Kids at Work

When you help with household chores after school, you may dust or wash dishes. If you grew up 100 years ago, you may not have gone to school at all. You 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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