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West Virginia House passes bill to create child labor memorial

boy miner
Photos: Mine Safety and Health Administration

Charleston, WV — The West Virginia House of Delegates on March 31 passed a bill that would establish a memorial to child workers.

H.B. 3312, sponsored by Del. Brandon Steele (R-Raleigh), now goes before the state Senate for consideration.

If passed and signed by the governor, the bill would set forth the development of a memorial in Fairmont, WV. The target completion date is Nov. 15, 2022, with a dedication set for Dec. 6, 2022 – the 115th anniversary of the Monongah mine disaster, which, according to an official count, resulted in 362 deaths.


However, proposed text on a memorial plaque would claim the death toll doesn’t account for miners’ family members, “including dozens of children who were present in the mines that day.”

The text would also read: “Whether due to enslavement or poverty, child labor was a grievous part of our state’s industrial history – not only in coal mining, but also in factories, salt works and other inherently hazardous professions – until it was restricted by state and federal laws in the early 20th century. This monument stands as a memorial to all children who were victimized by child labor in hazardous industry, and may this park serve as a reminder that the primary employment of children ought to be to learn and to play.”

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