[rough initial notes for draft]

The connection between the industrial education movement and the child labor and compulsory education movements is extremely close. Until the late nineteenth century, before the industrial revelotuion "kicked-in", child labor was not only acceptable but praiseworthy. But, in an industrial society, child labor becomes matter.

Here was no benevolent system of apprenticeship education but a system of cheap, easily discarded, labor which depressed the wages of adults and broke the spirits and bodies of the children.

In the early 1900s, spurred on by the "muckraking" reporting of John Spargo, Robert Hunter, Edwin Markham and others, Progressive educators launched a crusade against child labor.

From article the article by James Sullivan, Charles R. Richards, Isaac L. Kandel, and James Phinney Munroe, "Apprenticeship and Education", Paul Monroe, ed., Cyclopedia of Education, 1 New York: Macmillan, 1911, pages 156-161:

United States. Since the term "apprentice" is loosely used to designate almost any shop learner or employee below the journeyman, it is important to point out that fundamental to true apprenticeship is the indenture, a legal instrument, in the terms of the laws of New York,

"whereby a minor is bound out to serve as a clerk or servant in any trade, profession, or employment, or is apprenticed to learn the art or mystery of any trade or craft."

An indenture implies mutual obligation of service in preparation for a definite occupation, and apprenticeship is therefore a sharply defined and strictly limited type of vocational education. The variations in the type are many; yet they may reasonably be classified into two main groups: the old apprenticeship, in which there were close personal and even domestic relations between master and appren­tice, with little, if any, provision for definite education; and the new apprenticeship, in which the personal element has practically disappeared, but in which there is a continually growing emphasis upon both intensive and extensive training.

Decline of Apprenticeship

[adapted from  Ray Stombaugh,  page 12]

Both E E White, Technical Training in American Schools." N.E.A.Proceedings and Addresses . . . , 1880, pages 222-228 and Victor J Smith "Factors in the Development of the Manual Arts in the United States, Industrial Education Magazine 28 May, 1927, pages 360-363 refer to the consciousness of the public to the decline of the apprenticeship system and a desire on its part for some form of training which would continue to supply the increasing demand for skilled workers.

Davis states that,

The last fifty years have produced great changes in our social condition. The extensive use of machinery in the mechanical arts, the minute division of labor, and other causes, have abolished the apprenticeship system so general throughout New England in former years. . . . [ See MASSACHUSETTS . Thirty-Ninth Annual Report of the Board of Education . . . , 1874–75. p. 220.]

Thompson lists the limitation of the number of apprentices by trade unions as another reason for the decay of apprenticeship. ("The Decay of Apprenticeship; Its Cause and Remedies." N.E.A. .. . Proceedings and Addresses . . . , 1881. pp. 246-25).  E. A. Apgar, in 1879 ("Technical Education." U. S. Bureau of Education. Circulars of Information, No. 2, 1879), and W. G. Eliot, in 1880 (Twenty-Fifth Centennial Address. Washington Uni­versity , February 22, 1882. p. 2), and L. S. Thompson, in 1881( "The Decay of Apprenticeship; Its Cause and Remedies." N.E.A. .. . Proceedings and Addresses . . . , 1881. pp. 246-251) refer to the decline of apprenticeship and the need for some kind of training to replace it.

All of these men suggest a course of technical instruction upon the public school curricula. With respect to such instruction, Thompson argued,

cannot revive apprenticeship if we would, and perhaps we would not if we could. What we purpose to do in the common schools is that we give a technical or practical tendency to all our teaching. We would not change the curriculum of studies so much as our methods of instruction. The great substitute for the loss of apprenticeship is education — general education — that which gives quickness to mental perception and skill in the use of the hands (Thompson, 248).

Thompson was placing the value of manual training on the conception of formal discipline. Of special interest is that part of his address which shows a vision of a situation, which was soon to face a machine civilization:

Versatility is the great need of the laborer in this age of machinery, so that when some machine is invented that does his work better and more rapidly than he can do it himself, he may be able either to run the machine or turn his attention to something else. A general education such as is given in our common schools and colleges by teachers who understand and insist upon the practical bearings of what they teach, best fits the laborer for turning from one vocation to another. (Thompson, 248).

In 1927, Arthur Beverly Mays surveyed “training”  in The Problem of Industrial Education. (New York: Century, 1927. 418 p.) In the book, Mays emphasizes how the impact of the Industrial Revolution has changed society, with considerable discussion of the decline of the apprenticeship program and the emergence of power machinery, emergence of mass production, and the decline of certain types of skills and the emergence of other types of skills (ie, machinists).


Apprenticeship didn't just go away, though. Instead, it was “adapted” to conditions that prevailed in a rapidly industrializing America.

The old apprenticeship system of the old guilds did not meet the conditions of modern industry. Nor did young Americans enjoy the “indentureship” agreements that necessarily had to be signed. The young worker of the factory era did not work for a master mechanic --  a man with a personal interest in both the apprentice and in the ideals of craftsmanship –- but instead works for a thing, a corporation. To here This difference is significant, and its influence on the whole personnel problem of manufacture is far-reaching. Industrial employees, in their conversation, rarely refer to men in executive positions but almost invariably they speak of "the company." For one to think of himself as working for "the company," "the government," "the county," or "the city," makes for a very different at­titude of mind from that produced by the thought that he works for Mr. Goldsmith or Mr. Cooper whom he knows personally. Thus the modern relationship between employer and employee is an impersonal, institutionalized relationship and the old system of apprenticeship, which was essentially personal in char­acter, has to be greatly altered to be made adaptable to the new industrial condition. Not only does tradi­tional apprenticeship have to be adapted to a situa­tion characterized by the impersonal nature of large corporate institutions ?

Overall, Mays takes a programmatic view, with a “macro” perspective, but without neglecting consideration for the individual. Mays argues that the old manual training, now rendered obsolete by several social and technological forces, needs to be (is being) replaced by what was being called “Industrial Arts” (IA). While manual training was identified for the most part by woodworking, IA came to be identified by a considerably larger array of activities, including machine-shop work, electric wiring, auto-mechanics, house carpentry, con­crete work, furniture construction, pattern making, foundry work, printing,  plumbing, "home mechanics" courses and various other types of shop work.

With the many shifts in American society taking palace in the 1920s, it was thought that IA fit more readily into general education requirements, i.e, many visualized IA as one of the requirements, along with science, social science and the arts, as an essential component of being ‘educated” in the early part of the 20th century. Again, in the mind of the general public, Manual training was mostly identified with woodworking.

Sources: John Spargo, The Bitter Cry of the Children (New York, 1906);
Robert Hunter, Poverty New York, 1904, pages 223-60; Edwin Markham, Benjamin B. Lindsay, George Creel, Children in Bondage New York, 1914;
Jeremy P. Felt, Hostages of Fortune: Child Labor Reform in New York State New York, 1965;
Robert H. Bremner, From the Depths: The Discovery of Poverty in the United States New York, 1956), pages 76-80, and 212ff;
James Sullivan, Charles R. Richards, Isaac L. Kandel, and James Phinney Munroe, "Apprenticeship and Education", Paul Monroe, ed., Cyclopedia of Education, New York: Macmillan, 1911, v 1, pages 156-161;
Arthur B. Mays, The Problem of Industrial Education New York: Century, 1927; Douglas, Paul H., American Apprenticeship and Industrial Education. New York: Columbia University, 1916;
United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Labor and Public Welfare, The role of apprenticeship in manpower development: United States and Western Europe. Washington, U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1964.