These fascinating pictures of American and  Canadian youngsters in the first half of the 20th century capture an almost  forgotten age of innocence and the simplest of pleasures.

The photographs, from the archives of the  National Geographic magazine, show children from around two or three up until  their early teens and give a fascinating glimpse into what life was like for  youngsters without the all trappings of the modern world which we now take so  much for granted.

The children are pictured huddled together in  the family homestead or talking a jolly stroll in the countryside. Two young  boys are seen staring in awe at a billboard announcing the circus is in town  wondering if they will be lucky enough to go along.

Family ties: Seven siblings sit on a wooden fence Quebec, Canada in one of the images released by National Geographic

Family ties: Seven siblings sit on a wooden fence  Quebec, Canada, in one of the images released by National Geographic. The  picture is believed to date from the 1930s

Four boys bob for apples in West Virginia, USA in January 1939

Four boys bob for apples in West Virginia, USA in  January 1939

Arm in arm: Young children hold on to one another as they walk down a dirt road alongside a corn field in Pennsylvania, USA, in 1919

Arm in arm: Young children hold on to one another as  they walk down a  dirt road alongside a corn field in Pennsylvania, USA, in  1919

Another shot, dating from 1936, shows four  boys enjoying a game of apple bobbing - well this was a time when an Xbox was some sort of  mystery package and social networking meant a chat with  your neighbour over a  rickety wooden fence.

But the smiling faces and apparent  joy  betray the grim reality for many youngsters who lived during this era - a time  of catastrophic world war, massive social change and  incredible technological  development. 

 

For hundreds of  thousands of children life  was incredibly tough - instead of an education they would be forced to work from  an early age fuelling the  nation's Industrial revolution.

Others would spend long hours toiling in the  fields of family farms or working in factories. Children  as young as five would  be recruited as messengers, newsboys, peddlers  and in various other menial  jobs.

Employers seized on Children who they  regarded as cheap labor - their small size meant they were capable of wriggling  into through narrow parts of mechanical machines where adults could not go.

Incredibly it took until the Great  Depression to end child labor, for adults had become so  desperate for jobs  that they would work for the same wage as children  and in 1938, President  Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor  Standards Act, which finally placed  limits on child labor.

Four Amish children perch on a fence on a hot summer's day in Pennsylvania in 1941

Four Amish children perch on a fence on a hot summer's  day in Pennsylvania in 1941

The circus is in town: Two small boys gaze at a circus billboard in rural Ohio in an early colour picture from 1932

The circus is in town: Two small boys gaze at a circus  billboard in rural Ohio in an early colour picture from 1932

A boy shows off his freshly picked strawberries in Missouri, USA, in 1943
Two children with a puppy sit on an old split rail fence in Missouri in 1946

A boy shows off his freshly picked strawberries in  Missouri  in 1943, while two children with a puppy sit on an old split rail  fence in Missouri in 1946

Morning glory: Mother carries milk pails on her shoulders while the children lead a horse on a foggy morning walk in Quebec, Canada in 1950

Morning glory: Mother carries milk pails on her  shoulders while the  children lead a horse on a foggy morning walk in Quebec,  Canada in 1950

(Daily Mail UK 1st February 2013)

 

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Replies to This Discussion

An awesome share, Trevor.

It is fantastic to see these images/photos from a past era; and to see and remember how things were ...

Pauline Hugs

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