Compilations of labor laws enacted in the United States have been published from time to time in the form of special reports and in the bimonthly bulletins of this Bureau. In the present report is presented a compilation of the labor laws enacted by Congress and by the legislatures of the various States and Territories in force at the close of the year 1903.

In order to facilitate the use of this compilation marginal references have been placed on all the pages where labor laws have been reproduced and a comprehensive index has been appended.

In addition to the laws, annotations of decisions have been placed in smaller type immediately below the statutes affected by such decisions. These annotations consist of brief digests of the decisions, followed by the abbreviated titles of the reports in which the decisions are published. With few exceptions only annotations of decisions of the Federal courts and of the highest State courts are given.

All labor laws that have been declared unconstitutional by the Federal courts and the highest State courts have been excluded from this compilation. In some instances, also, laws apparently superseded by later enactments have been omitted, even though they were retained in the published compilations consulted in preparing this volume. In addition to the labor laws, which are reproduced in full, the present report contains digests of laws which can not be classed as labor laws, yet which are of considerable interest to the laboring people.

The present volume contains two chapters. Chapter I consists of (1) a digest of apprentice laws, (2) a digest of convict-labor laws, (3) a digest of mechanic's-lien laws, and (4) a table sbowing the legal holidays. Chapter II contains the compilation of labor laws.

The following table shows, for each State and Territory, the date of the code, revision, or compilation of laws used, the latest session










In the following digest, the apprentice laws are considered by States, the statutory provisions in all States being considered as nearly as possible in uniform order and not in the order in which they appear in the statute books.


A minor may be bound out by the parents, and when parents are unable to provide for his support, by the probate judge of a county:

A male may be bound out until he is 21, and a female until she is 18 years of age.

The master is required to see that the apprentice is taught his trade and to read and write, to provide him with good and wholesome provisions, necessary clothing, washing, lodging, and medical attendance, and at the expiration of the term of service, to furnish him with two new suits of clothes. He may enforce obedience and good behavior by such moderate corporal punishment as at common law a father or guardian is allowed to inflict.

It is unlawful to entice, decoy, or persuade an apprentice to leave the service of his master, to employ him, to furnish him food or clothing, or to give or sell him ardent spirits, without the written consent of the master.

Source: Code of 1897, sections 496 to 507, 5504 to 5509.


A minor may be bound out by the father with the written consent of the mother; by the guardian if an orphan without sufficient estate for its maintenance, and by the mother if the father is dead and no guardian has been appointed. In any case the indentures must be approved by the judge of the county court. A minor may also be bound out by the judge of the county court in case the parents have not the means, or neglect to maintain said minor.

A male may be bound until 21 and a female until 18 years of age.

The master is required to teach the apprentice a trade and to send the apprentice to school at least one-fourth of his time after he is 7 years old, and the apprentice must be taught reading, writing, and arithmetic to the rule of three, inclusive.

It is unlawful to entice, persuade, or induce an apprentice to leave the service of the master or to conceal him after leaving such service. Source: Digest of 1894, sections 249 to 258, 1463, 4950.

CALIFORNIA. A minor of 14 years of age or over may be bound by his father, or by his mother or guardian in case of the father's death or incompetency, or where he has willfully abandoned his family for one year without making suitable provision for their support, or is habitually intemperate or is a vagrant; by an executor who by the will of the father is directed to bring up the child to a trade or calling; by the mother alone if the child is illegitimate; and by the judge of the superior court if the minor is poor, homeless, chargeable to the county or State, or an outcast who has no visible means of obtaining an honest livelihood. If a minor has no parent or guardian competent to act he may, with the approval of the superior court, bind himself. The minor's consent must be expressed in the indenture and testified to by his signing the same. A male may be bound until 21 and a female until 18 years of age.

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