Florence Kelley

by Brittany from Yorkton

My hero is stubborn, inspirational and determined. Her name is Florence Kelley. She was stubborn because even though she was threatened, she wouldn't stop trying. She was inspirational because she inspired people to help others. She was determined because she never gave up the struggle to stop injustices in the workplace.

Kelley tried many of things to stop child labor. She wrote a book, talked to the government, told the ill workers to stop sewing until they were better, talked to the bosses of the factories and led consumer boycotts of sweatshops.

When Kelley was a child, her father took her on a midnight tour of the factories where young boys helped make steel and glass. The dangerous and difficult things she saw the children do in the factories and sweatshops influenced her to help them. Kelly's first field work was an intensive survey of the settlement that surrounded her area. She found children as young as three being made to work in their homes.

In 1899, Florence Kelley moved to New York to lead the newly-formed National Consumers League. Here, she pioneered the use of labels on clothing to show that the garments were not made by child labor. She helped pass the first factory law prohibiting employment of children under the age of 14, and she was the first woman factory inspector. She also helped to create a federal bureau to study the work conditions of children and how to make them better. Because of her work in 1912, the United States Children's Bureau was founded with her friend Julia Lathrop as the first director.

Kelley was also very important in reforming the working conditions for women by making laws for regulating hours and ensuring fair wages. In 1909, she also helped establish the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, or the NAACP. She worked to make society better for everyone. Kelley remained a faithful fighter for a just society until her death in 1932 at the age of 74. At her funeral, her friends said that she was brave and helped others to be brave to continue their work and commitments after her death.

Page created on 2/22/2007 7:42:06 AM

Last edited 2/22/2007 7:42:06 AM

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Related Links

Florence Kelley -- A woman of fierce fidelity to justice - From the Boise State University website of D. Huff
Women and Social Movements in the United States: 1600-2000 - Information on women's history from the State University of New York at Binghamton.
Teaching History Online: Florence Kelley

Extra Info

Read Megan's Florence Kelley story.