Purpose – This paper seeks to illustrate the instrumental role of reporter Nell Nelson in beginning a national labor reform movement resulting in improved working conditions for women and children in the USA. Design/methodology/approach – Drawing on archival newspaper clippings, original scrapbooks kept by prominent Chicago figures of the time, US census records, and other labor history resources, the paper synthesizes heretofore‐disparate sources to provide a more complete picture of the cause‐and‐effect nature of Nelson's Chicago Times “City slave girls” series. Findings – The research concludes that Nelson was an instrumental force in the formation of over ten advocacy organizations that worked to transform the way women and children in the USA were treated in the workplace and was instrumental in securing legislative reforms. Originality/value – This is the first paper to explore the role played by Nell Nelson in securing labor reforms, thus, contributing to a more complete understanding of management history.
Journal of Management History – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 6, 2012
Keywords: Child labour; Labour reform; United States of America; Newspapers; Modern history; Labour market; Social reform