Kids at Work

A list of jobs children have historically performed.
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Holidays (412)

Labor Day (39)


When a child helps with household chores after school, he or she may dust or wash dishes. A child who grew up 100 years ago may not have gone to school at all. He or she may have worked full time as a powder monkey or a loblolly. Take a look at these and other historical jobs for kids.

Instead of sending children up a chimney, a goose would be tied to a rope and sent up to clean the soot with its feathers.

Chimney sweeps: Small children, 6 to 8 years old, crawled up chimneys and loosened the soot with a broom. They often worked 12-hour days.

Gillie boys: These boys helped fishermen. They baited hooks, pulled nets, and prepared food.

Loblollies: These boys were surgeons' assistants and worked on military ships.

Office boys: Young boys worked in offices sharpening pencils, stuffing envelopes, sweeping floors, and running errands.

Powder monkeys: These boys worked on warships and at forts, carrying gunpowder to the cannons during battle.

Vendors: Children often sold things on city streets. There were newspaper boys, muffin boys, and hot corn girls.

Waterboys: Farm and construction crews had waterboys, who brought water to them while they worked.

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