Girls as Farmworkers

Young Girls Harvesting Carrots in Edinburg, Texas, 1939

Young Girls Harvesting Carrots in Edinburg, Texas, 1939

Courtesy of Library of Congress, LC-DIG-fsa-8a25122

In agriculture, girls still work long hours around dangerous chemicals and are unprotected by child labor laws. These are not small family farms—this is agribusiness.

Federal laws passed in 1938 helped protect children under 16. But agriculture was exempt from this legislation, allowing children to continue working in fields across America.

 

Fair Labor Standards Act, 1938

Girls in agriculture aren't protected because back in the day politicians argued that farm families needed the help of their children. So children working in agriculture were excluded from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. This act prohibited children from working in dangerous industries, but children could continue to work in the fields

Fair Labor Standards Act, 1938

Fair Labor Standards Act, 1938

Courtesy of National Archives, General Records of the U.S. Government

I get pretty tired sometimes when it's getting dark.

—Mexican American girl working a beet field, Colorado, 1934

East Grand Forks, Minnesota

East Grand Forks, Minnesota

Courtesy of Library of Congress, LC-USF33-011331-M5

La Pryor, Texas

La Pryor, Texas

Courtesy of Library of Congress, LC-USF33-012046-M4

Currently half a million children harvest a quarter of our crops.

It was just super hot because we had to wear...protective clothes like sweaters so the chemicals or sun doesn't hit you.

—Monica Camacho, 2018

Monica Camacho's Hoodie, 2007

Gift of Monica Camacho Ramirez

View object record


See Girlhood in 3D! Explore a model of the hoodie or view in augmented reality.

 

QR link to augmented reality experienceEnjoy a narrated augmented reality (AR) experience of the hoodie, made possible by the Smithsonian Digitization Program Office in parternship with Verizon 5G Labs. Follow this link or scan the QR code with your smartphone.

Monica Camacho's Bandana, 2010s

Gift of Monica Camacho Ramirez

View object record

Monica Camacho's Bandana, 2010s

Gift of Monica Camacho Ramirez

View object record

[A]ll of a sudden, here comes the airplane throwing all the pesticides at us. We get rashes from the pesticides.

—Dora Perez, 2015

Our dad always kept an eye on us girls....He knew that foremen would take advantage of young girls.

—María Elena Durazo, 2017