dollars a day. 

The ambition of the immigrant to own property in America 
is one of his most striking characteristics. For it he will make 
almost unbelievable sacrifices both of his own comfort and of that 
of his wife and children, since the heavily mortgaged house too 
often calls for the united wage-earning power of the entire family. 
"We are building without money," was the reply of the fourteen- 
year-old girl when asked why she was leaving school before com- 
pleting the sixth grade. The strength of this feeling is due in part 
to the natural desire for a home which in the stockyards district 
is intensified by a constant fear of reaching an early 1 old age in 
helpless penury. The possession of a house from which one may 
draw an income is the highest mark of prosperity, just as the 
inability to pay one's rent is the lowest degree of poverty. The 
sacrifice of little girls to this passionate determination to own 
property may be found in any social group, from the undaunted 
widow who takes in washing six days of the week and drives her 
children to any task that will bring in money to meet the payments 
on the four-room cottage, to the thriving saloon-keeper who is 
landlord over a dozen tenants. Thirty-seven of the 125 women who 
must live without the help of the wage-earning man, 138 of the 
297 men who can never command two dollars a day, and 95 of the 
remaining 163 are property-owners. 2 

c) The failure of the elementary school to meet the practical 
needs of an industrial community is recognized by many parents. 

1 Before he is forty years of age the stockyards laborer begins to have a fear of 
being laid off permanently and giving place to younger men. At forty-five he is in 
the ranks of the old men, with a lowered vitality that lessens his chances of employ- 
ment in any capacity. 

1 The important subject of housing as it affects the family life has been purposely 
omitted, as this subject will be considered in forthcoming papers. 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 5 

Although they cannot always define their dissatisfaction, their 
ultimate demand is that educational processes shall be measured 
in terms of economic advantage. With the vague notion that the 
school should bear some relation to the future usefulness of the 
child they often look for concrete results that shall bring immediate 
returns. "Mary left school in the sixth grade and she can bring 
home just as much money as Helen who made all that expense 
for another year to finish the seventh grade," is a characteristic 
comment given as conclusive proof that an added year in school 
has no practical value. A German father who had spent fifteen 
years as an unskilled laborer in the stockyards patiently and 
laboriously pondered the relative value of different courses offered 
in the elementary school and finally decided that even girls need 
a steady job. "Work with the hands is good," he explained, "and 
American education does not give it." A prosperous Bohemian 
who owns three tenement houses has four daughters who bear 
witness to the power of his authority by bringing home a weekly 
wage from department store and factory. Each girl was sent out 
to work at the age of fourteen years because the father firmly 
believed that, in the absence of vocational training in the schools, 
there is no other way of getting a mastery of any occupation. 
In 123, or 21 per cent, of the 585 families the parents expressed a 
desire for some definite training that should furnish either trade or 
business opportunities for girls. This is a small number. More 
than 50 per cent of these same families believe in trade and business 
training for boys. The skilled workers from the older countries 
lament the lack of opportunity to learn a trade in the public schools 
and willingly give their girls to tailors, dressmakers, and milliners 
to work for a nominal wage that merely covers the street-car fare, 
or even pay for places in the sewing trades because they do not 
know that apprenticeship as they conceive of it does not exist in 
America. Parents of this type are ready to make sacrifices for their 
children and frankly say that the need of money or the desire for 
larger gains would not stand in the way of continued schooling 
"of the right kind," as they phrase it. 

d) Among the 900 families 805 feel an obligation to send their 
children to the parochial school for a part of their training. The 



6 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

feeling arises from a deep religious conviction that conquers even 
those who recognize the greater practical value of the work of the 
public school. In many families the confirmation of the child 
is the triumphant end of his term of schooling, although this 
religious ceremony may take place at the close of the fourth or 
fifth grade. "She has finished school," is the simple reply to a 
challenge of the idle fourteen-year-old girl, or to the suggestion 
that more training would be advisable, but in the mind of both 
parents and child this statement relates to the confirmation only. 
An ideal is established therefore, based primarily on a religious 
conception of education which enables the parents to hold a con- 
sciousness of high achievement as the result of having met the 
minimum educational requirement of the Catholic church. 

2. THE ATTITUDE OF THE MINORITY 

Apart from the group of parents who from one motive or 
another accept the compulsory age limit as their educational 
standard is another group made up of those who look beyond the 
law. In 315 families one or more of the children had completed 
the elementary public-school course and in a few there was an 
ambition for high school or business college. Often fathers and 
mothers had a vague notion of putting their children "beyond 
their parents" and labored to that end with the patient hope that 
schooling would do it. Just how this was going to be accomplished 
they could not explain. As a Bohemian laborer of the stock- 
yards expressed it, "People who have learned nothing do the dirty 
work of the world. I want my children to have a chance at a clean 
job. That's why I send them to school." At the birth of his first 
child, a. little girl, a Polish carpenter bought an English dictionary 
and began paying for an encyclopedia on the instalment plan 
because he meant to educate his children and he knew that "edu- 
cated people always have books around." A strong conviction 
that continued schooling would be best for the child sometimes 
conquered extreme poverty. An Irish mother denied herself 
sufficient food that she might pay the cost of sending two children 
to the high school, and it is not uncommon to find women taking 
in washing to meet the tuition of a six months' course in a business 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 7 

college. We have seen that in the first group of 585 families, 
422 are struggling with a poverty that makes the wage-earning 
child a probable necessity. Although the prosperous financial 
condition of the family is by no means a guaranty of a higher 
educational standard, broadly speaking again, when the father's 
wage is above the two-dollar-a-day limit there is less haste in 
getting the children into temporary occupations and a little more 
intelligent consideration of their future. In 180, or 57 per cent, 
of the 315 families the wage or income of the father alone is steadily 
above two dollars a day. For 92, or 51 per cent, of the 180 families 
the father's income is above $825.00 a year; and $825.00 a year, 
according to the standards of the neighborhood, is considered a very 
comfortable living. This emphasis is laid upon the position of the 
head of the family because in the majority of cases it is his earning 
power, and not a temporary income from boarders, lodgers, rentals, 
or the mother's work, that determines when the child shall leave 
school. 

3. THE PREVAILING ATTITUDE IN REGARD TO THE EDUCATION 

OF GIRLS 

The educational standards of the foreign home as outlined 
above influence the future of both boys and girls, but in the stock- 
yards district it is necessary to take into consideration a point of 
view that affects girls as a separate class. The fundamental idea 
that the education of the girl is a matter of much less importance 
than the education of the boy is accepted without question in all 
of the 900 families. A well-to-do Polish landlord who doubted 
the advisability of sending his fourteen-year-old daughter to the 
high school told with pride of the plans he had in mind for the 
university training of his son who was then playing in a kinder- 
garten. A kindly and indulgent father, he had no reason for making 
this distinction except his negative attitude toward the education 
of women. "If a girl is very smart," said a Lithuanian mother, 
"it is well to keep her in school, but when she is not so she must 
make money before the marriage tune comes." That marriage 
is the ultimate goal of the girl admits of no argument in the com- 
munity. This state requires no special schooling and it will come 



8 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

early in life. In the families hard pressed by poverty, the girl is 
made to feel that she must earn money enough to make some cash 
return for her bringing up. In the probable event of an early 
marriage, prolonging her school time shortens the period of her life 
when she is paying this debt. However, it does not follow that all 
girls are neglected. There are subtle influences that may tem- 
porarily obscure a fundamental ideal and give the girl a permanent 
advantage. Among those who completed the elementary-school 
course 40 possessed an unusual cleverness that enabled them to 
finish before the age of fourteen. The only daughter or the 
youngest girl in the family may be given the exceptional chance 
to extend her school life a year or more into the high school, not 
always from any definite conviction of the parents in regard to 
the needs of the girl but rather as a matter of indulgence. Espe- 
cially is this true in families where the income is sufficient, $825.00 
a year or more, and there is a desire to protect the girl at home and 
keep her from the limited field of industry which a few parents 
now recognize is the only field open to the girl under sixteen years 
of age. Still the fact remains that in a community of compara- 
tively low educational standards there is an underlying thought 
which both consciously and unconsciously assigns to the girl a 
position inferior to that of her brother. 



SECTION II. THE LOCAL SCHOOLS 
I. PUBLIC AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS 

The 900 families live within the district boundaries of three 
public schools, 1 the Hamline, the Hedges, and the Seward. The 
combined membership of these schools at the close of September, 
1912, was 1,273 boys and 1,222 girls. They are subject to the 
general course of study outlined for all of the elementary public 
schools of the city. Cooking and sewing are the only occupational 
subjects provided for girls and there are as yet no opportunities 

1 The Hamline School contains an open-air room, a dental room, and provides 
special instruction for subnormal children. The Seward School has two special rooms 
set apart, one for subnormal children, and one for truants and other children who 
need individual attention. 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 




MAP SHOWING THE LOCATION or PUBLIC AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS 



1. Seward Public School. 

2. Hedges Public School. 

3. Hamline Public School. 

4. Sacred Heart, Polish Catholic School. 

5. St. Joseph, Polish Catholic School. 

6. St. John of God, Polish Catholic School. 

7. St. Rose of Lima, Irish Catholic School. 



8. St. Michael, Slovak Catholic School. 

9. Holy Cross, Lithuanian Catholic School. 

10. S. S. Cyrill and Methodius, Bohemian Catholic School, 
n. St. Augustine, German Catholic School. 

12. St. Martinni, German Lutheran School. 

13. Lake Public High School. 



10 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

for vocational courses. 1 The Lake High School 2 offers the usual 
studies with the exception that the course in household arts is 
omitted owing to the lack of a sufficient number of girls to form 
classes in subjects designed to equip the homemaker. At the 
close of September, 1912, the membership was 459 boys and 307 
girls. The one evening school of the neighborhood, which is open 
four evenings in the week for twenty weeks of the year, offers 
optional classes in cooking and sewing for girls over fourteen years 
of age and provides special instruction for foreigners who wish to 
learn the English language. It also gives all pupils who did not 
complete the eighth grade a chance to make up that loss. The 
total enrolment for the season closing March 13, 1913, was 511 
men and boys and 102 women and girls. 

Within this same boundary or closely adjacent to it there are 
nine parochial schools (eight Catholic and one German Lutheran) 
that draw pupils from the population of these public-school districts. 
At the close of September, 1912, the total membership 3 was about 
5,722. No adequate information is on record of the work of the 
parish schools, of the relative amount of time spent in teaching 
the English language nor of the number of subjects which the 
pupils are required to accept in a foreign tongue. No study of the 
parochial school child has been made. In the absence of an exact 
card system which records the work of the pupil from the beginning 
to the end of his school life we have no data from which to draw 
conclusions. There is a constant movement between the public and 
the parochial school, and the number of years any child spends in 
each depends upon the family standards. Some ambitious parents 
appreciate the loss involved in the change and give to the parochial 

1 For the present the elementary industrial course for grades 6, 7, and 8 (adopted 
June 29, 1911) is offered only on the special permission of the superintendent and in 
districts where the demand is sufficient to call for four divisions of pupils. 

a The Lake High School offers special vocational courses for over-age boys from 
grades 6, 7, and 8 of the elementary schools. Eighty boys were transferred to these 
courses in September, 1912. No such provision is made for girls. They may be 
admitted to the Lucy Flower Technical High School, but the distance which requires 
car-fare makes this school prohibitive for those whose need is greatest. 

s The figures for seven of these schools are given in the official Catholic Directory 
for 1912. Membership by sex is not given. 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT II 

school the minimum time required. To this group may be added 
many who are too poor to carry the burden of continued tuition. 
A large number are loyal to the parochial school as an institution 
and send their children to the public school only after confirmation. 
At present all that can be said in fairness is that in the problems 
of retardation and elimination the parochial school plays a part 
that has never been fully examined. 

2. THE ADAPTATION OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOL TO THE NEEDS 

OF THE GIRL 

The public-school teachers work under a serious handicap. 
In a community of low educational standards they are dealing 
largely with children who either have begun or must end their formal 
education in a parochial school, or at best are obliged to interrupt 
the public-school course with a year of absence. However, there 
are three legitimate methods of testing the success of the present 
school system: (a) the attitude of the girl to the school; (b) her 
continued interest in educational opportunities; (c) the extent of 
retardation and elimination. 

a) The attitude of the girl to the school. To what extent girls 
would be able to rise above the level of the home under a different 
school system cannot at present be estimated. Tfhat the school as 
it stands today has too little power in drawing their voluntary 
attendance is the conclusion based on the combined testimony of 
teachers, parents, and children. Of 300 girls who left school 
before completing the elementary course, 195, or 65 per cent, were 
below the seventh grade. Of the entire number only twelve went 
unwillingly, forced to do so by the purely commercial attitude of 
their parents. Two hundred and eighty-eight, or 96 per cent, had 
a more or less pronounced dislike of school, as shown by their trivial 
reasons for leaving and by the eagerness with which they welcomed 
the first opportunity to escape and go to work for a meager wage. 
Since the possession of an eighth-grade certificate is a matter, of 
pride, it is not surprising to find a larger number among the so-called 
"graduates" who expressed a cheerful or even an enthusiastic 
attitude toward the school. There are certain types for whom the 
everyday life of the school runs smoothly. They are bright and 



12 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

secure their promotions easily, they are sociable and find friends, 
they are tractable and submit to the discipline of a routine which, 
if sometimes irksome, is on the whole a part of a happy childhood. 
Of the 200 girls who are now proud of having completed the ele- 
mentary course, 102, or 51 per cent, liked school. Ninety-eight 
disliked it and if they had been allowed to follow their own childish 
inclinations would have left at the earliest opportunity. The 
parents who compelled 98 girls to complete the eighth grade told 
many a tale of their trials. "Don't talk to me of high school," 
said a father. " It's been all I'm worth to drive my children through 
the first school." " My girls won't take education easily," explained 
the mother of three daughters with unconscious irony, "because 
they're all so strong they like something to do." 

The girl's dislike of school is not grounded in any discriminating 
analysis of the situation, and her feeling is often exaggerated 1 by 
the natural restlessness of this period of youth which brings the 
desire for new fields of endeavor more alluring because remote and 
untried. To secure some understanding of the attitude of the 
older girl who has had her chance to gratify this childish longing 
the simple question, "What did you learn in school that has 
helped you to earn a living?" was put to 200 working girls of 
the first group and to 100 of the second group who are between 
sixteen and twenty-four years of age. One-half of the first 
group replied, "Nothing." The other half gave, in about equal 
proportion, reading, writing, arithmetic, and "English when it 
helps you to talk well." One thoughtful girl realized the gist 
of the matter when she said, "Nothing helps me much because I 
had so little of it." The vague notion that training of some kind 
might increase their earning capacity was revealed in a few answers. 
As one girl sadly put it, "After we get out and try working a couple 
of years we find we need something we haven't got. Maybe it's 
education. Whatever it is, we don't know how to get it." The 
100 girls of the second group, being eighth-grade graduates and 
engaged largely in commercial work, gave the same list of studies 

1 One girl threatened to kill herself if she were forced to stay in school and cheer- 
fully accepted the alternative of rising at six o'clock in the morning to be ready for a 
position in a tailor-shop where she could earn three dollars a week. 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 13 

but emphasized the value of spelling and grammar. An effort 
was also made to discover whether education meant greater 
efficiency, joy in work, or any other satisfaction apart from money 
values. The revelations were pathetic. For the girls who had 
missed the benefit of the complete course the school was something 
altogether remote. It had taught them the " fundamentals," read- 
ing, writing, and figuring, which all agreed are a necessity in any 
position. Beyond this service the school was in no way related to 
the business of living as they had experienced it. The "graduates" 
invariably gave some credit to school discipline and training regard- 
less of their feelings at the time when they were a part of it. A few 
had found pleasure in the mental activity of the high school or the 
business college. For the greater number a longer period in school 
meant an opportunity to enter that respectable form of occupation 
known as " the office job." These positions are held in exaggerated 
esteem throughout the entire neighborhood and, by giving a cer- 
tain "upper class" quality to the girls who secure them, add to the 
value of the conventional requirements of the school. 

It is not possible to draw exact conclusions from evidence of 
this character, yet it has a certain suggestive value. Judged by 
the personal feelings of girls, there is too little joy in the present 
formal processes of education. From the testimony of the older 
girls, it is evident that the school leaves but slight impression upon 
those who fail to receive the benefit of a complete elementary course. 

b) Continued interest in educational opportunities. It has been 
a widely accepted notion in the past that pupils may take advantage 
of the evening school to compensate in a measure for their failure 
to secure the needed training of the eight grades. The principal 
who has had ten years of experience in the evening school of the 
neighborhood states that few girls care for what he calls "regular 
class work." One wishes to make a shirt waist, another would like 
to trim a hat, a third asks for the teacher's help in fitting a skirt, 
and a few enjoy the sociability of a cooking class. The majority 
are seeking a pleasant evening, the free use of a sewing-machine, 
and some immediate practical returns for their time, but do not 
take kindly to technical instruction in any subject. During the 
past year two girls completed in the evening school the required 



14 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

studies of the elementary course and at the present writing are 
candidates for the eighth-grade certificate. No other cases are 
on record. In the first group of 300 girls there are 18 who attended 
the evening sessions for one season. Only 15 have been willing to 
spend their evenings at the Settlement in cooking, sewing, or millin- 
ery classes. Two ambitious girls paid $50.00 and $60.00 respec- 
tively for special courses in sewing, one to a private dressmaker 
and the other to a "college of dressmaking." Of the three girls 
who went to business college, two gave it up before the end of the 
six months' course because of deficient preparation in English. The 
third, after spending six months in the college, and three months 
in searching for an opening, surrendered in bitter disappointment 
and went into a bookbindery, though she innocently insisted that 
she might have been a stenographer if anyone had been willing to 
give her a position. This is the record of 38 girls who made the 
effort to secure systematic training in some form after leaving school. 
For the remaining 262, when the school granted the work certificate 
it was equivalent to a dismissal from all active educational interests. 
It is evident that even the American-born girl of the community 
cannot make up for a deficient education by taking class instruction 
after working-hours. 1 Yet these girls are not stupid. They are 2 
handicapped in many ways. Work from eight to ten hours a day 
taxes their strength; neither their ambitions nor their special apti- 
tudes and interests have been stimulated to the point of making 
further attendance at school seem desirable. Moreover, the inde- 
pendent effort expected of those who voluntarily attend special 
classes is too often beyond their capacity because they have missed 
the training and discipline they should have received at an earlier 
age. 

In the second group of 200 girls, 19 attended the Lake High 

1 The new compulsory education law of Ohio, in effect May, 1910, recognizes the 
need of part-time day schools for working children between fourteen and sixteen years 
of age who have not completed the eighth grade. Evening-school hours may not be 
accepted as a substitute. 

2 In his study of the educational status of working boys, Mr. Ristine found that 
"boys of the eighth grade were superior to those of the seventh, as were those of the 
seventh superior to the sixth" (.4 report on Vocational Training in Chicago and in Other 
Cities by a Committee of the City Club of Chicago, p. 277). As far as the writer knows, 
no similar tests have been given to girls. 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 15 

School for periods ranging from three months to three years. (One 
remained three years, and six stayed two years.) Twenty-four 
were in the high school at the time this investigation was in process. 
Thirty-four went to business college for periods ranging from two 
months to one year. Five are in business college at the present 
writing. Five had given one winter to the evening school but not 
one had attended the domestic classes at the Settlement. This 
makes a total of 87 out of 200 in contrast to the 38 out of 300 who 
tried to take advantage of educational opportunities open to them 
after leaving the elementary school. This difference in favor of the 
eighth-grade graduate is due in part to a greater freedom from 
financial pressure, but in a larger measure to the school training 
that made a profitable continuation of any line of study possible. 

c) The extent of retardation and elimination. The recent con- 
clusion that the instruction given in the eight grades of the ele- 
mentary school is better fitted to the needs of the girl than to the 
nature of the boy is based upon AyresV investigation showing the 
relative distribution of boys and girls in the grades, and the greater 
percentage of retardation and elimination among boys. He finds 
that "retardation among boys in elementary schools is 13 per cent 
more prevalent than among girls"; also that "the proportion of 
girls who remain to the final elementary grade is 17 per cent greater 
than the proportion of boys who remain." Accepting the method 
of computation used by Ayres, Mr. Wreidt, 2 in his study of the pub- 
lic schools of Chicago, finds that for the city as a whole there is 
15 per cent more retardation among boys than among girls and 
also that the percentage of girls in the first grade who remain to 
enter the eighth is 15 per cent greater than the percentage of boys. 
He accepts Ayres's conclusion that the present school system is 
"better suited to the needs of the girls than to those of the boys." 

This conclusion is not wholly true for the district under con- 
sideration. The following tables present retardation and elimina- 
tion figures 3 for three public schools. 

1 Ayres, Laggards in Our Schools, p. 158. 

2 A Report on Vocational Training in Chicago and in Other Cities by a Committee of 
the City Club of Chicago, pp. 31-32. 

3 Based on the age and grade records of pupils at the time of their first enrolment 
during the school year 1910-11. The method of computation is that used by Ayres 



i6 



CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 



TABLE I 

PERCENTAGE OF RETARDED PUPILS AMONG BOYS AND AMONG GIRLS IN THREE 

LOCAL SCHOOLS 



School 


Boys 


Girls 


Difference in Favor 
of the Girls 


Hamline 


33.6 


23 


IO 6 


Hedges 


26.6 


21 . 


A 7 


Seward 


34.6 


32.8 


I 8 










Average of percentages .... 


31.6 


25-9 


5-7 



In each school there is more retardation among boys than among 
girls. Since the average percentage of retardation is 31.6 among 
boys and 25.9 among girls, taking the percentage of retardation 
among girls as a basis, we find that retardation among boys is 22 
per cent greater than among girls. 

TABLE II 

PERCENTAGE OF BOYS AND GIRLS RETAINED TO THE EIGHTH GRADE IN THREE 

LOCAL SCHOOLS 



Schools 


Percentage of Boys 
Retained to the 
Eighth Grade 


Percentage of Girls 
Retained to the 
Eighth Grade 


Difference in Favor 
of the Boys 


Hamline 


30 


27 


3 


Hedges 


35. 1 


28.1 


7-4 


Seward 


32 


23.4 


8.6 










Average of Percentages .... 


32.5 


26.2 


6-3 



In each school a greater percentage of boys than of girls is 
retained to the eighth grade, the difference in favor of the boys 
being 6 . 3 per cent. Taking the percentage of girls retained to the 

in presenting the relative amounts of retardation and elimination among boys and 
girls in fifteen cities. The results differ slightly from those obtained by securing the 
percentage of retardation and elimination for the three schools together according to 
the method of computation used above to obtain the percentage for each school sepa- 
rately. The results obtained in computing retardation must vary according to the 
method employed and the time in the school year at which the statistics are gathered. 
Ayres has pointed out the difference between figures on record in September and 
those on record in June even in the same city; also the difference between figures 
gathered on the basis of total enrolment and those gathered at a given date in the 
school year. 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 17 

eighth grade as a basis, we find that the proportion of boys who 
remain in school to enter the eighth grade is 24 per cent greater 
than the proportion of girls who remain. These figures show a 
condition for the three local schools the reverse of that revealed in 
other investigations in which a higher percentage of retardation is 
naturally followed by a higher percentage of elimination. Not all 
of the pupils retained to the eighth grade remain to complete the 
course. A count was made of the number of children who received 
eighth-grade certificates from the three schools during a period 
of six years. From September, 1906, to July, 191 2, 1 249 boys and 
213 girls are so recorded. Judged by the extent of retardation, 
the tendency of the girls of the stockyards district is the same as 
that of girls everywhere. They are meeting the demands of the 
American public-school system more easily than their brothers. In 
spite of this fact, the percentage of elimination among the girls is 
greater than that found in Chicago as a whole and in other cities of 
which we have similar records. 

It is not possible to push the logic of Ayres to the conclusion 
that these local schools retain to the eighth grade and also 
graduate a higher percentage of boys because the work offered is 
better suited to their needs. The explanation seems to lie in the 
educational standards of the community which, as we have seen, 
regard the education of the boy as a matter of more consequence 
than the education of the girl. 

SECTION III. THE GIRL AS A WAGE-EARNING CHILD 
I. THE ATTITUDE OF THE PARENTS 

The political and religious conflicts of the older nations have had 
little influence in determining either the character or the extent of 
immigration to the stockyards district. With few exceptions, 
these foreign people came to America with the hope of improving 
their financial condition. Many brought with them the simple 

1 During the same period 14 boys and 2 girls, who had previously graduated from 
the Seward or the Hamline schools, completed a four-year course at the Lake High 
School. One boy and one girl, both from the Hamline School, finished the two-year 
business course. No boy or girl from the Hedges School has completed any course at 
the Lake High School. No records were secured from the Catholic High School 
located at Wallace and Forty-fifth streets. 



i8 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

conviction that in the New World there are vast spaces in which 
may be found unlimited opportunities to work at relatively high 
wages. It must be remembered also that there is no economic 
surplus which makes the idle woman possible. From necessity 
neither women nor children are exempt from labor of some kind and 
there is no sentiment in the community that favors their existence 
as an unproductive class. The ever-present thought of the girl's 
early marriage renders the careful choice of an occupation unneces- 
sary. As a natural result of this point of view, the immediate 
money value of any position open to little girls is too often the first 
consideration, in entire disregard of disastrous effects that may 
follow in the physical, mental, or moral life of the child. Yet 
the foreign mothers who appear to accept as a matter of course 
demoralizing conditions of employment for their daughters are 
not necessarily brutal in other relations with them. The women 
are vigorous', hard headed, and practical, and to them belongs the 
difficult task of making ends meet. Moreover, they are altogether 
ignorant of the city outside of their very limited round, for the 
majority who innocently send their little girls to look for work 
"down town somewhere" have never done a day's shopping beyond 
the two or three blocks on Ashland Avenue where the department 
stores supply all of their needs. Fathers too often have no knowl- 
edge of opportunities other than those of the packing industry 
where they are employed. Many a father who persistently refuses 
even in the face of poverty to secure a place for his daughter in 
the "Yards" because he has some understanding of the conditions 
there, will unwittingly expose her to greater dangers in remote 
industries of which he knows nothing. Men and women are facing 
unknown conditions, a strange language, and an unwonted freedom. 
They look back to their own childhood of early hard labor in the 
small village or the open field and justify the work of their children 
in the city factory. It is a complex situation for simple minds, 
and a confusion of standards is inevi table. 

2. THE METHOD OF FINDING WORK 

Since parents lack a constructive knowledge of the occupations 
open to their daughters, the girls are thrown upon their own limited 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 19 

resources. The first information often comes from a neighbor's 
daughter who knows the wage of the beginner in the place where 
she herself is working. With this one fact only as a guide the girl 
may make an application in person with no thought of her fitness 
for the place and no knowledge that a vacancy exists. Assistance 
of this kind from friends or relatives can have no positive value 
without a point of view which they do not possess. The best 
employment offices do not care to handle child labor. Boys some- 
times resort to them, but little girls, being less daring and more 
economical, will not promise the first week's wages for the sake of a 
position which others have found with no expense. The only 
intelligent assistance has come from a few school teachers who have 
voluntarily followed a limited number of children beyond the door of 
the schoolhouse, and from the Settlement, which has always made 
an effort to keep in touch with groups of young people. However, 
there is another factor to be reckoned with in the problem of super- 
vision. The escape from the discipline of school often brings a 
sudden recognition of an unaccustomed freedom that may be used 
without question. Girls have been known to avoid the Settlement 
for fear of being advised to return to school, or of missing the chance 
to go to the heart of the city. Untrained girls of this age and type 
are essentially gregarious and they blindly follow this instinct. If 
one finds a place in a factory on the West Side of the city, a dozen 
others in her block will follow if possible in spite of the inconvenient 
distance and an altogether undesirable occupation. The haphazard 
way of finding work has its attractions and appears to offer wide 
opportunities. Day after day groups of little girls go the round of 
one factory after another, pitifully ignorant of a condition that 
makes the field of industry into which they seek an entrance always 
overcrowded with applicants of their kind, and feeling only a cer- 
tain childish wonder and joy in the roar of a great city. Often they 
spend weeks following the incomplete and misleading advertise- 
ments of the newspapers, usually finding that the positions call for 
girls beyond their years and ability, and it is not impossible to find 
them walking up and down State Street, leaving a poorly written 
application for work at the several department stores and even 
stopping men and women with an eager request for "a job some- 



20 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

where." In all this there is a pleasurable excitement if it does not 
last too long and a cheap position results from their wanderings. 

In such a manner and with no preparation little girls go from the 
comparative protection of the school and the home to gain their 
first experiences as wage-earners. The opportunities for indis- 
cretions and follies at the close of many such days of unguided 
freedom in a large city must not be underestimated. 

3. WHERE THE COMPULSORY EDUCATION LAW FAILS 

The first group of 300 girls contains 185 who found immediate 
occupation. (This does not mean steady employment.) Forty- 
two were taken out of school by busy mothers who demanded the 
sacrifice of the fourteen-year-old girl to the care of younger children. 
The remaining 73 were idle for periods ranging from four months 
to one year. Their record showed futile and unintelligent efforts to 
find work, repeated to the point of discouragement and exhaustion 
but relieved by weeks at home, for not one of the 73 girls thought of 
returning to school and not one was compelled to do so. They had 
taken out their "working papers," and so final is this legal possession 
of the work certificate that in spite of the failure to secure employ- 
ment few girls 1 return to school after this certificate has been granted. 
Although the law calling for the alternative of school in the event 
of unemployment may be enforced when boys are concerned, it 
is practically a dead letter for the girls of the district because they 
may always put forth the officially honored excuse of being "needed 
at home," in spite of the fact that this usually means no positive 
training and many hours of idleness on the street. Omitting the 
185 who succeeded in obtaining some kind of temporary position 
without loss of time after leaving school, there remain 115 for whom 
the work certificate meant a license to be idle regardless of the fact 
that they had failed to complete even the seventh grade of the 
elementary school. The defect lies both in the law and in the lack 
of machinery for enforcing it. As long as children are allowed the 

1 One of the truant officers of wide experience says it is impossible to make a 
successful court case of the girl after she is fourteen years of age. If the mother 
appears and swears that she needs the child at home the judge accepts this as "being 
employed." 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 21 

independent possession of their working papers, 1 educational over- 
sight in a large city is impossible. 

4. THE FAMILY NEED 

The customary method of considering the entire income of 
the family at the time when the child leaves school in order to deter- 
mine the extent to which the economic pressure is responsible 
for his leaving is likely to be misleading when applied to the people 
of the stockyards district. Many families will show for a period of 
two or three years an abundant income due entirely to the wages 
of several children. But it must be remembered that these same 
children did not grow up with this plenty nor are they going to 
remain long at home to add to the common purse. The older son 
who may be earning ten dollars a week makes larger personal 
demands as he nears his majority, and resents being asked to con- 
tribute what he considers an undue share to the family for no other 
reason than to prolong the education of a girl. The older daughter 
who is more capable of such sacrifices finds it difficult to surrender 
her desire for social pleasures to a kind of training for the younger 
children which she did not herself receive. The small sums a 
mother may earn by taking in either washing or boarders are often 
needed to meet some unusual drain upon the family like sickness 
or burial expenses. The income derived from rentals is usually 
applied on the mortgage and does not count in the apparent surplus, 
for at all times the need of keeping up the payments on a house 
outweighs the need of keeping a child in school. The following 
tables present the wage-earning power of the head of the family as 
the important steady economic factor in the lives of the 500 girls 
under consideration. For the men here represented there has been 
little variation in wages during the past eight or ten years except 
that due to the irregular employment common to the neighborhood. 
That is, the men who are now recorded at two dollars a day and 
less have been steadily in the ranks of those who can never command 

1 The Ohio law recognizes this fact effectively. In case the child is either dis- 
missed or voluntarily withdraws, the employer is obliged to return the work certificate 
to the superintendent of schools. The return of the certificate at once calls attention 
to the fact that the child is not employed and must be followed by the truant or other 
special officer. 



22 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

more even when opportunities to work are abundant, and who have 
never had a year of "full time." Wage-earners above this level 
include the more skilled workmen who have had fairly steady 
employment. Those considered "successful" can depend upon an 
income of $825 . oo a year and more. This last group is made up of 
skilled workmen, foremen, and small merchants (including saloon- 
keepers) who have made financial gains since they came to the 
neighborhood. 

TABLE III 

THE ECONOMIC POSITION OF THE HEADS' OF FAMILIES WHO ALLOWED THREE 
HUNDRED GIRLS TO LEAVE SCHOOL BEFORE COMPLETING 
THE SEVENTH GRADE 

Number of women" Wage 

62 Irregular: $i . oo a day and less 

Number of men 

112 Below $2.00 a day 

24 $2 . oo a day 

47 $2 . 01 to $2 . 60 a day 

21 Successful 

TABLE IV 

THE ECONOMIC POSITION OF THE HEADS* OF FAMILIES WHO ALLOWED 
Two HUNDRED GIRLS TO COMPLETE EIGHT GRADES 

Number of women Wage 

25 Irregular: $i . oo a day and less 

Number of men 

37 Below $2 . oo a day 

17 $2.00 a day 

47 ' $2 . 01 to $2 . 60 a day 

63 Successful 

The contrast needs little comment. If it is necessary for the 
head of the family to command with a fair degree of regularity over 

1 There is not an exact correspondence between the number of heads of families 
and the number of girls, since some families furnished more than one girl. 

Although no effort was made to study racial characteristics, the following figures 
showing the nationality of the father given by the 300 girls are suggestive: Poles, 70; 
Germans, 89; Irish, 51; Bohemians, 43; Miscellaneous, 27; Slovaks, 20. 

3 The woman's wage is difficult to estimate. The figures do not mean that she 
never earns above $i . oo in a given day. When the woman is thrown upon her own 
resources, her average earnings are usually between $5 . oo and $6 . oo a week. 

3 The following figures show the nationality of the father given by the 200 girls: 
German, 61; Bohemians, 58; Irish, 48; Poles, 13; Miscellaneous, 20. 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 23 

$2.00 a day in order to keep the children in school, then less than 
26 per cent of the first group should be expected to do it. That 
this wage is one of the important determining factors seems evident 
from the 58 per cent of the second group who are above the $2 .00- 
a-day limit. The remaining 42 per cent represent families where 
ambition conquered poverty, where the mother took on the added 
burden of a supplementary wage-earner, or where the girl was able 
to complete her course either below or close to the age of fourteen 
years. 

5. OCCUPATIONS OPEN TO GIRLS UNDER SIXTEEN YEARS OF AGE 

The little girls of the stockyards district are found in the 
factory, the bookbindery, the department store, domestic service, 
the sewing trades, typewriting and stenography, and occasionally 
in the laundry. The factory positions are those in which the quick 
and delicate touch of the girls' fingers are required. These include 
wrapping or packing all small articles like soap and toilet prepara- 
tions, confectionery, chewing-gum, crackers, and chipped beef, or 
tending some of the simpler machines similar to those of a box 
factory. The bookbindery offers only mechanical work like sorting 
and folding, or operating a simple machine. The laundry has a 
few easy positions like shaking out clothes and marking them, but 
the other hand work as well as the operation of the machines requires 
the strength of the older girls. The department store stands next 
to the factory in the list of occupations accessible and considered 
desirable. Many little girls have a nervous dread of being near a 
factory machine, and to them the work in the store seems easy and 
attractive. Here there are places as cash girl, wrapper, assistant 
in the stockroom, or inspector. The girl under sixteen is seldom 
found in the position of clerk, but she often looks with envy upon 
the girl behind the counter and clings to her poor little job with 
the hope of advancement. Domestic service and the sewing trades 
furnish the ideal opening according to the simpler standards of 
foreign parents. From their point of view, the time-honored house- 
hold occupations of women may be practiced outside of the home 
with dignity and a fair remuneration. The American-born girl 
does not accept this standard. Although the parents sometimes 



24 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

prevail with the younger ones, the positions of the older girls 
prove that there has been a general tendency to leave domestic 
service and even the sewing trades to the immigrants. These 
last occupations are usually regarded as the time-serving of the 
apprentice who is learning a trade. A partial truth obscures the 
real situation which does not admit of any positive training to the 
child who is "minding a baby" and which often compels girls in a 
dressmaking establishment to spend months in clipping and pulling 
basting-threads or in delivering packages to customers. 1 The undue 
importance attached to the office position has been mentioned. 
This term may be used to dignify any kind of indoor routine in 
mercantile and other business establishments from folding circulars 
and addressing envelopes to typewriting. 

It is difficult to classify the above positions either with reference 
to the relative amount of skill they require or by their opportunities 
for advancement. With the possible exception of stenography, 
typewriting, and some requirements of the office position, they 
represent what is by common consent looked upon as "girls' 
work." The boy is not found in these positions for three reasons: 
he scorns the low wage which the little girl endures as her birth- 
right; by nature he cares less for details and will not do his work 
with the same niceness and dexterity, and he seldom submits to the 
"speeding-up process " of the piece-work system which is common in 
factories and upon which the possibility of increased wages usually 
depends. The greater docility of the girl added to her temporary 
attitude toward any employment renders her an easy victim. No 
preparation is exacted for entrance into these occupations, little 
time is required in learning the simple processes or duties involved, 
and few of them lead to openings calling for skill beyond that of 
speed or mechanical dexterity. There are always a limited number 
who by strength of character, persistency, or the native possession 
of some unusual ability may rise to positions of responsibility. To 
what extent the above occupations open such opportunities will 
be revealed in the records of the older girls. 

1 A girl apprenticed to a milliner for one year spent her entire time in delivering 
hats. A Polish woman gave a tailor $25 .00 to secure for her daughter a year's train- 
ing in his shop. At the end of six months the girl was still pulling basting threads 
as a preliminary to the instruction to be given later. 




AT WORK IN A CANDY FACTORY 




TJ'I 



BOX FACTORY GIRLS 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 25 
6. THE RELATION OF WAGE AND OCCUPATION TO GRADE 

Although the first position a girl secures is so often a matter of 
accident, the relation of wage and occupation to grade as revealed 
in the following tables is suggestive. 

TABLE V 

GIRLS BEGINNING WORK UNDER SIXTEEN YEARS OF AGE 
SEVENTH GRADE NOT COMPLETED 



KIND OF WORK 


No. OF 
GIRLS 


BEGINNING WEEKLY WAGE BY OCCUPATION 


$ -so 


$1 .00 


$1.50 


It. 75 


$2.00 


$2.5 


$3.00 


$3.30 


$4.00 


$4-5 


$5.00 


$6.00 


Bindery 


9 
63 
26 
108 
5 
5 
13 
29 




2 


i 

i 
i 


I 
II 


9 


23 

4 

i 


2 

16 
6 

45 


I 

9 

2 
II 


3 

2 
2 
38 

I 


i 

4 

i 


i 
i 

7 
3 


I 


Store 1 


Domestic 


Factory 


Laundry . 


Millinery . 




3 


i 






I 






Office 


2 
12 


.1 

3 


2 

3 




7 

2 


I 


Dressmaking 


I 




i 




4 


3 




258 


I 


S 


5 


12 


13 


32 


83 


27 


5i 


6 


21 


2 



* There is an interesting story current in the neighborhood of the morning when a little group of 
cash girls who had been working for $i . 50 a week banded together and refused to continue for less than 
$2 .00 a week. This juvenile "strike" was settled by a compromise which placed the wage in that store 
at $1.75- 



TABLE VI 

GIRLS BEGINNING WORK UNDER SIXTEEN YEARS OF AGE 
EIGHTH GRADE COMPLETED 





No. OF 






BE 


GINNIN( 


i WEEK 


LY WAC 


E BY O 


:CUPATI 


ON 








GIRLS 


$1.00 


$i.S 


$2.00 


$2.50 


$3.00 


$3.50 


$4.00 


$4.50 


$5.0 


$6.00 


$8.00 


Bindery 


7 












I 


2 


I 


I 


2 




Store 


28 


I 






4 


8 


4 


4 


2 


a 


2 




Domestic 


7 




I 


2 


I 


2 




i 










Factory 


6 










J 


i 






2 






Hairdressing . . . . 


i 






I 


















Millinery 


7 




I 






2 














Office 


22 










I 


i 


4 


2 


IO 


4. 




Dressmaking. . . . 
Stenographer . . . 


22 
O 






7 




H 




i 




z 


C 


I 


Typist 


2 


















2 


































107 


I 


2 


10 


5 


30 


7 


12 


5 


21 


*3 


I 



26 CmCAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

Including the purely mechanical positions of the bindery and 
the laundry under the head of factory work, among the girls who 
did not complete the seventh grade the factory and the department 
store claim 185, or 71 per cent of the whole number. Sixty-two, 
or 50 per cent, of those included as factory workers began at a wage 
below $4.00 a week. Fifty-five per cent of the department-store 
girls began at less than $3 . oo a week. The girls in the sewing trades 
who could begin above $3.00 are exceptionally clever with the 
needle. The office position of this group does not mean either type- 
writing or stenography. The alluring wage of $5.00 or $6.00 a 
week is the highest point ever reached by the girl under sixteen in 
work of this character. In the total of 258 girls, 178, or nearly 
69 per cent, began at a wage below $4 . oo a week. Only 1 1 per cent 
were able to begin above that point. 

The second table shows the marked tendency which is always 
found in the eighth-grade girl to get away from factory work and 
seek employment where she thinks she is holding a position of 
higher social value. The factory and the department-store employ 
only 38 per cent of the whole number. Fifty-four per cent are in 
the sewing trades or in office positions. The domestic helper is 
also represented, due to the influence of the foreign home. In the 
total of 107 girls, 55, or 51 per cent, began at a wage below $4.00 
a week. Thirty-seven per cent began above that point. 

These figures disclose the general trend. Judging solely from 
the beginning wage, the eighth-grade girls can earn more money. 
In so far as the apprenticeship and the office may lead to better 
opportunities than the factory or the store, the greater number 
have chosen their occupations with more insight. 

It is difficult to estimate the actual money value of the girl's 
labor from beginnings only. The child's lack of judgment and love 
of novelty lead to frequent changes, and many seasonal and tempo- 
rary places are open to her. Naturally this child-labor is the first 
to be dispensed with in the dull or slack season of any industry. 
The small candy-packer may be required only seven or eight months 
of the year, the sewing and the millinery apprentice in the fashion- 
able shop gets her enforced summer vacation, and the important little 
office girl in a mail-order house is often laid off for a month after 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 27 



the advertising circulars have been sent out. Only the department- 
store girls and the household helper seem to be in perpetual 
demand. The following table shows the real money value of 100 of 
the girls whose beginning wage is given in Table V. These girls 
were selected from the group because it was possible to follow their 
ups and downs for a year with a fair degree of accuracy. Moreover, 
they represent families who embrace the earliest opportunity to 
send their children to work and keep them employed. The weekly 
wage is estimated on the basis of the actual amount earned by the 
girl during the first year after leaving school. To show more clearly 
the exact contribution to the family income the amount the girl 
was obliged to spend each week in street-car fare was deducted. 

TABLE VII 

AVERAGE WEEKLY CONTRIBUTION TO THE FAMILY INCOME OF ONE HUNDRED 

GIRLS DURING A WORKING-PERIOD or ONE YEAR. STREET-CAR 

FARE Is SUBTRACTED 



Age 


Number 


$1.5 


$I.5I-$2.00 


$2. 01 -$2.50 


$2.51-13.00 


$3.i-$3.50 


14-1 <; . . 


OI 


II 


32 


32 


ii 


c 


11-16. . 


O 




8 


I 






















100 


II 


40 


33 


ii 


5 



Thirty-three of these children were driven before that family 
specter, the mortgage on the house. 

The suggestion that girls should be legally forbidden to go to 
work under sixteen years of age brings out the old argument of the 
family need. It is put forth by thrifty parents and local politicians, 
by employers who wish an excuse for accepting children, and by 
charity workers struggling with the family problem of poverty. 
The school 1 has accepted the argument without questioning its 
real value and children have learned to make use of it. The law 
determines the amount of the widow's pension on the supposition 
that the fourteen-year-old child is a legitimate wage-earner. The 

'The Fifty-eighth Annual Report of the Board of Education, city of Chicago, for 
the year ending June 30, 1912, voices the common sentiment and gives the need in 
the home as a reason for not recommending an amendment to the compulsory educa- 
tion law forbidding the employment of children at fourteen years of age. 



28 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

ability of the child to add to the family income has been exaggerated 
and overemphasized. For these paltry sums they have been forced 
to exchange school time and play time, the natural rights of the 
child. 

7. SOME PHYSICAL, MENTAL, AND MORAL ASPECTS OF THE PROBLEM 

We have as yet no scientific knowledge of the physical effects of 
child-labor. We have certain recognized standards with reference 
to night work and the so-called "dangerous occupations" and a 
widespread public opinion that up to the age of fourteen years 
children should be allowed to develop their bodies in the freedom of 
the play activities most natural to them. Of the exact relation 
between the demands of the industries employing little girls and the 
actual power of the growing child to meet them without physical 
deterioration we know nothing with the certainty based upon 
scientific study. That there are several untabulated bodily 
injuries which result from their continuous employment in any one 
of the present occupations open to little girls in the city of Chicago 
no one who has observed girl-labor for any length of time can deny. 
More than one-half of these children who have come under the 
observation of the writer during the past eight years have been 
nervous, troubled with headaches, and "tired most of the time." 
This is a small number and is a record of confessions reluctantly 
given, for it is a significant fact that until the working-girl has 
suffered to the point where she can no longer conceal it, she will 
seldom admit poor health. " I am always well. I never lose time 
from sickness," are the persistent assertions of thin, anemic-looking 
little girls. This is a natural attitude resulting from their employ- 
ment in industries which are usually making heavier demands upon 
the body than upon the brain, and every girl soon learns that the 
one thing she must not confess is physical weakness of any kind. 
That the very evident lack of vitality in many little girls was not 
due to any serious organic trouble was proved by the number of 
cases sent to a physician who merely prescribed "rest" or "a tonic," 
and by the rapidity with which they recovered if they were so 
fortunate as to be "laid off" for a few weeks, except in instances of 
extreme poverty where the mental anxiety more than offset the 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 29 

recuperative value of a period of leisure. However, there is con- 
siderable evidence that the intermittent weeks of enforced idleness 
are all that save the majority of these girls from an earlier and a 
more complete physical deterioration than apparently takes place. 
This group of girls furnishes no evidence that for them one form 
of occupation had been better or worse than another as long as they 
were employed "on steady time," that is, receiving a fixed weekly 
sum and not the uncertain wage of the pieceworker. The most 
pernicious side of factory work is the "speeding-up" process which 
strains every nerve and keeps the worker on a rack of anxiety. 
Some little girls acquired a premature wisdom as a result of their 
factory experiences and refused to go beyond a certain fairly com- 
fortable speed limit which they established for themselves when the 
nature of the occupation permitted it and they were not forced to 
"keep up with a machine." Some of them found a pleasurable 
excitement in discovering just how "comfortable" they could be 
without losing their positions. Girls who held to a more even pace 
and never revealed their utmost capacity have endured the piece- 
work system with less injury than those who were eager to respond 
to pressure. As there is often a difference of two or three dollars a 
week between what she accepts as her limit and what she can do 
"on a spurt," the temptation to earn more money may be accepted 
at a frightful cost of nervous energy. Mothers frequently give an 
additional incentive to increased speed by making their daughters' 
spending money and even necessary clothing depend entirely upon 
this extra sum. It is difficult to reach fair conclusions on the sub- 
ject of piecework. Employers say that girls "don't hurt them- 
selves." Girls testify that they are always in danger of having a 
cut in the rate of payment for a certain output if the girls who 
represent the highest speed begin to earn "too much money." 
When a cut in the rate is made they are forced to increase their 
speed or accept a lowered wage. Miss Goldmark concludes that 
although the system is sound in theory and "works admirably in 
highly organized trades where collective agreements assure the 
workers fair, fixed rates, it fails among the most helpless workers 
who most need to be protected from overpressure and the inroads pf 
fatigue. With them it almost inevitably breeds a spirit of perma- 



30 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

nent 'rush' in work, and to that extent it is physiologically 
dangerous." 1 It is this "rush" that the American temperament 
cannot endure. Factories that use this system are obliged to draw 
upon the more enduring vitality of the hardy immigrant. 

The legal hours of labor are eight daily, but girls who seek the 
downtown factories and stores must allow at least two hours in 
addition for street-car rides. As they are obliged to go and return 
when all cars to and from the stockyards district are overcrowded, 
the fatigue of standing the greater part of the time must also be 
included in the day's work. The fact that local department stores 
can secure cash girls for $i . 75 a week is due in part to the number 
who cannot endure the nervous strain of getting down town and 
back again. The daily walk and the warm noon meal at home are 
all health-preserving factors, but as there are comparatively few 
local opportunities, 2 for the majority this street-car ride on their 
feet is inevitable. Of the 365 girls who began work under sixteen 
years of age 310 were obliged to ride distances consuming from two 
to two and one-half hours daily. 

The non-educative character of all occupations open to these 
children is not the only negative side of the problem. Here again 
there is no proper basis for exact conclusions in regard to the mental 
effect of the child's work under the modern conditions of industry. 
Yet if the tendency is to an overstrain and fatigue detrimental to 
physical growth, it is not unreasonable to conclude that disastrous 
results both mental and moral may follow. Girls grow dull with a 
routine that calls for no exercise of brain power, and the general 
stupidity of which many employers complain is increased as the 
months go by. Noise and confusion, the whirl of factory machines, 
or the distractions of the department store make consecutive 
thought-processes difficult, and the unconscious reaction from 
monotonous labor is a desire for excitement in some novel form, the 
moving-picture show, the forbidden saloon-hall dance, or late hours 
with companions on the street after the day's work is over. The 

1 Josephine Goldmark, Fatigue and Efficiency, p. 84. 

3 Judging from the records at the office of the state factory inspector, the entire 
packing industry seldom employs at any one time more than 100 girls under sixteen 
years of age. These positions are usually filled by the foreign girls. 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 31 

fifteen-year-old factory girl who gave as her excuse for going to the 
five-cent theater six nights in the week her need of "something to 
make me feel rested " is not an exaggerated type but a painful 
illustration of the lack of nervous balance which is all too common 
among these children. Whether such an unstable condition is due 
to purely physical or to mental causes it is often difficult to say, 
since for many girls there is such a close connection between health 
and mental attitude. Girls are held to one miserable distasteful 
piece of work by fear, discouragement, timidity, or the lack of 
knowledge of other opportunities. A few have confessed that they 
thought all the factories down town made candy and there was 
nothing else for little girls to do except wrapping and packing 
confectionery. Some who had learned a single simple process in a 
box factory were unable to adapt themselves to other positions when 
laid off temporarily. One girl insisted that " pasting labels " was 
her "trade" and refused to consider anything else. Another said 
she could work only in the one department store in which she began. 
She had tried others but they always made her feel "strange and 
queer." Still another worked a full year in fear of the forewoman 
who had an "evil eye" that held girls to their work. A different 
type of girl makes a continuous effort to break through the limita- 
tions of her enforced occupation by changing as often as possible. 
These changes are a means of stimulation which the girl's nature 
demands. Three girls who were chums and refused to be separated 
had worked together in eleven different places during fifteen con- 
secutive months. For them the mere thought of steady employ- 
ment had grown distasteful. One girl flippantly remarked: "The 
new boss may have red hair. Anything to change the scenery." 
That the search for excitement as an antidote for fatigue and 
monotonous labor may be attended by grave moral dangers no one 
can doubt. Girls do not understand this abnormal craving. They 
are caught in the meshes of feelings too complex for their untaught 
minds to comprehend. Unfortunately both parents fail at this 
point. Many endeavor to exercise a strict surveillance that would 
keep the working girl at home in the evening "helping mother" as 
the safest outlet for any extra energy she may have. The diverse 
attitude on the part of parents and children in regard to the way 



32 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

the leisure time should be filled is one of the greatest causes of 
family clashing. Here the girl usually conquers. Those who 
faithfully hold to a difficult and uncongenial occupation, bringing 
home the entire wage to the family and submitting to an almost 
patriarchal control in other matters, will demand a freedom in the 
use of their evening hours before which the foreign parents are 
helpless. "She is a good girl," said the Polish mother. "She 
brings home all her money, but she goes out where she pleases 
nights and Sundays and we can't follow." Ninety per cent of the 
parents admitted that they had little control over their daughters 
in this matter. Many fiercely condemned "the American life" 
which made such insubordination possible. This unnatural 
position of the little girl, carrying the premature responsibility of 
the wage-earner and asserting her right to a feverish search for 
evening pleasures, is forced upon her at the beginning of the period 
marked by physical changes, rapid growth,, and the dawn of sex 
consciousness when curious and misunderstood moods are dominant. 

8. THE ATTITUDE OF THE EMPLOYER 

Interviews with employers revealed two points of view: (i) the 
labor of girls under sixteen years of age is of doubtful value to 
the employer and is not necessary to the continuation of any 
industry; (2) unless girls begin to work under sixteen years of age 
they do not get the necessary training that leads to their advance- 
ment and therefore the number of skilled workers among older girls 
will be depleted. 

The first point of view has four causes: the eight-hour day, the 
general inefficiency of the girls who apply for work, the introduction 
of new machinery, and a growing sentiment against the employment 
of children. One of the common grievances which employers find 
it difficult to adjust is the difference in hours which causes jealousies 
and petty disturbances among girls not far below and just above the 
age of sixteen years. The girl who was sixteen last week will work 
out her full time cheerfully with seventeen-year-old companions 
but will be restless and dissatisfied if associated with a group six 
months younger having the advantage of an earlier dismissal. A 
surprising amount of supervision is needed to prevent the fraudulent 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 33 

record of the child's age for which the employer alone is held 
responsible when the factory inspector appears. The inefficiency 
of the untrained mass which is recruited from the ranks of children 
who leave school below the seventh grade makes them a financial 
loss to any business or industry during the period required for their 
training. The amount of shifting adds to the work of the employ- 
ment department. The superintendent in a large factory using 
over 300 little girls stated that they expected to register five girls in 
order to secure one who would feel any responsibility for reappear- 
ing to take up the work she had applied for. Even the girls who 
have finished the eighth grade are childish and cannot be given 
places of responsibility which the office requires. The introduction 
of machinery is displacing the need of many a small pair of hands. 
The inventions for covering, glueing, and labeling in the box 
factories are comparatively new and are pronounced satisfactory. 
The machine-dipped chocolate drops look almost as well as those 
covered by hand and are in greater demand. The clever devices for 
closing packages with the unfeeling points of a machine almost 
human in its skill are a monument to inventive genius. One of the 
largest employers of child-labor in the city of Chicago said: "If we 
could not by law employ the girl under sixteen years we should find 
some way to make the machine do her work." 

Finally, there appears to be a growing sentiment against the 
employment of children in spite of the evidence of the school census 
taken May 2, 1912, which gives a total of 8,923 girls and 8,214 boys 
under sixteen years of age either temporarily or permanently em- 
ployed in the city of Chicago. A sentiment is a difficult thing to 
measure in figures until it reaches a definite expression in legislation. 
Yet the feeling exists, voiced all along the line by the head of the 
firm, the superintendent, the business manager, and the foreman, 
often in the face of the actual fact that the practical policy of the 
business or the industry allowed the use of children. The proposi- 
tion to exclude the girl from early employment met with a quick 
response from employers who look at the boy from a different point 
of view. The frankest words came from the president of a large 
manufacturing establishment: "As an employer, I can and do 
make money out of the work of little girls. As a man, I know it 



34 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

would be better for them and for the state if I were forbidden by 
law to employ them." 

The second point of view, that the girl must get her training for 
business or industrial efficiency by going to work at the earliest age 
possible, is advanced by employers who find temporary help a con- 
venience and by those who wish the speed and skill that come with 
the repetition of a single highly specialized process. They are 
looking for a very limited efficiency which may be acquired only by 
practice in the business or industry calling for it and they know that 
youth is the golden age of this kind of skill. They do not ask for a 
longer period in school or for any form of industrial education to fit 
girls for their positions. "Give us girls who are quick, bright, and 
healthy and we will do the training," is their demand. Their 
further suggestion that the supply of skilled adult workers will be 
lessened if girls do not receive this early training is without proof. 1 

These advocates of child-labor could not fail to refer to the 
family poverty that apparently can be relieved only by the work of 
children. Three went so far as to say that they engaged girls under 
sixteen solely because the families represented were in need. And 
yet when it came to the final question, no employer would admit 
that either the business or the industry he represented rested upon 
so slight a foundation as the labor of little girls. One conclusion at 
least seems permissible: the premature employment of girls under 
sixteen years of age is not necessary to the continuation of any 
business or industry. 

1 Considering the present seemingly unlimited supply of young unskilled immi- 
grant labor, it is impossible to predict the effect upon the adult worker of the complete 
elimination from all forms of industry of girls under sixteen. If the period these girls 
now spend in idleness or in worse than unprofitable employment were utilized in learn- 
ing a trade, acquiring some efficient knowledge of a business office, or even in the 
so-called cultural studies (which it is the tendency of the moment to undervalue), 
there is little doubt that the two years so spent would add to their wage-earning 
capacity, since there seems to be no oversupply of skilled labor in the trades and 
occupations open to women today. It is not necessary to attempt a radical prophecy 
on the economic side of the question. The main point is that no community can afford 
to tolerate a system that means physical, mental, and moral deterioration to the 
growing girl. 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 35 



SECTION IV. THE WORKING-GIRL 

I. RECORDS OF ONE HUNDRED GIRLS SIXTEEN AND SEVENTEEN 
YEARS OF AGE WHO DID NOT COMPLETE THE SEVENTH GRADE 

In order to throw more light upon the situation outlined above 
it is necessary to record the progress of the girl for a number of 
years. The following tables give the facts concerning one hundred 
girls who left school before completing the seventh grade. They 
were either sixteen or seventeen years of age at the time of the last 
interview. 

TABLE VIII 

THE FIRST POSITION OF ONE HUNDRED GIRLS SIXTEEN AND SEVENTEEN YEARS 
or AGE WHO DID NOT COMPLETE THE SEVENTH GRADE 





NUMBER 










WAGE 












OF GIRLS 


$i-so 


II.7S 


$2.00 


$2.30 


$3.00 


$3-50 


$4.00 


$4.SO 


$5.00 


Bindery 


T. 














I 


I 


I 


Store 


20 


I 


2 




8 


7 


e 


7 




7 


Domestic 


4 






I 


I 




i 


I 






Factory 


40 








I 


18 


7 


II 


I 


2 


Laundry 


2 


















2 


Office 


7 










i 








6 


Dressmaking 
Tailor 


3 

2 










i 
i 




I 




2 


Telephone 


I 


















I 


Yards 


O 










i 







2 


I 


























100 


I 


2 


I 


IO 


29 


13 


22 


4 


18 



Sixty-one of these girls began work at fourteen, twenty-six at 
fifteen, and thirteen (who had been helping at home) at sixteen 
years of age. No sixteen-year-old girl received less than $4.00 a 
week. One of them was able to qualify for the telephone service, 
which does not accept girls under this age. Her wage of $5.00 
represents the amount paid to the beginner while she is taking class 
instruction. With this exception, the girls are found in the positions 
previously discussed, the factory and the department store being the 
only means of entrance to industry known to the majority. Fifty- 
six per cent began at a wage of less than $4.00 a week. 

Some indication of the amount of shifting that is common 
to the untrained working-girl may be gained from Table IX. A 
change of position does not always imply a change in the character 



36 



CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 





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THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 37 

of the occupation, since there may be reasons for leaving one candy 
factory in favor of another or for exchanging the store down town 
for one near at hand. The three girls, each one of whom had 
worked in eleven different places, represent one extreme, yet the 
fact that only twenty-six had held to the first position secured is 
proof of the restlessness and dissatisfaction which must result from 
the accidental way of getting started. The figures just above the 
broken diagonal line show the number of girls still in their original 
occupations regardless of the number of times they may have 
changed employers. The three girls who began in a bindery are 
now in the store, the factory, and the yards. Only thirteen of the 
twenty-nine who began in the store are holding to it as a permanent 
choice. The others found the factory, the laundry, the office, the 
sewing trade, the telephone, and the yards more congenial places. 
The four girls beginning as domestic helpers scattered to the 
bindery, the store, the dressmaking shop, and the yards. Of the 
forty girls who dropped into the factory for their first experience, 
thirty have not changed occupation, although only seven have 
remained in the original factory. Three factory girls have risen to 
office positions. One office girl found her first choice an impossible 
one and was obliged to fall back to the factory. So the shifting goes 
on with the hope and some possibility of better adaptation through 
experimenting in different places. But the significant fact is that 
although seventy-four changed positions, only thirty-nine succeeded 
in changing the occupation, and among the latter some of the 
migration, as from the yards to the factory and back again, should 
not be regarded strictly as a change of occupation, since this may 
mean only the difference between packing dried beef in a tin can 
and putting peanut candy in a paper box. 

Ninety-two of this group have a wage of $6 . oo a week and less. 
The most significant thing brought out by personal interviews was 
the lack of hope for the future in these occupations. Eighty out 
of the ninety- two said they could see little chance for advancement. 
Two girls in the telephone service, three in the sewing trades, 
six in stores, and one clever in the piece-work of a hammock 
factory felt sure they could "work up to something." The eight 
girls receiving above $6.00 a week also expected promotion. This 



CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 



makes a total of twenty out of one hundred girls who were working 
with enthusiasm and some joy in the daily occupation. The 80 
per cent accepted with varying degrees of patience and rebellion a 
situation they could not control. Adding the positions in the 

TABLE X 

PRESENT WAGE AND PRESENT OCCUPATION OF ONE HUNDRED GIRLS SIXTEEN 

AND SEVENTEEN YEARS OF AGE WHO DID NOT COMPLETE THE 

SEVENTH GRADE 





NUMBER 










WAGE 












OF GIRLS 


$3-00 


$4-00 


$4-SO 


$S-oo 


$5- SO 


$6.00 


$7.00 


$7.50 


$8.00 


Bindery 


c 








I 


I 


2 








Store 


16 


I 


7 


2 


6 




7 






I 


Factory 


7Q 


2 


II 


I 


18 


2 


7 


i 




I 


Laundry 


C 












J 


2 






Office 


II 




2 




4 


I 


2 




2 




Dressmaking 
Telephone 


4 

2 


I 


I 




i 




2 


I 






Yards 


18 




t 


2 


10 


I 


2 
































100 


4 


20 


5 


40 


5 


18 


4 


2 


2 



laundry, the yards, and the bindery to those of the factory, 67 per 
cent are found in monotonous occupations, wrapping and packing 
confectionery, butterine, soap, dried beef, and biscuits, or attending 
the machine processes involved in the washing and ironing of clothes 
or in the manufacture of books and boxes, hammocks, and cheap 
ready-made clothing. 

2. RECORDS OF FIFTY GIRLS SIXTEEN AND SEVENTEEN YEARS OF 
AGE WHO COMPLETED EIGHT GRADES 

Thirteen of these girls (see Table XI) began work at fourteen, 
fifteen at fifteen, twenty at sixteen, and two at seventeen years of 
age. Only three of the twenty-two who had passed the sixteenth 
birthday received less than $5 .00 a week. Again the choice of the 
eighth-grade girl is apparent. Sixty-two per cent are found in office 
positions, in the sewing trades or with the Telephone Company. 
Only 22 per cent began at a wage below $4.00 a week. 

The lack either of adjustment or of ability to find the first choice 
in occupations is less evident (see Table XII). Still there is some 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 39 



shifting in this group. The domestic helper preferred the store and 
the factory. Only two of the seven factory girls accepted their posi- 
tions as permanent. Three who received their first experience in a 
store turned to housework, factory, and office. Seven routine office 
girls advanced to the higher positions of the typist and the stenog- 

TABLE XI 

THE FIRST POSITION OF FIFTY GIRLS SIXTEEN AND SEVENTEEN YEARS OF AGE 
WHO COMPLETED EIGHT GRADES 



KIND OF WORK 


NUMBER 
or GIRLS 


WAGE 


$i-5 


$2.00 


$3.oo 


$3.5 


$4.00 

I 

3 

i 
i 


$5-00 


$6.00 


$8.00 


Bindery 


3 

7 

2 

7 
i 

IS 
3 
9 
3 


i 


I 


I 
I 
I 

I 

I 


2 
2 


I 
I 

3 

10 

2 

3 


I 

I 

4 
6 


I 


Store 


Domestic 


Factory 


Millinery 


Office 


Dressmaking 


Stenography 


Telephone 




5 


i 


I 


5 


4 


6 


20 


12 


I 



rapher, and three, finding they could not hold their places, went into 
the store, the factory, and the yards. Thirty changed positions 
but only twenty-three changed occupations, and with three excep- 
tions these changes were in line with the girl's choice and ambition. 
Only twenty-one girls receive a present wage of $6 . oo a week and 
less (see Table XIII). All below $8 . oo, except the domestic helper, 
feel that they are in line for promotion. The thirteen who can 
earn from $8.00 to $10.00 are not sure of their ability to advance 
beyond their present positions but they are fairly contented. It 
is evident that the factory, domestic service, and the sewing trades 
do not furnish the places considered desirable by the eighth-grade 
girl after she is old enough to choose for herself. The common labor 
of the stockyards is literally tabooed. The only girl employed there 
" candles eggs," a work requiring some skill and offering a chance 
for promotion. Sixty-two per cent are with business firms doing 
some kind of office work, or in the service of the telephone 
company. 



40 



CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 



X 



S| 

> < 

H 

& a 

* H 

* S 

o 2 



^ g 

i-3 < 

PQ H 

2 

H E 



XJOJOTJ 



DtjsatnoQ 



Kwputg 



go 
fe 



d 




M CO -co 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 41 

I 

PRESENT WAGE OF ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY GIRLS SIXTEEN 
AND SEVENTEEN YEARS OF AGE 



WEEKLY WAGE 



NUMBER OF GIRLS 



$8.00 to $10.00 inclusive 



$6.00 to $7.50 inclusive 




Below $6. oo 



The 50 girls shown in the white sections completed the Eighth grade. 

The 100 girls shown in the lined sections did not complete the Seventh grade. 

It has been shown that a comparatively small number of girls complete the 
eight grades. It was impossible to secure equal numbers for comparison and retain 
the same neighborhood surroundings. 



CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 



TABLE XIII 

PRESENT WAGE AND PRESENT OCCUPATION OF FIFTY GIRLS SIXTEEN AND 
SEVENTEEN YEARS or AGE WHO COMPLETED EIGHT GRADES 





NUMBER OF 










WAGE 












GIRLS 


$4.00 


$5-00 


$6.00 


$6.25 


$7-00 


$7.SO 


$8.00 


$9.00 


$10.00 


Bindery 


2 






2 














Store 


6 




2 


2 




2 










Domestic 


i 


I 


















Factory 


r 






2 




j 


I 








Millinery 


I 










I 










Office 


8 




2 


2 




2 


I 








Dressmaking 


2 


I 










I 


I 






Stenography 


14 






2 


I 


I 




2 


2 


e 


Telephone 


t 










A 




I 






Typist. . 


4. 






2 








I 






Yards 


j 












I 
































5 


2 


5 


14 


I 


II 


4 


6 


2 


S 



3. RECORDS OF ONE HUNDRED GIRLS FROM EIGHTEEN TO TWENTY- 
FOUR YEARS OF AGE WHO DID NOT COMPLETE THE 
SEVENTH GRADE 

The records of the older girls were studied to see whether time 
gave them a mastery over any occupation in spite of their lack of 
schooling. 

TABLE XIV 

THE FIRST POSITION OF ONE HUNDRED GIRLS FROM EIGHTEEN TO TWENTY-FOUK 
YEARS OF AGE WHO DID NOT COMPLETE THE SEVENTH GRADE 



KIND OF WORK 


NUM- 
BER OF 
GIRLS 


WAGE 


$ .50 


$1.00 


$l.SO 


$i.7S 


$2.00 


$2.50 


$3-oo 


$3-50 


$4.00 


$4-50 


$5-00 


$5-50 


$6.00 


$6.50 


Bindery .... 
Store 


7 
28 

13 
14 

2 
5 

S 
4 
5 

17 




I 




I 
2 


4 


IO 

2 


I 
7 
5 
S 


'6 


2 

I 
I 


i 


2 
2 






Domestic . . . 
Factory .... 
Laundry . . . 
Millinery . . . 
Office . . . 


i 


4 

i 


i 


2 

I 
2 

3 


i 




I 
















I 


I 






I 




















i 




Dressmaking 
Tailor 


I 




I 




2 

I 


I 


i 
i 
4 






I 
8 




4 




I 


I 


Yards 










3 






100 


i 


2 


2 


7 


14 


24 


7 


19 


2 


16 


i 


I 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 43 



TABLE XV 

PRESENT OCCUPATION IN RELATION TO THE ORIGINAL OCCUPATION OF ONE HUNDRED GIRLS FROM EIGHTEEN TO TWENTY-FOUR 
YEARS OF AGE WHO DID NOT COMPLETE THE SEVENTH GRADE 


PRESENT OCCUPATION 


S I )JB A 


1 


o 




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w Ol 


M 


1 


auoqdspx 


IH -M Ol * 


" 


' J ' ' 


BU 


JT 


CO 


1 


an-.ua 


: :- : : 4" : : 


>0 


_J 


*BO 


M H Ml M 





. . | .... 


*-!inH 


Jr . 


* 


1 


Xipunsq 


. H . -N r^ 


*> 


Xjopej 


M io ^ol w * ^o 


s 


1 


ops^oa 




* 


w 








M|M (-( 


00 

H 


''"I 




Tj-l Tj- M 





J 


NUMBER OF POSITIONS 


M 


M M M 





2 




M 




o 




CO 




00 


M . M M 


<o 




<o 


M M * M f, 


o 

M 




M 


H J H CO 


N 




\ 


<O<OTj--W M . .M 


V 


* 


r^M -MM >M 


O 


tl 


,, .^H ;C,H - -^ 


5? 


" 


M^'PO'W -M 'V> 




M 


K> <* 2 


W M W M 


8 

H 


if 
k 






'::;:: c : : : 

? : 'l b^^ :"! ^ J I ^ 



44 



CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 



Eleven girls (see Table XIV) began work before they were four- 
teen. Fifty-eight were just fourteen, nineteen were fifteen, and 
twelve were sixteen years of age. Only five of the sixteen-year-old 
girls began below $5.00 a week. The department store, and the 
factory type of occupation (including the bindery, the laundry, and 
the yards) gave 68 per cent of this group their first experience as 
wage-earners. For 60 per cent the beginning wage was less than 
$4 . oo a week. 

The ten girls who have moved from eight to fifteen times and the 
sixteen who held to the first position (see Table XV) represent the 
opposite extremes in temperament. The same kind of shifting in 
search of better adaptation or more congenial employment is marked 
in this group. Only twelve of the twenty-eight who began in the 
store found it the best final choice. Twelve of the thirteen domestic 
helpers scattered to six different occupations. One each from the 
bindery, the store, and the factory sought domestic service as a 
relief from the nervous strain of their downtown work. Three of 
the five girls ambitious for office positions were obliged to fall back 
upon the bindery and the factory, and four from the store, the 
factory, and the yards felt promoted when they secured places as 
office girls. Eighty-four changed positions and fifty-four changed 
occupations. 

TABLE XVI 

PRESENT WAGE AND PRESENT OCCUPATION or ONE HUNDRED GIRLS FROM 

EIGHTEEN TO TWENTY-FOUR YEARS OF AGE WHO DID NOT 

COMPLETE THE SEVENTH GRADE 



KIND OF WORK 


NUM- 
BER OF 

GIRLS 


WAGE 


$3.00 


$4.00 


$5.00 


$5-5 


$6.00 


$6.50 


$7-0 


$8.00 


$8.50 


$0.oo 


$10.00 


$11.00 


$12.00 


Bindery 


9 

18 

4 
24 
3 
4 
6 
6 
3 

2 
I 


I 


I 


I 
3 

3 




5 

2 

I 
10 

I 


i 


4 

4" 

i 
i 

4 

i 


2 

7 

i 

5 

i 

2 

I 




I 

2 
2 


I 

I 
I 
I 


I 




Store 


Domestic 
Factory 


Laundry 


Millinery 
Office 










I 




Dressmaking. . 
Tailor 






I 




I 




Telephone 

Waitress. . . . 


















I 


I 




















I 
2 


Yards 


2O 






7 


i 


6 




4 




100 


i 


I 


IS 


i 


27 


i 


19 


22 


I 


6 


4 


I 


I 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 45 

Forty-five of this group receive a wage of $6 . oo a week and less 
in contrast to the ninety-two of the sixteen- and seventeen-year-old 
group. It is evident that time may add something to the wage- 
earning power of girls of this class especially among those who 
possess physical strength and certain stable qualities that make 
them desirable. Of the eleven girls who began work under fourteen 
years, six now receive $8 . oo a week and above. Of the twelve who 
waited until sixteen to take the first position, only three receive 
$8 . oo. The girls who began at fifteen are not ahead of the average 
wage of those who began at fourteen. From the vantage point of 
money only, there is apparently no gain for the girl who, leaving an 
unfinished school course at the age of fourteen, spends a year or two 
in idleness before entering any one of the occupations open to her. 
The lack of hope for the future was voiced by the majority in this 
group. Forty-one said they had little chance of getting beyond the 
$6.00 a week limit. Seventeen girls at $7.00 a week, twenty-two 
at $8 . oo, four at $9 . oo, four at $10 . oo, and one at $i i . oo said they 
had apparently reached the highest wage paid for the kind of work 
they are doing. Of the remaining eleven who look for promotion, 
two are with the Telephone Company, three are in the sewing 
trades, three in stores, and one each in laundry, bindery, and office 
work. It is an interesting fact that of the thirty-five girls who 
receive $8 . oo a week and above, twenty-seven held to the original 
occupation chosen. The nineteen-year-old girl who is now worth 
$10.00 a week the year round in a millinery shop began as an 
apprentice at $i . oo a week. Having completed the fifth grade, she 
left school on her fourteenth birthday with a fixed determination to 
learn to trim hats. In the absence of school training, it is possible 
for ambition, persistency, and manual skill to win recognition when 
the child is so fortunate as to have some comprehension of her own 
fitness or desire for a certain kind of work which is at the same time 
within her reach. For the majority there is no such adaptation. 
The forty-one who cannot rise above $6 .00 a week and the seventeen 
who came to a final stop at $7 . oo lack any positive training to enable 
them to take better positions, although they are not without native 
capacity. Adding the work of the bindery, the laundry, and the 
yards to that of the factory, 56 per cent are found in the monotonous 



CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 



occupations that have been considered. Remembering the 67 per 
cent of the sixteen- and seventeen-year-old girls, we conclude that 
there is a tendency to get away from the factory type of occupation 
whenever it is possible. 

4. RECORDS OF FIFTY GIRLS FROM EIGHTEEN TO TWENTY-FOUR 
YEARS OF AGE WHO COMPLETED EIGHT GRADES 

TABLE XVII 

THE FIRST POSITION OF FIFTY GIRLS FROM EIGHTEEN TO TWENTY-FOUR YEARS 
OF AGE WHO COMPLETED EIGHT GRADES 



KIND or WORK 


NUMBER 
OF GIRLS 


WAGE 


$1.00 


$1.50 


$2.00 


$2.50 


$3.00 


$3-50 


$4.00 


$4.50 


$5.00 


$6.00 


$7-00 


Bindery 


I 












i 
2 


2 


i 


2 






Store 


18 

2 

3 

i 
16 

2 
2 

4 

I 


I 




2 


4 


6 


Domestic 


Factory 




i 


I 






I 






Millinery 




I 




















Office 






2 




i 




3 


2 


4 


5 


i 


Dressmaking 
Stenography 
Telephone 












i 


I 




















4 






Tvuist 














i 


















5 


I 


I 


4 


4 


8 


4 


6 


3 


12 


6 


i 



Only fourteen in this group began work at fourteen years of age. 
Twenty- three were fifteen, ten were sixteen, and three were seven- 
teen years old. The tendency of the eighth-grade girl is to extend 
the period of her schooling beyond the compulsory age limit. 
Fifty- two per cent chose the office position, the sewing trades, or 
the Telephone Company. Forty-four per cent were obliged to 
accept a beginning wage of less than $4.00 a week. 

Again there is a lack of adjustment between the girl and the first 
position (see Table XVIII). Only seven of the girls who began in 
the store accepted that occupation as the one best suited to them. 
Three girls from the store, two from the factory, one from the 
routine office, and one who wished to be a milliner sought the tele- 
phone service and the two domestic helpers went to the store. One 
who served her apprenticeship in a dressmaker's shop escaped to 
find more rapid advancement in a factory. Thirty-six changed 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 47 



W 










t-i r " [d 

I I MH HH 



1 

< o 

fc o 



s 

o ** 

I 







ol 


H 




1 s ! I, 


J 






anoqdapx 


c*3 M M rj-l 


H 
H 












A~udi?j8ou9^c 




^* 











z 




H M Ml . 


CO 


2 


np(BUJ ,KCI 


-J 




< 


3DI0O 




HI 


2 




1. 


O 



i 


a !ll!W 







8 




' <* 'Ol M 


to 


PH 




1 








O r 


o 




otisanioa 


J 








w t-J .. 


HI 




MOJS 


J 


HI 




m 




O 




japn.g 


J 








HI 


HI 














w 


H 












CO 




C1 H M 


n- 
















. M . . . H 
















S 

M * 


CO H M M 


* 




.2 "> 


. \f) M N M 


Ov 






Tj- M 


CO 












w 


HI -CO M Tt 


H 




o 


H HI 


O 













S 
| 

g 


1 ili^i 






3 

ix 

o 


<J >. "^ S" C 

IgStlsilM 
lilsisJIIfS 

pq OT Q fn S O Q 01 H H 





CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 



positions and twenty-eight changed occupations. All except two 
of these changes were in line with the girl's ambition and prefer- 
ence. 

TABLE XIX 

PRESENT WAGE AND PRESENT OCCUPATION OF FIFTY GIRLS FROM EIGHTEEN TO 
TWENTY-FOUR YEARS OF AGE WHO COMPLETED EIGHT GRADES 



KIND OF WORK 


NUMBER 
OF GIRLS 


WAGE 


$6.00 


$7.00 


$8.00 


$9.00 


$10.00 


$12.00 


$".50 


$13.00 


$15.00 


Store 


II 

3 
14 
3 
7 
ii 
i 


I 


2 

I 
I 
I 
2 

I 


5 

3 

i 


I 
I 

3 

i 
i 

3 

i 


I 
3 

6 


I 

3 

i 
i 


i 


i 


i 

2 


Factory 


Office 


Dressmaking 
Stenography 


Telephone 


Typist. . 




50 


I 


8 


9 


ii 


10 


6 


i 


i 


3 



Only one is receiving $6 . oo a week in contrast to the twenty-one 
of the sixteen- and seventeen-year-old group at a wage of $6 . oo and 
less. The lowest wage is received by a girl who was sixteen years 
old before beginning to work, but she had no training beyond that 
of the eighth grade. Of the three girls representing the highest 
wage of $15 .00, one spent a year and a half in the high school, added 
to this a six months' course in a business college, and was nearly 
seventeen when she took her first place as a stenographer. The 
second girl had no high-school training, but took six months in a 
business college. The third waited until she was nearly sixteen 
before beginning as a department-store cash girl at $3.00 a week 
and rose rapidly to $15 .00 through the plan of receiving a commis- 
sion on sales. Of the twenty-one girls who are receiving $10.00 a 
week and above, ten spent from six months to two years in some 
additional training. Of the twenty-nine below $10.00, one took a 
two-year course at the high school, one spent one year there, and 
four had six months' courses at the business college. Conclusions 
from so small a number are not final, but it is a significant fact that 
ten out of the twenty-one girls earning $10.00 a week and above 
have reached this point apparently through the help of some training 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 49 



PRESENT WAGE OF ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY GIRLS EIGHTEEN 
TO TWENTY-FOUR YEARS OF AGE 



WEEKLY WAGE 



NUMBER OF GULLS 



$n.ooto$is.oo inclusive . 



$3.oo to $10.00 inclusive . 



$6.00 to $7. 50 inclusive. 



Below $6. oo 




The 50 girls shown in the white sections completed the Eighth grade. 

The 100 girls shown in the lined sections did not complete the Seventh grade. 



50 

added to the work of the eighth grade. All who are receiving less 
than $8.00 a week expect promotion. With the exception of the 
eleven telephone girls who advance according to a regular schedule 
based on length of service, and one stenographer at $9 .00 who hopes 
to reach $15.00, the others have probably reached their limit. 
However, without an exception, the fifty girls have a sense of 
satisfaction in their positions that can be appreciated only by 
understanding certain neighborhood standards. The stockyards 
wage of $6.00 a week for the common labor of women and girls 
(this makes no allowance for the intermittent employment that 
lowers the average or for the piecework that may add to it in busy 
seasons) dominates the community to such an extent that any posi- 
tion above $6.00 puts a girl a little above the common lot. 
Positions from $8.00 to $15.00 are distinct personal triumphs. 
The occupations also illustrate the ambition of the eighth-grade 
girl. Sixty-six per cent are with business firms doing some kind of 
office work or in the service of the Telephone Company. This is a 
slight addition to the 62 per cent of the sixteen- and seventeen-year- 
old eighth-grade girls who are engaged in occupations of the same 
character. 

5. PROBABLE OPPORTUNITIES OF THE WORKING-GIRL 

The employer who is questioned with reference to the oppor- 
tunities open to girls in the particular business or industry he 
represents invariably replies, "It all depends upon the girl," and 
points to his private secretary who rose from $5.00 a week to 
$80.00 a month, to his rapid piece-worker who commands $15 .00 a 
week in the rush season, to the single forewoman who began as a 
little candy-packer, or to the head clerk who was once a fourteen- 
year-old cash girl. The element of truth in this point of view, 
which is pre-eminently optimistic and American, obscures the real 
facts of the industries that are constantly renewing their supply of 
low-grade and unskilled labor. The 80 per cent in the sixteen- and 
seventen-year-old group and the 41 per cent of the older group who 
see little chance of getting beyond $6.00 a week represent a real 
demand of our present methods of production and distribution. A 
large number of girls must continue in monotonous, highly special- 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 51 

ized occupations requiring no education and little intelligence. 
The supply is constant from the untrained mass who are driven to 
some temporary means of earning money, for although the girl in 
industry may be a transient factor as an individual, each one who 
leaves is at once followed by more than one successor entirely willing 
to take the vacant place at the same wage. " The room at the top " 
is made for those of special manual dexterity or some native ability 
that makes opportunity. The girls in the factory, the bindery, and 
the yards who receive more than $6.00 a week attain the higher 
wage only through the piecework system. Many girls are forced to 
lessen the nervous strain attending piecework by changing factories, 
and securing another kind of monotony in their daily labor. This 
means beginning with a lowered wage and acquiring a new skill. 
Others hold their places in rush seasons only and plan to be idle 
three or four months of the year. By far the greater number, after 
some experience, learn to set a pace they are able to keep without 
excessive fatigue. The girls of this last class average from $7 . oo to 
$8.00 a week. In brief, the opportunity in the factory type of 
occupation depends upon the efficiency that means speed, and the 
girl does not earn for any length of time the high wage used by the 
employer to illustrate the advantages of the system. Judging from 
the positions of the two hundred girls, who fairly represent the 
general situation, 61 per cent of the girls of the stockyards district 
who leave school before completing the elementary course will find 
their places in this factory type of occupation. The possibility of 
securing one of the few executive positions open to girls should be 
mentioned. Only one girl has been found who attempted to hold 
the place of forewoman, and after a few weeks she fell back to her 
familiar piecework. More than one employer testified to the 
difficulty of finding competent forewomen among the rank and file 
of workers whom they would willingly promote. The reasons are 
obvious. The untrained mind which can easily grasp all the 
requirements of the piecework system fails when it comes to meeting 
the demands of even a subordinate executive position. The daily 
work offers no chance for mental development. Moreover, the 
inferior rank assigned to the girl is not conducive to the growth of 
initiative and self-assertion. 



52 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

Comparatively few of the American-born girls remain in the 
sewing trades in spite of the fact that dressmaking and millinery are 
among the largest industries at present open to women. This is 
due chiefly to the methods in the shops which prolong the period of 
apprenticeship and give small opportunity to the learner. The 
dressmakers are calling for girls who have had some training at least 
in plain sewing. The foreign girls come better prepared, but it is a 
curious fact that the mothers, many of whom are capable of 
beautiful needlework, do not succeed in teaching their American 
daughters the same art. The schools have done comparatively little 
and the result is the untrained girl who enters the shop for errand 
work grows tired of it before she has had a chance to do much else, 
and leaves for some position that seems to promise more rapid 
promotion. As a rule it requires from two to three years to reach 
a wage of $7.00 or $8.00 a week, and the girl must be a good 
observer and quick to take casual suggestions, for she will get little 
real teaching. Yet there are always good positions waiting for those 
who persist through the beginner's time-serving and learn to be one 
of the specialized workers. The same difficulties confront the girl 
who wishes to be a milliner, and even those who felt attracted to 
this trade and undoubtedly possessed enough ability to reach the 
average wage of $10.00 or $12.00 a week have been turned aside 
because they could not get a start. The girls in the tailor estab- 
lishments were scheduled apart from the other sewing trades 
because all who receive above $6 . oo a week are a part of the piece- 
work system possible in this industry through the minute sub- 
division of all the processes involved. The opportunities in this 
work, like those in the factory, depend upon the speed of the 
worker. 

Domestic service is by common consent the least desirable of all 
the occupations. The eighth-grade girl will take any kind of factory 
work in preference, much as she dislikes the latter. Of the five girls 
so employed, only one is contented. The other four were forced to 
it after a period of overwork in store, bindery, and factory that 
made a change a physical necessity. A full presentation of the 
domestic-service situation is not possible here, but a few reasons 
may be given to account for the prevailing attitude. There is no 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 53 

real preparation available for the majority of these girls. The 
mothers cannot give any systematic training that would make their 
daughters valuable in an American household and the bi-weekly 
cooking-class for one school year offers the only bit of instruction 
open to them. The fourteen- or fifteen-year-old child is of little 
service to the employer who cannot accept her in her untrained state 
and act as a teacher. It is little wonder that the girl who is placed 
at a low wage to help with "light housework" or "mind a baby" 
proves unsatisfactory in a position that requires more maturity and 
good sense than the factory demands. Moreover, the early age of 
her employment makes it difficult for the girl to leave home and 
accept the isolation of the average domestic helper. Since there is 
little chance to begin under acceptable conditions, the logical result 
is the adaptation to other occupations easily accessible, which allow 
the child to live at home where she naturally belongs at her age. 
The definite duties and fixed hours combined with the greater 
sociability of every other occupation are more attractive to youth. 
The years do not bring either opportunity or inclination to acquire 
enough knowledge of household arts to enable these girls to hold 
good positions. Finally, the American-born girl, so close to the 
foreign home, holds tenaciously to her conviction that domestic 
service is un-American, an inferior kind of work that must be left 
to "foreigners." How far the employers of household labor are 
responsible for the attitude of mind that makes this occupation so 
universally undesirable may be left an open question. 

The department store stands next to the factory as a low-grade 
entrance to employment, but more than half of those who begin in 
the store refuse to remain there. The wages are low and oppor- 
tunities for advancement are few. Seventeen out of the one hundred 
in the eighth-grade group and thirty-four from the two hundred of 
the other group, or only 17 per cent of the total, are in stores, and 
those who receive more than $7.00 a week are working on the 
commission plan, wages estimated on the basis of the number of 
sales. Again the girl must submit to the speeding-up process if she 
wishes to get out of the low-wage class. 

The office position holds little hope for the girl who has had less 
than eight grades in school, and she seldom rises above $7 . oo a week 



54 

in simple routine work. The one exception to this which Table 
XVI shows is but another illustration of the persistency and native 
ability that may conquer many adverse conditions. For the girl 
who completes the elementary-school course there are opportunities 
commanding a wage varying from $8.00 to $12.00 or possibly 
$13.00 a week. Much depends upon her accuracy and general 
reliability and other characteristics that may make her a valuable 
part of the routine. The clever stenographer may reach $15.00 a 
week but is not likely to do so unless she is well qualified in English, 
and the majority fail at this point without more training than they 
acquire in the six months' course of the business college. The 
possession of the eighth-grade certificate is not required to enter the 
service of the Telephone Company, but comparatively few girls in 
the district succeed in qualifying without it, although the telephone 
girl stands next to the office girl in having achieved a position that 
gives social distinction. After passing through the school, operators 
formerly 1 began at the rate of eleven cents an hour for the first six 
months. The new schedule gives twelve cents an hour for the first 
month, with a more rapid rate of increase. It is also possible for 
girls to reach supervisory positions but few will be able to do so. 
Judging from the one hundred girls who fairly represent the 
tendency of those who complete the eight grades, 64 per cent of the 
girls in the neighborhood who are able to reach this group will find 
places in some form of office work or with the Telephone Company. 
In the sewing trades, the factory, the bindery, and the yards, a 
girl is subject to seasonal employment. This is especially true of 
the low- wage class, for even in seasonal occupations the skilled 
workers may be retained or may find places by migrating from one 
part of the city to another. 

'The following schedule was put into effect January 16, 1913: 

12 cents an hour for the first month 

13 ' next two mc) nths 

14 " * " three months 

15 " f our months 

16 " jj ve mo nths 

17 " "six months 

18 " " " " " " seven months 
19" * "" " eight months 
20 " " * " " * year 

and so on up to the maximum of 23 cents. 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 55 
6. HEALTH IN RELATION TO OCCUPATION 

In the beginning of this investigation an effort was made to 
secure records of the girl's physical condition in relation to her 
home environment, her occupation, and the length of time she had 
been employed. It was impossible to make the records complete 
enough for any final conclusions. The average working-girl cannot 
afford to confess to physical weaknesses, but the majority accept as 
a matter of course "two or three colds every winter" or "frequent 
nervous headaches" for which no physician is consulted, or the need 
of the stimulation supplied by an excessive use of tea and coffee. 
The question is extremely complex, since health is dependent upon 
so many factors both psychic and physical. Overcrowding, lack of 
proper food, worry, and friction, all work together to undermine 
the health of a girl who might under a more favorable environment 
endure the stress of the occupation that appears to be the cause of 
her breakdown. However, a few suggestive facts grew out of the 
effort. The girls between eighteen and twenty years of age showed 
the best average of general good health, regardless of their occupa- 
tions. Those under eighteen and over twenty showed the greatest 
number of minor ailments and nervous tendencies, also regardless of 
the character of the occupations in which they had been engaged. 
Girls who had changed occupation, when the new position meant 
greater satisfaction in work or some added pleasure due to increased 
wages, showed a better average of health than those working with a 
sense of discontent or a desire for changes which they were unable 
to bring about. Those twenty years of age and over who began at 
fourteen admitted that they were "tired most of the time." The 
late beginning, although it often meant no gain in wages over the 
girl of the same age who began earlier, had served to postpone the 
almost inevitable coming of weariness and aversion experienced by 
so many girls after six years of continuous employment. The head 
of the employment department in a large manufacturing industry 
using the piecework system is responsible for the statement that the 
average "efficient life" of the rapid pieceworker seldom exceeds 
three years. That is, few girls are able to endure for a longer period 
the combination of monotony and speed required to earn the high 
wage held out as an inducement at the beginning of their work. 



56 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

These girls had been o.bliged to slacken the pace or change the 
occupation to bring into use a different set of muscles in order to 
avoid a nervous breakdown. The long rides, standing in crowded 
street cars, which 80 per cent of the girls are obliged to take, add an 
inconceivable amount to the burden of the day's work. A part of 
the desire for office and telephone positions arises from the shorter 
hours 1 required in these occupations. The unanimous testimony of 
the thinking mothers is that "American-born girls grow up with 
less physical vigor than their parents." 

Exact information from employers was difficult to obtain, as no 
records are kept of the number who drop out of any industry or for 
what cause. The general impression of the managers of employ- 
ment departments seems to be that girls leave to be married; that 
this is the final occupation open to all of them; that the limited 
period of their employment could not seriously affect their health. 
Many were able to point to their welfare work, restrooms, and 
trained nurses in attendance, and all looked upon the general 
appearance of those at the moment employed as a guaranty that the 
specialized form of occupation they represented could not be 
detrimental to health. One who visits any business or industry 
calling for large numbers of women and girls, will be impressed by 
the freshness and youth 2 of the mass. Yet it is obviously impossible 
to arrive at any conclusion through the study of the survivors, 
rather than the victims of modern industry. 

The study of occupational diseases is not new. Miss Goldmark 
draws a line sharply between the longer established interest in 
special trade diseases and the recent physiological study of over- 
work. Fatigue and nervous exhaustion, the subtle and hitherto 
unrecognized effects of speed, monotony, noise, piecework, and the 

. * The Telephone Company requires eight hours of actual work, but pays for eight 
and one-half hours, a rest period of fifteen minutes being given each morning and after- 
noon. The hours of office girls are not uniform, but vary from eight to nine and one- 
half. Only two girls in the group were found working in a Union factory with a uni- 
form eight-hour day. 

'"Successive reports of the United States Census indicate that self-supporting 
girls are increasing steadily in numbers each decade, until 59 per cent of all young 
women in the Nation between the ages of 16 and 20, are engaged in some gainful 
occupation." Jane Addams, A New Conscience and an Ancient Evil, p. 56. 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 57 

stress of rush seasons are the dangers that threaten the workers of 
today. With the exception of the few domestic helpers, all of the 
wage-earning girls are subject to some form of this "new strain in 
industry." They are meeting it bravely, but blindly, driven by 
forces beyond either their comprehension or their control. Judging 
from studies in other 1 industrial communities, there is abundant 
evidence that efficient girlhood in factory, shop, or store will mean 
inefficient motherhood 2 visible in "a heightened infant mortality, a 
lowered birth-rate, and an impaired second generation." What the 
results will be no one dares to prophesy. Even now there are signs 
of physical deterioration in this first generation from vigorous 
foreign stock. 

7. THE GIRL AND THE FAMILY 

The girl begins her work in response to the family standard that 
demands the wages of children, and she remains amazingly docile in 
supplying the family need. (From time immemorial the economic 
value of the woman has been estimated in terms of the immediate 
needs of the family.) The customary duties of wife and mother are 
accepted as a matter of course and every girl is expected, after a 
temporary season of wage-earning, to go from the home of her father 
to that of her husband. "Economic independence" for the woman 
in a sense conveyed by the modern use of these words is as yet 
unknown and incomprehensible. It follows that what the girl 
earns is easily appropriated by the parents and, broadly speaking, 
obediently surrendered by the girl. Among the three hundred girls 
between sixteen and twenty-four years of age, there are 290 who 
have no independent control of their own wages. That is, what 
they earn goes into the common family fund and they receive back 
again from the mother what she decides they require for carfare, 
lunches, amusements, and clothes. Girls sometimes complain that 
they do not have enough "returned" to them in spending money 
and in "the kind of clothes other girls wear." If the mother is 

1 This foreign district does not yet furnish enough children of the second genera- 
tion in America to make possible a study of mothers who had been in the class of 
working-girls here described. 

2 Josephine Goldmark, Fatigue and Efficiency, pp. 90-100. 



58 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

indulgent with her daughter's desire for evening pleasures and some 
of the novelties and frivolities of fashion, there is little friction; if 
she fails to recognize these legitimate demands of youth, the distance 
between mother and daughter is widened, although among the five 
hundred girls their instinctive devotion to the family claim has 
been strong enough to keep them obedient. When the son begins 
to feel that he should no longer surrender his entire wage to his 
mother, this same dispute is promptly handled in a different manner. 
A definite sum, usually from $3 . oo to $5 . oo a week, is exacted from 
him, proportioned according to his wage and the amount the mother 
thinks she can demand and still keep him loyal to the family. This 
sum entitles him to board, lodging, and laundry. "Boys can run 
away if you don't do the right thing by them," says the foreign 
mother, "and of course you wouldn't treat boys the way you do 
girls." Girls sometimes complain of the superior attitude of the 
brother, but at the same time, they bow before it. Those who are 
earning more than either the father or the son accept a position in 
the household that forces them to coax, cry, or quarrel with the 
mother whenever they wish independent spending-money. With 
ten girls of this group, rebellion reached a climax. They demanded 
and secured an equal right with the brother to pay a fixed sum 
for board. 1 

Under these family conditions it is difficult to say what con- 
stitutes "a living wage" for a girl. These girls are supplementary 
wage-earners. They represent the class who furnish the "living at 
home" excuse of the employer who is questioned about his low wage 
scale. Parents and daughters alike accept with little protest a wage 
that could not cover the cost of the most meager living apart from 
the family. The woman who frets over the $6.00 a week of the 
sixteen-year-old boy will regard the same wage complacently when 
the seventeen-year-old girl receives it. Whether the wage proves 
unsatisfactory from the older daughter depends entirely upon the 
amount the girl must have returned to her. Mothers object 
especially to the department-store positions that call for an undue 

'In one family the matter was settled by accepting $5.00 a week from the 
daughter, although only $4.00 a week was demanded from the son who could earn 
the same amount as his sister. 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 59 

outlay in clothes in proportion to the wage received, and make a 
point of encouraging the factory work which takes less account of 
the girl's appearance. The cheap office position is open to the same 
objection as the department store. The consensus of opinion 
among the more intelligent mothers is that considering the present 
high cost of living any occupation in the public eye requiring a girl 
"to look well" calls for a minimum of $8.00 a week even when she 
has the advantage of living at home. Strange as it may seem, the 
fact that the wage sufficient only for carfare, lunches, and clothes 
leaves a part of the girl's support to be met by the rest of the 
family, is not regarded by the general run of parents as unjust. As 
long as this attitude remains, the individual supplementary wage- 
earner will continue to complicate the problem of wages. 

Although the girl accepts the standards of the home that control 
the extent of her schooling and demand her wages, the first experi- 
ence as a wage-earner brings a slight change in her relation to the 
other members of the family. The world is bigger than she knew 
and there are other ways of living than those she has been taught to 
accept. A new attitude toward life begins to develop, manifested 
in a little more self-assertion and a desire "to do as other girls do." 
Gradually she comes into her own world of hopes and ambitions in 
which the parents have little part. Since there is no place for social 
gatherings in the four-room flat, she meets chance companions on 
the corner, often gets an invitation to the five-cent theater, and 
"makes dates" for successive evenings. It must be remembered 
that it is possible for a girl to do this and preserve an almost 
incredible degree of innocence and childishness. As she grows 
older, the public dance-hall furnishes a larger share of her evening 
pleasures. Seventy-five per cent of the girls from sixteen to 
twenty-four years of age attend public dances where there is 
practically no supervision. Those who do not are among the 
younger ones who are still obedient to parental authority. It is 
common also for various social clubs to hire a hall, demand an 
admission fee to cover the cost of rent and music, and take charge of 
their own dance. Here there is no oversight beyond that exercised 
by a "floor committee" of exuberant young fellows who may be 
from eighteen to twenty-one years of age. Parents protest in vain. 



60 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

The young people are making their own standards through the 
natural law of imitation which leads them to break away from the 
older ideals of the home and try to be a conspicuous part of some 
prevailing custom, 1 fashion or sentiment. The simple peasant 
courtesies having their being in class distinctions not openly 
recognized in America are despised. The mother does not under- 
stand why she must not kiss the hand of one whom her Old World 
instincts make her recognize as her "superior." In their own 
country the Slavic women below the middle class do not wear hats 
and among all other nations there is a tendency to make the head- 
dress represent a distinction that stands for something vital and 
unalterable. For this reason the American daughter places an 
exaggerated importance upon the possession of a fashionable hat 2 
that brings girls of all classes and all nations to one level. Both 
father and mother cling to their native speech. Although the 
daughter does not lose it entirely, she takes little pains to preserve 
it. Dress and speech are the visible signs of the distance between 
parents and child. A further cause of contention lies in the demand 
of the children for a higher standard of living at home. Sons often 
unite with the daughters in calling for a better grade of food, more 
comfortable furnishings, or an additional room in the flat. It is a 
significant fact that the rebellion against overcrowding comes from 
the young people and not from the parents. This feeling even 
hastens the marriage of both sons and daughters who find seven or 
eight people in four rooms an unbearable condition. Although the 
father is not an unimportant factor in these disputes, it is usually 
the mother who manages the combined income of husband and 
children. If she wishes to retain her firm hold on the family purse, 
she is often forced to make compromises, and children on their part 
are often obliged to conform to the stern authority of the parents. 

1 At one of these club dances the writer remonstrated with a youth of nineteen 
who was dancing in an unseemly fashion. In a straightforward and manly way he 
assured his critic that he was in complete accord with " the latest thing in fashionable 
society on the other side of the town." 

3 A milliner of long experience in the neighborhood says she has witnessed many 
a dispute between mother and daughter over the relative amount that should be spent 
for the hat. The girl is willing to practice economy in every other direction; the 
mother is horrified at the cost of an unnecessary bit of finery. 




OLD COUNTRY MOTHERS 





AMERICAN DAUGHTERS 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 61 

Sometimes the children permanently raise the standard of living in 
the home; sometimes they sink under the burden of a daily life 
wholly incompatible with their tastes and ambitions. In this 
process of assimilation the American girl presents a strange mixture 
of independence and helplessness, self-assertion and submission, 
loyalty and rebellion, that confuse, anger, and grieve the foreign 
parent; but neither understands the subtle and irresistible forces at 
work to produce a situation so difficult for both father and mother 
and so dangerous for the girl. 

SECTION V. PROBLEMS OF ADJUSTMENT 
I. SUMMARY 

Before considering the possible methods of meeting some of the 
problems outlined, the leading points in the discussion may be 
summarized. 

1. The immigrants of the stockyards district represent various 
races and different levels of both social and financial attainment. 

2. The dominant educational standard of the people is the 
minimum legal requirement of the state, and by common consent 
the education of the girl is a matter of less importance than the 
education of the boy. 

3. Eighty-nine per cent of the families feel an obligation to send 
their children to the parochial school for a part of their training. 
The constant movement between public and parochial schools 
makes loss of time unavoidable and increases the amount of 
retardation and consequent elimination that takes place before the 
completion of the elementary-school course. 

4. Retardation and elimination statistics show a condition in the 
local public schools the reverse of that revealed in the investigations 
of other communities; retardation among boys is 22 per cent 
greater than retardation among girls, but owing to the inferior 
position assigned to the girl, the proportion of boys who remain in 
school to enter the eighth grade is 24 per cent greater than the 
proportion of girls who remain. 

5. The wage of the father is an important factor in determining 
the extent of elimination. 



62 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

6. The school is not meeting the needs of the majority of the 
girls in the district, and makes but slight impression upon those 
who fail to receive the benefit of a complete elementary course. 
They do not successfully attend the evening school and cannot 
make up for a deficient education by taking class instruction after 
working-hours. 

7. The girls who complete eight grades recognize a value in the 
discipline of a complete course, and 43 per cent tried to take some 
advantage of educational opportunities after leaving the elementary 
school. 

8. The compulsory education law that requires the alternative 
of school in the event of failure to find work during the fourteen-to- 
sixteen-year period is not enforced and cannot be as long as girls 
are allowed the independent possession of their work certificates. 

9. The employment of girls under sixteen years is not necessary 
to the continuation of any business or industry. The occupations 
open to them are non-educative and attended by grave physical 
and moral dangers. The actual power of the girl to add to the 
family income has been exaggerated and overestimated. 

10. The records of older girls show that 61 per cent of those who 
leave school before completing eight grades accept places in the 
factories where the opportunity to earn more than $6.00 a week 
must depend upon their skill as pieceworkers. Sixty-four per cent 
of those who complete eight grades will find positions in some form 
of office work or with the Telephone Company, where there is a 
possibility of their earning from $8.00 to $15.00 a week. 

11. Records of the relation between health and occupation are 
not complete enough for final conclusions, but one general fact is 
obvious: under the existing conditions of life and labor in the 
stockyards district the first generation of American girls lack the 
physical stamina of the foreign stock from which they come. 

12. In the unavoidable conflict of standards, the gravest dan- 
ger to the girl lies in the freedom she has demanded to resort to 
unregulated public places of amusement. 

2. REMEDIAL MEASURES 

The conditions summarized above call for remedial measures: 
(a) the reorganization of the school; (6) a revised compulsory 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 63 

education law; (c) a new attitude to the problem of family poverty; 
(d) preparation for a city- wide vocational guidance program; (e) 
adequate provision for, and supervision of, public places of amuse- 
ment and recreation. 

a) The reorganization of the school. Chicago has recently been 
made alive to the fact that "43 per cent of her school children who 
enter the first grade do not reach the eighth grade at all, and 49 
per cent do not complete the eighth grade." 1 A careful analysis of 
the present situation in the schools, a study of the need for industrial 
and commercial training, together with recommendations as to the 
form in which such training may be made a part of the public-school 
system of the city, may be found in the comprehensive report of the 
City Club of Chicago. Training of a preparatory trade character 
to be introduced into the seventh and eighth grades, vocational 
work and individual attention for overage pupils to enable them to 
complete the work of the grades, a trade school that shall admit girls 
of fourteen years who have completed six grades, the suggestion 
that "the subject-matter of the academic studies should be closely 
related to the handwork and to industrial needs," are among the 
recommendations that will meet the more immediate requirements 
of the girls of the stockyards district. The education of a girl offers 
a complex and difficult problem, since it calls for the recognition of 
her need of adequate preparation for earning a livelihood, and the 
further more important preparation for life as a wife and mother. 
The first half of the problem has been surrendered to the store, the 
factory, the shop, and the business office; the second has been 
forgotten. At present the lack of training in the household arts, 
and the neglect of the teaching that will develop efficient mother- 
hood threaten serious consequences to the future 2 generation. To 

1 A Report on Vocational Training in Chicago and in Other Cities by A Committee 
of the City Club of Chicago, p. i. 

* A young girl came to the Settlement recently from whom the following record 
was secured: left school in the sixth grade at fourteen years; spent three years in 
migrating from factory to factory wrapping soap or candy; met a young fellow at a 
public dance-hall; married at the age of seventeen; after one week of married life 
came to ask for a place in a factory. They had decided "to board with mother." 
The American girl, slender, pale, inefficient in every direction save "wrapping," 
returned with her husband to the old German mother who was still vigorous, a capable 
mistress of all the homely arts, but helpless before conditions that had fashioned her 
daughter. 



64 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

be effective in remedying this condition among people who are not 
sufficiently conscious of what they lack, enlarged opportunities must 
be brought to their very doors. The reorganization of the courses 
in the local schools and the establishment of a trade school 1 within 
reach without the expenditure of carfare, are the first requisites of 
the voluntary attendance that will lead to a conscious awakening 
without which no lasting reformation is possible. 

b) A revised compulsory education law. The reorganization of 
the school will do much to arouse an interest that may induce 
voluntary attendance, but in a neighborhood of low educational 
standards and predominantly low wages, legislation to raise the 
compulsory age limit to sixteen years is imperative. In no other 
way will this new opportunity be opened to those whose need is 
greatest. The ignorance and indifference of parents, the failure of 
the present law as it relates to the fourteen-to-sixteen-year period, 
the non-educative character of all city occupations open to little 
girls, combined with the grave physical and moral dangers attend- 
ing their employment, call for such legislation coincident with the 
provision for vocational training in the school. To protect the 
children of foreign parents from a mistaken sentiment that requires 
them to receive the greater part of their education hi their mother- 
tongue, the law should demand that all candidates for work cer- 
tificates be able to read and write the English language. 2 At 
best any standard minimum age as the chief requisite for beginning 
work is open to serious objections, and in the evolution of child- 
labor legislation 3 this arbitrary test will give way to a more intelli- 

1 Continuous efforts have been made to induce girls to attend the Lucy L. Flower 
Technical High School. Parents complain that "it is too far away and takes car- 
fare." Since the opening of the school in September, 1911, only six girls from this 
district have taken advantage of this opportunity and only two are remaining for 
their second year. 

3 The present law demands that a child shall not be illiterate, but does not require 
even a rudimentary knowledge of the English language. Girls come to the Settlement 
who can neither read nor write the simple sentences of a First English Reader, but 
they hold out their work certificates as proof of their fitness for entrance to industry. 
The sentiment of the parents who wish their children to respect and use the mother- 
tongue is not undervalued and at all times deserves consideration, but the experience 
of the past years has proved that the children are too seriously handicapped by this 
shortsighted policy. 

3 Mrs. Florence Kelley has given a program for effective child labor legislation 
and its enforcement in Some Ethical Gains through Legislation, pp. 91-99. 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 65 

gent consideration of the child's physical, mental, and moral fitness 
for a given occupation regardless of the exact number of years 
attained. Mr. Lovejoy, in reviewing the progress of the National 
Child Labor Committee, says: "The chronological age test for 
children seeking employment, which was general eight years ago, 
has been supplemented in many states by requiring sufficient 
physical examination to at least discover whether the child corre- 
sponds to the norm for its age, and the public now generally 
recognizes that educational and physical tests are essential to any 
adequate dealing with the problem of committing children to 
industry." The more exact knowledge that will result from the 
present movement for the vocational training, guidance, and super- 
vision of working-children cannot fail to stimulate the needed 
legislation in this direction. 

c) A new attitude to the problem of family poverty The new 
compulsory education law will mean increased hardship in many 
families where even the trifling wages of the child have an enlarged 
value when added to the total family income. The results of 
investigations in other communities seem to prove that the early 
leaving of school is not determined by the family need. In the 
stockyards district the economic situation will demand a new atti- 
tude to the problem of the poverty that is increased by the neglect 
of the children. "The most hopeless condition of the poor is 
unfitness for work. Unfitness for work means low wages, low wages 
mean insufficient food, insufficient food means unfitness for labor, 
and so the vicious circle is complete." 1 Poverty of this kind is a 
social disease. It can never be an isolated fact, unrelated to the 
progress and welfare of the city as a whole. An effective recognition 
of the social rather than the individual aspect of poverty must lead 
to some practical means that shall make it possible for parents to 
accept the new law. Whatever the method, children must be 
relieved of the need of becoming premature breadwinners, an 
unnatural burden forced upon them by the ignorance, disability, or 
low wage of the parents. Public and private charity may intervene 
temporarily but the problem is ultimately one of wages. In her 
discussion of Minimum- Wage Boards, Mrs. Kelley says: "Poverty 

1 Rowntree, Poverty, p. 46. 



66 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

is the regular human by-product of certain industries without 
standards, of certain socially subnormal industries. But it is 
obvious that in any rational society, each industry must sustain the 
people employed in it. An industry which supports its workers and 
their families only in part, places an undue burden upon charity 
and is, itself, a parasite upon the community." 1 

Through this newer attitude to the problem of family poverty it 
will be possible to establish the right of children to the normal 
period of childhood and to adequate training for future usefulness 
as citizens of an enlightened community. 

d) Preparation for a city-wide vocational guidance program. The 
Board of Education has recently established a department of voca- 
tional supervision. 2 The work of employment, supervision, 
vocational guidance, and investigation of the industrial oppor- 
tunities open to children who leave school to go to work has been 
supported for two years by a number of private organizations under 
the direction of the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy 
Department of Social Investigation. In different parts of the city 
the necessarily limited experiments of private efforts have proved 
both the need and the possibilities of this new movement, but its 
ultimate success must depend upon a method that will leave no 
community isolated and attempting to work out its own problems 
apart from the rest of the city. The School has come to the point 
of a severe testing of its efficiency, for it must attack the difficult 
problem of bringing into a city-wide co-operation the home, the 
school, and the world of industry, and of leading the way to new 
legislation. Through this unification of social agencies the weak 
points in each will be revealed. Vocational training must precede 
the possibility of vocational guidance, but at present there is a lack 
of sufficient information to enable the schools to make an intelligent 
choice of the trades that should be taught, or of the kind of instruc- 
tion demanded for a profitable entrance to different trades and 
occupations. The proportion both of the skilled and of the 
unskilled who suffer from seasonal employment is unknown. A 

1 Mrs. Florence Kelley, "Minimum-Wage Boards," American Journal of Sociology, 
November, 1911. 

'Circular of Announcement, Series III, No. 18, May i, 1913. 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 67 

study of the relation between the demand and the supply of 
unskilled labor 1 may reveal the extent to which, under the present 
methods in business and industry, a large number of workers will be 
found in the automatic occupations requiring no previous training. 
It is obviously one of the first requisites of a city-wide program to 
make provision for securing such information 2 and keeping it up to 
date. With the best of knowledge at their command, it is a difficult 
task for adult minds to understand and guide the young. To 
further this aim the school should keep records of the child's 
progress, aptitudes, personal tastes, and ambitions, together with 
physical, mental, and moral characteristics. The child's transfer 
from one school to another should not break the continuity of this 
record. But it is not final to train children for the vocations to 
which they are seemingly best adapted. Provision should be made 
for a supervision of their employment during the most trying years 
of the adolescent period. A little girl who commits some trifling 
offense may become the ward of the Juvenile Court and may be 
carefully guided in all of her activities until she is eighteen years of 
age. The same careful supervision of all children will decrease the 
number recorded in the Juvenile Court. With the school as the 
center of the vocational training, guidance, and supervision of all 
children, it may be possible to prevent one of the great tragedies of 
life the vocational misfit. What the school may do to enrich the 
lives of those whose daily work will be (according to present indica- 
tions of the probable future of many industries) a mere deadly 
routine is one of the problems for the future. The effort to solve it 
may bring the employer to a recognition of the truth that business 
and industry in all forms must serve in the training for citizenship 
and the growth of democracy. 

1 Two men who were looking for a desirable place to establish a new factory 
recently came to the Settlement to ask for an estimate of the surplus labor available 
among women and girls. The reputation of the stockyards district for cheap and 
docile labor had reached them. It is not improbable that the future will see a spirit 
of city-wide co-operation that will make such a proposition not only unethical but 
wholly impracticable. 

3 A beginning has been made by the Chicago School of Civics and Philanthropy 
Department of Social Investigation in their report on finding employment for children 
who leave the grade schools to go to work. 



68 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

e) Adequate provision for, and supervision of, public places of 
amusement. It was stated in the beginning that no delinquent girl 
is included in the number who form the basis of this study. The 
five hundred girls, living and growing under the trying conditions 
imposed by conflicting standards, forced by the new methods of 
industry to accept outside of their homes the nerve-wrecking and 
non-stimulating occupations open to untrained girlhood, and 
seeking in the five-cent theater and the dance-hall to satisfy their 
youthful craving for excitement, are as yet among the large mass 
of upright working-girls who are constructing their own code of 
protective ethics. It is a dangerous experiment. Never before in 
the world's history have women been considered as a class of 
industrial workers. Never before have young girls been allowed 
the freedom they indulge in today. As the city, through the 
Board of Education, has decided to undertake the difficult task of 
bringing together all the agencies involved in the vocational 
adjustment of youth, so it must ultimately through some effective 
instrument make provision for recreation apart from the com- 
mercial enterprise that profits from the juxtaposition of vice, 
intemperance, and innocent amusements. The universal demand 
of the workers today for shorter hours of labor is gaining a hearing. 
The leisure they crave will be forthcoming, but to what end ? The 
modern city has tried "this stupid experiment of organizing work 
and failing to organize play," 1 and the disastrous results are appar- 
ent in the perversion of the normal instincts of youth. " The Right 
to Leisure," the social cry of the present century, must be estab- 
lished through municipal direction and control of all forms of public 
recreation. 

APPENDIX 

The following personal records are added because they represent 
typical experiences and attitudes of American-born girls in this 
district. 

Case i. Left school in the sixth grade at fourteen years. Began in a fig 
and date factory at $3. 50 a week; stayed five months; box factory for one 
week at $3.00; biscuit factory one month at $3 . 50 a week ; yards six months at 
$5 . oo a week; candy factory two weeks at $2 . 50 a week; laundry two months 

1 The final word on this subject has been given by Jane Addams in The Spirit of 
Youth and the City Streets. 



THE AMERICAN GIRL IN THE STOCKYARDS DISTRICT 69 

at $5.00 a week; candy factory on piecework for two weeks, but earned less 
than the usual time wage; folded circulars in an office for three days and 
received $1.35 for entire time; back to candy factory at $4.00 a week. Girl 
was not sure of the exact order of her positions and thought she "might have 
forgotten two or three of them." Could not understand why anybody who 
had "seen so much of the city and had had so many experiences" should 
always find such low wages. 

Case 2. Left school in the sixth grade on her fourteenth birthday. Went 
into a soap factory; wiped and packed daily seventeen boxes, each box holding 
fifty bars of toilet soap; received $4.00 a week when she could keep up this pace. 
At the end of the first year, hands were red and sore and head ached the last 
half of the week. During the second year often stayed out on Thursday 
because she could not endure the nervous strain without this interruption. 
Occasionally reached a speed of twenty-two boxes daily and received $5 . 50 a 
week. At the age of sixteen, wearied, disgusted, and rebellious, she came to the 
Settlement to know "why girls have to work in nasty places," and to ask for a 
book on "How Poor Girls Became Famous." She had heard there were books 
like that and she had "got to do something quick." 

Case 3. Left school in the seventh grade at fourteen years. At home two 
years. Piecework in different bookbinderies for five years. Never earned 
more than $7 . oo a week. So sick of the monotony that she must try something 
new. Piecework in an upholstery factory for seven months. Ill for six months, 
heart permanently weakened. Placed in a good position to do housework, 
and rapidly improving. 

Case 4. Left school in the sixth grade at fourteen years. Factory piece- 
worker for five years, earning from $8 . oo to $9 . oo a week. Repeated inter- 
ruptions due to illnesses of the fifth year. Nervous breakdown ascribed by 
doctor to overstrain of piecework. Idle six months trying to recover. Forced 
to accept an easy factory position at $5 . oo a week. 

Case 5. Left school in the seventh grade at fifteen years. Tried house- 
work for six months at $3 . oo a week. Steady factory work at $7 . oo to $8 . oo 
a week. Tells experience of a " lightning worker " who once outdid herself and 
made $4. oo on the day's piecework. A cut on the rate followed at once which 
reduced girls in her class to $5.00 and $6.00 a week. Two girls went to the 
office and complained on behalf of the entire number. They were discharged. 
The other girls cried over their machines but nobody could lead a strike. 

Case 6. Left school at fourteen in the seventh grade. A department-store 
girl for six years, advancing from $3 . oo to present wage of $6 . 50 a week. 
Tired and worn. Says she knows now that " the untrained girl without a trade 
is not worth more than an average of $6.00 or $7.00 a week." 

Case 7. Left school in the fourth grade at fourteen years. Piecework for 
seven years. Can earn from $13 . oo to $15 . oo a week, but the average for the 
year round is from $8 . oo to $9 . oo. Says a factory means "incessant watching 
and driving for speed." At fourteen an unusually strong, vigorous, solid girl 



70 CHICAGO'S STOCKYARDS COMMUNITY 

with the steady German capacity for continuous work. At twenty-one, forced 
to "lay by," nervous, listless, "disgusted with everything." Lost ten pounds 
of her weight between twentieth and twenty-first birthdays. 

Case 8. Left school at the close of the fourth grade when twelve years old. 
Began at once in a department store at $i . 50 a week. Between eighteen and 
twenty years of age at the height of her earning power, $10.00 a week. At 
twenty began to weaken. Dropped to position at $8.00. Severe eye-strain 
which glasses could not relieve. Finally went into a bindery "for a chance to 
sit down." The change from constant standing to constant sitting improved 
general health and relieved eye-strain. 

Case 9. Eighth-grade girl began in a department store at $3 . oo a week. 
In eighteen months rose to $4.50. Tried the "commission on sales plan" 
which averaged $15.00 a week. Lasted one year. Broken in health. At 
home for one year. Returned to another store on steady wage of $6.00 a 
week. 

Case 10. Left school in the fifth grade at fourteen years. Factory worker 
for six years. Average of $8 . oo a week for past four years. Says: "I have 
earned money for the family and they could not live without my wages, but / 
know nothing. Foreign people will not teach a girl anything because they 
think she will marry by eighteen years. I am considered old at twenty, but I 
cannot marry a foreign man and live like my parents." 

In the absence of more cases the extent to which the following 
are typical of what the stockyards district will produce is an open 
question. Miss Goldmark 1 quotes from English records of the 
lowered birth-rate among women who have spent their girlhood 
employed in stores. 

Case i. Left school in the fifth grade at fourteen years. Home two years. 
Worked in a bookbindery nearly three years. Average wage $6.00 a week. 
Has been married two years and seven months. No children. 

Case 2. Left school in the fifth grade at fourteen years. Reached average 
of $9.00 a week in a department store. Has been married four years. No 
children. 

Case 3. Left school in the fifth grade at fourteen years. Factory girl for 
four years. Never could earn more than $7.00 a week. Has been married 
four years. No children. 

Case 4. Left school in the seventh grade at fourteen years. Department 
store for six years, rising from $3 . oo to $10.00 a week. Has been married five 
years. No children. 

Case 5. Left school in the seventh grade at thirteen years. Large and 
vigorous and "passed for fifteen." Department-store girl for six years. Feet 
swollen till she was unable to stand. Became an office girl for one year. Has 
been married three years. No children. 

1 Fatigue and Efficiency, p. 96. 




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