Edgar Thomas Davies to Ernst Freund, March 16, 1911

Department of Factory Inspection

Chicago, March 16th, 1911.

Prof. Ernst Freund,
5730 Woodlawn Ave.,
Chicago, Illinois.

My dear Prof. Freund:

Supplementing my reply to your inquiry of the 9th instant in which you ask for certain data, I herewith tabulate your questions and the [answers] thereto.

Question -- The number of men in the department in the years since its existence, and how employed?

Answer. Department was organized in 1893, with Chief, Assistant Chief and 10 Deputy Inspectors; of these ten inspectors five were men and five women. [Duties], enforcement of the Sweat Shop Act, which is the law entitled "An act to regulate the manufacture of clothing and wearing apparel", and it contained several provisions relative to child labor, to-wit: "No child under the age of fourteen shall be employed in a factory, mill or workshop unless the employer had on file an affidavit from a notary public stating the child was above the age of fourteen.

Records of the department show number of inspections made, as follows: --

1893 -- 2,452

1894 -- 3,440

1895 -- 4,540

1896 -- 6,707

1897 [--] 11,703.

July 1st, 1897, the jurisdiction of the Child Labor Law extended to the mercantile institutions, offices, etc., also provided that no child under the age of sixteen should work more than ten hours in any one day.

July 1, [1887?], law protecting metal polishers requiring exhaust pipes and [are on every] wheels took effect. [page 2] wheels, took effect.

No new laws nor changes in the department's jurisdiction until 1903, the number of inspectors until 1903 were ten.

1898 -- 10,797 inspections.

1899 -- 15,575 [inspections.]

1900 -- 15,171 [inspections.]

1901 -- 17,209 [inspections.]

1902 -- 19,535 [inspections.]

In 1903 the new child labor law went into effect, very comprehensive in its provisions, abolishing the notary public affidavit system of proof of age. Placing authority for granting certificates to children to go to work in the hands of the school officials, prohibiting the employment of children under the age of sixteen before the hour of 7 A.M. and after 7 P.M., and limiting the hours of employment to eight hours a day, specifying hazardous occupations prohibited to children under sixteen (see Section 1).

The number of inspectors was increased from ten to eighteen -- eleven men and seven women.

1903 -- 22,133 inspections

1904 -- 45,839 [inspections]

1905 -- 70,539 [inspections]

1906 -- 62,018 [inspection] (most of inspectors idle for several months, account of lack of funds.

1907 -- 23,357 [inspections] First six months. (lack of money, inspectors idle several months.

1907 -- 31,269 [inspections] Last six months.

June 30th, 1907, the old department abolished and new and present department created; twenty five inspectors additional laws were passed and placed upon the department for enforcement -- butterine and ice cream law, requiring inspection for sanitation of same, repairing, etc., and granting licenses to manufacturers -- structural iron law, providing for the examination and inspection of all buildings, bridges, viaducts, structures, etc. <[just] [illegible] sustained by Supreme Court>

The Old Department existed as a rider to an act entitled "An Act to regulate the manufacture of clothing and wearing apparel", which law was undoubtedly unconstitutional; therefore I had drafted and caused to be passed the law creating [page 3] the Department of Factory Inspection as a separate and distinct branch of the state government, which has been held to be constitutional by the Attorney General.

We started to put in modern business systems and index card system, covering three quarters of a million cards, with this system making this department the most complete in the United States, in the way of factory inspection [tabulation?]. work was severely handicapped and retarded by failure to appropriate sufficient money.

1907 -- 54,886 total number of inspections, with added titles.

1908 -- 83,544 Inspections.

1909 -- 93,240 [Inspections.]

July 1st, 1907, the Ten Hour Law for women was passed and went into effect. In September of same year, on the 13th, operations suspended under injunction pending appeal to Supreme Court, on the question of injunction and the criminal prosecution of Giacomo Allegretti.

1910 -- more added duties. January let, the Health, Safety and Comfort Act went into effect, which provides for the guarding of all hazardous and dangerous machinery, stairways, elevators well holes, sustaining power of the floors, walls, fire protection, seats for women, proper toilet facilities, general sanitation, ventilation and hygiene. 

April 10th -- Ten Hour Law for women declared constitutional by the Supreme Court, which required night and day forces in the field during the industrial seasons. 

Number of child labor inspection suffered materially because of the added duties, less money and less help than previous to the enactment of the Ten Hour Law and the Health, Safety and Comfort Act and it became necessary to put many of the field inspectors into the office from time to time, so as to prepare for the enforcement of these two new laws, and acquaint manufacturers, through the sending of the necessary publicity notices, of the passage and the enforcement of the acts.

Complete figures for 1910 unavailable, because the office force is so small we cannot spare any one to compile the report, nor are we allowed to hire any one for tabulation work. [page 4]

1910 -- 4,771

inspection under Ten Hour Law, after April 10th, date of Supreme Court's decision.


in Cook County.


outside Cook County.

1910 -- 3,934

inspection under Health, Safety and Comfort Act.


in Cook County.

-- 1,674

outside of Cook County.

1909 & 10 -- 1,311

inspections under Butterine & Ice Cream Law


inspections in Cook County.


outside [Cook County.]


Note -- These inspections resulted in alterations in all except four plants manufactured ice cream.

1909 & 10 -- 375

inspections under Structural Iron Law,


in Cook County,


outside Cook County.

1909 & 10 -- 458

inspections under Blower Law, in which metal polishing establishments they were required to make alterations on instal blowers and exhaust fans.


in Cook County.


outside Cook County.

1910 -- 45,452

inspections under Child Labor Law.

1909 & 10 -- 138,692

[inspections under Child Labor Law.]


in Cook County.


outside Cook County.

As noted, the enforcement of the added laws naturally reduced the number of places inspected for child labor; and inspector could make from ten to 25 inspections in a day, according to the size establishment, whereas, under the Health, Safety and Comfort Act alone it sometimes requires two inspectors a week or two to make one inspection; for instance, to properly cover the International Harvester Company's plant it would <be> four inspectors two months.

We have issued over six [million dollars] worth of orders to place safety guards or guard dangerous places of repair stairs or floors, install toilets, ventilating places of repair stairs or floors, install toilets, ventilating and sanitary decides, fore protection, etc., etc., in the various establishments throughout the state since February 1st, 1910. The inspectors are required for about one-third of the year to work in the evenings as well as in the daytime. [page 5]

The number of inspections is not the only result this department has accomplished, it is the good that has resulted through those inspections, to-wit:

"In 1901 we found 19,839 children employed in 17,209 establishments inspected, which is an average of over one child to each establishment inspected.

The latest compiled report on child labor for this department is the year 1903, when we found 9,000 children in over 93,000 establishments."

Stop and think what this means. An average of less than one child to over 9 establishments inspected. In other words, with ten inspectors in 1901, enforcing only one law, the department made 17,209 inspections, or 1720 inspections to an inspector, while in 1909, the department, with twenty five inspectors, enforcing several additional laws, made 93,000 inspections -- four and one half times as many inspections as were made in 1901, or an average of 3,680 inspections to an inspector -- more strenuous work, better returns for public money invested, and a vast increase in efficiency.

We need more help, but this is one of the reasons why Deputy Inspectors should be given an increase in salary.

The percentage in child labor in 1901 was 48 children to the thousand; today it is 13 to the thousand, a reduction from 4.2 percent to 1.3; this same character of result is manifested through the enforcement of the other laws.

Lately in looking up the results of the enforcement of the Blower Act, we find 30 percent decrease in the deaths from tuberculosis in the State of Illinois, as compared to Pennsylvania, which has no Blower Law, and the department has recently been complimented by the Official Journal of the Metal Polishers, in an editorial, which states that Illinois is the best protested state for men engaged in this industry.

The <a> proportionate reduction in deaths and accidents in the constriction of buildings, in the erection of structural iron and the construction bridges and viaducts.

In the erection of skyscrapers in the City of Chicago I fail to find a building erected in Chicago previous to July 1st, 1907, over ten stories in height, that did not have a <[illegible]> fatality. Fatalities are the exception today. We supervised the construction of the La Salle Hotel, which is the only building of its size in the United States, on which there was not a man killed. [illegible] [page 6] 

Nearly 5000 orders have been issued to manufacturers under the Health, Safety and Comfort Act, and the cost to comply with these orders ranges from $15. to many thousands of dollars, and the employers and manufacturers are continually requesting us to make inspections and are working in harmony with the department. Few complaints as to the orders issued have been well founded, and it is worth the while to say that the merits of the Health, Safety and Comfort Act are most generally appreciated by employers as very good thing to comply with, from a point of industrial economics.

2. Question. The increase of duties thrown by statute upon the department, and whether the force was increased proportionately.

2. Answer. Has been answered in reply to your 1st questions.

3. Question. The number of inspections made in different years, and the number of inspections which you think would be necessary: especially also the possibility of inspecting small workshops.

3. Answer. First section is answered in the first.

Second sentence -- "Number of inspections which I think would be necessary, especially to cover the state and the possibility of inspecting small workshops."

102 deputies, 80 of whom should be permanent, 2 to the policemen, [illegible] other 20 to me put on the force from time to time for special assignment during the [illegible] seasons, doing night work so as to relieve the day force from working both day and night during the rush season.

Under this we could hope then to inspect in the right way, various establishments, which by law we are called upon to inspect. We do not now neglect the small shop, although we have been unable to give the small shop generally the attention they perhaps deserve. The reason why we direct our attention against the larger shop, is because the small shop can, in many instances, be effectively handled by the City Health Department. In the state at large we inspect all shops, large and small.

4. Question. The division of your force between Illinois and the rest of the state. Evidently it is meant between Chicago and the rest of the state.

4. Answer. It varies according to the call of the hour. There are usually 12 inspectors in Chicago and the balance outside of Chicago. One of the positions of Deputy is held by a lawyer, who tries our cases locally. I formerly [page 7] acted as the attorney for the department, but the duties have grown too great.

5. Question. What kind of expert service is in your opinion required?

5. Answer. Will answer you by referring you to Senate Bill 264, which provides for mechanical engineers, practical builders, physicians, chemists, etc. We also want a laboratory for the study of occupational diseases, [illegible two words], gages and industrial poisons.

6. Question. How many men and women are, in your opinion, needed for office work and for inspection work in order to carry out the various statutes, the [illegible] of which is committed to you?

6. Answer. 80 [illegible], 20 emergency deputies and 9 policemen. 

At the present time we are running behind in the office, way behind. Our duties are more extensive in the way of factory inspection than any state in the Union as our laws are more specific. There is no act in the United States equal to the Health, Safety and Comfort Act, nor is the system of general inspection laid down in so comprehensive a line as in Illinois; this does not even bar Massachusetts, New York or Pennsylvania.

I understand that New York for her various departments has an appropriation of over $200,000.


Chief Inspector

$5,000 per annum

Chief Clerk

2,000  [per annum]

Statisticians -- each

18,000 [per annum]

3 [illegible] -- each

1,400  [per annum

41 deputies


Contingent fund


Also, [privileges?] to draw on the Treasury for emergencies. 


Contingent fund

$10,00 per annum

Another fund

19,600 [per annum]

Woman's department

,200  [per annum]

They do not have very many deputies. [page 8]


Only two or three inspectors and they receive $7,500 per annum for their salaries, and office expense, and an additional 2,000 for traveling expenses.


Peculiarly situated, because after establishing salaries, they are only limited for general necessary expense by being able to call on the Treasury for such moneys as may be necessary which have not otherwise been appropriated.


Is a very small department.


Factory inspector receives

$5900 per annum


8000 [per annum]

Traveling expenses

2500 [per annum]

Deputy receives $5.00 per day


General fund



[illegible] that their appropriation is drawn from one fund known as "The Appropriation for the Department of Labor" which amounts to $4,000 per year. They shut down last year for a while, account of lack of funds.


Much smaller department than ours, not nearly the amount of work to do.

Receives for salaries

$50,920 per annum

For traveling expenses and contingent fund

14,200 [per annum]


Is a department peculiar in its arrangements, because it comes under the District of Police.

Inspection. This branch receives


Chief Inspector

$3900 per annum

First Clerk

1800 [per annum]

Other Clerks

1000 [per annum]

Printing, telegraph, telephone, etc.


Detective branch --


1st Deputy


1st Clerk




[page 9]Compensation for members of the corps, sum not to exceed

22,800 per annum

First Inspectors

12,300 [per annum]

Traveling expenses

12,500 [per annum]

Special fund

2,000 [per annum]

Inspection Department --


Chief Deputy


Chief Inspector of Boilers


Clerks for this branch alone


Compensation for members of this corps


Traveling expenses


Compensation for board of inspectors


Expenses of same


I have before me a letter [from] Mr. J. D. Beck, Commissioner of Labor of Wisconsin, who, after endeavoring to explain their system, closes his communication by saying, "We are limited as to the number of inspectors and "necessary expenses in the performance of duty", whatever that may be.

Please note that none of these departments pay rent or light bills, as they are all located in State Capitols.

Requested appropriation for the office of the Illinois Department, which includes compiling and publishing an annual report of 1200 pages, special bulletins and enormous stationary and printing bills, etc., etc., comprise the following sums:

Rent and light $3,500 per annum

(We have a room now 18x20 to accommodate 25 deputies. We certainly need more room).

Right here I might say that since 1903 I have had to pay the salary of a clerk in the Central Issuing Office, who issues age and school certificates to children from the Catholic Parochial Schools. I formerly paid half the rent and light bills of this office.

Five recording clerks each

$1,200 per annum.

Chief Clerk

1,500 [per annum]

Four stenographers (to act as clerks then necessary)

1,000 [per annum]

Shipping Clerk

1,000 [per annum]

Two Issuing Clerks -- each (One of these is for the parochial branch)

1,000 [per annum]

Traveling expenses of inspectors

15,000 [per annum]

Telephone, telephoning, telegraph, [page 10] Express charges, postage, printing, office supplies, and general contingent fund

$10,000 per annum

For establishing laboratory

500 [per annum]

Maintaining a laboratory

1000 [per annum]

It is impossible in a communication to say what we are endeavoring to do, or what we have accomplished, or to give you a clear idea as to what the modern business system which we endeavored to install, card index system, duplication system, and self-[illegible] [illegible] etc. are, unless a personal visit is made to the office. Should your committee desire to take this up, I [would?] be glad to have them [illegible] day and hour and I can be here to go over the [illegible] with them. They can consider themselves privileged to ask any questions, and to look into any data, correspondence, inspections, prosecutions, or anything pertaining to the department.

The length of this communication is necessary, in order to give you the data asked for and its length will give you the reason for delay in answering your letter of the [th inst?].

Cordially yours,


Item Relations


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