Breaker Boys from Hughestown Borough Pennsylvania

Breaker boys were coal-miners whose roles were to break the coal away from mined rock by hand, often utilizing coal breakers. Breaker boys were primarily children, (although some elderly miners who could no longer work in the mines would join the breaker boys) that ranged between the ages of 8 and 12 years old.

Child laborers played a critical role in the early days of the mining industry in the United States. From approximately 1866 through the early 1900's breaker boys were responsible for manually removing the impurities from rocks to isolate coal - often utilizing sharp and extremely dangerous machinery that resulted in amputations, illnesses (such as black lung disease) and death.

In 1885 Pennsylvania was one of the first states to forbid the employment of anyone under the age of 12 from working in a mine as a coal breaker. This decision and the public attention the new law received, would ultimately aid to the creation of the United States Child Labor Laws. This particular photo of breaker boy miners was taken in 1911 in Hughestown Borough Pennsylvania.
Date & Place:
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Updated Apr 15, 2016

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