Scholastic Magazine brought the 1090 Cherry Mine disaster to the attention of middle grade students in the United States with a full-color cover story in its November, 2019, issue. Highlighting the prevalence of child labor in 1909, Scholastic painted the grim picture of children's daily lives early in the last century via the story of the United State's worst coal mine disaster. School was not an option for children born into poor families, nor from immigrant families who crossed the ocean to work in U.S. coal mines. Every nickel and dime earned by these young boys was desperately needed for daily survival. So parents falsified ages on job applications while mine company bosses looked the other way, and children sat for hours in complete darkness -- tasked with the boring duty of waiting to open and close tunnel doors to permit mule teams to pull full coal cars to the elevator shaft and then rush the empties back to the miners to refill.
Among the major legal changes resulting from the Cherry Mine disaster was the adoption of stricter national child labor laws.
Seven months after the disaster, the St. Paul Coal Company, which operated the mine at Cherry, pled guilty to nine counts of child labor law violations -- and was fined a total of $630.
If you are a teacher who discussed the Cherry Mine disaster with your students as a result of Scholastic's feature coverage, I would love to hear the children's feedback.