Historians have long recognised the importance of child health during the Industrial Revolution, but few have explored the health of working children in any analytical detail. In this comprehensive study, Peter Kirby places the occupational health of employed children within a broad context of social, industrial and environmental change during the period 1780 to 1850. The book explores the deformities, fevers, respiratory complaints, industrial injuries and physical ill-treatment which have long been associated with child labour in the factory workplace. The result is a more nuanced picture of child health and child labour during the classic 'factory age' which raises important questions about the enduring stereotype of the health-impaired and abused industrial child.
Peter Kirby is Professor of Social History and Director of the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare at Glasgow Caledonian University.
Kirby's book challenges the traditional view of industrial child labor and establishes a research agenda for the future. JOURNAL OF ECONOMIC HISTORY
Kirby is not an apologist for the dangers of the early industrial workplace, but he does complicate our understanding of them. By using modern studies of child-worker health in developing countries to shed light on the possible medical conditions of early 19th-century operatives, the most disturbing aspect of his research is not what it reveals about child labour 200 years ago, but about the present, when we can no longer claim the defence of ignorance. HISTORY TODAY
An excellent and comprehensive study of the occupational health of child workers in the most high-profile areas of the industrial sector. It makes a significant contribution to debates on child labour, and the impact of industry on health and daily life. Kirby paints a notably more optimistic picture of the industrial workplace than we are used to. . . . The book is an excellent introduction to the topic for students and researchers alike. ECONOMIC HISTORY REVIEW
An impressive monograph [and] a masterly survey of the field. ... Essential reading to bring up to date all who work or teach in this field. HISTORY
In this meticulously researched study, Peter Kirby challenges assumptions about child workers that were commonly held by contemporaries and that have been perpetuated by historians. ... The implications of his highly readable reinterpretation ... should be given due recognition by anyone researching industrial populations. LOCAL POPULATION STUDIES
This book is an important contribution to the history of child labour during industrialisation, as well as to the history of medicine and its 'professionalisation' in the nineteenth century. It provides a corrective to long-held, but ill-informed, views on child workers in northern textile mills. ... Essential reading. CANADIAN JOURNAL OF HISTORY
Significantly contributes to the child labor literature. ... [It] has broad appeal and should be of interest to economic historians and social historians, as well as psychologists and sociologists. It is well written and superbly documented and is accessible to students at both the undergraduate and graduate level. EH.NET
An elegantly written exploration. Recommended. CHOICE