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The Making of a Trade School

by Mary Schenck Woolman

The movement owes its existence to the earnest study that a group of women and men, interested in philanthropic, sociological, economic, and educational work, gave to the condition of the working girl in New York City. They were all intimately acquainted with the difficulties of the situation. Early in the winter of 1902 this committee made a special investigation of the workrooms of New York. They were but the more convinced that (1) the wages of unskilled labor are declining; (2) while there is a good opportunity for highly skilled labor, the supply is inadequate; (3) the condition of the young, inexpert working girl must be ameliorated by the speedy opening of a trade school for those who have reached the age to obtain working papers; (4) if public instruction could not immediately undertake the organization of such a school, then private initiative must do it, even though it must depend for its support upon voluntary contributions. The result was that an extreme effort was put forth and the following November the first trade school in America, for girls of fourteen years of age, was begun.


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