Real Life Newsies Were Very Different Than What We Saw In The Disney Film

Updated on Sep 03, 2019. Originally added on Apr 25, 2016 by Kathy Pinna
These aren't the boys who delivered a newspaper to your home, these are the children (usually age 9 - 15, sometimes younger) who bought papers and sold them on the streets of cities. They became the face of child exploitation during the 19th and 20th centuries. How would you feel if your son had to live the life you see on these pages?

History: Newsboys, or "newsies", referred to boys (and sometimes girls) who sold newspapers on street corners. They made up a large percentage of the child labor force from the mid 1800's through the 1920's. While working for long hours and low pay (they couldn't return unsold papers to the publishers), they were also considered "thugs" or "hooligans" by the public because they worked at night and their work took them to adult places such as saloons and vaudeville halls. They had to be street smart and good businessmen, achieving their education in daily life, not in school.

Real Life Newsies Were Very Different Than What We Saw In The Disney Film

Buying your wares

Indianapolis Newsboys

These newsies are lining up to buy a token ("brass checks"), which they exchange for newspapers to sell.

Brothers - 5, 7, 10 yrs

San Antonio newsboys

These Texas brothers worked from 6a to 9 or 10p selling newspapers. 1913

Long nights

Newsboy, New Jersey

This little newsboy (in 1912), fell asleep while selling his papers.


Waiting for the special edition

Indianapolis Newsboys

These newsies are waiting for a special baseball edition, which they will then sell on the street.

Just, awww . . .

Raymond Miller

A six yr old newsboy in Texas - and he isn't the youngest.

"Newsboy Club"

Newsboy Club

Guess they created a club for newsies - to keep them out of saloons - but they're still in trouble. (With a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for . . . )

Pretty perky!

Hartford Connecticut Newsies

Well, at least they're young. This is noon on Sunday and they have been out selling papers since 5a. No church, of course.


"Where some of their money goes"

Newsboys, Delaware

12 - 15 hr days and buying something to drink! (The public thought that newsies were akin to modern gangs.)

Neither rain, nor snow . . .

Newsboys. Location: Utica, New York (State)

Like the post office, these boys worked in all conditions.

"Little Fattie"

Newsboy, St. Louis MO

Not even 3 ½ ft tall, this 6 yr old newsies' nickname was Little Fattie. He began working when he was 5.

Outside the City Jail

A group of newsies

It's 10p and they're still selling papers - here, outside the jail.

Doesn't smoke, visits saloons

S. Russell, Newsboy

He was 12, had been selling papers for 2 yrs, made 20 cents a day - and didn't have to work to support his family. His money was his - so he didn't smoke, but he did go to saloons!

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