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Work in the 'sweated' trades, 1910s-1920s

Work in the sweated trades

In 1909 the Trade Board Act introduced legally enforceable minimum wages for the first time. Trade Boards were established to regulate wages in specific 'sweated' trades - industries with long working hours, poor working conditions and low pay, many of which relied on women workers.

Most of the documents in this online collection are from the archives of the Trades Union Congress, and were collected by some of the workers' representatives on the Trade Boards. They include information about working conditions and wages in some of the sweatshop industries of the early 20th century.

This digitisation project is still a work in progress and more documents will be added during 2019.

Explore the documents digitised so far:

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Find out more:

What are 'sweated' industries?

What were trade boards?


Selected sources by theme:

The Sweated Industries exhibition, 1906

The women chainmakers of Cradley Heath