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Aspects of the employment of children in the British coal-mining industry, 1800-1872.

Kirby, Peter Thomas (1995) Aspects of the employment of children in the British coal-mining industry, 1800-1872. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis examines aspects of historiography, legislation, working conditions and welfare relating to the employment of the children who worked in British coal mines between 1800 and 1872. Contemporary views of children's employment in mines are considered in the light of the Children's Employment Commission of 1842. The movement for the abolition of child labour is examined and claims of 'indecent' underground working conditions are investigated. It is argued that the decline in the incidence of children's employment in coal mining came about as a result of the declining economic viability of their labour to the industry. The legislative prohibition of children from the coal industry was a rational process driven largely by improvements in production technology and by safety considerations. The research suggests that the incidence of child employment was lowest in the most technologically advanced coalfields. Computer-aided prosopography was used to analyse ages and occupations of mining children. The physical stature of mining children is discussed as an indicator of their nutritional status and welfare. A number of environmental influences upon the relative shorter stature of mining children are identified and these findings are viewed within the wider debate over the stature of historical populations. Ill-treatment and corporal punishment of children did not arise primarily from the process of coal production. The lowest levels of ill-treatment existed in the most advanced enterprises. The incidence of corporal punishment was greatest in the less developed coalfields and serious ill-treatment was most prevalent among non-parented children. Punishment was an aspect of safety discipline and this issue too is explored.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: History
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > History (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.296852
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2019 08:59
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2019 08:59
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/24960

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